Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Healing (Luke 4)



          Today we are celebrating the feast day of St. Luke. The Church remembers Luke primarily as the author of the 'Gospel according to Luke' and the 'Acts of the Apostles', though these books Luke tells about the earthly life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus and then in Acts Luke tells how news about Jesus spread all the way to Rome. Luke is also believed to have been a doctor. He was a close friend of Paul's, who called him the "beloved Physician".  Luke was a healer, and writing these books was a part of that.

          When I say "healing" to you, or say that we are having a 'service of healing' there are probably a few images that come to mind. Televangelists like Benny Hinn might come to mind. Someone walks on stage who has previously been confined to a wheelchair, but who is now completely healed. They run around and jump up and down proving to everyone that a miraculous healing has taken place.

          I might surprise you by saying that I believe in that kind of healing. It doesn't mean I believe in everything I see on TV, but I know that sometimes I have seen prayer lead to healing. The danger in this is that sometimes we can become infatuated with this kind of miraculous healing and forget about other ways that God works.

          There was once a man stranded in the ocean after his ship sank. He said to himself, I believe that God will rescue me. After drifting on the water  for a few hours a man in a jet ski came buy and offered him a ride back to shore. The stranded man said, no thank you I believe God will rescue me. A few hours after that a man in a rowboat rowed by and offered the man a ride. The stranded man gave the same answer- No thank you God will rescue me. Then a helicopter came by and dropped a ladder to him. The man gave the same response- No thank you God will save me. Eventually the man drowned and when he came to heaven he asked God why he didn't rescue him. God replied that he had sent the jetski, the rowboat, and the helicopter.

          I have met people who will not take medications because they believe God will heal them. They think that taking medications is a lack of faith, and so they go on suffering and wondering why God isn't doing something. But Just as God sent the Jetski, God also uses the doctor ands the pharmacist to bring healing. God's healing is not in contradiction with medications a doctor might subscribe. Sometimes we can get stuck in believing that God is only going to operate in one way.

          God's healing is bigger than our ability to comprehend it. God is not limited to use a doctor's pill, but neither is God limited to supernatural healings. Ultimately healing is what God is all about. God desires to heal us- mind, body, and spirit. God wants to heal our relationships, and our emotions. God wants to heal our material lack and financial problems. God wants to heal our disconnection to our planet.

          Our own bad choices, the choices of others, and the brokenness of our world perpetuate a cycle of damage. Hurt people hurt others. Sometimes we hurt people without even knowing it. All of this leads to a world that is full of hurt and brokenness. ... God's desire is healing. Ultimately, all healing is God's healing. Sometimes God uses a doctor to bring us healing. Sometimes a Truth from the Bible brings us spiritual healing. Sometimes God uses a counselor to bring emotional healing. And sometimes God uses the supernatural to bring healing. Often it is a combination of things. Prayer for healing is never out of line.   James 5:14 says, " Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord."  There are innumerable methods God uses to heal our various hurts. God can work well beyond the  boundaries we set in our minds.

          Sometimes the healing we need isn't even the healing we want. Sometimes that leads to an unanswered prayer for healing. Jesus' own prayer, for the cup of suffering to be removed from him, was not answered and Jesus was Crucified, but that led to resurrection. Job's healing did not come until long after he wanted it. St. Paul lived with something he called a 'thorn in his flesh', which was not healed. Out of this suffering God can bring healing, which is mysterious and confusing. There are larger purposes at work, and while I refuse to believe that God causes suffering. I do believe that God can bring good out of suffering. St. Paul's Thorn in the flesh might have been to aid his soul's development. He might have learned compassion for those who suffer. His pride might have been healed through his suffering. Even in suffering God can bring about emotional or spiritual healing. Though the methods are many, ultimately that is what God is aiming at. God wants complete healing for the creation.


          This is what Jesus was about. When Jesus was in his home town of Nazareth he began his mission with the words of Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.          

 Jesus comes to bring Good News to those who are financially broken. Jesus brings healing to those who are broken in prison. Jesus comes to heal broken eyes, and spiritual blindness. Jesus comes to help those who are crushed by injustice. Jesus' whole ministry is about healing. It is about healing in all areas of life. What Jesus wants is whole life restoration.

          And that is the mission of the church. Being salt and light in this hurting world is about being a people of healing. We give and serve to join Jesus on his healing mission.      In the church we talk a lot about the mission. We talk a lot about things we should be doing as Christians. And that is all good and necessary, but it is important that we receive that healing ourselves before we participate in God's mission. God's mission has to be done through God's power and grace, and we have to receive it before we can share it. We have to hear the Good News before we can proclaim it.

          Today, I want you to ask yourself where you need healing. Is it emotional? Is there a hurt in your past you need God to help you with? Is there anger or sadness you are having a hard time dealing with? Do you need spiritual healing? Is there someone you need to forgive, but don't feel you have the power to?  Maybe you need physical healing. Maybe you have a health problem that you are continuously struggling with. Whatever kind of healing you need I invite you to focus on that during this service. Receive from God and pray for this to be a place of healing today.   

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