Scripture ~ Matthew 11:2-6
In this Scripture passage disciples of John the Baptist engage Jesus in conversation. It is not a casual catch-up. They are not swapping challah recipes. There is weight in their question, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
There’s a fabulous song playing on the radio once every 20 minutes it seems…okay not really every 20…more like every 12…by Avicii called Wake Me Up. The second verse sings, “I tried carrying the weight of the world, but I only have two hands.” John the Baptist’s disciples bore a very heavy question in their hands. And they asked it on behalf of the imprisoned First Century prophet, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
I wonder how quickly Jesus answered their question. Did he grant the question space to breathe, to resonate, to echo before he answered? The text does not tell us…but what it does tell us is saving.
Jesus says with assurance, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.”
What have John’s disciples seen and heard?
What could our world – and more specifically our individual selves – see and hear more?
This Tuesday a dear friend and congregant of mine will undergo a double mastectomy to address and entirely remove the breast cancer from her body. At the end of the worship service this past Sunday we paused as a family of faith to pray over my friend and her spouse through the laying on of hands and anointing with oil. Together we prayed,
“My friends, you are anointed with oil in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
O God, the giver of health and salvation, we give thanks to you for the gift of oil. As your holy apostles anointed many who were sick and healed them, so pour out your Holy Spirit on us and on this gift, that those who in faith and repentance receive this anointing may be made whole; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
May the power of God’s indwelling presence heal you of all illnesses – of body, mind, spirit, and relationships – that you may serve God with a loving heart.
Almighty God, we pray that our sister and brother may be comforted in their suffering and made whole. When they are afraid, give them courage; when they feel weak, grant them your strength; when they are afflicted, afford them patience; when they are lost, offer them hope; when they are alone, move us to their side. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.” Amen.*
At the end of the prayer the family of faith at Reeves granted space for the prayer to breathe, resonate, and echo in and around us and finally settle on my friend and her spouse.
Sunday morning I was granted the privilege to witness the healing Jesus testified. I saw it. I heard it. I experienced it. And even more humbling, I was honored to lead the healing liturgy for this special couple.
In that service of worship became what Jesus assured John was happening and it is happening because the incarnation of Christ is in our midst. There is no need to wait. There is no need to wonder. Christ is the one who is to come and we know that with confidence as we see the healing taking place all around us: in relationships mended, in needs provided, in weakness restored, in sins forgiven.
Jesus ends his response to John the Baptist saying, “Blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.” After experiencing what I led and walked alongside the Reeves family through on Sunday I understand Jesus’ words as, “Blessed is anyone who takes no offence at the healing my coming initiates.”
My friends, we are truly blessed. Christ’s healing is all around us. May our eyes be opened to see it, may our ears be cleared to hear it, may our hearts be softened to receive it.
Prayer: “O let the Son of God enfold you with his Spirit and his love. Let him fill your heart and satisfy your soul. O let him have the things that hold you, and his Spirit like a dove will descend upon your life and make you whole. Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs. Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs. O come and sing this song with gladness as your hearts are filled with joy. Lift your hands in sweet surrender to his name. O give him all your tears and sadness; give him all your years of pain, and you’ll enter into life in Jesus’ name. Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs. Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs.”** Amen.
*”Healing Service,” The United Methodist Book of Worship, 620-621.
**”Spirit Song,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 347.