Tag Archives: Healing

God Sustains

Living in the Spirit
October 4, 2017

Scripture Reading: Psalm 19

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
   be acceptable to you,
   O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. –Psalm 19:14

That which we dwell on we become. Running our words and thoughts through God’s filter before we say them or before we become vindictive as we stew in our own juices is a great idea. If we meditate on loving the other, we become a lover of people even ones who we think or know did us harm. Constantly fretting over an issue erodes us from the inside out.

I dabble in genealogy. Some of my ancestors experienced heartaches beyond belief. My paternal grandmother’s father was killed in an accident a few days before or after her birth in 1883. Her mother raised her alone until she remarried when my grandmother was five. Her only son by her first husband died of illness in 1914 when he was nine years old. Her first husband was struck by lightning and killed two years later leaving her to raise five daughters. She married my grandfather a couple of years later. He brought nine children to the marriage and together they had three children. He died of blood poisoning just before the Dust Bowl and The Great Depression. She had a hard life filled with sorrow and grief.

My memories of my grandmother are those of a five-year-old little girl who felt very loved by her. I remember sitting at her dressing table where she had a box of talcum powder with a big soft puff. She would pat it on my arms and back and make me feel very special. I know she had bad times, but she was very resilient. My dad described her as one who prayed constantly.  I cannot help but think that her time spent in prayer is what guided her through the darkness. The time we spend in prayer will do the same for us when we open ourselves to the healing presence of God.

Prayer: Lord, Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
   be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. so that my actions in dealing with others reflect your love and not my hurt or pain. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

The Great Physician

Living in the Spirit
July 17, 2017

Scripture Reading: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

‘Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.’ –Matthew 13:18-23

It is amazing how many times I can read a scripture and suddenly see something new. Scripture opens to us when we most need it. I think that is particularly true as we pass through the differing ages and stages of life but it is also true in relation to what is happening in our world at a given time. The phrase that caught my attention today is the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart. Recently, I became disheartened by the mean spirited comments made about providing health care for all. A friend just quoted back to me something I said in the past and still believe today, “ Americans for all their short-sightedness, really do not want their city streets marred by sick and dying people begging for help.” Comments I am hearing and reading seem to indicate that I am wrong.

I believe that access to affordable basic health care is a right, not a privilege, which places health care in the Common Good category. We are all better off for many reasons when our society is healthy. I support Medicare for all as the best and most cost effective way of meeting this need.  For those who want a higher level of care and can afford it, supplemental insurance is available.

Health care policy notwithstanding, what is wrong with us, if we can so easily say, get a job if you want health care when the vast majority of non-disabled adults do work and when the health care they need may cost more than they make. I have also heard dying is more cost effective for some cancer patients and some disabled. Jesus healed the sick and commanded us to care for them also. It is a heart thing, and we need to understand that things of the heart must be protected from evil. There is an old song my mother used to sing; we might want to think on it now and then:

The great Physician now is near,
The sympathizing Jesus;
He speaks the drooping heart to cheer,
Oh, hear the voice of Jesus.

Refrain:
Sweetest note in seraph song,
Sweetest name on mortal tongue;
Sweetest carol ever sung,
Jesus, blessed Jesus*.

Prayer: Lord, grant us the gift of shared responsibility for the care of our loved ones, the loved ones of others, and particularly for those who seem to have no one who loves them. Amen.

*First verse and refrain of The Great Physician by William Hunter see at http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/The_Great_Physician/

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Good Spirits, Good Health

Living in the Spirit
June 18, 2017

Scripture Reading: Matthew 9:35-10:23

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. –Matthew 10:1-4

Jesus called his disciples and gave them the power to cast out unclean spirits, and cure every disease and sickness. Does this call still apply to disciples today or just that laundry list of disciples? If you were one of them, how would you react? What would the world be like without any unclean spirits and no disease or sickness?

Spirit is the essence of life—breath. Unclean describes something that is properly, not pure (because mixed), i.e. adulterated with “a wrong mix” and hence “unclean” (because tainted by sin).* Recently, I find myself being disturbed by all the derogatory adjectives that people seem to need to say about others with whom they disagree. Those adjectives usually stop my reading or listening. I form more of an opinion about the author than the subject. They do not allow me to make a decision about the story or the exploration of ideology or theology. These adjectives, sometimes adverbs, are most prevalent in political dialogue. Their source gives the words a wrong mix. There are a lot of unclean spirits to cast out. We might start by casting them out of ourselves with God’s help. How otherwise do we discourage unclean spirits?

Medicaid and Medicare created in the 1960’s were baby steps to addressing health care for all. I attended meetings from 1970’s forward, designed to address this issue. We may be the only developed country in the world without some universal health care. Why? Health markedly impacts one’s ability to be self-supporting and self-sufficient. I believe adequate, accessible, and affordable healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Jesus seems to teach something like that in our scripture today. He calls us all to be a part of the solution. For more information about worldwide healthcare see the WHO** website referenced below.

Prayer: O Great Healer, enable us as healers too. Some of us are professional healers bless us in our work. Help the rest of us find and do our part to make the world whole and healed. Amen.

*http://biblehub.com/greek/169.htm
**http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs395/en/

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Divorce

Living in the Spirit
October 3, 2015

Scripture Reading: Mark 10:2-16

Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and couple getting divorcedfemale.” “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’

 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’ –Mark 10:2-12

Divorce is so common now we celebrate as an exception those who remain together in marriage for 50+ years. We even publish their pictures in the paper. This scripture has become one to ignore.

One of the unsaid truths of this scripture is that there is no mention of a woman divorcing a man. Jesus did not differentiate status between men and woman. The Hebrew Bible laws they are talking about basically say a man can divorce his wife for any reason like selling an animal that had lost its usefulness to him. There were no divorce rights for women. The Pharisees in hearing Jesus’ response might have been as much surprised by his treating women and men equally as they were about his stating a stronger interpretation of marriage than provided in the law.

I believe there are some good reasons for divorce. I believe that God forgives us when we have failed at the love of another including those we marry. God gives us second changes all the time to get love right. Although we do pay the consequences of our actions when we don’t get love right, we need to take the time to learn from those experiences and work not to make the same mistake again.

Prayer: Lord, help us to love each other as you would have us love and when we do not, help us to understand what part we might have played in failing to love like Jesus. Heal the gaps in our ability to love. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sick Greed

paid_sick_leave_imagesLiving in the Spirit
July 19, 2015

Scripture Reading: Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the market-places, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. –Mark 6:53-56

Care for the sick and heal the sick are themes that weave through Jesus’ entire ministry. Yet we in the United States, who some claim to be a Christian nation, have failed the sick. In a country that values wealth so highly, we have forgotten or perhaps never understood that our people are our most valuable resource. The same could be said for education and criminal justice.

If our actions do not result in an immediate profit for someone, they are not worth the investment. So we have drug testing facilities opting and charging for a $500 screen when a $15 one would do. Twenty years ago, I was in an HMO that notified me they were no longer going to pay for the prescription I had been taking for years, but they would pay for a similar one for the same condition. I thought it was a cost saving matter and switched only to find out when I picked up the drug, it cost more than the one I had been taking. I wondered who got the kick back and I switched insurances.

Greed is epidemic in our land and will be our downfall, if we as the prophets say do not repent and turn around. What is right, what is just must be the first consideration.

Prayer: God of All, heal our souls of the greed to which we are addicted. Make us whole enabling love and justice can be our driving forces. Amen.

 All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Jesus, the Healer

the-raising-of-jairus-daughter-english-schoolLiving in the Spirit
June 27, 2015

Scripture Reading: Mark 5:21-43

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered round him; and he was by the lake. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.’ So he went with him. –Mark 5:21-24

Is the availability of accessible, affordable, and appropriate health care a right or a privilege? This is a very complicated question. Medical professionals deal with it on a daily bases as they make difficult, ethical decisions regarding the efficacy of health care and its cost. In Oklahoma state sponsored mental health care is rationed with the more critical cases getting highest priority. By not treating early onset conditions, either physical or mental, we are mostly likely contributing to conditions becoming worse requiring more costly interventions later. While there are some medical procedures that might be deemed unnecessary for the wellbeing of people, such as purely cosmetic surgery on a normally healthy and attractive person, I believe that basic health care is a right and thus falls under the definition of the common good for which governments have some responsibility.

The assurance of the provision of health care is more than charity or even compassion for I believe people are our most valuable resource. Created in the image of God, all people have been endowed with talents and skills necessary to make our society function as God envisions it. When we as a society fail to enable each person’s full potential, we are negatively impacting the full fruition of God’s kingdom.

The reports of Jesus’ ministry found in the gospels illustrate the level of importance he gave health care. Our scripture today tells of his healing both a small child, who would not have been considered of much value at that time, and an unclean woman, who sought his healing in the anonymity of touching the hem of his garment. His care and concern for the least of the people is surely a plumb line for our care of each other.

Prayer: O Great Physician, let your healing powers surge through us as we work toward all your children’s wholeness. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Influence of Our Words

Peter healsEastertide
April 13, 2015

Scripture Reading: Acts 3:12-19

The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you. –Acts 3:13-16

Before making the statements above, Peter had healed a lame man. All who saw it knew the man had been lame from birth. I am sure his healing caught the attention of those present. I am not so sure how they felt when Peter told them that they had killed the one who had made this healing possible.

One of the best types of learning we do is gained from our mistakes. No one knew that better than Peter. He has always impressed me as being a shoot now and ask questions later kind of guy. I could see him plowing through the crowd to get a closer view of Jesus standing before the Sanhedrin. But Peter was not so bold when those around him recognized him as one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter then denied knowing Jesus three times. The experience surely stayed with him for the remainder of his life.

I have never thought it particularly helpful to point out the obvious errors of others, particularly when an audience is present. Shame is rarely a positive motivator. On the other hand, the raw emotion, pain, and regret in Peter’s statement might well have offset the taunting nature of the words. Perhaps the listeners had been fringe followers of Christ who were now recognizing that their getting caught up in a crowd’s frenzied calls for “crucify him! Crucify him!” a few weeks earlier was a bad misjudgment indeed. I do not suppose we will ever know how the hearers responded, but we do know that the followers of Jesus multiplied markedly in those first few chapters of Acts.

Prayer: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen. (Psalm 19:14)

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Forgive or Retain?

The MissionEastertide
April 11 2015

Scripture Reading: John 20:19-31

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’ –John 20:19-23

What does Jesus mean by retaining the sins of any? First, I think it is important that we recognize that in the book of John “sin” is a theological failing, not a moral or behavioral transgression.* More importantly we must look at our role model, Jesus Christ, and note that in his walk on earth, I do not recall, an instance when he did not forgive. He even implored God to forgive those responsible for his death on the cross.

What results from the retention of sin within a community? Most often I would say, the answer to that question is broken relationships, discord, dysfunction, and lack of progress toward the community’s purpose. Could Jesus have been giving his followers a warning? He had become very well acquainted with humans being human. He knew from experience that evil came raise its ugly head and totally disrupt positive forward movement by the smallest of slights or disagreements. Could he be saying: Let it go? Retaining anyone’s sins, including our own after being forgiven, has no redeeming value.

The Mission* is my favorite all time movie. It is the story of the church being established in South America at the same time natives were being captured and sold into slavery. One of the slave traders has an encounter with one of the missionary priests who grants the slave trader forgiveness for his horrendous sins and instructs him to climb a very steep mountain with all his armor tied in a bag on his back. The slave trader makes it to the top totally exhausted and totally defenseless. The first person he encounters is a native youth with an axe in his hand. There is a moment in the movie where the slave trader clearly understands his plight when the youth briskly swings the axe down and cuts the rope holding the bag, which falls down the mountainside metal clanging against metal. His sins had been forgiven and now he knew it, too.

There is always a period of time after a disconnection or “sin”, even when fault is clear, which by the way is rare for fault is almost always shared, that wounds need to heal on all sides, but healing is faster when we can let the situation go and in many instances we can only do that by asking God to abide with us in the healing process.

Prayer: Lord, give us the strength to let go of the retention of sin, heal all involved and abide with us as we heal. Amen.

*The New Interpreter’s Bible: A commentary in Twelve Volumes, Volume IX Luke and John, Abingdon Press 1995, page 847.
**For more information about The Mission see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091530/
All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Curing the Sick

Living in the Spirit
August 2, 2014

 Scripture Reading: Matthew 14:13-21 

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. —Matthew 14:13-14

Because we get so caught up in the story in our scripture today regarding the feeding the masses, we may miss this excerpt about curing the sick. Jesus was a healer. While most of us could recite a list of nuisance health related complaints from sinusitis to headaches to backaches and some are dealing with more serious life impacting and limiting illnesses, we often overlook the healing of our souls. It is interesting that even science is more and more linking our physical ailments to both our mental and spiritual health. I just read in the paper yesterday that people who give of themselves live longer, more productive lives. Perhaps this whole scripture is about healing.

Yesterday, the news showed a woman protesting the care of Central American children at the Fort Sill Army Base. She did not want her tax dollars wasted in such a manner. Some in our Congressional delegations are fearful that the continued use of Fort Sill as an interim place to house these refugees might lessen its ability to train soldiers. It is my understanding the facility was selected because the dorms being used were vacant. The Oklahoma Governor is demanding that the federal government keep its projection of only using the facility for 120 days. I wondered, if our political leaders have thought what might happen to Fort Sill, if we really stopped fighting wars. The dorms are empty for a reason. Could we actually be nearing a point when we will be beating our weapons into plowshares? What would the closure of such facilities do to the economy of our state? And what better use of these facilities could we make than protecting children from the ravages of the world?

People of faith have been ministering to refugees all over the world for years. Many of the countries surrounding the fleeing people have limited resources themselves. I take great satisfaction in knowing that my country, using my tax dollars, are providing the basics of life: food, clothing, shelter, and medical care for these children and youth. People of faith are also there for them, but so is our country. People of faith are still in harm’s way in the homelands of these children working to make their country safer and more self-sustaining but in the meantime we can at the very least see that these children survive.

Prayer: Heal our souls, so fill us with your love that we cannot help but love our neighbor. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.