A Change Is Gonna Come

IhaveadreamMarines

Now he 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.

Luke 13:10-17

Today there is much to do about what took place this coming Wednesday some 50 years ago.  50 years ago 300,000 people gathered and marched to fill the National Mall.  There is an iconic photograph that bears witness of a sea of people from the Lincoln Memorial to the White House.  The reflecting pool the only negative space saved from frustration in our demand for jobs and freedom for all.

This action was a culminating act of the collective efforts of millions.  The legend of Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, John Lewis, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Watkins, Whitney Young, and Bayard Rustin took effect.  These towers of the civil rights movement represented the blood, sweat, and tears of the millions of people that came before and that would follow after.

That day, 50 yeas ago, brought us the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.  This action was a light to the millions of people that experienced then unjust systems of oppression that leveed them to second-class citizenry.  That day delivered the nation to a new way of thought and equality flowed in to the streets and paved the way towards a White House celebration of this nations first Black President.

Or did it?

Our text today offers us an exploration of what it means to be community and the struggle for power that fashions the communities we belong to.  Here Jesus heals a long oppressed and marginalized woman.  A woman that due to her suffering no longer has a place in her society.  She exists as an outsider.  She is a reminder of what would happen to us if we to occupied space deemed unfit or inhuman by the pleasantry of our times.  Jesus’ very act of healing on the Sabbath is a seditious act of treason.  He challenges the status quo and demands attention from the leaders of his day.  This woman lies outside the circle of comfort.  She exists beyond privilege.  She is bear of rights.  She does not exist.

Yet, Jesus acknowledges her.  Jesus touches her.  In touching her Jesus makes himself unclean and draws himself in to relationship.  Jesus fashions a community with her and doing so bears her pain, her woe, and her condition.  Jesus’ speaks to power in community with this marginalized woman.  He heals her and restores her to relationship with others.  Jesus goes in to the margins and brings her back with him.

This is the Gospel of Jesus the Christ at work.  Jesus demands from us that we live in to the wholeness of humanity and embrace the dignity of all.  It is what wholeness is today. Our human dignity and our wholeness is gauged by the least among us.  There is no poverty in this nation.  There is no oppressed in this nation.  There is no privilege in this nation.  Poverty.  Oppression.  Privilege.  These exist by our hands.  These are fashioned and maintained by human hands.

The lazy dog does not oppress.  The sunning cat does not engage poverty.  The hard working mule lives not in privilege.  These are mortal traits of a finite mortal coil to which we are subject and must be liberated from.

Sedition is our call, sedition in all things.  Last week we heard a stirring sermon from the Rev. Sally Wright.  She offered to us that all things she does in the church is seditious because she is a lesbian who is called and ordained to serve the Lord.  There is no diminished act that does not challenge the status quo of the church in her life.

This is the way we are all being called to live, to serve God.  That in Jesus the Christ we are to live in seditious ways that challenge the norms of life and bring about healing.

What are your acts of seditious healing?

I used my expensive seminary skills and exegeted this passage a little and then came up with a translation of my own.  I’d like to read it to you.

Now he was teaching in Congress on the Sabbath.  And just then there appeared a person of color with a spirit that had crippled them for over 200 years. They were bent over and were quite unable to stand against the systemic injustice around them.

When Jesus saw them, he called them over and said, “Child, you are set free from your ailment.”

When he laid his hands on them, immediately injustice fled, they acquired equality and white privilege fled the light, and all began praising God.

But the leaders of Congress, became 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 posture for a political future, make backroom deals, wage war on the common good, and make a comfortable way for yourself?  And ought not these people’s, a Children of Abraham whom Satan bound for 200 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.

The woman is you.  The woman is us.

When we heal others we are healing the wholeness of all.  In Jesus’ seditious act of healing, the woman Jesus heals is restored and we are restored in community.  The once fracture bonds and relationships are renewed, restored, and reclaimed.  We become the healing bridge of the Good News of Jesus the Christ.  That is the real seditious act here.  Community.  Community is dangerous.  Community is dangerous because there is no weak link.  Look at migrating herds of animals.  They remain together.  Protecting the smaller, the weaker, the hurt.  The strong do not wield power over the others.  They use the gifts of strength and healthy to protect the herd.  To carry the blessings they enjoy to the next generation.  Lessons learned from the birds in the field and the herd on the plains, we need to be a church that calls for the wholeness of all.

Living wages. The end of poverty & homelessness.  Equality of civil rights.  The freedom from oppressive dehumanization.  This is a struggle for power.  This is a fight for your mind.  Today as we remember the March on Washington let us remember the rally in our hearts.  That God delivers us from what binds us, not that we may be free for ourselves but that we might be free so that we can free others.  And dreaming we will no longer be.

Awakened, we are free striving to free others, we allow freedom’s sweet ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black and white, brown and red, Jew and Gentile, Protestant and Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu, Gay, Straight, Lesbian, and Transgender, all will be able to join hands and sing these words:  Free at last! Free at last!  Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

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