Restoring life

File:Felix Pfeifer00.jpg

Watching for the Morning of June 28, 2015

Year B

The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost:
Proper 8 / Lectionary 13

There is a distinction to be made between curing a disease and healing. Healing is always much more than a restoration of bodily function; it is a restoration of life. We are aware of the complex interplay of body and mind in our modern understanding of disease. Nevertheless, our dominant image of illness is a biomechanical one, whereas the ancient world would have seen illness as social and spiritual. The woman with the flow of blood, who reaches out to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, is not only physically ill but ritually unclean. She has an infirmity that robs her of her place in the community. Though she was a person of means (able to afford doctors) yet she is “poor” for she is disconnected from life. What God does for her through Jesus is not fundamentally different than what God does for the daughter of Jairus. Both are “saved” – restored to life.

The God who restores life is the hope of the poet of Lamentations who cries out the grief and desolation of a people who have lost everything at the hands of the Babylonian armies. If a future exists for this people, it comes only from this God of life.

And in the psalm for Sunday, the God who restores life is praised by the author who sings of his wondrous healing.

This God who restores life is the one proclaimed by Paul – the God who opened the grave and exalted Jesus and in him brings us from death into life. So Paul urges the brothers and sisters in Corinth to share in the offering he is gathering for the brothers and sisters in Judea in the midst of famine. In Christ Jesus, who became poor that we might become rich, we have both the model and inspiration to give of ourselves for those in need – the model and inspiration to share in God’s life-giving work.

When we speak of healing, we are speaking of God’s work to make whole: to make whole our hearts, our lives, our communities, our world. It is a work begun in us now, and it is a work we are confident will be brought to completion for us and for all creation – for the grave is empty.

The Prayer June 28, 2015

Faithful God, whose steadfast love never fails
and whose mercy never comes to an end,
may your healing hand be ever upon us,
to renew and restore our life as your faithful people;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Texts for June 28, 2015

First Reading: Lamentations 3:19-33 (appointed 3:22-33)
“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.” – In the midst of his profound expression of grief over the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, the poet recalls the fragments of Israel’s worship that express their hope in God’s faithfulness and love.

Psalmody: Psalm 30
“O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.”
– The psalmist gives thanks and praise to God for delivery from a deathly illness.

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:7-15
“You know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”
– Paul appeals to the Corinthians to fulfill their promise to participate in the offering for the believers in Jerusalem during their time of need.

Gospel: Mark 5:21-43
“One of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” – Following the stilling of the storm at sea and the restoration of the man among the tombs, Jesus brings healing to a woman and restores the life of the daughter of Jairus.

 

Sculpture by Felix Pfeifer – “Genesung” (healing, restoration) in Rosengarten in Dresden. Photo by By Franziska Bauer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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