Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Healing Journey: Transforming Mourning Into Dancing

Scripture:  Psalm 30

Our passage today introduces us to a song. It’s David’s song of thanksgiving. He has faced some life-threatening situation, perhaps a serious illness (v. 3), that God has delivered him from, and his tongue has been loosened in praise. What David learned on the healing journey changes his perspective of life. He realized that it was the favor of God that made his life secure, not his prosperity. He couldn’t be certain that his difficulties were a sign of God’s anger, but he could be sure that joy would return after a night of weeping—because of the inescapable grace of God. With this realization he allowed God to dump his mourning clothes and wrap him with garments of joy. David declared that he would give God thanks forever. 

Today David invites us to sing to the Lord (v. 4). Reflect on your healing journey and write your own psalm of thanksgiving: 
I will extol you, O Lord, for you have ____ [fill in the blank]
and did not let _____ [fill in the blank].
                O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you _____ [fill in the blank].
O Lord you ____ [fill in the blank]; you ____ [fill in the blank].
To you, oh Lord, I cried. You have turned my mourning into dancing, you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy! 

A common expression for joy in Scripture is dancing. So put on your dancing shoes, download “Wailing to Dancing” from Donn Thomas’s CD, Psalms Alive, and dance, dance, dance!

Prayer:  Lord I thank you for causing all the walls in my life to tumble down.

The Reverend Joanne Browne Jennings

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Healing Journey: The Work of Recovery!

Scripture:  Mark 5:41–43

I had surgery once to repair the ACL in my left knee. The orthopedic surgeon completed the actual surgery in less than three hours. Under the influence of anesthesia, I was at the mercy of the expertise of his scalpel. I did nothing. It was when I met the physical therapist that my work began. I thought the therapist was being brutal by giving me painful exercises, but his goal was to help me regain a range of motion so that I could walk, run, or even dance if I chose. When God heals us, there is work that we must do. 

When Jesus healed Jairus’s daughter, He gave her parents an assignment that would support her recovery: “He strictly ordered them that no one should know this [her story] and told them to give her something to eat” ( v. 43). With His great sensitivity Jesus wanted to protect this young girl from being objectified by the curious mob. We too need great discernment as we share about God’s healing work in our lives. The popular trend of telling all is not always wise or therapeutic. Seeds of new life need time to germinate without exposure.

Feed her, Jesus said. Nourish her body so she can recover from the ordeal it has endured. Tending to our newly healed wounds is necessary. We may need to change old habits, add new rituals, and embrace things that can sustain our well-being. 

Today ask God to show you what you can do to sustain your recovery. Write those things down. Partner with the enabling Spirit of God to do this work in you: “Spirit of God I invite you to fill me that so my appetites and my actions move me toward wholeness.”

Visualize this partnership throughout the day.

Prayer: Lord thank you for upholding me, and offering me wholesome options whenever I am tempted.

The Reverend Joanne Browne Jennings

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Healing Journey: Silencing the doubters!

Scripture:  Mark 5:24–31

Jesus and the disciples were walking through a large crowd of people when Jesus stopped and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” The disciples were incredulous. “You see the crowd pressing in on you, how can you say, who touched me?” They did not know that Jesus can feel the touch of faith in any crowd. They did not realize that something significant had happened. 

We are so much like the disciples. We are unaware that God turns toward us in response to our meager faith, even when our thoughts of Him are almost crowded out by many other things. God’s care for us is such that God will search for us in the midst of our crowded lives, because He can discern our faintest cries for help. Don’t believe the doubters in your mind. God does not want you to do better before God touches you. God sees us with the understanding of the whole story of our lives, and He calls us “beloved.” 

Today write down each of the negative thoughts that push you away from Jesus on a separate piece of paper. Drop each one in a trash can and speak these words with each one you discard, Jesus has come to make me whole! 

Download the song, “Only God Can Heal,”  performed by Babbie Mason on the CD entitled No Better Place. Let the words and music of the song wash over your heart and mind and soul.

Prayer from Hymn of Kate B. Wilkinson:May the mind of Christ my Savior, live in me from day to day, by His love and power controlling all I do and say.”

The Reverend Joanne Browne Jennings

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Healing Journey: Things Aren’t Always As They Seem!

Scripture:  Mark 3:35–42

Fifteen years ago today, a chaplain came to my husband and I in the hospital room where we sat waiting in bewilderment. She wanted us to be prepared. Our newborn baby girl had just been taken to the neonatal intensive care unit. The chaplain was concerned that our daughter might die, just as another infant with a similar condition had done. But things aren’t always as they appear. What neither she, nor we, knew is that two weeks earlier, a circle of women had begun to pray for this baby’s safe delivery in response to God’s prompting that there would be some challenges at birth. God intended for this child to live. 

I can imagine the despair that gripped his heart when Jairus heard the news that his precious child was dead. But things were not as they appeared to be. Jesus knew the child’s true condition. “Do not fear, only believe,” He said to Jairus, as He beckoned him and his wife, along with three of His close disciples into the room where the young girl was “asleep.” There Jesus took her by the hand, and spoke to her, “Little girl, get up.” With His gentle healing touch, the little girl arose. 

Something in your life may seem to be dead, maybe a relationship, or maybe the dreams you had for your life. Today write down those things that you think are “dead.” Read each one and follow each reading with the words of Jesus to Jairus—and to you: “Do not fear, ____[insert your name], only believe!”

Prayer:  Lord, resurrect all that appears dead in my life. I believe; help my unbelief!

The Reverend Joanne Browne Jennings

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Healing Journey: Walking Out of Isolation

Scripture:  Mark 5:24–34

If you have battled chronic illness you understand something about the suffering that shrouded the life of the woman in our text. Twelve years of seeking treatment for a menstrual disorder that no one could cure left her penniless and still sick. The nature of the illness made her ritually unclean, thereby isolating her from the reach of healing social interaction. She could touch no one without also making that person ceremonially unclean (Leviticus 15:25–27). Prohibited from temple worship and locked into isolation by an incurable condition, this woman takes a risk. She pushes beyond her fears to get to Jesus. She believed that if she could “touch his clothes,” she would be “made well” (v. 28, NRSV). 

She was right! Her healing was immediate and her isolation reversed when Jesus draws her into the eternal family of God with these tender words, “Daughter, your faith has made you well” (v. 34, NRSV).

Many things can cause us to feel isolated and alone. It may be an actual health condition or it may be subtle whisperings in the mind. No matter how long we have been locked into our debilitating situation, this woman invites us to take a risk today. She encourages us to refuse to sit as victims. She beckons us beyond our fears, through the life-crushing crowd, to Jesus. Like her, we may not have a fully developed faith, but if we will take what we have and touch “his clothing,” a healing exchange will occur. 

Today visualize the woman in our text pressing her way to Jesus. Follow her and touch Him with your need. He longs to make us whole!

Consider listening to “Oh, it is Jesus,” by the Soweto Gospel Choir, available here:

Prayer: Lord open my ears so I may hear your Voice of Truth that can set me free.

 The Reverend Joanne Browne Jennings

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Healing Journey:  A Dying Child!

Scripture:  Mark 5:21–24 

I have witnessed the raw anguish in the eyes of a mother who was burying her child. Her body trembled under the weight of the sword that has pierced her soul. No parent wants this experience. This was true of the father we meet in this passage. He is a prominent religious leader, but his desperate concern for his dying child ties him to the plight of every parent everywhere in our world who has a child who is ill.

So Jairus fell at the feet of Jesus and begged him to heal his “little daughter who is at the point of death.” Come”, he implores him, “lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live” (v. 23, NRSV).

Jairus’s story offers us key stepping stones on the healing journey. The pain he carried for the child of his flesh pushed him to find Jesus, propelling him beyond the propriety and status of his position. On a journey of healing, we too are pressed beyond our comfortable ways of being. That discomfort invites us to turn toward Jesus. And if we are wise, we acknowledge, along with Jairus, our personal impotence. We identify with his desperation, “Come lay your hands on her!” Within our cries, there is a healing affirmation: we cannot cure our own sickness, but you can! Jesus went with Jairus, just as He comes with us, to whatever brings us pain.

Today, as you sit with this passage, is there something, some place, some relationship so painful for you that your heart carries a weight you can’t fully express? In prayerful silence, turn inwardly toward Jesus. Let Him go with you to that painful place.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus I welcome the embrace of your everlasting arms, as you cause me to see You, in this painful place.

 The Reverend Joanne Browne Jennings

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Open Wide Your Heart

Scripture:  2 Corinthians 6:3-13

For the sake of Christ and the spreading of the Gospel, Paul endured great opposition-“afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, (and) hunger” (v4-7).  Unfortunately, additional opposition came from fellow believers in the church at Corinth, who questioned his apostolic authority, considered his physical appearance weak, and called his speech contemptible (2 Corinthians 10:10).

Despite all that he endured, Paul remained faithful to God and God’s people, choosing to govern himself by “purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God” (v6-7).  Somehow and someway, Paul kept his heart wide open to God’s people and encouraged his fellow “workers” (v1) to extend him the same courtesy.

In our Christian walk, we will face heartaches and hardships, sleepless nights and great sacrifice.  Through it all and by the power of the Holy Spirit, may we keep our love unconditional and our hearts “wide open” to both God and each other.

Prayer:  Lord, you have kept your arms and your heart wide open to us.  Open our hearts wide so that we—as a reconciled people—might more graciously offer one another signs of forgiveness and peace.

The Reverend Adrienne Denson

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