Super Bowl Sunday
Epiphany V Year B
Mark 1. 29-39
Before I begin, let us pause briefly and listen for the sound of 75K fans, vendors and volunteers making their way down our streets by Uber, Lyft, light rail, or private limo to U.S. Bank Stadium…and just acknowledge that later today the attentions of million football fans across the planet will be trained on a spectacle happening about 10 miles from where we sit! #BOLDNORTH
Healing and mending have been on my heart and mind as I ponder Mark’s Gospel lesson–just one of many healing stories, especially from Mark.
This story features the healing of Peter’s mother in law and the healing of those who were sick or possessed with demons.
The physical and psychological suffering in those days must have been staggering. Historians teach us “the Roman world was an agrarian empire, which meant that the peasantry, the vast majority of the population, lived close to subsistence level and thereby supported political and religious elites whose levels of luxury they could hardy even imagine.” [Crossan] Notice Mark reports that “by sundown the whole city was gathered together about the mother in law’s door” desperate to be healed by Jesus.
In the Thursday AM Inquirers Group we are studying Jesus’ life;
comparing and contrasting the different visions of two prominent Jesus scholars Marcus Borg and N.T. Wright.
They have their differences. There are, however, no differences among scholars about Jesus as healer. Historian John Dominic Crossan writes that the twin emphasis on eating and healing is at the very heart of Jesus ministry.
Likewise Marcus Borg writes “even the non religious scholars agree that Jesus performed paranormal healings and what he and his contemporaries experienced as exorcisms. More healing stories are told about Jesus than about any other figure in Jewish tradition. He must have been a remarkable healer.” [Borg]
Tom and I were in Boston last weekend for the wedding of the daughter of a life long friend. We stopped to visit the remarkably beautiful Trinity Episcopal Church in Copley Plaza, and because I have been thinking about healing, I purchased a card that caught my eye. It’s a Christmas prayer by Theodore Parker Ferris, one of several gifted preachers at this historic congregation.
Lord Jesus…it reads…
Come into our world and heal its wounds…
Come into our minds and keep them clear…
Come into our lives and make them good.
It’s a prayer I want to pray and hey! I bought the card…and yet…there is something missing.
The missing piece is the so that piece.
Come into our world and heal its wounds so that we too can be healers and menders of the world.
Come into our minds and keep them clear so that we may see and understand
Come into our lives and make them good so that we can participate with you as restorers of the breach.
Let me illustrate with a story.
Years ago I was rector of St James on the Parkway in Minneapolis. In those days many members were connected to the arts community. Neal, an officer in the McKnight Foundation, invited Evan Mauer, then Director of the MIA, to give a presentation.
Evan Mauer is Jewish. And he told us how important it was to him to heal relationships between the Jewish community and the arts community here in MSP. How important it was to foster relationships of trust where trust had once been so ruthlessly, so deliberately and so viciously broken. Mauer rebuilt trust among those who those who inherited or collected Judaica-ceremonial art objects used for Jewish rituals such as the Sabbath, Passover or Hanukkah. Some of these items were brought to the U.S. by those fleeing religious persecution in Europe. Because of Mauer’s trust building several loaned their religious treasures to the MIA.
some of which can be seen today in their permanent collections of Judaica.
One of the reasons they trusted Evan Mauer is because these families knew he was involved internationally in successfully recovering and returning art stolen by the Nazis to Jewish families.
Evan spoke of the return of stolen looted art to their rightful owners as acts of tikkun olam. It was the first time I had heard that core teaching in Judaism and I have never forgotten it.
Tikkun olam is Hebrew for the mending or the healing of the world.
It’s a phrase rich in secular and religious meaning.
Sometimes it’s translated as working for the benefit of society or the betterment of the world.
Rabbi emeritia Laura Geller of Temple Emanuel in Los Angeles understands
Tikkun olam to mean working to create a world where every human being can live as if he/she were created in God’s image.
Another story, one I was honored to be apart of:
Three years ago ECMN returned Cass Lake Episcopal Camp near Bemidji to the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwa; a heavily wooded land on the shores of Cass Lake that had been lawfully but suspiciously acquired by the Diocese of MN from a dying native man in the early part of the last century. Returning this land to the tribe was an act of the healing, the mending of the world.
Just last Monday morning I noted this NYT headline on the Strib’s front page:
Cleveland Indians to get rid of Chief Wahoo. The story read: The Cleveland Indians will stop using this logo on their uniforms in 2019 said Major League Baseball which said the popular symbol “long a source of anguish and frustration for those who consider it offensive outdated and racist”…was “no longer appropriate for use on the field.”
There may be some of you who disagree, I have a brother in the sports broadcasting who might, but for me, Cleveland’s decision is an act of the mending and healing of the world.
We know from the Gospels that Jesus healed in many ways.
Healing acts are intrinsic— Valuable in and of themselves.
And yet…I wonder—how can we, recipients of Jesus’ healing, we who have been healed in mind, body and spirit…
How might we now be called participate in healing and mending?
Rob Bell writes: [the stores in] the Bible show us what redemption looks like, giving us hope, insisting that people like you and me can actually do our part to heal to repair and restore this world we call home.
How? By participating in actions that lead to
- Reconciliation among those who are alienated from one another
- Acts of forgiveness that lead to amendment of life
- Acts of service in our own communities that relieve suffering
- Standing up to the growing anti Islamic hate in our own city today
- Acts of prayer that connect us and others to God
This very month, with Project Home St. Johns generously provides hospitality to homeless families in the gym.
St John’s members support this ministry with your pledge dollars. Thank you!
Others support this ministry with your prayers with your prayers.
Others by setting up and managing all the details & communication required to host.
Still others may be called to grapple with and respond to the vexing challenges of homelessness and why we need to have temporary shelters in the first place.
All of these are acts of mending and healing.
Might you be like one of those awesome unstoppable friends in Mark’s story of the paralytic, friends laser focused to do everything in their power to get their ailing friend in front of Jesus, including cutting a hole in the roof of the house so they could drop him down at Jesus’ feet for healing.
Might you be one of those of whom Bishop Mariann Budde speaks to when she said:
We are holy [aka healers and menders] whenever we are kind to those around us. When we don’t make life more difficult for those who struggle.
When we refuse to gossip or hold a grudge.
Or might you be one of those in a story that particularly important to me. A story from John’s Gospel that gives witness not only of Jesus the healer but also to the importance of participating in our own healing:
Jesus is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate where many blind, lame and paralyzed suffering come to get into the waters of the healing pool.
There he met a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years.
“Do you want to be made well? Jesus asked him.
“Sir, I have no one to put me in the pool when the waters are stirred up.” the man replied.
Jesus said to him, “Stand up. Take your mat and walk.”
I recognize there are several ways to understand this story.
And today I invite you to consider that when Jesus said to the paralyzed man
Stand Up. Take your mat and walk…he was inviting him to participate in his own healing. What Parker Palmer calls “a Rosa Parks moment”; those occasions when we refuse, like Rosa Parks did, to conspire in our own diminishment. [Palmer]
So let us go back now to my sermon prompt; the prayer from Trinity Church…and its missing SO THAT piece with these additions:
Lord Jesus, come into our world and heal its wounds…heal our wounds SO THAT we
Might join you in your healing work in the world.
Come into our minds and make them clear SO THAT we might think and act with true wisdom and understanding.
Come into our lives and make them good…SO THAT we might participate with you in the healing and mending of our world. AMEN.
The Essential Jesus: What Jesus Really Taught Harper Collins, 1989
The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith, Harper Collins 1989
The Rt. Rev. Mariann Budde
Harper Collins Study Bible New Revised Standard John 5.2-9
Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation Jossey-Bass 2000