Hungry for Freedom

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Ecclus. 43:23-33Rev. 16:1-11Luke 13:10-17

We Americans awake to a slightly different political landscape, as we do after each election.  There are some winners and some losers.  Many would argue that last Sunday we put our clocks back one hour, and yesterday put our state back 50 years.  So it is with mid-term elections.

This is particularly the case among many of my progressive friends from Oklahoma, who just endured what many of us consider to be one of the worst governors in all of state history, only to elect someone cut from the same cloth, but with no experience.  We were hungry for release from the past.  What a loss….And yet Oklahoma elected my friend and neighbor Kendra Horn!  So like I said, there are always winners and losers in these mid-terms.

We are fickle people with short-term memories.  It is a day of celebration for some, and it is a day of sadness for others.

In many ways, so is our Scripture passage in Luke.  Jesus heals a crippled woman, which is obvious rejoicing for her, but at the same time Jesus raises serious questions in the minds of the leaders of the synagogue and other orthodox Jews.

Jesus was teaching on the Sabbath and there was a woman there who was crippled for eighteen years.  She was bent over and unable to stand up straight.  Jesus, without prompting, calls her over and heals her: “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.”

There are two major problems that many are having.  For one, Jesus is breaking a serious commandment – healing on the Sabbath, an act clearly prohibited by scripture.  Secondly, and perhaps a more grave issue for the day, is that this woman did not ask for the healing.  In many ways her illness and deformity was viewed as a result of sin.  She does not ask for her sins to be forgiven.  So, without a change of heart or even a desire for renewal, Jesus takes the lead and chooses healing for her!  He chooses forgiveness!  This was scandalous.  In some ways it would be akin to performing surgery on someone without their permission, in today’s lingo.

So what was the response?  The crowd rejoiced in the healing.  They were hungry for a release from the oppression of the rules.  They were not wanting to fall back to the old ways of doing things, but ready to turn the corner and have a fresh new start to their religious beliefs and application.  They were hungry for freedom themselves.

In this post-election time, there will need to be some healing too.  (Mainly I think it is a sigh of relief – that we endured and survived another election cycle and all the obnoxious ads that came with it).  And I pray and hope that it will be a time of coming together, and peace.  For we have many problems – monumental problems.  And whoever has been chosen as our leaders, they will have enormous tasks of legislation and building bridges in front of them.  What on earth will our politicians do if not be obstructionists to one another?  (Who knows)

We, Christians, will also be needed in this time, and in this place, to have the same spirit as the Jesus of miracles, who stepped across party lines, who took some risks for what was right, and who called forth healing.  He took the initiative in mercy, reconciliation, and grace.

We will need the same – because all around us there are people hurting – emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially, and relationally.  They need more than hope.  They need more than a handout.  They need our genuine care and compassion.  They need us to move past our political doldrums and fall back to a time when the church remembered how to be the church.  Reclaiming Christ’s vision of mercy will be no small task in today’s cultural climate.   So let’s pull our heads out of the sand and get on to Christ’s mission of love, mercy, and grace for a hurting world.

-Matt

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