Sermon – May 29th 2016
2nd Sunday after Pentecost (Year C)
By Roland Legge
Jesus on his travels meets this Centurion man. He comes to Jesus to save the life of a slave whom he greatly values. This is surprising, that a Roman would come to Jesus to save the life of his slave as the Romans considered the Jews as irritants. It is also surprising that Jesus would have agreed to help a Roman Military leader because it is they who were making life very difficult for the Palestinian Jews. Why was Jesus in awe of this man’s faith? I believe it was because this man had such faith in Jesus ability to heal and that this some how transcended all the differences in status, nationality and religion between them.
Healing, in the way of Jesus, has the power to break down all walls in society. In ancient times healing was a common occurrence. There were many people who claimed to be healers. There were the usual variety of people from the honest to the fakes. But, what was unusual about Jesus was that it transcended all ethnic, and religious boundaries. Jesus was willing to heal any one. So why do we have hang-ups with healing today?
In the United Church of Canada, we are not comfortable with the concept of healing even though it was a focus of Jesus’ ministry. So, why have we in the traditional churches become so resistant to the ministry of healing? Our Protestant forbears became so fixated through seeing the world through the rational eyes of science, psychology, philosophy, and medicine that religious mystery was put on the side-line. There was little room left for mystical, non-rational ministry of healing. We have been hindered by the intellectual walls that we have put up to keep out the mystery. However, I believe Jesus is calling us to renew our passion for healing.
I believe Jesus brings healing through his deep care for the whole person. He also has a deep care and love for the whole world and so desires to heal the world with all its inhabitants. You can not have one form of healing without the other. When you help to heal an individual you help to heal a family. When you help to heal a family you help to heal a community. When you help to heal a community who help to heal a nation. A simple way to begin a healing ministry is through prayer.
But a word to the wise from Morton Kelsey and Francis McNutt in how we pray for healing:
In our enthusiasm for healing prayer, a word of caution seems wise. Since Jesus is the savior and healer, we must always seek his will as we consider praying for healing. Our primary task is to listen for God and to identify where, how, and if God may want to use us as we pray.
The Healing Church by Karin Granberg-Michaelson found in https://sojo.net/preaching-the-word/healing-church?parent=47011
I believe that prayer is an important part of healing. Prayer can help us discern how we can be a healing presence in the lives of those we meet whether it be family, friends or people we do not know. I suspect the Centurion must have prayed for guidance. What do you think? Prayer can help us to find from within ourselves as to what healing we need in our own lives.
When we unleash the power of God’s love through prayer we never know what is going to happen. Healing can happen in so many ways. It often happens in ways that we least expect it to. In the end the love of God is a wondrous mystery. None of us can ever earn it, but we must be open to how ever we receive it. I believe that when we pray there is healing, yet it is often being not what we were hoping for.
Healing comes out of relationships, from solidarity with those who are hurting, from people with compassion for those who are sad and depressed, from the sharing of good food, it comes from having a safe place to live that is affordable, it comes from caring community that shares resources with each other, it comes from loving family that brings out the best in each other, it comes from social transformation through education social action and prayer. No matter how you look at it, it is the result of the Holy Spirit being at work.
So how do we incorporate healing into our own ministry? Morton Kelsey and Frances Mc Nutt gives us some suggestions in how to live this out.
1) sharing a call to a particular healing work with others, 2) seeking to know God personally, 3) praying for our own healing and that of others, and 4) offering ourselves to others for their healing. This parallels the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery program–finding freedom in sharing one’s confession of weakness and serving others still in bondage to their particular addiction.
I invite us to reflect on how we at Foam Lake United Church can become more and more a healing community. Already we have many people reaching to those in our community who are sick, grieving and/or lonely. You offer pastoral care to those who have had a recent death in their family through providing hospitality after the funeral service. You provide opportunities for folks to come together to play cards and enjoy a luncheon. How else can we be place of hope and healing in our community? How can we reach out to our young families? How can we reach out to the many middle aged people who have stopped coming to church? How can reach out to the many in our community and/or world who are suffering and struggling in many ways.
There is no magic solution to this. A healing ministry requires the attention of all members of the congregation to make this ministry important in the life of the congregation. Your minister and a few lay leaders can not make this happen alone no matter who they are.
The Good News is that in the end our congregation is enlivened when we become known as a place of healing and renewal. People will notice the difference whether we are long time church goers or new comers. More and more people will experience a deep connection of the Spirit that is beyond anything we could ever hope to describe. Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah! Amen!!!