Healing and Being Made Whole

November 3, 2019

    Series: November 2019

    Category: Communion Sunday

    Speaker: Ted Scott

    Matthew 4:22-24

    And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. 24 Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them.

     Healing and Being Made Whole

     Our text says: “Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and dis-ease among the people.” Two things are linked here, the good news, and healing. What again is the good news? The Divine One is compassionately present with us, covenants with desires us to know this. Deeper than our imperfections, we are inherently loved. Jesus taught and embodied this reality, reaching out to us and the least of these, healing and making whole. He restored people, affirmed wholeness. His Spirit is with us here, affirming. The good news is right now.

     What’s your definition of healing?  Is it a cure? Jesus was a healer; he did give sight to the blind; paralyzed people walked; he created sound states of mind in epileptics. Medically unexplained remissions and cures do happen, even in our time. I have attended gatherings here in Marin where hundreds of people have come to healing services led by a Catholic Padre, and have witnessed some remarkable changes. The Padre like other healers I’ve encountered claims nothing for himself, rather believes he’s just a channel for the Holy Spirit to restoring wholeness. So even in our skeptical era I personally affirm curative healing can and does occur. In the Biblical view, healing and being whole are woven into the fundamental reality of Spirit present.

     I also want to broaden our definition of what healing might be or mean. Here’s Wikipedia: “Healing is the process of restoring health from unbalance, disease, damage or reduced vitality. The result of healing can be to cure a health challenge, but one can grow without being cured or heal without a cure.” The Oxford dictionary says: “healing is the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again.” In these definitions, healing is a process and can occur even without a cure.

     Why is this important? Consciousness of healing, of underlying well-being, is crucial, given the 24/7 media bath that distorts our sense of the world and creates unease; plus our other life challenges. All the more crucial then, an expanded awareness of the good news of Spirit present, and the variety of processes that produce soundness and healing. How can you and I be more immersed in awareness of fundamental well-being? How can we become more deeply aware of the healing Spirit in and around us, and thus live differently? How can we be more healing and wholeness competent, if you will?

     Let me tell about my friend Kristen.  We phoned her not long ago. “I’m so happy you called” she said. “It’s my 5-year anniversary!” Five years since she was diagnosed with lung cancer. During that period she has tried conventional chemo, gone to Mexico for a month for a special diet, engaged in hands-on healing, moved across the country, been widowed, been in despair and in hope. Today she is still on chemo, also on a demanding diet, working with a spiritual teacher and a therapist, and “doing her work,” by which she means psychological and spiritual work that enables her to let go of sticky-clingy stuff so that whenever her time does come she will be able to leave gracefully and cleanly. Her blood markers remain good. Her voice on the call was strong and cheerful, in contrast to last year when she had a persistent cough. She’s traveling now and then.

     Where’s healing and wholeness for Kristen? In what ways is she aware of good news, and been a cultivator of healing and wholeness during these years? Kristen certainly believes she has, despite challenges and heartache. Her energy, and focus, and nuanced view of healing and wholeness are inspiring. Most of us know someone like her.

     Even as our brains hook onto negatives, do we not desire release? Our hearts, our deep being desires blessing, peace, well-being in body mind and spirit. Healing. Scripture knows this. Illness and life challenges only increase our desire. Psalm 23 is a poem of blessing, peace and wholeness: “though I walk through the valley of the shadow you are with me.” Even in the presence of my enemies you set a table for me. I need not fear. It’s the most well-known of many similar Bible passages that address our yearning for deep security, for healing restoration, knowing the good news, in times of stress or anxiety.

     How can you and I cultivate living with good news, healing and wholeness in a broad sense, seeing the Divine interwoven into life? First, we can be more mindful of healing and wholeness that is present in and all around us. Here are a few candidates for mindfulness:

    • Gratitude for the awesome capabilities of modern Western medicine notwithstanding its flat sides. Dr Paul Kalithi, a Stanford neurosurgeon wrote an autobiography titled When Breath Becomes Air. In it his passion to bring healing to those with difficult brain disorders shines through, along with his Christian faith. Western medicine includes not just the body but also healing or restoring the mind through therapy and counseling—addressing that which causes uneasiness, unhealthy attachment, depression, fear.
    • Movement healing: for example, yogic practices like Erin Elliott offers here every Monday.
    • Healing meditations that seek health in the presence of cancer and other diseases, pioneered by John Kabat-Zinn and others; simply being centered and present this moment, finding well-being even in the midst of that which can’t be fixed.
    • AA and other 12 step meetings, where people seek to heal from addiction.
    • Gratitude and forgiveness practices. A friend of mine takes a half hour gratitude walk each day.
    • Alternative therapies like Acupuncture, Qi gong, Shiatsu and massage, Reiki.
    • Healing and restoration by attending to what you eat; taking in health-promoting foods
    • Music is a healing presence for many of us. Look at its many forms. One is country music, celebrated recently in Ken Burn’s series on PBS. Music that grows out of gospel, rhythm and blues, hard times, yet songs that restore and lift the spirit.
    • All these are times when we may sometimes find a cure, but also find healingeven without a cure

     Second, when we lose our sense of agency and possibility, when we’re derailed or stuck, we can be open to healing that comes through the kindness of others, or from community: Those who pray for us, tell us we are in their thoughts, extend a hand.

     My friend Sharon shared on social media one day her desolation at needing to place her husband into assisted living because of Parkinson’s. Many friends posted back, compassionately, consolingly, admiringly, all veterans of their own tough experiences. Healing exchanges that helped her heartbreak.

    • We can look for stories that affirm and heal. We have one right here on this table as we remember Christ’s sacrifice. Our Jewish brothers and sisters celebrate a Passover Seder. “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, who delivered you from the hand of Pharaoh.” Passover is the story of slavery to freedom, a big story. There are a thousand smaller but powerful ones.
    • Every time disaster strikes, we see and hear healing stories, like all the rescue and restoration assistance that poured into the Bahamas after hurricane Dorian. Or folks who volunteered to take in Kincaid fire refugees or help during the power outages in the last few days.
    • The laying on of hands, accompanied by prayer. We have a prayer group that does this; we also have done this sometimes during or after our Sunday worship.
    • The power of sacred rituals: walking the labyrinth, or being on pilgrimage.
    • Healing prayer, which our prayer chain engages in and we do as a community every Sunday.

     Healing and wholeness are all around; each modality, when compassionately entered, is part of the great I Am, the one referenced when Jesus the healer says “I and the Father are One.” The one referenced by the psalmist “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow you are with me.” There are lots of ways of being more mindful of healing Spirit in our lives, I’ve mentioned only a few. What ones might you add?

    This is All Soul’s Sunday a time of remembrance of persons who have influenced in your life. Someone you remember from a mindset of thankfulness and love. But also someone you might remember from the vantage point of forgiveness, for in the work of forgiving we open our hearts, let go of toxicity and dis-ease and move into well-being.

     In the midst of life as it is, the good news is present. We are accompanied. Healing Spirit is present with us, loving us, resourcing us, urging us to become fully aware of healing and wholeness always there within and around us. Amen