This week’s gospel reading (Mark1:29-39) was an opportunity to reflect on Jesus actions in the Bible. Healing, restoring broken relationships and restoring the body of Christ has been uppermost on my mind since my sabbatical finished a couple of months ago.I had the opportunity to meet people who were excluded, not just from society but from church life, and so in turn excluded from the opportunity to be part of the ‘fabric of God’s creation’.
I met and chatted with people who were living with a mental illness, living with learning disabilities and living with gender dysphoria. (Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity).
It soon became apparent to me, that God was working in their lives in a unique way.
- The friends I met with learning difficulties were very expressive in worship and were open to discuss God in a very way than regular church folk who attend a Sunday service. Some individuals approached me to ask about my relationship with God, and what was God like for me! Many of the friends I met described God as a cuddly comforting bear, who gives great hugs. (John 4:24 ‘God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”)
- The friends I met in a mental health unit were open to the way that they were discriminated against because of their bi polar, attempted suicide, or schizophrenia. They did talk about their demons within them, but also about the depth and strength of God’s love, never to let them go. (Jeremiah 31:33.’I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be my people’ )
- The friends I met at the Gender Identity Clinic were open to the way that God had been present with them since before they were born, and I was humbled at their inner strength to walk the path of challenge and pain to be the person that God knew them to be ( Psalm 139’ I have known you since before you were born, for you are wonderfully made’)
Jesus’ healing of Simon Peter’s mother in law reminds me yet again, of the inclusive nature of God’s love for us. It is not just about healing her to go and make ‘tea and sandwiches’ for Simon Peter and his friends; it is about the restoring wholeness to the woman, so she may play an equal part in the Kingdom of God, so her presence maybe woven into the fabric of God’s love for all people. She was excluded because she was ill, but Jesus restores her so she is included into the Body of Christ.
All of humanity has a part to play, and if we exclude members of God’s people who think and act differently to us, we are the poorer for it . Jesus restores the woman and brings shalom into her life ‘Shalom’ is not just about peace, but about restoring wholeness to a person, and so enable them to be fully human and part of the body of Christ.
Jesus who heals,…heal me
Jesus who touches,….touch me
Jesus who smiles…….smile at me
Jesus who listens……listen to me
Jesus who restores……restore me
Jesus who loves…….Love me