Healing for ourselves, our relationships, our communities, our planet

Mary Copping, 22 May 2022

Acts 16: 9–15; Revelation 21: 10, 22–27; 22: 1–5; John 5: 1–9

I have a blackbird in my garden who has a broken wing. He flits between my garden and the neighbour’s garden, because I think that’s as far as he can go. The neighbour has called him Boris, so that’s his name. He seems very content pecking at the grass, occasionally joined by his girlfriend. I don’t know how his wing got broken, but he seems content with his lot.

We’re all broken in some way, aren’t we? – body, mind or spirit – and sometimes not able to be content with our lot as Boris seems to be.

In our gospel reading the sick man says that he hasn’t had anyone to put him into the healing pool, so Jesus says, ‘Take up your bed and walk’. And he is healed.

How we wish sometimes that Jesus would say to us, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ and we say, ‘Yes, please’, and we’re healed. But it doesn’t work that way, does it? Also, why did Jesus go to that specific man through the crowds of people, blind, paralysed and lame? We don’t know. And sometimes our cry may be, ‘Why am I ill and others aren’t, why do I suffer this pain and others don’t?’ And of course we don’t have any answers to this.

I’ve been to healing conferences in the past where people have been physically healed, though some of the healings had to be verified; but more often than not people are left as they are. I knew one man, many years ago, who was disabled and walked with crutches and he went to many such conferences hoping and praying that he’d be healed, but he was always disappointed that it never happened.

I do believe that God does heal and cure people, very rarely miraculously but more often than not through doctors, nurses; through medicines; through those giving love and care to those who are sick. I also know that many people are not cured, not healed, but often God gives them and us the grace to bear their pain.

What do we mean by healing? A friend of mine was with someone who was dying, who had multiple things wrong, and yet she said that he was the most whole, healed person she’d ever seen – he was peaceful, ready to meet God, surrendered to him. This is the difference between healing and cure: healing is wholeness of mind and body, peace, deep inner peace; cure is the physical healing of part of the body.

Healing is wholeness of mind and body, peace, deep inner peace; cure is the physical healing of part of the body.

Christian healing is a lifelong process and our growth towards wholeness is made complete when we die, when we are restored to God, to eternal life. Throughout all our lives we are being sanctified, being made pure, being made whole. Meanwhile we live with our pain, our weaknesses and our limitations.

Some of you already know how I became a Christian. I was working in social services and visiting a childminder who at some point in the interview said to me, ‘Jesus loves you, you know’. I wasn’t put off at all, ignored her completely and continued talking about stairgates and her experience in childcare. However, on the drive back to the office I felt a huge warmth of love in my heart. And from there I went to church and gradually got to know about the Christian faith, and gradually I began to be changed, to be sanctified, to be healed by God. It’s a long process and will continue to the end, of course.

As Christians, we’re all being changed to be better people, even if we can’t perceive it. Someone said to me, ‘I dread to think what I’d be like if I hadn’t become a Christian’. We are blessed to have a God who heals, who works with us, who doesn’t let any of us go.

And healing, as well as relating to ourselves, our bodies and our minds, relates to our relationships, our communities, our planet. We can all work towards bringing healing to each of these.

Is there a relationship in our lives where there is unforgiveness, hurt, where we can perhaps give a word of healing and have the courage to say sorry (even though we think it’s not our fault) and mend that broken relationship?

We can bring healing to our community, perhaps through our willingness to help those around us, as we see a lot in our churches – a willingness to be involved and speak out for those who are not able to speak for themselves.

And we know that our planet needs so much healing, and again we are all trying to work towards the healing of God’s beautiful creation – the creation that’s been wounded by what we’ve done to it and how we’ve used it.

In our reading from the book of Revelation, John speaks of the tree of life on each side of the river, producing fruit each month, and the leaves of the tree used for the healing of the nations. The fruits we bear are the gifts that God has given us to be used to bless others.

We can be part of God’s healing work in the world through prayer for the healing of the nations – Ukraine, Russia, Afghanistan and other places – taking in Ukrainian families, talking to the grumpy neighbour, being kind to the annoying checkout person at the shop, forgiving those who hurt us, being thankful to God for all he gives us and refusing to criticise and be negative.

Boris’ wing is broken but he seems content with his lot. He’s also bringing joy to me and to the neighbours and to his girlfriend. In this church community, we can come to God as we are, broken, in need of healing, to rest in the love of God and in the love of the people here. Love is the greatest healer of all and if we can share God’s love with each other and with the world, we will continue to bring to many the wonderful love and healing that God gives to us.