Living in a world that is in deep need of God’s healing, we continue to discern how we can be opened to be a healing presence to all of creation through who we are and what we do.
Vicar Andrea Bonneville
The Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Lectionary 23 B
Texts: James 2:1-17, Mark 7:24-37
Beloved in Christ, grace and peace to you in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Do your actions really reflect the love of Jesus Christ?
This is what James asks us today. It’s a fair question. James wants to know if you are willing to roll up your selves and get to work so that the love of Christ may be reflected through how you are loving your neighbor.
Suggesting a life of service that puts our actions of caring for our neighbors at the center of who we are and the center of what we do. Loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.
It should be simple. It is simple. We are empathic people who know how to show love. But as Pastor Crippen shared last week, doing good in a world filled with evil systems and structures of power is really really complicated.
So complicated at times it can leave us dormant. Moving through our days doing what we need to do just to care for ourselves and our families. Turning away from the pain and suffering and disasters that uproot peoples and communities. Going from point A to point B trying to find rest and nourishment in our exhaustion.
Doing so we turn inward. Into our own wants and needs. Into our own biased perceptions of people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, income, and wellness. Into our own patterns and expectations of success, wealth, and knowledge.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus acts in a way that suggests he is turned inward. Traveling to a new region, he stops at a house to rest and doesn’t want anyone to know that he is there. A woman who doesn’t fit the norm for various reasons comes to Jesus asking for healing for her daughter and she is met with undeniable rudeness.
The woman experiences Jesus’ rudeness and challenges him to turn outward. Seeing her and her daughter as people in need of healing rather than the labels that society had placed on them, Jesus heals the little girl.
As he continues traveling, Jesus encounters a man who is also in need of healing. In this event, Jesus realizes that he can’t bring healing to this man alone. He turns toward the heavens, sighs, and says to the man “be opened.” The man is healed.
And Jesus is transformed through his encounter with and the healing of the woman and the man. Moving away from the regions he had been doing ministry and into new regions with different people showed Jesus that his ministry is more expansive and more life changing than he could have ever imagined.
And it shows us that God’s healing and love and grace is not limited by location or laws. It isn’t found only in certain places or through certain people. If anything, God’s love and healing is happening where we least expect it.
So if you are feeling dormant in this season of your life, it is time to take Jesus’ lead and be open to a new way of imagining what the Triune God can do in your life and community.
Move out of your routine and your comfort zone. Take a new way to work, shop at a different grocery store, volunteer with or donate to a new organization that sparks a passion. Listen to and share stories of love and healing and hope. Go to new areas of our cities. Speak to people you’ve never met. Be open to new ways of seeing Christ at work in your life.
Doing so will challenge the ways that we have ignored the pain around us thinking that someone else would do something about it, challenge when we have been negligent in caring for creation suggesting that the problems are out of our control, when we have put our comfort before the needs of others.
All of it is going to transform us while God works through us to transform the world.
God is healing the world through all of us. Through the way we turn our ears to hear the cries for justice. Through the way we open our hearts and show love to a neighbor we have never met. Through the way we look at the brokenness of the world and trust that even the most broken thing can be made whole through God’s love.
Seeing the Gospel embodied and proclaimed through each of you and this community, reminds me of the love and grace and healing that God is doing. So try not to let the evil and injustice of the world make you dormant, the world needs your love, your passion, your hope.
But if you are feeling dormant, water and nourishment and sunlight are all around you. And God will continue to use it to heal you.
So be opened from the healing that comes from Christ. Be opened from God’s love for you. Be opened from the transformation that is taking place in your life.
And let it guide you in love and service.
The world needs you, your neighbor needs you, God needs you, to zealously proclaim God’s healing, God’s justice, and God’s love.
Not just through your words, but in every action.