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Hearing and Healing

They came to hear him. They came to be healed by him. This week’s gospel reading from Luke 6:17-26 describes Jesus coming down to a level place. Crowds are wanting to hear him and be healed by him. He has called disciples to follow him. In his home town they wanted to throw him off a cliff. Jesus has cleansed lepers and read and interpreted scripture. There have been those who have heard and those who have been healed.

Hearing and healing.

The music video above features the singing of Whitney Houston alongside the singing of the Pentatonic of the Christmas song, “Do you hear what I hear?”. The dancing in the video reflects the joy of connection. Connections are often made when we sing together and listen to music. There is healing power in signing together and in dancing. We can come together and be united. This week our choir and bells resume their practices. Something happens when people make music together as well as listen to music together.

Hearing and healing.

One of the gifts I get to experience in regards to hearing happens weekly. We have two Lectio Divina style bible studies.* We hear a section of scripture read. Time is allowed for silence. Then an opportunity for each person to share the fruit of their silent meditation in a word or a phrase that stuck out for them in what was read. At times someone will share a word or phrase that wasn’t read but was what they heard. Some of the experiences I have had with these groups are more powerful than words can express. There is is healing in the hearing and in the sharing.

Hearing and healing.

We take turns reading the same passage. We hear it read by different people and often in multiple translations. Even as I have read the passage on my own at a different time, heard it read in the preacher’s text study when I hear it read again there is something “new” that I hear. Over the past five years as weekly we have gathered to dwell in God’s word and hear it there have been many times it has brought me strength, insight, wholeness, a place to connect deeply with God and other people that I didn’t even know that I needed.

Hearing and Healing.

Reflecting on the people who traveled to hear Jesus and be healed by him I wondered what they heard. Part of the passage in Luke 6 is the blessings and woes. Reversals from how the world so often categorizes what is valuable in life. How did those gathered in that time and place hear this teaching of Jesus? Did it provide healing? When someone pointed out that there are echoes of the Magnificat in Luke 1 with these blessings of woes in Luke 6 I heard both Luke 1 and Luke 6 in a new way.

Hearing and Healing.

An unwed pregnant teenager sings God’s praise identifying that a lowly one has been lifted up and the powerful will be brought down. (Luke 1) Jesus identifies as blessed those who are hated, excluded, defiled and defamed on his account. ( Luke 6) Mary answered not to those of her time and place who might have hated, excluded, defiled or defamed her for being unwed and pregnant- she trusted the words of the angel Gabriel even as she was perplexed by them. Hearing from the angel allowed her to take to heart the mystery into which she had entered.

Hearing and Healing.

In college I would often attend Catholic Mass with my beloved childhood friend Monica. They had a a very good looking young priest, the church was close to campus and Monica’s mom would check up on her to see if she attended Mass at least weekly. I appreciated the parts of the Mass that were similar to the liturgy of the Lutheran congregation in which I was raised. I also appreciated what was different. We had the opportunity to kneel, to hear different ways of saying some similar things, that there was always Communion (at that time and in that context they didn’t un-invite non- Roman Catholics from taking communion).

There was a particular part of that liturgy that struck me at the time and I am reminded of it now. There was the congregational response “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed.” I didn’t focus as much on the first part of not being worthy as much as on the phrase, “only say the word and I shall be healed.”. It was unfamiliar at first and then I grew to look forward to when I would know where to say it in the service. You see, I didn’t just hear it or say those words. I felt them. I was hearing and it was healing. I knew it was true- in that Eucharist I was being healed, made whole, saved from all my doubts and fears.

Hearing and Healing.

After Mass we would often talk about what we heard. Monica also went with me to the Lutheran church where we both helped out with the youth group. We often spoke about what was similar in our religious upbringings and what was different. Her mother was one of my role models, a mentor, someone with whom I got to engage in deep theological conversation. Cece was a good listener. Often I didn’t even know what it was that I needed to sort out but as she listened and I was heard there was healing that took place.

Hearing and Healing.

Often I consider how I might live out her legacy of being a good listener. The task of the preacher is often seen as being to speak. Over time I have come to understand it is much more about being able to listen, to hear and then share what I have heard. Is is such a gift to get to listen and to hear. This week I am going to take those words from now so long ago remembered to let them be my prayer. Only say the word and I shall be healed.

Only say the word and I shall be healed. Hearing and Healing.

*Are you interested in trying out Lectio Divina? You are invited to join anytime- we meet via Zoom on Mondays at 12pm MT and Wednesdays at 7:15am MT. No prior experience necessary. Send an email to request the Zoom Link or for more information.

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