Written by Pastor Mark
This week we read stories of encounters with Christ in moments of healing. We as a church, talk a great deal about encountering Christ in our brokenness, but not so much about finding Christ in healing. Perhaps this is because we find those who purport to have had miraculous healings as not entirely trustworthy. I’ve heard many stories about such events, but have not witnessed one personally.
On the other hand, I have been healed of many things. Some of these healings have been the result of good medical care. I’ve had broken arms set, and they have healed. I’ve split my lip all the way through and had it stitched up good as new. A while back I couldn’t lift my arm up past my waist and a physical therapist was able to give me exercises that healed my “frozen shoulder” and provided me with great relief.
Now this healing was not fun. I sometimes consider physical therapist masochists! “Does that hurt?” They ask. “Good, do that some more.” It wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t appear to take such pleasure in the work! But through this pain is the path of healing.
I’ve been healed from emotional hurts as well. A lot of this healing has come through the process of accepting my age and realizing my limitations. There is a great peace that can come from that process.
In the Gospel lesson Jesus asks a very strange question. “Do you want to get well?” The guy can’t walk, and yet somehow he’s managed to crawl his way to the pool to seek healing. Yet for such a simple question, his answer is equally strange. He gives Jesus his process. Never mind that he’s been trying the same thing for 38 years with the same result, no healing. It reminds me of the AA definition of insanity.) “Do you want to be healed?” “Yes, I do this and this and this, and I’ve been doing it for over 30 years, and, well, it’s not working at all.” So Jesus instructs him to move. Sometimes we don’t like to move. Especially if it might be painful, if we are unsure how the first step will go.
Our Revelation text for today imagines a beautiful tree of life whose leaves are for “the healing of the nations.” A part of the heavenly revelation is healing for all people, not just believers, not just the good people, but for everybody. For all of the strange, spooky images in The Revelation of John this week’s readings include some very comforting images. There is a beautiful clear river flowing through a city. No more need for sun or moon, God’s glory lights up the place.
To be sure there are plagues, and there is pain and suffering, but there is also healing. Some comes to us now in this life, some comes to us only through death and resurrection. Christ is to be met in both places. There is no location where we don’t encounter the one who loves us.
Quotes for the Week
“I suppose that since most of our hurts come through relationships so will our healing, and I know that grace rarely makes sense for those looking in from the outside.” William P. Young
“Pay mind to your own life, your own health, and wellness. A bleeding heart is of no help to anyone if it bleeds to death. “ Frederick Buechner
“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from everyone loves music” Billy Joel
“For me singing sad songs often has a way of healing a situation. It gets the hurt out in the open into the light, out of the darkness.” Reba McEntire
“’Healing,’ Papa would tell me, ‘is not a science, but the intuitive art of wooing nature.’” W. H. Auden
1st Lesson Revelation 21:10 & 22:1-5 (NRSV)
9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; 4 they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Gospel Lesson John 5:1-9 (The Message)
5 1-6 Soon another Feast came around and Jesus was back in Jerusalem. Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people—blind, crippled, paralyzed—were in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “Do you want to get well?”
7 The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.”
8-9 Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off.
Questions for the Week
Where are you in need of healing in your life right now?
What kinds of healing have you experienced in your life?
How can we help others find healing?