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February 17, 2019

Coming down the mountain with them, Jesus stopped in a level area where there were a great number of disciples. A large crowd of people was with them from Jerusalem and all over Judea, to as far north as the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon – people who had come to hear Jesus and be healed of their diseases, and even to be freed from unclean spirits. Indeed, the whole crowd was trying to touch Jesus, because power was coming out of him and healing them all.

~ Luke 6:17-19

This sacred text is the setup for Jesus’ big sermon, the one we usually call the Sermon on the Mount. Except in Luke story it’s not set on a mountain as in Matthew, but instead a broad level plain. Why? Perhaps because it’s not delivered just to the disciples … the twelve just appointed … but to everyone. Jesus is, in this moment, as much a person of the people as he can possibly be. He has given himself to the needs of those ALL those around him. And so they come.

More than come, they flock to him … people coming from Judea and Jerusalem and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They came to him … quite literally … from all over.

Why? To hear and to be healed. Both of which are deep human needs, I think. To hear something worth hearing. To discover a word that cuts through all the multitude of words thrown at us each day, a word that deserves to be heard, a word that demands a measure of silence in order to take shape in our imaginations … and in our lives.

And to be healed. Of physical ailments, undoubtedly. As Luke describes, Jesus held power, perhaps was power embodied. But also, I think Jesus, healed of emotional, social and spiritual needs as well. Why? Simply because we are physical beings, and we are emotional, social, and spiritual beings as well. And Jesus met all those needs.

The truth is, Jesus came precisely to meet need … then and now. Which is … I think … not the same as meeting our wants or granting our heart’s desire. Jesus knows what we need, and sometimes it may be something we do not want … reconciliation with someone who has disappointed, hurt and frustrated us, helping someone in need who has treated us poorly, caused us pain and frustration or someone different from us or someone we simply don’t understand, healing of an illness that wasn’t just a challenge but formed part of our identity.

Jesus comes to meet our need. To offer a word of purpose, meaning and challenge. And to offer healing of our deepest needs, even when we are not ready to be healed.

The question to consider is: what is God wanting to do in your life and in the life and ministry of MCC Richmond? Can we see ourselves as members of the crowd … as in this sacred text … coming to hear a message of God and being healed? Do we even believe God has the power to heal our most vulnerable pain, our emotional, social and spiritual needs? Can we trust the power of God through Jesus to transform our lives, setting us free from our brokenness … whatever it is?

I wonder what newness, reconciliation and freedom from our secret pains and disappointments is God wanting to bring to MCC Richmond? What message do we need to hear … collectively and personally … about the healing we need … and, all of us in one way or another need healing? My hunch is as we allow ourselves to be honest … and vulnerable … with God about our deepest hurts, fear and pain each and every one of them, God will begin to meet our needs in ways we never imagined possible. This has been true in my own life which is why I believe it is possible for ALL people. And, as we experience God’s love through healing of our hurts and fears we will experience a new freedom and we will be transformed. I also believe that as we are transformed and experience more fully God’s gifts of love and grace we will not be able to stop sharing this incredible joy and freedom with others. And this my friends is the mystery and power of God intimate embrace … transforming ourselves as we transform the world!

They flocked to Jesus then ... many flock to him still.

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