A member of my congregation died 34 hours ago after years of fighting cancer. Another member is in a rehab facility making miraculous progress after suffering a severe stroke. Both families share the same question, "How long?"
A man has a dying son. Another man has been ill for 38 years. Both stories share the same question, "How long?"
People are hurting. People are sick. People suffer - they suffer long. And although in the West we don't see miraculous healing that appear to be the ones represented in these texts, so many live with the question of "How long?"
I could dig into the texts to find clarity about having faith or not having faith. I could review my understanding of systemic disease and the role that poverty plays in the health of our society. I could focus on the seven signs in the gospel of John. But I'd rather create an encounter with Jesus because that's what these two men had. An encounter.
A father asked his question to a miracle worker. A man answers a question from a miracle worker. And they are forever changed after this encounter. As worship leaders we have the opportunity to create an encounter with the light of the world, the one who shines in the darkness, the one who knows everything about us - each week. Each Sunday, we craft worship services with hopes of creating encounters with Jesus. I wonder what kind of encounter we would have if we collectively joined our voices with the question on so many people's hearts, "How long?"
In our Sunday service, we want to create an encounter. We will use candle lighting rituals. We will use healing oils crafted from women from Thistle Farms, who have encountered healing themselves. We will sing. We will touch one another with the warmth of healing hands. We will pray. Perhaps Jesus will ask if we need signs in order to believe. Maybe the answer is yes. Perhaps Jesus will ask if we want to be well. Maybe the answer is not yet. Only the encounter will tell.
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