Thanks to all of my friends and family who prayed for the people of El Salvador and their presidential elections last Sunday. Mauricio Funes, the FMLN candidate, won this historic election and the Salvadoran people believe a new “hope is born.” Although there was fear of violence when the election results were announced, from the many news accounts I have read, this does not appear to be the case. Both the US State Department and President Obama congratulated Mr. Funes and reiterated their commitment to work collaboratively with his administration. I pray that the Salvadoran people can begin to experience reconciliation and healing as a result of this election.
Last Sunday we had a healing service at Smithville UMC. (That it was held on the same day as the elections in El Salvador is not merely coincidental). We live in a broken world – full of broken dreams, broken relationships, broken promises, broken spirits, broken bodies. God longs to bring reconciliation and wholeness to our lives, healing hurts, both physical and otherwise, and restoring relationships – our relationship with the Divine, with others and even ourselves. During the service I preached on Luke’s account of the healing of the woman with the hemorrhage. Like so many of Jesus’ healings, this woman was not only healed physically, but she was restored to her community and healed of her loneliness and isolation. Simply by touching the fringe of Jesus’ garment she was healed. The word fringe is actually the crux of the whole passage for me. In the text the word fringe refers to the hem of Jesus’ garment, but the word fringe can also be used to describe those persons who are not in the “in” crowd. In this healing the two meanings of fringe come together. The woman touched Jesus by way of the fringe of his robe, and Jesus in turn, touched this woman and others who are on the fringes of society. Through people on the fringes, Jesus demonstrates the extent of God’s grace and mercy.
I connected the story of this woman on the fringes with a hymn text I wrote last year for my “Women and Hymns” class. This hymn was originally written to honor one particular woman’s journey toward healing from childhood sexual abuse.
Come, Be Healed
O wounded woman, come be healed.
Your years of pain are recognized
by Jesus Christ whose love reveals
a spark of hope to bring new life.
O frightened woman, come be healed,
consumed by tears and scarred by shame.
Release the struggle to conceal,
O let your spirit breathe again.
Courageous woman, come be healed.
There is no longer need to hide.
Light’s cleansing waters mark and seal
you as a precious child of God.
Victorious woman now is healed.
Your hope’s renewed; you’re standing bold.
The wellspring of new life reveals
the Living Source has made you whole.
Since this was the first time we had such a service at my church, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the whole experience was very moving and powerful for me as pastor. As a pastor, I have the privilege of sharing in some very personal moments with parishioners, and this was one of those times. I was reminded of the sacred trust I have been given, and I need to honor and care for that gift.