Tonight we reflected on Luke 13:10-17, when Jesus freed a woman who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. When he touched her, she stood up straight and began praising God, as did the whole crowd of people. But the leader of the synagogue was enraged that he had healed someone on the Sabbath …
What do we notice? What do these texts remind us of in the world, Bible, church or ourselves? What word does the text speak today?
- We were struck that she had been weighed down for eighteen years – a lifetime!
- Someone observed that there are those among us who might be weighed down by things which are invisible to others of us; and that familiarity can lead to blindness.
- We noticed Jesus’ priority for compassion over legalism.
- We noticed that Jesus’ touch is described as liberating and healing.
- We wondered whether this is a story to be taken literally – about a physical ailment – or figuratively; and if figuratively, what binds us and weighs us down, as individuals and as a congregation?
- Someone observed that, taken alone, this story could be used to argue against having time off from work; but taken in the context of the fullness of Jesus’ ministry, this would be a false reading.
- Someone wondered whether participating in God’s healing of people actually is work, or whether it, too, can be healing and restorative for the person labelled healer.
- We noticed the power dynamics. The leader of the synagogue is using his power to limit and restrict people, and to prevent healing; Jesus is using his power to bring life and wholeness and freedom. It compels us to reflect on how we use our power, both as individuals and as a congregation.
- Someone noticed that Jesus named the woman as a daughter of Abraham. In other words, he is saying to anyone with ears to hear that she, too, is a full member of the community and must be accorded full respect, rights and responsibilities, whether or not others want to recognize this.
- Someone wondered what it means for us as a church to be free? As individuals? (Are we called to an an unmitigated freedom, or is to freedom for something?)
- Someone noticed that ‘the whole crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.’ They commented that ‘the whole crowd’ must include women, children, sick people, and people who are often rejected by the powerful. It led us to wonder whether the words and actions we do in Christ’s name lead ‘the crowd’ (the masses) to rejoice and, if not, whether we can truly claim to be followers of Jesus. Conversely, if someone’s words and actions are oppressive, this should prompt us to question their claim to be working in Christ’s name. (If a spirit of restriction / domination reigns, not so much.)
- Liberation happens here on the Sabbath day. What happens when we step back from work, marketplace, social obligations and all forms of technology / media, and turn to worshipping the God of the Sabbath? How might this be a form of freedom? Ω
Prayer for the church
Liberating God, again and again you work to set your people free. May we, too, be set free from bondage on the Sabbath day. May we, too, rejoice at all the wonderful things Jesus is doing among us. And may we, too, play our part in helping others to stand tall. Because people knew freedom in Jesus’ healing touch, and we are called to follow him. Amen.
Reflect: What binds you and weighs you down? Where do you experience freedom? How are you called to participate in God’s liberation of others?
A Sanctuary conversation on Luke 13:10-17 on 21 August 2022 © Sanctuary 2022 (Year C Proper 16) – our church birthday!
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