And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, "Woman, you are set free from your ailment." When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. Luke 13:11-13
Can you remember a time when someone showed up for you in a way that made a difference? I can think of friends that helped me move from apartment to apartment in my twenties – now those were friends that made a difference! I can also remember a difficult time in my early years of ministry. I had been invited to preach at the wedding of two dear friends. However, the community had recently undergone an extremely painful and polarizing conflict. The conflict had come to a head the day before the wedding and there was a sense that it would overpower the wedding since people from both sides would be present. How were we going to get through the wedding and have it still be about celebrating the marriage of the bride and groom? And… Who was I, in a room filled with experienced preachers and church folk, to stand up and say anything worthwhile? I prayed a lot that day after hearing the news. And then the phone rang. It was my priest. She had been thinking about me and wondered how I was doing.
I thought I was doing okay, and then I heard her voice, and realized that I wasn’t. She knew something about me that I had not yet fully articulated, which was that I was really upset by the conflict and afraid to preach the next day. She knew me and spoke to me in a way that touched me profoundly. I showed up at the wedding the next day still feeling trepidation, but with a knowledge that, at the very least, I could make it through the words of my sermon I had written on the page. What came in the moment, though, was a surprise. It was a much stronger sense that I belonged and that I could claim the space of the preacher. What an incredible gift. The phone call helped to prepare me in a way that I could not have done for myself. The phone call came seventeen years ago, and on that day and this, I shed tears of gratitude for having been known and seen by another during a time of need.
…When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, "Woman, you are set free from your ailment." When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.
Can you remember a time when you were truly seen by another? Or perhaps you responded to a need that you saw in someone else?
I believe that God can come to us through the hands and hearts of those around us, and in turn, that God can work through us to care for others, touching them in ways that we cannot fully know or understand. Whether we’re on the receiving or giving end of this equation, our response, like the woman who was healed, may be to give thanks and praise God for the work of the Spirit among us.
Your sister in Christ,