In these trying times, as we catch our collective breath, the brokenness of humankind still seems writ large against the backdrop of being alive. This pain breaks afresh, but it isn’t new. It is why our faith refuses to discard the word sin. In this world of brokenness, let’s face it, our pain and suffering is more about human actions than natural disasters. And it’s not just about some unnamed “them” to be scapegoated. It’s about all of “us. In salad days or in hard times, in season and out of season, the church affirms an unmistakable something broken about us that begs for the bigger and greater answers.
But we still call ourselves people of good news because the truth that outdistances our brokenness is the healing that comes from God. Even better, just as we can be party to hurting each other, we can be party to healing one another, often by the simplest acts.
Think of the gospels most vivid stories that stick with you and come quickly to mind. Take our gospel lesson for this Sunday, the parable of the Good Samaritan. They are invariably about healing. The beaten and violated are brought out of the ditch to live again. The blind see. The deaf hear. The lame walk. As if that isn’t great enough–these light-filled scenes of healing in a world of brokenness—it is also how they happen.
God doesn’t swoop down from heaven to magically extricate us from what afflicts us. The tales are more human than that. Jesus lifts people from their feet, applies salve to their eyes, and touches their ears. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus is the rejected outcast who is the healer. God mysteriously enlists our heart and our hands.
That people are cured is not so much the heart of the miracle. The personal way God heals us–collectively catching the rest of us up in this cause, making up God’s reign—is maybe the biggest part of the miracle. Living in these days of stark and barren pain, that is worth pointing out. The heart of the miracle of our healing pulses whenever one of us decides not to live aloof from the pain of other human beings. Even bigger than our cure is a healing where we all have a part. Of course, Jesus shows us the way here.
In a broken world, in a world of pain and deep heartache, we recognize miracles in the insistence that everyone be treated like human beings. We see the power of miracle as the hurting have others praying for them, refusing to forget them, accompanying them when it matters. That simple act is so rare anymore, it takes on the aura of miraculous.
Our official Care Circle is on vacation, like the rest of us in the church. But we should recognize them as agents of miraculous care, along with all of the many other informal circles of care that operate within our community of faith. Living in the context of such care, we can face all manner of hurt and injury—even death—and still know healing. I have seen it many times as a pastor: even the dying finding the blessed healing of life.
Let’s face it, Jesus didn’t cure everyone he met. But modeling our involvement with others as we refuse to retreat within ourselves to live isolated lives, he lifted up the healing that shows a way to a new kind of life, a life suggestive of life beyond this world. Isn’t this at the very heart of the charter of who we are as the church? It’s worth saying.