Unexpected Healing

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These stories, like many in Scripture, speak of Jesus as “healer.” In pondering today’s text I began to think about who Jesus is for the people whom he met. What did they think of him? Why did they seek him? Which also begs me to ponder who Jesus is for us. What do we think of him? Why do we seek him?

15th Sunday After Pentecost

September 9, 2012

Mark 7:24-37

Shera Nesheim, D.M.

These stories, like many in Scripture, speak of Jesus as “healer.” In pondering today’s text I began to think about who Jesus is for the people whom he met. What did they think of him? Why did they seek him? Which also begs me to ponder who Jesus is for us. What do we think of him? Why do we seek him?

When we think of God becoming incarnated in flesh to become human in Jesus Christ, do we think of a man who ever needed healing? As a child, did Jesus skin his knee while playing with friends? As a young man, did he cut his hand while learning his father’s craft of carpentry? Did his heart break on that painful day, as he cried from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34). This man, who felt many emotions and pain; this divine man who knows our pain so deeply, came to do many things, including making people well.

Jesus: the rabbi, the teacher, the prophet, the son of Man, the Great Physician. Jesus. The one to whom people flocked for cures from demons, or blindness, deafness, or from hemorrhaging. Today we hear the powerful story of Jesus’ restoring words that leap to cure a small girl who lay ill on her bed. And it is Jesus’ uncomfortable touch that puts sound back into a deaf man’s ears and language on his tongue.

These stories of healing sit snugly together. One of a woman, who advocates and begs for her sick child to be healed. The other of a group of people, who beg for their friend, a deaf man, to be healed by Jesus’ hand. The child, though far away, is healed through Jesus’ words. The man is physically touched and healed by Jesus instantly. Both of these people who were healed did not ask for the healing themselves, but others asked on their behalf.

I’ve been thinking a lot about healing. About Jesus as our healer. Logic says, of course we want healing in our lives. But being healed has two consequences: 1. it forces us to ponder if we are indeed seriously open to being healed? and 2. it significantly changes the healed person’s identity.

Okay so let’s break this down together. Are we seriously open to being healed if we are used to the pain? We can know pain for so long, it becomes a part of us. We forget what the absence of pain is like. Pain can be emotional, physical or mental. It is much easier to hold on to the pain and that which we have known for so long because it is predictable. It is consistent. Chronic pain is something we understand and expect, after awhile.

Are we really open to being healed when it easier to hold on to the pain someone has inflicted upon us than to deal with the idea of actually forgiving someone? Being open might mean that we use our energy to be healthy and walk away from bad habits, but it’s not always easy. 

And so, being open brings about healing, and healing drastically changes our identity. How do you think the deaf man reacted to his new changed reality? Suddenly he can hear all the jokes his friends made about him. He can tell those who he loves, that he loves them. He can tell stories to his children. He can hear the intense noise of a crowd or the piercing cry of a baby. And when the noises flood his ears, it can be overwhelming. Is he ready for his senses to bombard with noise and laughter, crying and screams? Is he ready to hear the things he wish he could mute? Is he ready to speak the things that others may want to ignore?

What about the daughter who was healed? Is her mother ready for the hugs and kisses and playful noises of a young girl who is no longer possessed? Is the mother ready to breathe and relax and know that her daughter will be alright? Will the young girl make new friends at school or around her neighborhood? Will people forget who she was and treat her like she’s a new person, a whole person, a different person? Or will she be forever remembered as the girl who was healed by Jesus, a Jew. Or will she be remembered as the girl who used to be possessed?

If we take the risk and open ourselves to Jesus’ healing touch, will it change us? Of course. But how will it change us? Being healed will affect our identity and our relationships. We’ve changed. So will people accept us for who we are? Will they support us and love us? 

When you leave YCC will the kids at school look at you the same? Will they accept you? Will you have the strength to live out the changes you made while you have been here? It takes strength to re-enter our former lives as a healed person. When we are restored to the people we are meant to be – that is a beautiful gift from God. But to live into this reality, takes strength. We cannot count on only ourselves to do it. This strength comes from God, from a loving faith community, and from scripture. Scripture, like what we read from today, that inspires us and empowers us to grow into “healed” people.

We know though, that reality is healing doesn’t just happen instantaneously like it seems to in Scripture. Surgery is scheduled months away, so we live in daily pain for days upon days. Perhaps our addiction’s grip seems too strong, for us to believe that we could ever be free from it’s hold. Our hearts seem too broken for mending. Someone in my life is dying of cancer, children around the world die from malnutrition. The list can go on forever of ways we hope Jesus can heal the world.

The good news is that sometimes healing comes in ways we just don’t expect or recognize. Perhaps some of you young people feel like at first it was the worst thing in the world to be sentenced to this correctional center. Maybe you still feel that way. But as time goes on, maybe the thought has crossed your mind that being here, has saved your life. Or at least it has un expectedly healed some of your hurt.

The healing power of Jesus can happen to us in a multitude of ways. Through words. Through touch. Through time. Through people. Healing can happen through ink on a page – words written to us from someone dear who says they won’t give up on us, they love us, they want the best for us. Healing can happen through a physician’s incision and intricate stitching that mends broken ligaments, or worn out parts of our bodies. Healing can happen when we are rid of disease, cancer, or ailments that cause us to be unwell.

Healing can happen with a smile from a stranger that reminds us that love still exists. Healing can happen in a quiet connected moment when the world seems still on the Dakota prairie while the sun sets. Healing can happen when we finally let the tears flow.

Finally, healing can happen when you drink a cup of coffee. Nope, I’m not kidding, though I love coffee! Like Amy mentioned today, when we purchase and drink Equal Exchange Coffee, chocolate and other products, we help to heal communities through feeding, empowering and educating.

Jesus was human. He understands why it is important that our bodies, hearts and souls are restored. Our bodies. Our hearts and our souls. They matter. The life we live now, matters. Jesus comes to heal our bodies. Heal our hearts and souls. Jesus comes to make us well – that we might be able to live and serve, to sing and praise, to strive for justice. Jesus comes to restore creation. So that the hungry may be filled, the lame may jump and the mute may sing. Jesus comes so that we might find ultimate healing in the power of the resurrection.

We participate in the Healing Rite, this day, to feel the healing touch of a cross marked on our forehead and hear the restoring words, “Child of God, in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, be strengthened and filled with God’s grace, that you may know the healing power of the Spirit.”

 We cling to the promises of our baptism and know that our healing belongs to Jesus Christ.

Being a part of this healing service, brings us together, as a community, that we might support one another in our journey towards healing. When the load is too heavy to bear, we are reminded that we can come together to pray, and be lifted up by our community of faith for healing. We still seek Jesus for his healing work on this earth. And pray that we may glimpse the wholeness of his healing power. Amen.