Monday, October 26, 2015

Stooped Shoulders

Today in the Gospel Reading from the Gospel of Saint Luke we see this beautiful healing take place.  This elderly woman with some condition that made it to where she could not even stand up straight, who had been crippled for eighteen long years, was chosen by God to be healed not just spiritually but physically as well.   What happens though when Jesus releases this poor woman from her suffering?   You would think every person would be cheering and shouting praises to God... but there are even then naysayers (thank God we don't have those anymore right? ;) ) 

Jesus, you know you're not supposed to be working on the Sabbath.. and here you have healed this woman.  They weren't just upset.. they were indignant!  The dictionary says that indignant means anger or annoyance at what was perceived as unfair treatment, offensive, or insulting. They were upset, not that he cured her, but that he cured her on the Lord's Day!  Think about that for a minute!  The rules say not to work.. but he just went ahead and did it.  He rebukes them and 'humiliates' them, because he calls out their hard hearts.  Here this woman is for almost two decades unable to even stand up, and they are upset not because she is cured, but because he went outside their 'box' of what they felt he should do.

What does that mean to me?  As a man who spent a few years unable to stand up straight, unable to walk for days at a time, and still lives in constant pain;  it speaks very much to my heart.   It reminds me though that there is a truth to something here that cannot be overlooked.   We as Christians do not just take a fundamentalist approach to the scripture, we look deeper.   We look for a spiritual truth inside there.  The thing I find when I address it spiritually is that it is often not the person who needs the physical healing, that is the one stooped over in bondage to the devil. 

I think the message here from Jesus is that the people who were really "crippled" were the ones who were indignant at the healing.  She was physically bound, sure.  Jesus never just addressed the physical though.  All of his healings were to call out to the spiritual needs of those who witnessed them.  What was her response to being healed?  She immediately glorified God!  Her spirit was standing upright and erect long before her body ever did!   The leader of the synagogue though?  He began to grumble, you didn't follow the discipline, you didn't stick to the law.. he never praised God, he never talked about how good it was she was healed, he just got angry!  He was still stooped over in bondage.  Bondage to the law, bondage to sin. 

I think that speaks to us in many ways.   How often are we in bondage to sin?  How often do we let our own ego, our own pride, get in the way of God's plan?  In what ways am I stooped down, letting my own 'plans' get in the way of me seeing what God wants for me?  Am I standing up and glorifying God when someone else gets a blessing or am I grumbling and indignant in the background? As I watch my friend Paul Ortman confined to bed, with one leg broken, and his body already in worse condition than I have ever been from Polio, I see a man who is standing up straight before God.  His joy and his gratefulness has not diminished.  His good attitude shows that he still trusts, even if he's not happy with his current situation.  Are we there?  Would we be standing up spiritual praising God from a hospital bed or wheelchair?  Or would we be stooped over, grumbling?

As from the first reading, we are reminded.. our natural state is not to be stooped, but to be standing tall glorifying God.  As Saint Paul said, "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption,
through which we cry,
“Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him."

Call out to Abba today, call out to your spiritual Dad and say God, my dad, my father... lift me up.. Help me to remove whatever is keeping me stooped over, so that I might stand with joy and glorify you with my words and actions today!

In Christ,
His Servant, and yours,