Your Pastor’s Heart for March

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

As I write to you, we are anticipating the return to in person worship. I can hardly believe this has been going on for a year. I am excited to be back together. We all know there is healing in the community of Christ. As I thought of all the precautions I began to reflect on Jesus as the Healer without latex gloves.

We all know how important PPP is in our life now. As I thought of the healing Jesus brought. I could not help but reflect also on how religious people can be so quick to judge. Maybe because they so badly need to affirm their fragile righteousness, I do not know. What I do know is that Jesus was not like that.

When I watch hurting, sinful people come to Jesus, I am amazed to see the gentleness with which he treats them.

There was a leper, a social outcast, doomed to die of a progressive, disfiguring illness, who came to Jesus and said, “If you want to, you can heal me.” Jesus, the Bible records, touched the flesh of this diseased man and said, “I want to. Be whole.” And he was healed. (Matthew 8:1-3)

Mary Magdalene was tormented. The demons of her past and present completely controlled her. Jesus set her free, and gradually, as she spent time listening to his teaching and following him, she was healed from the inside out. Did you know that this Mary was the first to see Jesus after his resurrection? (Luke 8:1-3; 24:1-12)

Blind people came to him and went away seeing. Friends and relatives carried cripples to him. He was their friend. Ragged beggars came, He never turned them away or rejected them. Instead, in his presence they were healed. Rich-robed leaders seeking to fill an inner emptiness came to talk with Jesus. Jesus did not turn them away, but they left without healing of their own accord.

One lady was dragged to Jesus. You know the story. Earlier that morning she had been surprised in the arms of her lover and hauled in front of Jesus while he was teaching in the temple. “Should we stone her for adultery?” the Pharisees sneered, hoping to expose Jesus’ legendary mercy.

“Let the one among you who is without sin cast the first stone,” Jesus replied. And when they had all slunk away, one by one, Jesus knelt down to where the woman was crouching. “Where are your accusers?” he asked.

“Gone,” she said.

“Then I don’t pronounce sentence upon you either,” he told her.

As she got up to leave, I can see him touching her sleeve, as if to give her a final healing word. “Go,” he said, “and sin no more. ( John 8:2-11)

We see Jesus gentleness and love! Never compromising right standards of living, Jesus had communicated an incredible amount about how much God loves us, aches for us, longs for us, and gently calls us to paths of wholeness and wholesomeness. No self-righteousness here, not even from the only One who has any right to the term “self-righteous.” Only compassion.

As we return to worship together and service together, I hope we can think of Jesus and his hands-on ministry as radical Healer. He never said nor should we say, you’re too messed up. I do not want to associate with you, we might think about this woman. Our Jesus wore an everyday robe that he washed out in the creeks, and a pair of plain leather sandals. He did not feel the need to preserve his “space” or reputation or social standing. All these he sacrificed so he could reach out to the people who really needed him. So that he might touch them.

Covid has shown us that we need him. We are all feeling a little messed up or ashamed or confused or lonely or just plain tired of it all. Good news you are his kind of person. Jesus knows your pain, and reaches out a strong and friendly hand, and says to you, “Come to me, all you who are weak and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

No matter what, friends, we need to be like Jesus. Let someone else play the religious games. For us it is getting to know this Jesus, and then being his hands to reach out in our communities to the hurting and struggling. Some of those who are hurting and struggling live in nice homes and drive BMWs. Others live in apartments and have barely enough for the coming month’s rent. Some have no home, no jobs and need housing and food.

If we serve the Healer, then we are called to be a healing people, unafraid of pain, even our own. Covid has taught us this as we have needed Jesus to sustain us.  It is his love working in our midst. Let’s not hinder that ancient healing touch of the Living Jesus. He is touching again. With power He wants to use us. Let us look for ways to bring that healing to our community as we come back together.

Pastor Ron