Sacred Soil

The story
June 19, 2017, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

20710763135_5197b1effd_oIn our story this week comes after a long run of healing stories. Jesus has healed a paralyzed man, a man’s daughter, a woman with a 12-year hemorrhage, two blind men, a man unable to speak, and more. Somewhat breathless, Jesus looks up at the crowds, those so desperate for healing. The text describes them as harassed and helpless.

And so, Jesus looks to the disciples (and by extension us), and says, you’ve got work to do.

But first, there are at least two things to know about how Jesus does this healing work. It’s tempting to believe that the disciples went out, armed with some kind of super power and zapped people into health. As if they donned their capes and went around: Pew, pew, your leg is healed; zap, you’re alive again!

But Jesus’ healing is far different:

  • The first thing to know is that Jesus sees us in a dramatically different way. It’s easy to miss this, because we tend to be results oriented people, looking for the end game. But every time Jesus heals someone, the encounter begins with Jesus seeing. Truly seeing the other person, with eyes that know the full story. This sort of penetrating soul piercing sight that reaches well beyond the pretty picture we try to present to the world, to the true story. A vision that sees the stories of heartbreak, the harassment, helplessness.
  • The second, is the way Jesus heals. When Jesus heals, he is about making the person whole, and returning them to the community. It is not that the ailment itself is evil (though sometimes it is embodied evil), but that Jesus sees the job of healing as building up the community of the faithful. Healing so that we can be there for each other. So that we (together) might be whole.

So when Jesus looks out at the crowd, the heartbroken, harassed, and helpless crowd, he is inviting the disciples to go out and see (really see the full story), and then to bring the community to wholeness.

And we too—all these years later, we are also called to go out, to the heartbroken. The harassed and helpless. To see the full story, to bring wholeness. Your work is needed– Even if you think you have nothing to give—your work is needed.

And it all starts with a story.

We’ve found this to be very true with the work of Awake. We’ve been at it about three years now—reaching out into this community, listening closely for the heartbreak, the harassment, the helplessness. Collecting the stories.

Before Awake, Unity housed a summer reading program run by outside folks, serving kids largely from other neighborhoods. It was good. But not great.

When Awake began, we decided that this sort of thing didn’t really fit with our mission. So instead, we began to listen, truly listen to the stories of our neighbors. And we heard a frustration that there really aren’t quality programs for kids to keep up with their reading over the summer. We heard the heartbreak of parents, unsure how to help their kids grow. We heard the longing of teens, who wanted opportunities for real leadership.

And so, working together, hearing the stories, seeking wholeness, we built a program together that is bringing wholeness to our community. That is seeking healing. A program that builds leadership, and justice, because of the gift of relationship.

And that’s just one story. Right now, Awake is working with a group of people who are heartbroken—and feeling harassed and helpless, because our city doesn’t have a real newspaper to speak of. It’s hard to know what the stories even are. In response, we brought folks together to discuss, and imagine, to try to see a way forward to some kind of wholeness. A way for our community to come to know its own stories, to know itself. And we might be more whole. It is a healing thing to be a part of.

And I’m just picking on Awake today. There are the stories of Unity, washing firetrucks, Comunidad Unida, creating a place for different cultures to come together. There are the stories in your own life, where inspired by your faith, you have truly seen your neighbor, heartbroken and harassed, and worked together toward healing.

This is indeed, God at work in us.

But, we don’t do it perfectly.

Too often we are tempted to think we know what the story is—that we know what’s going on and why. Sometimes with deadly consequences. (Is he reaching for his wallet, or a gun?). So often, we are tempted try to fit someone into our own story, crushing them into our plot line. Molding them into the characters we understand, rather than truly seeing the other. We see what we want to see. We tell the same old story about others—even if it is riddled with lies and half-truths.

But Christ is the one who enters into our story—fully. Knowing us, as we are. Completely. Even the parts we don’t like about ourselves. The parts we’re supposed to be ashamed of. But Jesus, doesn’t assume—instead, he really understands. He was not confused about the life of the tax collector, the prostitute. The leper. And he’s not confused about the ways we are broken—the ways we are heartbroken, harassed, and helpless. We can’t hide that from him. But, then Jesus didn’t need us to be good to come and take on our flesh and love us completely. Jesus doesn’t need our perfection. Rather, to be a part of our story. To love us completely.

So it is from this love that Christ sends us out to learn this story from others—to know the heartbreak, and pain. The harassment and helplessness. The hope. And to tell that story, the story of a loving God who truly sees—sees us as we are, so that we might know wholeness, love and healing.

And this, this is the story we tell. The story of Jesus. The story of our own lives. The story of God at work in this community, and in our whole-selves.