First Congregational Church
February 22, 2015
First Sunday in Lent
Metamorphosis: Christian Character, Total Surrender and Renewing of the Mind”
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
In honor of this year’s Lenten theme of “character,” I have a few questions for you. What is Peter Pan’s favorite restaurant? Wendy’s, of course. Why does Alice ask so many questions? 'Cause she is in “Wonder”land. What did Snow White say when her photos weren't ready yet? Some Day My Prints Will come!
A few months ago, I came across the idea for a sermon series by Peter Schuurman of New Life Christian Reformed Church in Guelph, Ontario. The initial word comes from the second verse of today’s scripture passage. We will hear “transformed,” but metamorphosis is the actual Greek word the apostle Paul chose when writing his greatest work to the Roman Jewish-Christian community - maybe the most important word Paul ever used.
It’s a two part word, “meta” meaning change and “morph" meaning form. Many of us learn about metamorphosis when we’re very young, when we learn about the change that happens to a caterpillar when it becomes a butterfly. In Christian terms, it signals the work of grace in us when we surrender our lives to God’s service. It’s also a concept that makes some people uncomfortable.
And yet, the goal of the Christian life is not just belief and entry into a community of belief. It’s a common misconception that once we “arrive” at such a community and faith, that’s all there is. Jesus summed up the goal of Christian living in two words, “Follow me.” We are called to become like Jesus—to develop his character, to practice being like him.
When Peter Schuurman put the word metamorphosis with the phrase “total surrender,” I really wondered if it was a good idea. When it comes to faith, the concept of surrender can carry some real baggage; i.e., the Branch Davidian group near Waco, Texas, Jim Jones in Jonestown and other notorious religious leaders.
But sometimes looking into things that we aren’t that excited about can be quite enlightening, and that is unequivocally true when it comes to the idea of surrender. Abraham Lincoln said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” Prolific classic Christian author, A.W. Tozer said, “The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven't yet come to the end of themselves. We're still trying to give orders, and interfering with God's work within us. ” From the book, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou: “At fifteen, life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice.” Christian author and comedian, Joyce Meyer, “Go home, and let all your relatives off the potter's wheel. You are not the potter!”
And then there was the anecdote from author Bruce Larson. When working with people and the idea of surrender, sometimes they would walk from his office in New York to the RCA Building on Fifth Avenue. Outside the building is that gigantic statue of Atlas, that beautifully proportioned man who, with all his muscles straining, is holding the world upon his shoulders. There he stands, the most powerfully built man in the world, and he can barely stand up under this burden. 'Now that's one way to live,' Mr. Larson would point out to his companion, 'trying to carry the world on your shoulders.” And then they would walk across the street to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Behind the high altar is a little shrine of the boy Jesus, perhaps eight or nine years old, and with no effort he is holding the world in one hand. Mr. Larson would point out the choice we all have. “We can carry the world on our shoulders, or we can say, 'I give up, Lord; here's my life. I give you my world, the whole world.’"
Because we can, but more so because it makes the lesson come more alive, I’ve asked Julie to read our short passage from the New International Version and Eugene Peterson’s version, The Message.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Thank you, Julie. During Lent, we are more conscious of the end of Jesus’ life, most especially his last week. In fact, we perhaps appreciate the glory of Christ’s resurrection when it is viewed against the gory backdrop of his last night and day. Even though Christ asked God for any other avenue, even though he surely cried out in pain, what is striking about Christ’s last 24 hours is the calm assurance that God had everything in hand. To “follow” Christ, even in and to such poignancy, is not something that happens with a snap of the fingers or a click of the heels.
It would be interesting to know if Jesus already possessed such a determination and assurance about his impending death before that last week or day. We know he knew something about what was coming, and from the records we have, it seems that there was never a sense of panic. But I wonder if Jesus, like us, had to renew his mind and his heart, if he had to “work” at that calm and assurance. Perhaps his times of retreat and prayer we not only about recovering from the press and needs of the people, but were also about renewing his mind and heart, realigning his path with God’s mission for him. And maybe that’s a reason we need this season of Lent, to help us renew our hearts and minds.
We live in such a wonderful world, despite all the ugliness that accompanies the good. As much as it pains us to lose loved ones, what would our lives be without them? Grief hurts, but what would life be like without love and joy? As much as the muscles hurt from shoveling and the costs of moving snow are killing the pocketbook, it is beautiful and we are reminded that we are not God, which is certainly a relief some days.
God could have created everything without people, but ours is a God that desires relationship, which includes good and ill, beauty and warts. God could have set the universes and planets in motion and called it a day, but God had more to give. And God could have left us to our own demise, centers of our own little universes. But God gave us life, and light and love and mercy and every other gift. How we respond to such gifts matters, and for the gift of life - never to be alone ever - to never die - ever, we can chose to respond - or not.
If we chose not to respond, to live our lives without care or interaction with God - reduces us, limits us. I wonder if that is - at least in a small part - why we have addictions - behaviors that seek to make us whole, yet end up making real, living people - empty and reduced.
So we take the other option, to respond, to follow Christ, to give our lives to God to lead us, inspire us and love us. We decide to revolutionize our thinking that moves us from seeing the world as a big machine or seeing ourselves at the center, to seeing God’s presence and power as the hope of all creation. In a more light-hearted comparison, we move from crawling downcast along the earth to flying to heights we never dreamt of, to see the world and all of life in at least a part of its grandeur.
Last night I was watching the Smithsonian Channel, and a program on the Stonehenge Empire. Geologists have been surveying the land, with all kinds of new technologies to create a huge picture that modern man has never been able to see before. The digging and excavating reveals layers that give evidence of people and a culture that are mind boggling in the complexity and advancements.
When we take the moments we have, this season that we enter today, and do a little digging into our character, we begin to see that our lives are not just about believing in God and showing up at church when it works for our schedule - and this is not a rag on anyone - just a statement. When we work on becoming more like Christ, we begin to see layers and depths of love and care that make the offering of our lives not an obligation, but a response that goes beyond words and speech. Which seems like the very place to pray.
God Beyond Our Human Understanding, we are humbled by your love for us, for Christ’s total surrender of his life to you and your will. It can feel too big, too hard, too much to surrender our lives to you. So help us; renew our minds and hearts that we become more like Christ. Help us to help the world see the honor we have in being your beloved. Encourage us to look at our character, that we may genuinely desire to become all that you created us to be. For all the blessings you bestow on us, all your people say, Amen.
First Congregational Church
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
Colossians 3:1-14 The Message
1-2 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.
3-4 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.
5-8 And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.
9-11 Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.
12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
I like Eugene Peterson’s translation called The Message - for so many reasons - and this passage is another one of those reasons. Traditional Ash Wednesday services often focus on the brevity of life, reminding us that we come from dust and will soon enough return back to the earth, dust once more. There is a profound reminder in that aspect of this day, but our worship as post-resurrection people is not without hope. As earthly, human beings, ours is a heritage where dust and ashes symbolized repentance and mortality and sometimes we need a process or procedure to enable confession of sins and asking forgiveness.
Ironically, we spent a good part of our lives trying to avoid dust and ash. Dust is the homes (and not just the homes where we live) we have failed to clean and broken dreams long abandoned. Ash is the world engulfed in flames and ancient bodies in unmarked graves. All year we try to avoid dust and ash, and yet, here we are. And it is Wednesday.
And sometimes, as much as we try to bear up and hold on, the dust can feel too heavy. Or the ash slips from your hands as you are pouring them into the Cool Whip container onto your back steps, the ashes that you just burned, just enough for today, and you have your good coat on. And that is when God whispers into our ears true things that are also sweet: “It was into dust and ash I breathed and you awoke.” Today we are reminded that God whispers again, not just with self-denial or reminders of our human errors. We are also reminded that God calls us to that wardrobe that God always intended us to wear, our real lounging around home duds of compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline, even-tempered-ness, content with second place, forgiveness and love.
Let us continue our journey to the cross in prayer. Gracious, heavenly God, thank you for not only breathing life into us, but for the clothing you give us to wear, to chose to wear. Enable us to take off that which is not flattering to us or you. Help us to see how well the wardrobe of Christ looks on us, and enables us to feel so much closer to him, not unlike a suit or a beautiful outfit can cause us to feel special. For all that we need to don and need to take off, we do so in the quiet of our hearts.
Let us be assured of God’s forgiveness and loving kindness. God so loved you, that God gave Christ to you - for you. Amen.
First Congregational Church
February 15, 2015
Sixth Sunday after Epiphany
“Expectations and Enlightenment”
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
My sisters and I grew up not knowing our grandparents, even though we all lived in the same town. For a variety of reasons, some of which I’ll never understand, we never stayed alone with our grandparents, we never stayed overnight with them, they never played with us. I say this not to elicit sympathy, but to set the stage.
Grandpa Anderson was 73 when I was born, and 50 years ago, 70 year olds were old. He started to become blind not long after my mother was born, so he never knew what we looked like. Despite his failing eyesight, he taught my mother to hunt, and there was always a hunting dog in the house while she was growing up. Whenever we visited him, he would put his hand on our heads and tell us how much we’d grown since the last time we saw him.
We, too, grew up with hunting dogs in the house, although they didn’t hunt as much as they did when mom was young. We grew up with puppies and kittens, and we didn’t think much about them. One day, when I was about 10, we took the last puppy we were to keep, and snuck it into the nursing home. For those who are too young to know, pets weren’t allowed into such places, nor did nursing care facilities have their own pets.
So mom went up to Grandpa’s bed, leaned over and said as loudly as she could, without raising suspicion, “Dad, we brought you something.” She put the six week or so old puppy on his chest and in an instant, all those years immediately faded from his face as he said, “A puppy!”
I share that historical bit to highlight the transformation of Grandpa’s face, and how ordinary, almost everyday-like such experiences can be. Our scripture passage also deals with a transformation, albeit a lot more than that of a grandfather’s face.
2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
Thank you, Missi. I don’t know about any of you, but I really like this passage because of all the questions that come up. Like - how did the disciples know it was Elijah and Moses? It’s logical that Peter, James, and John had never seen photos of these two men from Israel’s history. And I suspect oil painting portraits of them didn’t hang in some “Saints of Renown” gallery in the Temple. One has to figure that they never had their faces plastered onto $5 bills or stamped onto a denarius. And one would likewise suspect they were not donning some “Hi My Name Is ______” sticky badges on their chests.
Of course, the easy answer to the question “How did they know?” is that the Holy Spirit revealed it to their hearts and minds, and that is no doubt part of the answer, too. But however it was they knew, Peter at least was enthused enough by the gathering as to want to bottle it and keep it going. Or he was so flustered that the only thing he could think was suggest tenting.
The actual Greek word is skena, which is the same word used in an important Old Testament translation for “tabernacle.” It’s also the root of the verb form John used in John 1:14 when he told us that the Word made flesh “tabernacled/tented” among us.
What’s interesting about that, is that - as opposed to a solid, immovable temple, those temporary tabernacles could be moved, much like the Israelites used to pack up and move the original Tabernacle—Ark of the Covenant and presence of Yahweh and all—to a new place. Maybe they could eventually cart the glory of those little tabernacles all the way to the Temple in Jerusalem and infuse it with the glory of the Christ, ushering in the kingdom of God once and for all.
Or maybe he just didn’t know what he was saying. (I am certain I would have been tongue-tied had I been there, not to mention brain-addled - well, more so than usual, in the presence of such an event.) At the very least, the disciples didn’t expect to see the famous law-giver or the greatest of the prophets to show up, much less both of them.
It was a poem by Steve Garnaas-Holmes over there at unfoldinglight.net that underscored the visual effect of this event.
“Sometimes you forget to think,
to analyze and compartmentalize,
and instead you just gaze,
and finally you really see,
see the glory hidden in the ordinary,
the light in the stone,
the angelic being
in the person next to you.
is not moral perfection
but seeing clearly,
with the delight and wonder
with which God sees,
seeing with eyes for holiness,
seeing the divine in people
and treating them so.
is not certitude
but seeing what is truly before you,
seeing the bud in the bud,
the child in the child,
even when you do not see.
is not understanding
but seeing the light
as if for the first time.
is not knowing
Theologian Frederick Buechner had this thought. “[In the Transfiguration] it was the holiness of [Jesus] shining through his humanness, his face so afire with it that they were almost blinded. Even with us something like that happens once in a while. The face of a man walking his child in the park, of a woman picking peas in the garden, of sometimes even the unlikeliest person listening to a concert, say, or standing barefoot in the sand watching the waves roll in, or just having a beer at a Saturday baseball game in July. Every once and so often, something so touching, so incandescent, so alive transfigures the human face that it’s almost beyond bearing.”
In one sense Buechner here is maybe rendering the actual Transfiguration of Jesus a bit too mundane, a bit too much like what could happen to us on most any given afternoon while taking a ride or walking down a sidewalk. But on the other hand, he may be on to something, and I would add to his musings this one: Even on all kinds of days when the disciples and Jesus were by no means having a mountaintop experience and when dazzling garments whiter than white were nowhere to be seen, even then when Jesus smiled kindly at lepers, looked pained to see a “sinner” being shunned by the Temple establishment, or looked winsome after telling a hurting prostitute to go in peace because her sins were forgiven, there was a sense in which the disciples were seeing the face of the divine transfigured in also those ordinary moments. They were seeing hints of glory. They were seeing true God of true God, vividly and surprisingly and, yes, dazzlingly on display in God’s One and Only Son, full of grace and truth.
My question is, “So what do you see, in this transformation of Jesus?” Maybe it’s the likeness to Jesus’ baptism: the cloud that appeared and covered them - like the Spirit of God descending like a dove“, “This is my Son, whom I love” like “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Perhaps it is the mention that they were all alone at the beginning of this morning’s passage, and then at the end, “they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.”
Perhaps there is nothing to this, but it’s curious that this incident is bracketed by the sense of being “alone.” Perhaps one idea that can be drawn from the Transfiguration is that it reveals how with Christ, we are never really alone—we are always in the company of a great host, a great cloud of witnesses.
It’s also interesting that with all the spectacular visual effect, God says, “listen.” Maybe it was as much a temptation for the disciples then, and for us disciples now, to rely on what we see, and less on what we can hear. Seeing is so easy - so immediate - but hearing, hearing takes more concentration, more attention.
When I came across Jan Richardson’s Painted Prayerbook Blog, I couldn’t resist adding her comment, because I took the first part of is as a challenge. But the majority of it is also very right on.
“It’s not a new message;” she said, “I’ll wager that the greater percentage of the sermons preached on this text will offer a variation on the theme of navigating the transition from the mountaintop to the flatlands. And yet we need to keep practicing that transition, to keep rehearsing the journey that moves us from being recipients of wonder to becoming people who, transformed and—shall we say it?—transfigured by what we have received, can then offer these wonders to a broken world.”
Maybe Jesus’ transformation is a foreshadowing of the transformation that we will all undergo when we pass from this life to eternal life. Maybe it’s far more than any of us can understand until the day when we begin our lives in Christ’s full presence. If nothing else, it is a reminder to look, without expectations, that our lights may be brighter and fuller than we ever thought possible.
Let us pray. Transformative and Enlightened God, we thank you for those moments that light our lives in ways that stay with us. Thank you for those lessons that come to us in the spectacular and the ordinary. Help us to not get nervous or uncomfortable in the silences you give us, that allow us to hear you in the fullness of your messages. Help us navigate the paths between our valleys and mountaintops, and let us not become weary of following you and doing your work. For the blessing of being your people, all of us say, Amen.
First Congregational Church
February 8, 2015
Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
A pastor known as a healer came to a local church. There was a long line to see him. It was a young man’s turn in line and he said it was his hearing. So, the healing Pastor grabbed his ears and said a prayer. The Pastor let go and asked, "hows your hearing now’'. "I don't know; it's not till Friday," replied the boy.
Our scripture passage this morning isn’t one you’ll find on Top Ten Most Famous Bible Passages. It’s one that I’m sure some of you - and I know I - have read a number of times, and not thought much about it.
The writer of Mark has just described John the Baptist, Jesus’ baptism, the calling of the first four disciples and last week, we heard about Jesus driving out an impure spirit from a man.
Mark 1:29-39 NIV
29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
Thank you Myra. Somewhere in my memory bank, I recall someone saying that for many of the stories in the New Testament that deal with a male, there is a counterpart to a story that deals with a female. Our passage today would seem to be an example of such a pattern; last week’s being about a man healed of an evil spirit and this week’s woman healed of a fever.
One of the commentators I read this week suggested that a big deal about this passage was the healing that allowed this woman to go back to her “job” of serving. “The fever left her and she began to wait on them.” It was a way she could thank Jesus for what he had done, and I’d glossed right over that point, because I’d like to think that at least in this place, we don’t need to justify the equality of men and women and our “jobs.”
Then this past Friday evening, 9 and 10 News did an update on news anchor, John McGowan. John is famous for Sports Overtime and introducing northern Michigan to some of his favorite restaurants. If I remember rightly, he did a show from our own Crescent Bakery. As many of you know, John’s life was turned upside-down on September 26 when he had a stroke. Mr. McGowan said that he was at the 9 and 10 studio, doing a mock newscast, to see about the possibility of going back to work.
It was both John McGowan and Matt Skinner from workingpreacher.org who focused the spotlight - not on gender or serving - but purpose. Mr. Skinner said that all of Jesus’ preaching and proclaiming goes beyond words and messages, because what he is really after is making God’s kingdom known and observable. He said, “His preaching activity, the full range of his public ministry, is performative and effective: it demonstrates what God’s reign looks like, and it has real effects as it delivers people, heals people, restores people to community, forgives people, and speaks truth to power.” The dim light turned into a bright spotlight on one part of that last sentence: “restores people to community.”
I don’t remember the exact words from John McGowan’s interview, but there was something that he said near the end of the article on Friday evening, about him wanting to get back to serving the people of northern Michigan. He could retire after forty years of broadcasting, but he really wants to spend one more Sports Overtime season in viewers homes before adding retired to his resume. Although it sounds like - if that didn’t happen, he’d be okay with it, there is a great life force in being of service to others.
In Jesus’ day, “Illness bore a heavy social cost: not only would a person be unable to earn a living or contribute to the well-being of a household, but their ability to take their proper role in the community, to be honored as a valuable member of a household, town, or village, would be taken from them. “ Having the flu back in those days was not so simple.
Some of you have heard me mention David Lose before, also of workingpreacher.org. He commented on this passage from the idea that “there are two kinds of people in the world: people who need help, and people who need to help.” He started his comments with a quote from Mark Twain, "There are two kinds of people in the world, people who classify the world into two kinds of people, and people who don’t." Mr. Lose also shared a wonderful quote from his son. “"Dad, there are three kinds of people in the world: people who can do math, and people who can’t."
Mr. Lose’s point was that while Simon’s mother-in-law, whom he named Esther, was at one point a person who needed help, after her encounter with Jesus, she immediately became (again) one who needed to help. Yet another commentator, Sarah Henrich, added that the word used for Jesus taking “Esther’s” hand suggested that new strength had been imparted to the woman laid low by illness….so that she might again rise up to take their place in the world.”
I don’t know about any of you who have seen it, but I sure could see John McGowan’s desire to “rise up to take his place in the world” on Friday evening. I’ve seen that desire in other people who have had strokes, heart attacks, mental breakdowns, and afflictions of all kinds. For any one who has had to endure “unwell” before becoming well again, we can get Esther and John McGowan.
Any time I really start thinking about this idea of healing, however, I think of Mabel. I don’t remember her last name, and she passed on to eternal life probably 18 years ago. I never heard her voice; I never knew how tall she was because she had grown into a very plump ball with arms and legs all tucked in. In the two or three years I worked with her, she never changed; I never knew how long she’d been that way.
Even though she’s long gone, Mabel continues to teach me - and maybe others - that regardless of what our bodies do - or don’t do, of what we do can do - or can’t do - our spirits don’t die, even if they seem to have had their voices silenced. Despite her inability to rise to her place in the world in her last years, Mabel’s “healing” gave reason for others to rise to their place in caring for her.
We get a paper cut and it may sting like crazy - even for a couple days. But it heals. We break bones and most of the time they heal fairly well. We get the flu, and depending on the variety, we get medication - or not - and we get better. And all of us ultimately “heal” when we enter into eternal life, but there are so many healings that happen on this side of eternity, and God takes our hand and lifts us as much as Jesus did for Simon’s mother-in-law - even if it doesn’t look like it. For that care and love, let us pray.
Great Physician and Lover of Souls, we thank you for those times when we need help those you send those that can help. We thank you as much for those opportunities that we can be the helper, regardless of the absence or presence of thanks or appreciation. For those who are in need, shed their sorrows and pain, and help them find comfort; each wound made whole in you. Help all those who need - to rise up and take their place in the world with joy, strength and hope. Help each one of us serve others with purity of heart and with joy of purpose in whatever ways come to us. For the blessings of your prayer answers, all your people say, Amen.
Just the messenger. And the collector and arranger of that which has been received. References available upon request.