Theme - Traumas and Tragedies
Scripture - Luke 9:38-39 - A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him.
Quote - Thich Nhat Hanh - “I have noticed that people are dealing too much with the negative, with what is wrong. ... Why not try the other way, to look into the patient and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?”
This weeks story is rich with lofty theological themes. The divine glory of Jesus bursts forth in the moment of transfiguration and we are invited to ponder Incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection. But much like last weeks story of the woman who anointed Jesus's feet, lofty theological and spiritual lessons are rooted in common experiences. This week it is the experience of trauma..
A father cries out in fear and desperation. His son is afflicted with a spirit that causes painful convulsions. It seems clear that he has sought assistance from a number of sources, including the disciples of Jesus, but no one is able to offer relief. The heart of our story is the suffering of a parent who cannot ease the suffering of a child.
This alone gives us something to ponder. For it reminds us that the root of Israel's theological proclamation about God, their God, the one true God, the thing that makes their God alone trustworthy and faith-worthy is that this is the God who hears the cries of the suffering and desperate. This is the testimony of the Exodus story when God appears to Moses in the burning bush and says that he has heard the cries of his enslaved, oppressed and endangered people. Once again we see that Jesus is the Incarnation of God. He hears the cries of the desperate. And he responds.
So the heart of this story is a celebration of God's interruption of pain and desperation. Jesus hears and Jesus heals. Think of a time when, in your own pain and desperation, God responded. It could be a sense of peace or confidence. It could be through the prayers and support of a friend. Begin the day with gratitude for the times when God heard your cries and responded by interrupting tragedy with hope and healing. But also allow this story to challenge you to consider, who cries out to be heard among us today? Who experiences fear and tragedy and desperately needs to be heard? The Incarnation of Jesus only matters when those who call themselves disciples continue that the Incarnational mission of hearing, healing and hoping with those for whom hope is lost.
Prayer - For the many times you have heard my cries for help, support, and hope, I am grateful, liberating God. For the patience and tenacity to journey through challenging times fed on faith alone, I am grateful. For the knowledge and the experience of never being alone in my struggles, I offer you my praise. Use these experiences to bolster my courage to face future challenges and risks and to make me ever more sensitive to the cries of others.