These verses offer a simple description of what Jesus does. He teaches, he preaches or proclaims, and he heals. All these flow out of his love of God and his compassion for people. These three roles are central to the life of a pastor and the well-being of the congregation and the surrounding community. The ministry of Jesus in these cities and towns is for those in need, and the need is great.
When I was a young pastor in my first few appointments, I spent a lot of time preparing for worship, preaching, teaching classes, and visiting the sick, but I shied away from any focus on healing during our worship. I had seen some examples on television that seemed inauthentic and overly dramatic, but I knew the stories of Jesus’ healing and the community example in James 5:13-14. One Sunday, with some trepidation, I invited folks to come forward for me to anoint them with oil and offer a short prayer. I thought one or two might come. I was surprised to look up from the first person and see a long line. From that experience, whenever we celebrated Holy Communion, we invited people to come for anointing after they received the bread and cup. People in the congregation were instructed in the anointing and brief prayer and assisted me. It became a simple and profoundly moving way to practice the life of the early church. I still remember the simple prayer we often used or paraphrased, “May this oil and these words be a sign to you of our loving God at work in your body, mind, and spirit.” We also invited people to come with a prayer request for someone they knew. The congregation in the pews never knew why a person came forward, but they bathed the whole sanctuary in silence and prayer.
God of compassion, speak to the hurts we carry for ourselves, for others, for the world, and for all creation. Amen.
The readings this week lack a common theme. Genesis recounts the promise of Isaac’s miraculous birth and the fulfillment of that promise—a key story in the history of God’s people. The psalmist cries out with gladness to the Lord, for we are God’s people and the grateful recipients of unending faithfulness. Paul rejoices because we have peace with God through our faith in Jesus Christ. This is not because of anything we have done or could do; rather, God’s love sent Christ to die for us when we were distant from God. In Matthew, Jesus calls his disciples and declares that God’s harvest is vast, but there are not enough workers willing to go into the fields. It is a call for us to go as the disciples did.
Read Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7. How does your faith invite you to laughter?
Read Psalm 100. How do you make a joyful noise to God? Consider trying a new practice of joyful praise.
Read Romans 5:1-8. How has God’s love for you prompted you to “the second movement of the symphony,” to share God’s love with others and all creation?
Read Matthew 9:35–10:23. How are you called to participate in Christ’s ministry of healing?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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