Written by Mark C Pederson, Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church
What does it feel like to experience health and healing? I think we all know what it is to experience disease. Parts of our body stop working. We experience pain, we deteriorate. According to 1st Corinthians 6:19 our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are an important part of our spiritual life. But we rarely concentrate on health. When we do think of our bodies, we tend to think of disease avoidance rather than health promotion. Our entire system of “health care” is actually focused on disease treatment.
In the Psalm today David cries out to God for healing and God delivers. We do not know what kind of ailment David had, we only know that he called out and was saved. There is some evidence that it was an emotional problem, perhaps depression. In the same section he talks about being brought up out of the pit and delivered from “Sheol.”
Are there magic bullets that would preserve our health, help us to feel better physically and emotionally, and reduce our chances of disease? Yes, there are. Here are three of them:
- Walking. A daily walk of even 20 minutes can reduce stress, elevate the dopamine receptors in the brain, help the heart to work more efficiently and reduce our chances of getting a multitude of diseases from heart disease to diabetes. And it’s free. Just put on some shoes and go.
- Community. Being actively involved in a community like a church is amazingly good for both your physical and emotional health. Isolation from other people harms our health and creates a much larger chance of health deterioration. Even an animal to keep us company can help.
- A plant based diet. Kale is your best friend. Mark Bittman in his latest book talks about a unique approach to being a vegetarian. He is a vegan before dinner. A vegan is a vegetarian who doesn’t eat any animal products. Bittman figures that he can skimp on breakfast and lunch, maybe some fruit and nuts, and then eat anything he wants for dinner. This is such a fun season in the agricultural year. All of these beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables are available in the store and the Farmer’s Market. It might be a good time to try out being a part time vegan.
I once had a nurse advise me to practice, “moderation in all things . . . including moderation!” I like that advice. Promoting our health does not mean that we must give up everything we love. I have a friend who went on a diet and one part of the plan was that you had to cheat on the diet 10% of the time! The truth is you will cheat, so this plan advises you to do it, not feel badly, and get right back on the plan.
Of course even if you do all of that, even if you are the most healthy person in the world, you are still going to die. For me it’s a matter of wanting to be healthy and active right up until that day. Jesus even has a cure for that final disease. He has the ability to take away death. He miraculously raises a young man back to life in today’s gospel lesson. We will all enjoy a resurrection at some point. But this life is important, and we are called by God to care for our bodies and to concentrate on promoting the health of all people.
Quotes for the Week
“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” Hippocrates
“We can make a commitment to promote vegetables and fruits and whole grains on every part of every menu. We can make portion sizes smaller and emphasize quality over quantity. And we can help create a culture—imagine this—where our kids ask for healthy options instead of resisting them.” Michelle Obama
“The body is a sacred garment.” Dancer and choreographer Martha Graham
“The average, healthy, well-adjusted adult gets up at seven-thirty in the morning feeling just plain terrible.” Jean Kerr
“I have the body of an eighteen year old. I keep it in the fridge.” Spike Milligan
1st Lesson Psalm 30 (NRSV)
I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me. 2 O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. 3 O LORD, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit. 4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name. 5 For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. 6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” 7 By your favor, O LORD, you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed. 8 To you, O LORD, I cried, and to the LORD I made supplication: 9 “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? 10 Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me! O LORD, be my helper!” 11 You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, 12 so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
Gospel Lesson Luke 7:11-17 (The Message)
11-15 Not long after that, Jesus went to the village Nain. His disciples were with him, along with quite a large crowd. As they approached the village gate, they met a funeral procession—a woman’s only son was being carried out for burial. And the mother was a widow. When Jesus saw her, his heart broke. He said to her, “Don’t cry.” Then he went over and touched the coffin. The pallbearers stopped. He said, “Young man, I tell you: Get up.” The dead son sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother.
16-17 They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them. They were quietly worshipful—and then noisily grateful, calling out among themselves, “God is back, looking to the needs of his people!” The news of Jesus spread all through the country.
Questions for the Week
How is your body doing? It is healthy?
What are you doing to promote the health of your body?
How could we as a community help to support one another in health promotion?