We are imperfect people living in a broken world. There are times when we all feel like St. Paul when he said that he did what he didn’t want to do and struggled to do what he wished (Romans 7:15). We are like the crowds of sick and afflicted who came to Christ for His healing, yearning to draw near to the only one that can make us whole. We look at the world and struggling not to despair, we cry out with the early Church, “Maranatha! Oh Lord come!” (1 Corinthians 16:22)
We desire healing, wholeness – as individuals, as a community, as a country, as a world – we seek something better than what we have now.
And besides this desire to be made better, we have a desire to be with others who want the same thing. We yearn for honest community, a community of people who see the good in the world yet also recognize its need for transformation. We desire an escape from the culture wars of society, a place to retreat from the battle and to recover from the assaults just outside.
Glory to God, He gave us the Church – not as an escape from the world, but as a source of healing to do His will in the world. We come to the Church, which offers us Christ as the source of healing and then reveals us to be members of His Body in this world.
1. Our Source of healing
Many of us see our need for Jesus but are often so tired out by what the world tells us Jesus is all about. We hear it said that we are sinners because we have broken rules, and we need Jesus on our side to pardon us at some cosmic courtroom. But these words about guilt and forgiveness don’t satisfy our need to have our emptiness filled, our wounds healed.
The Jesus we encounter in Scripture and in the Church is a healer, not a lawyer. He lifts up those who are bent over in guilt and shame; he wipes away the tears of the brokenhearted.
It is this Christ whom we meet, alive, in the sacraments. It is this Jesus who says, “Go, sin no more” who washes our wounds and restores our relationship with Him in confession (John 8:11). It is this Jesus who heals soul and body in holy unction. It is this Jesus who gives us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist for the remission of sins and life eternal. The very same Jesus who healed the paralytic and the woman with the issue of blood, the same Jesus who raised Lazarus and the widow’s son, this same Jesus continues to heal His people even today.
He transforms us not simply from bad people to good people, but from broken to whole, from obscured image to restored work of His hands. We receive this healing in and through the Church, not as a gathering of perfect individuals, but as a community of people seeking healing together.
2. A community of healing
The Church is a community of people being transformed, a place to put to use the gifts that God gives to each of us. We bring our unique talents to the table – some to be teachers, some administrators, others healers – to be individual members of His Body (1 Corinthians 12:27-31). But we become a community of healing as each one of us is striving towards and is committed to the same goal of being united to Jesus Christ.
As we strive to know God’s will and to follow it, we start to seek ways of being of service to one another – both in our church community and in the community around us. Whether we are married or single, doctors or lawyers, teachers or carpenters, we can serve God and neighbor by bringing the peace and acceptance that God offers us into all of our relationships. This is our liturgy after the Divine Liturgy: to bring to the world the gift that we first received from God.
Being a community of healing means being a prayerful community. When we pray for one another, we get out of our isolation and remember that we are connected to others. As we pray for our family, friends, and enemies, we begin to see relationships heal and resentments fall away. As we ask the saints to pray for us, we learn that they help to bring Christ’s healing to us too.
We may live in a broken and fallen world, but it is a world that God yearns to heal. In the Church, we can begin by seeking our own healing. There, we will meet others hoping for the same, and together we can be a community of healing.
How do you need healing in your life? Has the Church been a place of healing for you? How can you better be a source of God’s healing in the world around you?
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Sam is the Pastoral Assistant at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He grew up in Powhatan, Virginia and studied International Affairs and Spanish at James Madison University. Sam received his MDiv from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2013. He loves food, languages and good coffee.
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