Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Healing Visitations

Tuesday, December 21, 2010  -- Week of 4 Advent, Year One
Saint Thomas the Apostle
To read about our daily commemorations, go to our Holy Women, Holy Men blog:

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer)
EITHER, the readings for Tuesday of 4 Advent, p. 938
Psalms 66, 67 (morning)       116, 117 (evening)
Isaiah 11:10-16 
Revelation 20:11 - 21:8 
Luke 1:5-25

the readings for St. Thomas, p. 996
Morning Prayer:  Psalms 23, 121; Job 42:1-6; 1 Peter 1:3-9
Evening Prayer:  Psalm 27; Isaiah 43:8-13; John 14:1-7

I chose the readings for St. Thomas

Job had lost everything.  No solace or advice from his friends could comfort him.  He lived traumatized.  Before his catastrophe, he had been known as an upright man -- a man of faith.  Now, it seemed his faith was not enough.  God had not protected him from disaster.  Hurt, angry -- Job demanded God show himself and be accountable.

Then God came to him in a whirlwind.  The experience was more overwhelming than comforting.  But it was completely settling.  "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you."  Second-hand theological knowledge of God is replaced by first-hand experience of the Divine.  Job dissolves.  He lets go of his anger, his questions, his grief.  He melts in the presence of the All.  He is one with the All; reconciled.  A certain peace descends upon him.

Thomas also had lost everything.  He had seen his friend Jesus -- his teacher and his hope -- cruelly and brutally executed by the Romans.  It was traumatizing.  Before this catastrophe, he had seen it coming.  When Jesus insisted on going to Judea and wouldn't be dissuaded, Thomas opined, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."  Now Jesus was dead.  Inwardly, Thomas was dead too.  All he could think of were the horrible, deadly wounds -- the nails, the spear. 

A couple of days later his friends started talking manic nonsense.  "We have seen the Lord!" they said.  "He is risen."  Thomas didn't know what they were talking about.  Mass hypnosis?  Wish fulfilling fantasy?  No.  He knew what he had seen.  Unless he could see something at least as real as the nails and the spear...

Then Jesus visited him.  There were the wounds.  Still there, only now transfigured.  Jesus was alive.  More than alive.  Vital, eternal, overcoming all.  All.  Thomas dissolves.  His grief is vanquished.  He melts in the presence of the All.  "My Lord, and my God!" he breathes.  Peace.  Living peace fills him.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!" writes the first Epistle of Peter.  "By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading..."  We are bulletproof.  We "are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed..."  Life is still difficult.  "Even... now for a little while" we have "to suffer various trials."  It is the way it is.  It is like testing, or refining. 

Maybe we haven't been visited by the whirlwind or confronted by the resurrected body of the wounded healer.  "Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

Salvation.  The word is kin to the word "healing."  A salve is an ointment for healing.  Salvation.  Becoming whole.  There are many ways to become whole again.  Job and Thomas show us two experiences of wholeness.  The Epistle of Peter speaks of it.  It seems that suffering, loss and grief is part of the embrace of salvation, healing and wholeness.  Despite the catastrophe, disaster and loss -- there is peace.  There is the All.  God, Jesus, Spirit.  The Divine wraps eternal arms around our frailness, and loves us into being.  Let it be.  Let us be.  Imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.



Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Click the following link:
Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at missionstclare.com -- Click for online Daily Office
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html --  Click for Divine Hours

Discussion Blog:  To comment on today's reflection or readings, go to http://lowellsblog.blogspot.com, or click here for Lowell's blog find today's reading, click "comment" at the bottom of the reading, and post your thoughts.

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
    pray daily
    learn constantly
    serve joyfully 
    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


At 10:47 AM, Blogger anglejax said...

Yes, Father Lowell,

What you said in reply to yesterday's comment was helpful, also what helps is the insights today. It is good to just surrender and not to struggle at times. If I can remember to just simply TRUST, I think I'll be alright. Thank you again, Father.

Jack Douglas

At 9:05 PM, Anonymous janet said...

* a spiritual haiku for the longest night of the year *

Blessed St. Thomas
Our Lord's voice speaks
gentle peace
Grief flows into Joy..

Light and Peace,

At 7:41 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

The service last night was beautiful and very cathartic for me.


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