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
gift next to me and
pass me Bread and Wine…
with communion in your countenance
aware accepting affirming
Gift of God
touch this lepered me
Instrument of God
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