Tony Worner, our Leader of Formation, reads from Luke’s Gospel (13: 10-17) in which Jesus, after being criticized for healing a crippled woman on the Sabbath, says, ‘Is there one of you who does not untie your ox or donkey from the manger on the Sabbath and take it out for watering?’.
Tony begins by referring to artist Robert Hodgell’s woodcut, “Pilgrim’s Progress,” which depicts a man bent over, not unlike the woman in today’s scripture from Luke. Strapped to the man’s back are large rocks, and written on them is the question, “What shall I do to be saved?” He tries to walk forward, but his burden is too great. Behind him are laughing faces, deriding him and adding to his woe. This “pilgrim” makes little progress because he has burdened himself with the weight of his own life. This ill-health is deeply spiritual, marked by our human desire to save ourselves, rather than to accept the freedom that Jesus offers us.
Like the pilgrim, and the ailing woman in this passage from Luke, many of us have seen the forces in life that can cripple us. We cannot straighten up, and we fear we never will. However, the promise by Jesus is, if we allow him to be part of our lives, we will be able to stand straight again.
Tony asks us to reflect on ‘What in our lives, keeps us crippled? What do we need to let go of, in order to stand tall again? In order to be healed?’ And he prays:
God, remind us of your great love for all people, and especially for those who are oppressed in mind, body, or spirit. Grant us courage to take a stand for them each day, and to ask for healing for our own afflictions. Amen.