Sermon Illustrations on scars
Healing with Words
Walker Percy wrote six novels in which he made us insiders to the spiritual disease of alienation that he found pervasive in American culture. His name for the condition is “lost in the cosmos.” We don’t know who we are or where we are. We don’t know where we came from or where we are going. Percy began his vocational life as a physician, intending to use medicines and surgeries to heal sick and damaged bodies. He had hardly gotten started before he changed jobs.
Sometimes we have to change jobs in order to maintain our vocation. Percy did. He became a writer so he could tend to the healing of souls, using nouns and verbs to cure what ails us. It is not insignificant that he was also a Christian. His diagnosis of the spiritual “lostness” of his American brothers and sisters was intended to wake us up to our desperate condition and set up a few signposts for finding our way home.
A Need to Heal the Past
One of the challenges, at least in the western church, is an inability to deal with our wounds in a healthy way. Our training as Christians has been focused on Bible studies, small groups, and Sunday worship. But little thought has been given to the connection between our emotional and spiritual lives. This, I believe, is why seemingly pious saints can wreak so much damage on the church. There’s tons of spiritual head knowledge, but without healing the wounds of the past, they are unable to experience healthy relationships. The Catholic priest Ronald Rolheiser describes this budding awareness of our unhealed past:
Once the sheer impulse of life begins to be tempered by the weight of our commitments and the grind of the years, more of our sensitivities begin to break through, and we sense more and more how we have been wounded and how life has not been fair to us. New demons then emerge: bitterness, anger, jealousy, and a sense of how we have been cheated. Disappointment cools the fiery energies of our youth, and our enthusiasm begins to be tempered by bitterness and anger . . . where once we struggled to properly control our energies, we now struggle to access them.
Ronald Rolheiser, Sacred Fire: A Vision for a Deeper Human and Christian Maturity (New York: Image, 2014), 6.
Healing (Sometimes) Requires Forgiveness
As a young pastor, I wanted to pray for Jean, who had been sick in bed for about a week. So I took Mike, a fellow leader in the church, with me to her home. Her husband, Jim, greeted us at the door and invited us into their bedroom. Jean had been bedridden for days and was barely able to talk. She looked miserable. We began praying fervently for God’s healing. We pleaded with God to restore her health. Suddenly, after a few minutes of prayer . . . nothing happened. Jean looked as bad as ever. But we were determined, so we continued to pray. Again nothing. Finally, we waited in silence before the Lord. I sensed the Lord saying that Jean harbored unforgiveness in her heart.
So I kneeled beside the bed and said, “Jean, do you need to forgive someone for hurting you? Are you holding a grudge?” Jean’s eyes got wet with tears. I encouraged her to confess her sins before the Lord and to make amends with the person who sinned against her. With a quiet, raspy voice she began to confess her sin and promised to forgive the person who hurt her. Within minutes, her countenance changed dramatically.
She got out of bed and washed her face; then together we rejoiced over God’s forgiveness and healing. This reminds me of what Jesus’ younger brother James says about healing and forgiveness: “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make them well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:14-16).
Taken from Peace Catalysts: Resolving Conflict in Our Families, Organizations, and Communities by Rick Love Copyright (c) 2014 p.70 by Rick Love. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com
Scars Tell Beautiful Stories
In their excellent book, Mending the Divides, Jon Huckins and Jer Swigart describe a Japanese Pottery tradition that articulates the power of peace and reconciliation:
When we speak of peace, we can call to mind the ancient Japanese pottery tradition called Kintsugi. With this technique, a clay vessel is broken and then put back together, but not in its original form.
Instead the restoration process involves the use of pure gold to mend the divides and heal the fissures. The broken vessel is put back together in such a way that it is stronger and more beautiful than before it was broken. In Kintsugi, the scars tell beautiful stories of healing and restoration rather than painful stories of destruction.