In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus is healing again. He does that quite often, you know.
After our six Sundays of lectionary readings in which Jesus tells us that he “is the Bread of the world,” this Sunday’s wonderful stories of the little girl being delivered from a demon and the healing of a deaf and mute man are exciting moments of scripture.
“Ephphatha!” That is, “Be opened!” What a great word, yes?
In both our 10:30 and 5:30 liturgies Sunday, we have a number of wonderful hymn texts, which call our attention to healing. The closing hymn of our 5:30 liturgy is an image-filled text by the Reverend Dr. Ruth Duck, United Church of Christ pastor and theologian:
Healing river of the Spirit, bathe the wounds that living brings.
Plunge our pain, our sin, our sadness deep within your sacred springs.
Weary from the restless searching that has lured us from your side,
We discover in your presence peace that world cannot provide.
Wellspring of the healing Spirit, stream that flows to bring release,
As we gain our selves, our senses, may our lives reflect your peace.
Grateful for the flood that heals us, may your church enact your grace.
As we meet both friend and stranger, may we see our Savior's face.
Living stream that heals the nations, make us channels of your power.
All the world is torn by conflict; wars are raging at this hour.
Saving Spirit, move among us; guide our winding human course,
Till we find our way together, flowing homeward to our source.
During Communion in the 10:30 a.m. service, we will sing a text from our hymnal supplement Wonder, Love, and Praise. This hymn has become for us an old stand-by:
Heal me, hands of Jesus, and search out all my pain:
restore my hope, remove my fear and bring me peace again.
Cleanse me, blood of Jesus, take bitterness away;
let me forgive as one forgiven and bring me peace today.
Know me, mind of Jesus, and show me all my sin;
dispel the memories of guilt, and bring me peace within.
Fill me, joy of Jesus: anxiety shall cease
and heaven’s serenity be mine, or Jesus brings me peace!
For the Choral Introit, the Parish Choir will sing, also from Wonder, Love, and Praise, a text by hymnist Jane Manton Marshall, who for many years taught at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University:
From miles around the sick ones came,
in hope that One they heard was Lord
would make their souls and bodies well,
with healing touch or saving word.
And still they come, new preys of plague,
while often in their rooms of prayer
God’s people worship, safe and sound,
unheeding, even unaware.
Recall us to our mission, Lord,
to reach for those cut off, in pain;
to offer friendship, strength, and peace
and be a faithful church again.
This text even calls us to mission, to seek out those who are sick or cut off or in pain, offering “friendship, strength, and peace,” thus being the “faithful church again.”
I want to be in a church like that, and I believe I am.