#LukeActs2014: Complete Healing (Luke 6:17-19; 35-38a)

unity wholenessLuke 6:17-19 NRSV
Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.

God in Jesus comes down from the grandeur and wonder of divine holiness to be with us. Plain old us. In our wisdom and desperation we draw near to hear him, to be healed of our diseases, to be cured of all that troubles our soiled souls, our eroded emotions. A complete healing of mind, body, and spirit is offered. Oh, how I need it.

Remember. Re-member. Salvation = wholeness.
What will it look like?

Luke 6:35-38a NRSV
Love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you.

Come Power. Come Healing. Come in the communion.
Come for my good, for the common good. Come unity.

Our bodies reveal our diseases.
Our words, actions and attitudes reveal our dis-ease with one another.
It takes a powerful act of God

  • to love our enemies rather than labeling them, oppressing them or destroying them
  • to break the consumerist cycle of doing good only if there is payback or reward
  • to realize judging, condemning and lack of forgiveness are only mechanisms for justifying staying separate from persons who are different from us. It’s a lie to think we’re protecting ourselves or our “purity”. We’re hurting ourselves. Separateness from others separates us from God. (Consider the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, Luke 18:9-14)

What does the healing look like?
What will I look like? We look like?
Merciful. Loving. Generous.
Christian- Christ-followers, little Christs.
Whole by the grace of God.

Jesus alone brings power for complete healing. Every moment of healing, mercy and overcoming is just a foretaste of the ultimate saving work of God- wholeness for all people, for all creation, for all relationships for all time. (Revelation 21)

Let your kingdom come.

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Complete Healing © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are very welcome to use this in a worship or group setting with proper attribution.

Reading for the week of February 9: Luke 6
Click Here for more information on the #LukeActs2014 Reading Plan

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Prayer: No Partiality

partiality favoritismActs 10:28b, 34 CEB
God’s shown me that I should never call a person impure or unclean…. I really am learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another.

We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty. -Mother Teresa

Prayer: No Partiality
Author of Life
Father of heirs and orphans
Sustainer of rich and poor

Lord of the Nations
Salvation of saint and sinner
Wisdom of educated and ignorant

all people are made in your image
all are valuable
all are beloved
all are wanted

Forgive me for labeling
judging
excluding
presuming

Change my heart and ways
to match yours
no partiality
only welcome
Amen

See also James 2:1-10.
Click here for a collection of scriptures and quotes entitled Overcoming Labeling.
For an original song lyric/poem on this theme entitled Image of Love, click here

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Prayer: No Partiality © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Quotes: Overcoming Labeling

Loser by Valerie (aka sketchingheaven)

Romans 2:11 (NRSV)
For God shows no partiality.

Our thoughts are unseen hands shaping the people we meet. Whatever we truly think them to be, that’s what they’ll become for us. – Richard Cowper

We are like sculptors, constantly carving out of others the image we long for, need, love or desire, often against reality, against their benefit, and always, in the end, a disappointment, because it does not fit them. – Anais Nin

We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are. – Anais Nin

Leviticus 19:15 (NIV)
Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

The problem isn’t in the labels themselves, but in how conscious we are of them. Labels are just a mental shorthand for leveraging past experience, and preparing us for what lies in store. But when I am unconscious of these labels, I start believing them to be the full truth, when in reality they merely reflect my own conditioning. Then, instead of giving me a head start on gaining more information, labels collapse my experience and actually limit my opportunities to grow. – Viral Mehta, The Neurobiology of ‘Labeling’

Colonialism is about power and conformity to a set of beliefs. Gospel is about love and giving away power. The Spirit affirms our uniqueness and giftings. Empire conforms us into a particular image. – Randy Woodley, Ask and Indigenous Theologian

God’s purpose is relationship, restoration, reconciliation. But there can’t be any reconciliation without communication and certainly no communication if we can’t or won’t listen, say we don’t have the time, or refuse to really try. Two key elements to this journey are perspective and intention. God has gifted us with the ability to see from inside our heart. So do we observe through a wide-angle lens or limit our vision to the endemic cultural myopia? Do we run free or are we restricted by blinders? Do we search for new stars with purpose at night or do we glance up without belief in the middle of the day? -Derek Maul, The Unmaking of a Part-Time Christian

We needed to have real faith that anyone who walked in, regardless of his or her problems, would become a trophy of God’s grace. – Jim Cymbala discussing the transformation of his congregation The Brooklyn Tabernacle in the book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

James 2:1 (NLT)
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim that you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people more than others?

Our separateness is the most seductive illusion. God’s one kiss awakens us. You are one with the stranger, the enemy, the very ones you distance yourself from. Their blood runs in your veins, your dreams haunt them. We breathe in one another. One hand holds us all. – Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Made into One

Ephesians 2:13-19 (NRSV)
Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God…

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see
– Brandon Heath, chorus from the song Give me Your Eyes

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For more information on today’s featured artist, click here

For an original song lyric/poem on this theme entitiled Image of Love, click here

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Mark Day 7: What Defiles?

Gospel of Mark Reading Plan
Day 7 Reading: Mark 7

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
Jesus said, “In vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines. You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
– Mark 7:7-8 (NRSV)

Observation
The Pharisees and scribes confront Jesus about some of his disciples not keeping the traditions of washing hands in a specific way before eating. Jesus responds that the leaders are missing the point. They value and teach following rules rather than encouraging people to follow the deeper motivations and practices of truth faith. For example, the leaders promote giving to the temple over persons caring for their aging parents. Jesus finishes the debate by stating “there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” (v. 15)

Look within, Jesus says, to the heart.
The truth and glory is not in outward appearances,
not in the circumstances of your life,
the conditions of your body.
The failure of your flesh, or even of your mind,
does not defile you or make you less sanctified.
It is in your heart that evil or goodness lives.
– Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Live that

Jesus was very clear: no law was to be used to exclude another person, and no law was to override compassion, forgiveness, and a welcoming inclusion into the community. – Megan McKenna, On Your Mark: Reading Mark in the Shadow of the Cross

Application
As a leader in the church, whenever I see Jesus correcting the Pharisees I must pause and ask myself if I am falling into the same traps. Bishop Peter Storey states, “It is easier to do church than to be church.” It is easier to follow rules, maintain rituals, and create programs than to be Christ-like in our words, actions, and thoughts.

I’ve found it humbling to ask what “outcasts” do I sanctimoniously spurn as impure, unclean, dirty, contaminated, and, in my mind, far from God. The mentally ill, people who have married three or four times, wealthy executives, welfare recipients, people who hold conservative political opinions, or maybe people with AIDS? How have I distorted the self-sacrificing, egalitarian love of God into self-serving, exclusionary elitism? What boundaries do I wrongly build or might I bravely shatter? I pray to experience what (Marcus) Borg calls a “community shaped not by the ethos and politics of purity, but by the ethos and politics of compassion.”
Dan Clendenin, The Journey with Jesus: Notes to Myself

Prayer
Jesus, you bring people together to be your Body, your Church. Save us from everything false, distracting and enslaving. Heal us from legalism, prejudice, and short sightedness. Help us build communities instead of institutions. Empower us to make disciples instead of members. Cleanse us within so that everything that pours forth from our lips, hearts and hands are full of your grace and salvation. In your name we ask and pray so you alone may be glorified. Amen.

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Click here for a thought provoking post by Steve Garnaas Holmes entitled Clean and Unclean.

For more information on the Gospel of Mark Reading Plan, click here

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Quotes: Judging Others

If you know the artist of this work please let me know so that I can give him/her credit.

The word “prejudice” can literally be broken down into “pre-” and “judgment.” Aptly, much of prejudice stems from our pre-judging other people’s habits, customs, clothes, ways of speaking, and values. We often do this with no basis for the judgment other than the fact that they (the customs, values, food, etc) are different from our own.
Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton

May I, too, celebrate the gospel wherever it rises. None of us will get all this right; better to herald the common places and extend the benefit of the doubt. God’s fingerprint is everywhere; none of us own the rights to His endorsement. If a believer on the opposite end of the ideological spectrum says something good and true, may I say without hesitation, “Amen.” I’m often afraid to identify with certain people lest I be labeled with their brand, but that is foolishness. The gospel is always beautiful, and I am not in singular possession of its power. That is so arrogant. May I bend my knee to Jesus wherever and in whomever He reigns. – Jen Hatmaker, Wherever It Rises

The tale of Jonah is not about what happened when a particular prophet was swallowed by a whale; it is about what happens to any man or woman who is swallowed by narrow nationalistic, ethnic, religious or racial pride. It is a story about jingoism–an unhealthy love of nation or race that turns in on itself and become sick and destructive…in stark contrast to the universal, inclusive love of God.
– Jim Harnish, God Isn’t Finished With Us Yet

Today many would say that Christians have become major purveyors of exclusion, guilt, and shame for too many of its own people, and surely for the other religions, instead of absorbing shame, healing guilt, and living in solidarity with human suffering as Jesus did so clearly on the cross. No wonder so many no longer take us seriously. We are so unlike Jesus and the God he loved. Jesus was totally inclusive in his entire public life, and yet we created an exclusionary religion in his name. It makes no  sense.
– Richard Rohr

Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

If you judge people you have no time to love them. – Mother Teresa

Judgements prevent us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances.
Wayne Dyer

I’m at the point in my life where I don’t want to be a part of fundamentalism of the left or the right, mostly because it lacks two things that I can’t do without in my life anymore — which is joy and humility.- Nadia Bolz-Weber

Whether true or false, what is said about men often has as much influence on their lives, and particularly on their destinies, as what they do. – Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Throughout my life, I have tried to live my mother’s mantra: Do not take on another’s hatred. What wonderful wisdom! Like her, I have found that the best way to change a person’s prejudice is to model a Christlike life. Only then are we able to rise above bitterness, anger, and revenge. After all, God is the Creator of us all, no matter the color of our skin. – Lucimarian Roberts, My Story, My Song

When I am able to resist the temptation to judge others, I can see them as teachers of forgiveness in my life, reminding me that I can only have peace of mind when I forgive rather than judge.- Gerald Jampolsky

Romans 14:10-13 (NRSV)
Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then, each of us will be accountable to God. Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another.

Click here for a thought provoking post by Steve Garnaas Holmes entitled Clean and Unclean.

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For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.