In previous weeks we have looked at how healing and renewal comes about through self-challenge and the challenge of things and people around us.
We looked at Renewal and healing happening when we realise that movement is life and static behaviour is death.
Renewal occurs when we rediscover what it is that reinvigorates us on our faith journey..
Renewal and growth can occur when we choose a narrow, innovative, creative or often risky path – it comes about when we stop trying to be perfect and accept ourselves – warts and all. It comes about when we listen to the Spirit in discernment.
Today we use the New Testament to look at our final three factors in our renewal and healing.
At the home of Martha and Mary
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.
She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’
41 ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’
Renewal often comes about – not when we simply stop one things to immediately pick up something else.
But when we stop and simply be, and take time to listen, time to breath, time to sit at the feet of someone else.
- When has the putting down or placing aside of something led to a new insight or new perspectives or a profound change in direction.
- When do you find yourself being a Mary instead of a Martha
Renewal and healing sometimes occurs when we have, or find, a sense of joy in our faith.
Acts 5: 40-41
40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.
Acts 13: 49-52
49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
The thing you may have noticed in those two readings is that for the ‘joyous’ disciples– their joy is not dependent on the circumstances in which they find themselves.
Joy and fun are not inextricably linked.
Joy is not necessarily a feeling – which is momentary – a changeable thing – Joy in this context is more of a state of being.
Joy is often closely linked with gratitude – the gifts and blessings and graces we receive and acknowledge from God and God’s servants. Having a beaut attitude, if you like. As in this reading about gratitude
A Reading : A Last Beatitude by Fr Malcolm Guite
And blessèd are the ones we overlook;
The faithful servers on the coffee roster,
The ones who hold no candle, bell or book
But keep the books and tally up the quota.
The gentle souls who come to ‘do the flowers’,
The quiet ones who organise the fete,
Church sitters who give up their weekday hours,
Doorkeepers who may open heaven’s gate.
God knows the depths that often go unspoken
amongst the shy, the quiet, and the kind,
or the slow healing of a heart long broken
Placing each flower so for a year’s mind.
Invisible on earth, without a voice,
In heaven their angels glory and rejoice.
From Sounding the Seasons by Malcolm Guite, p59
The final factor in the course of healing and renewal is this – developing the attitude that says ‘Let Go and Let God’.
Let’s see what St. Paul has to say about this.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
In these readings we find the word of the Lord
Response: Thanks Be to God.
Understanding our weakness, having a greater sense of humility, forgiving ourselves as well as forgiving others – are all part of cleaving to God and trusting in God’s strength and purpose.
Let’s think about what Letting Go and Letting God means in this reading called:
A Vision of Forgiveness
Have you ever felt the need for forgiveness…. Or perhaps the need to forgive? I meet so many people who are paralysed in their present circumstances because they’re chained to something in their past. They are either unable to forgive or to accept the fact that they are truly forgiven.
I once heard (a legend) of a priest in a small mid-western parish who as a young man had committed what he felt was a terrible sin. Although he had asked God’s forgiveness, all his life he carried around the burden of this sin. He just could not be sure that God had really forgiven him.
One day he was told of an elderly women in his congregation who sometimes had visions. During these visions, he had heard, she would often have conversations with the Lord. After a while the priest finally got up enough courage to visit this women. She invited him in and offered him a cup of tea. Towards the end of his visit, he set his cup down on the table and looked into the old woman’s eyes.
“Is it true that sometimes you have visions?” he asked her. “Yes”, she replied.
“Is it true that – during these visions – you often speak with the Lord?”
“Yes”, she said again.
“Well … the next time you have a vision and speak with the Lord, would you ask Him a question for me?
The woman looked at the priest a little curiously. She had never been asked this before.
“Yes, I would be happy to,” she answered. “What do you want me to ask Him?”
“Well,” the priest began, “would you ask Him what sin it was that your priest committed as a young man?”
The woman, quite curious now, readily agreed.
A few weeks passed and the priest again came to visit this woman. After another cup of tea, he cautiously, timidly, asked, “Have you had any visions lately?”
“Why yes, I have,” replied the woman.
“Did you speak with the Lord?”
“Did you ask Him what sin I committed as a young man?”
“Yes,” the woman replied, “I did”.
The priest nervous and afraid, hesitated a moment and then asked.
“Well, what did the Lord say?”
The woman looked up into the face of her priest and replied gently,
“The Lord told me He could not remember.”
God not only forgives our sins. He also chooses to forget them. The Bible tells us He takes them and buries them in the deepest sea. And then as Corrie ten Boom used to say, “He puts up a sign that says, ‘No Fishing Allowed’.