Monthly Archives: July 2007

August 26

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Luke 13.10-17

Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 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. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the Sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the Sabbath day.” But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?” When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

In this story we see a woman who has been cut off from her community, a community cut off from one of its members, and a “leader” who chooses public blaming of a victim rather than compassion. Jesus sees the woman and, without asking, knows her. He then restores not only her body, but also restores her to community. And the people, who were initially appalled, rejoice that their community is once again made whole by the healing of one. It brings to mind Paul’s writing about the body—if one member suffers, all suffer along with it. Jesus chooses to give life to both the woman and the community, rather than let them suffer even one more day.

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August 19

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Hebrews 11:29-12:2

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.
And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

This scripture invites us to think of ourselves as part of a marathon race that stretches back through time, each generation handing on the baton to the next. Each person has their leg of the race to run. They’re all different—some are longer, some shorter, some harder, some easier, some more glorious, some more mundane—but all are important to the overall race. And, the race isn’t over until the last person crosses the finish line. Sometimes we think about faith in purely personal terms, that it’s all about me and my personal salvation, etc. But this story imagines salvation as a corporate, communal affair—we’re all in this together. And even if we don’t get to see the victory, we trust the promise, and we are content in knowing that we have run our part of the race faithfully.