What I’m Thinking: Restoring Community

By healing, Jesus enabled people to return to their community. We have other ways to do that.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the seventh chapter of Mark’s Gospel (Mark 7:24-37), the second half, which tells the stories of two of Jesus’ healings.

The first is quite well known. Jesus had left Galilee, trying to take something of a vacation, when he was sought out by a local woman whose daughter was afflicted by a demon. She asked Jesus to cast out the demon and Jesus refused, saying it was not right to take the children’s food and give it to dogs. It’s about as cruel a thing as I can think of Jesus saying recorded in the Gospels.

She responded with words that have not merely been remembered; they have been honored with the opening up of the Christian Church. She said, “Even the dogs get to eat the crumbs which fall from the children’s table.” And so the demon was cast out from her daughter.

The second story is fairly simple. Jesus returned to Galilee, and a group of people brought him a man who could not hear and who could not speak clearly. They asked Jesus to change that. Jesus did. The man could hear. He could speak. And everyone was amazed.

Healing stories, though, can be complicated depending on who is reading or hearing the stories. To folks who are disabled, a healing story can sometimes sound like, “You are not a full human being with your disability. You are not a full part of our society as long as you are lacking the ability to see, unable to hear, unable to walk and get around, or even subject to anxieties or ways of thinking that are not the same as most others.” And so one of the problems that folks with disabilities find in stories like the healing of this deaf man is that nobody ever seems to ask the person being healed if that’s what they would like.

We can only assume that the man being brought by his friends, by his neighbors, understood and approved of what was happening. We can only hope that it was their love and affection for him which led them to seek out what he might not have been able to ask for by himself.

Both of these stories talk about the restoration of an individual to their community. The girl possessed by a demon would not have been able to interact with her family, with her neighbors, with the freedom that she would want, with the fullness of self, as long as this demon held her. And in the first century, someone unable to hear to speak, would have been at a remove from their neighbors. Jesus restored both of these people to their communities.

The thing is, in our day we have other ways to do this, and sometimes we use them and sometimes we don’t.

There are other ways to communicate with folks who cannot hear. There is sign language, and you know what? A hearing person can learn it and use it. For folks with other kinds of disabilities, there are ways that we can change the places that we build in order that they are not frustrated by them. We can put audible signals on crosswalks. We can put curb cuts in sidewalks. We can make sure that the upper floors of our buildings do not require climbing stairs.

How do we restore folks that we have, by our own actions, folks that we have set aside from our community? How do we say – how do we show – how do we invite – folks to not overcome the barriers, but how do we remove the barriers we have placed? And say, “Now, we can extend a full welcome.”

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , | Posted on August 30, 2021

Social Networks: RSS Facebook Twitter Google del.icio.us Stumble Upon Digg Reddit

1 Comment

  1. by Janet

    On August 30, 2021

    Thank you for raising these questions.
    I am thinking about one segment of our community….the homeless. A beautiful and caring act of kindness and concern was displayed by a team of healthcare providers, along with a non-profit agency and a private business by going to where the homeless are sheltering to administer the Covid vaccine.
    A part of the barrier was removed!

Leave a Reply

close window

Service Times & Directions

Sunday School Classes

Sunday 8:45 am

Sunday Worship Service

Sunday 10:00 am

Adult Bible Study

Monday 6:30 pm, Wednesday 9:00 am

(International Young Adults Association)
Bible Study

Wednesday 7:30 pm

The Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga

(The Rev. Tevita) Sunday 1:00 pm Wednesday 7:00 pm (Sanctuary)

The United Church of Christ, Pohnpei - Hilo

(The Rev. Ichiro) Sunday 10:00 am (Bdg. of Faith)

The Samoan Church

(The Rev. Sunia) Sunday 4:00 pm (Sanctuary)

440 W. Lanikaula Street
Hilo, HI 96720
(808) 935-1283