“You Did What?”
May 29, 2016 – Year C – 3rd Sunday After Pentecost
When I was first ordained I served a small congregation in a community called Coleville north of Kindersley, Saskatchewan. In early September a man named Bob came back to his family farm to help with harvest. In mid afternoon he approached the end of one field and saw what he thought was a telephone line lying on the edge of the field. He got off the combine and picked it up and an electric current ran through him burning much of his body. His father was working on a nearby field and a short while later saw his son lying on the side of the field. Assessing the situation, the Dad called for an ambulance and a rescue crew arrived. Bob was taken to the Kindersley hospital, stabilized and placed in another ambulance to be transferred to the burn united at University hospital in Saskatoon. About 50 km. outside of Kindersley the ambulance hit some gravel and rolled, throwing all the attendants and Bob. Another ambulance was called, and eventually Bob made it into the burn unit. After many surgeries, amputations, skin grafts, and debriding’s – not to mention many months of hospitalizations, Bob returned home. Today he is playing golf in spite of prosthetic leg, arm and foot. He holds down a full time job and he is a proud grandfather.
In the Gospel of Luke we learn that Jesus heals a centurion’s slave. The centurion, a Roman police officer, gathered a group of Jewish elders to assist him in caring for his slave. Disregarding power and class the centurion showed amazing concern and compassion towards the unnamed slave. Directing the elders to approach Jesus the request for healing was made. Jesus was astounded at the faith of the military officer and the people who were in his circle. And the man without a name was restored into the community of acceptance with renewed health.
Once again in Coleville Saskatchewan lived an aged woman named Pearl. Pearl was hospitalized with her body shutting down and life draining from her aching bones and organs. Several times in the middle of the night her children and I were called to the hospital as death seemed imminent. Her breathing was slow and laboured. Her skin was pale and sweaty, her lips blue. Surely death would come soon for this hard working woman who cooked over a log burning stove. But sure enough she would rally and a few days later she would be sitting up in a chair looking perky. This cycle of being near death and the family and me called in to bring her comfort at her passing, only to have her rally and life being restored, was repeated several times. Pearl lived another 2 ½ years before she ultimately joined the great river of love in death.
Many of us know what it is to have life restored. Some have lived through cancer diagnosis and treatments and have lived past the wonderful 5 year marker. Some have lived through accidents and with physiotherapy and other care are able live quality lives. Some know the despair of depression and with medical and psychological interventions plus spiritual care are finding life has new meaning. Some know the devastation of abuse and are able to live restored and full lives thanks to counselling and compassion. Yes, many of us know what it is to have life restored.
In the Gospel of Luke we learn that Jesus heals a centurion’s slave. We too come before Jesus. Surrounded by friends on a similar spiritual journey, we approach the great healer and ask for new life. The healing we seek may be for peace in the midst of a busy period in your life. You may be seeking healing of aches and pains that prevent a good night’s sleep. Turn that need over to the great healer. Perhaps you are like the unnamed slave and are ill. Bring your illness faithfully before Jesus, and with wisdom, there will be information and guidance granted to you.
Healing takes many forms and patterns. Sometimes it is spiritual and we find ourselves encountering the life giving Spirit in new and wonderful ways. Sometimes it is physical and health is restored. Healing always draws us closer to the Holy One, if we but stop and give thanks.
May our faith be like that of the community that gathered around Jesus so long ago. And may new life and healing be granted to everyone of you! So be it. Amen.