Year A Proper 26 WEDNESDAY, 4 November 2020
Video Service from St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
“Any Grace is Two Things”
Collect: Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, "Woman, you are set free from your ailment." When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, "There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day." But the Lord answered him and said, "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?" When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
Today I want to look at what lies ahead. This has been a year of multiple traumas. And traumas take time to heal. Even if they were for the good, any time there is a trauma it will take a time to heal.
Last Friday I intentionally allowed myself to experience trauma for my benefit, and for all our benefit. I got vaccines. Because of my age, my doctor told me it was time for me to get Shingles and Pneumonia shots, and like I do every year, I got the Flu shot. Silly me got them all at once, because I hate shots. And I was told I need to take a day or two to just chillax and let my body respond to this intentional dose of hostile agents. The pharmacist told me I had to take them in separate arms. Thank God she did. I am still feeling them 6 days later. It was a very minor trauma, but it takes time to heal.
In today’s story, we are dealing with two traumas. The woman in today’s story had been crippled for 18 years. Think of all the aches and pains, the troubles, the stares from children and the social derision or need for assistance. Her deliverance would take her through a range of emotions. Exuberant joy for the gift from Jesus, horror at what she had been through, rage that it had ever happened in the first place. She would have to redo all the systems that she had set up over almost two decades. Her healing took a moment, AND it would take her the rest of her life. Any Grace is like that, lightning strike and slow burn both. God plays the long game. Miracle and a lifetime of discipline go hand in glove.
The other trauma is the systematic social trauma that people tried to inflict on her. Systems, any system, seeks balance, equilibrium. Whether biologic, atmospheric, social, systems knock down any nails that stick out. With her healing, this woman had become a problem. The Sabbath was a form of control, not an act of faith. And by being healed on the Sabbath, she was blamed and rebuked as was Jesus, the cause of this upset.
This interaction always reminds me of the scene with Frodo and Gandalf when Frodo informs the wizard that he had been declared a “Troublemaker!” May we all be so blessed by raising up Good Trouble as John Lewis called it.
But Jesus raised the attention of all those there, by countering their attempt to maintain order in the system by hammering down the sticking out nail. Jesus would not let more trauma be added to her, and neither would he accept.
Traumas take time to heal. Any trauma. We have been through a number of traumas this year. I could not even begin to name them all. Some of us are celebrating this morning, but it will take a long time to heal. Some of us are feeling traumatized this morning, and that will, too. The closing of the schools, the deaths of 230,000+ Americans and over a million worldwide, the unveiling of our systemic and systematic racism that came out over the summer months, and that is before we get to politics, it will take years for us to heal. But heal we will. Like the woman, think on the truth of any Grace.
Any Grace is two things, lightning strike and slow burn both. God plays the long game. Miracle and lifetime discipline learning to live with it go hand in glove. Today I pray for God’s Grace for our Nation, and together let us do the work to enable real, true, lifelong change for all God’s children. On earth as it is in heaven is our prayer. May it be so. Amen