Healing to Wholeness

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Reflection # 1 Acts 8:26-40

 

Jesus whole life was about bringing people to wholeness.  He wants each of us to be able to experience the joy and wonder of life.  Jesus wants each of us to know in the deepest part of ourselves that we are unconditionally loved by the Creator.  He wants to invite us to be spiritually open, enabling the Spirit to keep working through each of us.  The Holy Spirit will help us to name and experience the wonderful mixture of humanity and divinity in each of us.  When we do this the world feels and looks like a much brighter place.

 

In the book of Acts we hear the story of how the Holy Spirit was working through Philip. The Spirit was leading Philip to break down barriers.  Philip was led by the Spirit to share the Good News with an Ethiopian eunuch.  He is breaking the barrier that said Judaism was only for the Hebrews; even the Christian sect within Judaism.  He is breaking the barrier in hanging out with some one that was different from him, someone neither male nor female. 

 

Imagine what it would have been like to have been this Ethiopian eunuch.  I expect, while he had some respect because of being connected with those in power, many would have ignored this person or seen this eunuch as less than human.  I hunch, it must have felt good when Philip took some time with this person to help the eunuch make some sense of scripture this person was reading from Isaiah.  It is said that this eunuch went away rejoicing.  This person new now beyond doubt that he/she was worthy, loved, respected, a full human being and unconditionally loved by God.  This person had been helped by Philip to feel whole.  The eunuch was allowing the Holy Spirit to heal him/her from anything that was holding this eunuch back from fully living out its life.

 

Can you remember a time when you felt out of place?  Can you remember a time when you have felt not respected?  Can you remember a time when you felt so broken you didn’t know if you could find joy and hope again?  Most of us have experienced some of this in our lives.  I have had many people in my life help me to discover the wholeness and healing that God desires for me to feel and know.  I want to talk to you about a favorite teacher of mine, Mrs. Gardener.  She was all about helping me and any student she taught that we were worthy of her time and energy.  She made it very clear that she deeply cared about us.  She made sure we knew we were bright and intelligent.  I can remember her spending hours upon hours with me teaching the times tables that are still with me today.  I stayed in touch with her long after she finished teaching.  Mrs. Gardener helped me to feel whole.  Through the Spirit working through her I received much healing that helped me to keep growing physically, intellectually, spiritually and emotionally.

 

Who has broken through your barriers?  Who has helped you to see beyond all the “isms” to see divine-humanity in each person we meet?  Who has helped you to experience wholeness and healing?  Who are you inviting into wholeness and healing?

 

May the Creator bless all of us with the same wholeness that Jesus lived out.

 

 

 

Reflection #2:  Mark 5: 25-34

 

Here we have another story of a person finding wholeness and healing.  This is a story about a woman who broke a social taboo.  I quote now from Miriam Mary and Me by Lois Wilson:

Although the woman knew her flow of blood had stopped when she touched Jesus, the text says she still “trembled and feared” when Jesus asked “who touched me?” If the incident simply involved physical healing, the woman would not have responded with fear and trembling to Jesus inquiry.  But she had spoken a taboo.  She had been a social reject for 12 years.  Religious law declared any “touching,” of either the woman or anything associated with her, ritually unclean, that is, taboo (Leviticus 15:19-30).  She trembled because she had broken the law (Leviticus 12:2-7). She had sinned by appearing in a public space when she was ritually polluted.

Miriam Mary & Me Biblical Stories Retold for Children and Adults by Lois Miriam Wilson Northstone Publishing Kelowna B.C. page 247

 

 

Jesus showed us that wholeness comes when we fully recognize another human being.  We bring wholeness when we are able to look them right in the eye.  We bring wholeness when we reach out and touch another person.  We bring wholeness when we acknowledge their presence in a positive way.  In order to do this we need to continuing breaking through many taboos.

 

What are the taboos we need to overcome today?  There are many.  One is the tendency to see people with disabilities as not full human beings. In order to overcome our fear of being around people who don’t seem “normal” to us we need to try to get a sense of what it might be like to walk in their shoes.  This is a good tool to use to break through any taboos and stereotypes that too often get in the way of all people enjoying the blessing of healthy community.

 

I had inherited a lot of stereotypes about people with mental illness.  I somehow got the message that these were not normal people. I got the message you couldn’t trust them.  They were somehow not completely human.  This was all challenged in my last year of theology school when I learned a lot about schizophrenia.  This is just as common as autism!  I learnt the most about it when I was in a workshop where they tried to give us participants an idea what it is like to live with schizophrenia.  These new learning’s changed me forever.

 

After trying to listen to multiple voices all talking to me at once and often in very demeaning ways I soon realized why it is so hard for a person living with this terrible illness to function.  This new knowledge helped me to be more compassionate.  As I got to know people living with schizophrenia I realized that I had little to fear from them.  I realized they are just as much the children of God as any so called “able” person is. Also during this same time I was working in the inner cities of Toronto and Vancouver.  I discovered I could bring wholeness and healing to people with mental illness by taking time to get to know them and treating them with the dignity that all people should be given.  Yes, even people with mental illness can be on the road to wholeness.

 

Reflection # 3:  Luke 10:38-42

 

I love the story of Mary and Martha.  There are many ways to interpret the story.  But today I want to focus on how Jesus was able to recognize Mary’s need to be spiritually fed.  Mary’s need for healing and wholeness was more important at that time than Martha’s need to provide hospitality. 

 

We all need to take time to care for ourselves just as Mary was allowing herself to do with Jesus.  We all need time to care for our minds, our spirit, our intellect and our need to participate in meaningful service in our world.  But this is hard to do in a world that puts so much value on production, money and consumption.  I even find it hard to take twenty minutes to do Centering Prayer each day.  One would think it should not be hard. Why?  I know for me there is still a part of me that does not take seriously the wisdom that meditation and prayer are a good use of my time.  How easy or hard do you find it to care for yourself?

 

I hope that we will stay on the road to wholeness and healing through out our lives.  May the Spirit bless each of us through the words of this poem by Ann Weems called: Gift of God.  Hear it as though I am saying this right to you.

Gift of God

You

gift next to me and

                                      pass me Bread and Wine…

You

always there

                   with communion in your countenance

reaching ready

                                 aware accepting affirming

 

Gift of God

You

touch this lepered me

                                      to wholeness

 

Instrument of God

You

hear alleluias through obscenities

   see rainbows in the darkest storms

         unearth flowers in the snow

 

Gift of God

I thank God for you!

Reaching for Rainbows by Ann Weems The Westminster Press 1980 Philadelphia page 34

 

 

 

Thank Goodness for Doubting Thomas!

harmon_faith-2Easter – April 24, 2011

By Roland Legge

Based on Matthew 28:1–10

 

Easter is probably one of the most earth shattering experiences humankind has experienced.  Whether we believe the resurrection to be metaphor or actual fact, millions of people’s lives have been changed.   No one can deny this reality if they have eyes to see and ears to hear.

 

Easter becomes real, when we the people of God, live out God’s commandment to love self, neighbour and God.  Every act coming out of love, hope, a hunger for peace, and a hunger for justice are like mini resurrections in themselves.  Each act no matter how small or big says no to our death focussed culture and yes to life abundant.

 

We don’t know a lot about what happened at Jesus resurrection.  No one saw it.  But we know the tomb was empty and Mary Magdalene found new life and hope after experiencing Jesus. It touched her so deeply that she had the courage to tell the male disciples that he indeed had risen.  Neither do we know a lot about Mary Magdalene.

 

What we do know that Mary was likely the leader of a group of women who followed Jesus.  Some believed that Mary was a prostitute even though there is no evidence of that in the Bible.  It seems to some theologians Mary was among a group of independent women who provided resources for Jesus ministry.  These were women who chose to share their financial wealth and property with Jesus and his movement. What is important is that Mary and these other women were living out a diaconal ministry of service as equals with the male disciples.

 

But the miracle is that upon Jesus death and resurrection on the cross these women became the prime movers of this new Jesus movement which finally claimed the ministry they had been called to after Jesus death and resurrection.  They were more than followers of Jesus.  They had taken on this ministry themselves.  They finally understood what Jesus had been telling them that they have all they need and more to live out their calling from God.

 

To be a resurrection people is not easy.  Jesus and his followers know this only too well.  In the resurrection the spiral of life radiates out love as shown to us by Jesus.  When the love of Christ is let loose there is nothing that can stop it.  However, this life affirming way of living challenges and conflicts with our culture which led to Jesus death by the Empire of his day.

 

It is sad to think how much time and effort goes in trying to snuff out God’s vision for the abundant life by the powerful in our world.  Some people have so much to lose in wealth and power.  They are too scared to change their way of life and to risk losing control of their kingdom.   It is easy for them and for us to justify to God our comforts of life.  Of course, we say, we deserve them.  But do we really deserve them more than anyone else?

 

We all have had resurrection experiences.  What have been the times in your life when an experience, feeling, emotion, relationship, connection with another person suddenly helped you to discover hope, new ways of being, courage or whatever you needed to overcome an obstacle you were facing in life.   Diana Butler Bass shares a story how her congregation, Epiphany in Washington D.C. and a homeless woman found power in the resurrection:

There is a woman in my church in Washington, D.C., who was homeless for 15 years. Several years ago, she came to Epiphany Church and was welcomed by the congregation’s ministry to homeless people. “It was the first time,” she told me, “that I came into a church and no one looked at me as if I was going to steal something.” Epiphany’s people respected her humanity, fed her, listened to her, and helped her – all in the name and power of Jesus. Eventually, she moved off the street into Section 8 housing, secured both work and support, and pulled her life together. An active member of Epiphany, she helps run the homeless ministry, serves as a Sunday reader, and usher.

This article is reprinted from Godspolitics on Beliefnet.com. Diana Butler Bass (http://www.dianabutlerbass.com/) was the author of Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith (Harper San Francisco) when this article appeared. This was found at www.sojo.net .

 

It is good news that resurrection is still happening today.  I say AMEM to that!   How is it happening at Foam Lake United Church?

 

A few years ago I saw a film on PBS called Unlisted: A story of Schizophrenia.  

 

This is a moving first person account of a woman’s troubled relationship with her father and his mental illness. Physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston, whose own father, Richard Ruston, has paranoid schizophrenia and at times lived on the street, takes viewers along on a deeply personal journey to reconnect with her estranged father.

http://video.kcts9.org/video/1779716157#

 

I experienced moments of resurrection in this story when film maker Delaney Ruston has moments of deep connection, sacred time, with her father and experiences her father as grandfather for her son.  There is a shot of her, her Dad and her son walking together just enjoying being together something she had craved so much as a child. She feels the pain of missed times with him.  Especially as a young girl when she needed a stable relationship with her father.  She starts to see the beauty of his sole through their open sharing. While this is all painful, it helps her to release years of pent up sadness and hurt that has burdened her life. Out of her courage to re-claim her relationship with her father she experiences moments of resurrection that helps her to live her life more fully.

 

I have had moments of resurrection throughout my life.  They often happen in small ways when I am at home with Jen, talking with a friend on the phone, keeping connected to family.  When I was on the Central Committee for the Centre for Christian Studies in Winnipeg, I felt a strong presence of the Spirit among the Council, staff and students.  It is hard to describe other than a deep sense of hope despite all the challenges theological schools are facing in Canada.   I say AMEN to that!

 

How do we live out the Easter story each day?  Imagine the transformation that could happen in our country if all Canadians, including our politicians, focussed on living compassionate lives.  Stories of resurrection would multiply as the compassion of the few turned into the compassion of the many. I challenge each of us to bring our life affirming values to all we do in life. Each time we do this will be a small but powerful act of resurrection.

 

 

 

The Gift of Resurrection

giotto httpfirstchurchmn.wordpress.comcategorysermonspage2

Easter – April 24, 2011

By Roland Legge

Based on Matthew 28:1–10

 

Easter is probably one of the most earth shattering experiences humankind has experienced.  Whether we believe the resurrection to be metaphor or actual fact, millions of people’s lives have been changed.   No one can deny this reality if they have eyes to see and ears to hear.

 

Easter becomes real, when we the people of God, live out God’s commandment to love self, neighbour and God.  Every act coming out of love, hope, a hunger for peace, and a hunger for justice are like mini resurrections in themselves.  Each act no matter how small or big says no to our death focussed culture and yes to life abundant.

 

We don’t know a lot about what happened at Jesus resurrection.  No one saw it.  But we know the tomb was empty and Mary Magdalene found new life and hope after experiencing Jesus. It touched her so deeply that she had the courage to tell the male disciples that he indeed had risen.  Neither do we know a lot about Mary Magdalene.

 

What we do know that Mary was likely the leader of a group of women who followed Jesus.  Some believed that Mary was a prostitute even though there is no evidence of that in the Bible.  It seems to some theologians Mary was among a group of independent women who provided resources for Jesus ministry.  These were women who chose to share their financial wealth and property with Jesus and his movement. What is important is that Mary and these other women were living out a diaconal ministry of service as equals with the male disciples.

 

But the miracle is that upon Jesus death and resurrection on the cross these women became the prime movers of this new Jesus movement which finally claimed the ministry they had been called to after Jesus death and resurrection.  They were more than followers of Jesus.  They had taken on this ministry themselves.  They finally understood what Jesus had been telling them that they have all they need and more to live out their calling from God.

 

To be a resurrection people is not easy.  Jesus and his followers know this only too well.  In the resurrection the spiral of life radiates out love as shown to us by Jesus.  When the love of Christ is let loose there is nothing that can stop it.  However, this life affirming way of living challenges and conflicts with our culture which led to Jesus death by the Empire of his day.

 

It is sad to think how much time and effort goes in trying to snuff out God’s vision for the abundant life by the powerful in our world.  Some people have so much to lose in wealth and power.  They are too scared to change their way of life and to risk losing control of their kingdom.   It is easy for them and for us to justify to God our comforts of life.  Of course, we say, we deserve them.  But do we really deserve them more than anyone else?

 

We all have had resurrection experiences.  What have been the times in your life when an experience, feeling, emotion, relationship, connection with another person suddenly helped you to discover hope, new ways of being, courage or whatever you needed to overcome an obstacle you were facing in life.   Diana Butler Bass shares a story how her congregation, Epiphany in Washington D.C. and a homeless woman found power in the resurrection:

There is a woman in my church in Washington, D.C., who was homeless for 15 years. Several years ago, she came to Epiphany Church and was welcomed by the congregation’s ministry to homeless people. “It was the first time,” she told me, “that I came into a church and no one looked at me as if I was going to steal something.” Epiphany’s people respected her humanity, fed her, listened to her, and helped her – all in the name and power of Jesus. Eventually, she moved off the street into Section 8 housing, secured both work and support, and pulled her life together. An active member of Epiphany, she helps run the homeless ministry, serves as a Sunday reader, and usher.

This article is reprinted from Godspolitics on Beliefnet.com. Diana Butler Bass (http://www.dianabutlerbass.com/) was the author of Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith (Harper San Francisco) when this article appeared. This was found at www.sojo.net . 

It is good news that resurrection is still happening today.  I say AMEM to that!   How is it happening at Foam Lake United Church?

 

A few years ago I saw a film on PBS called Unlisted: A story of Schizophrenia.  

 

This is a moving first person account of a woman’s troubled relationship with her father and his mental illness. Physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston, whose own father, Richard Ruston, has paranoid schizophrenia and at times lived on the street, takes viewers along on a deeply personal journey to reconnect with her estranged father.

http://video.kcts9.org/video/1779716157#

 

I experienced moments of resurrection in this story when film maker Delaney Ruston has moments of deep connection, sacred time, with her father and experiences her father as grandfather for her son.  There is a shot of her, her Dad and her son walking together just enjoying being together something she had craved so much as a child. She feels the pain of missed times with him.  Especially as a young girl when she needed a stable relationship with her father.  She starts to see the beauty of his sole through their open sharing. While this is all painful, it helps her to release years of pent up sadness and hurt that has burdened her life. Out of her courage to re-claim her relationship with her father she experiences moments of resurrection that helps her to live her life more fully.

 

I have had moments of resurrection throughout my life.  They often happen in small ways when I am at home with Jen, talking with a friend on the phone, keeping connected to family.  When I was on the Central Committee for the Centre for Christian Studies in Winnipeg, I felt a strong presence of the Spirit among the Council, staff and students.  It is hard to describe other than a deep sense of hope despite all the challenges theological schools are facing in Canada.   I say AMEN to that!

 

How do we live out the Easter story each day?  Imagine the transformation that could happen in our country if all Canadians, including our politicians, focussed on living compassionate lives.  Stories of resurrection would multiply as the compassion of the few turned into the compassion of the many. I challenge each of us to bring our life affirming values to all we do in life. Each time we do this will be a small but powerful act of resurrection.