A Space for Healing (1)

Week 1: God provides a place of healing

When we are wounded, we look for ways of protecting ourselves so that our wounds have a chance to heal. God finds us where we hide and provides all that we need so that we can heal from within, even when our search for safety and justice takes us among strangers. The stories of Hagar and Ruth illustrate the way that God cares for those who cry out to him. Though they were vulnerable and powerless, their faith gave them the courage to cross cultural and social boundaries, even though this meant taking the risks involved in trusting the strangers amongst whom they settled.

Psalm 38         The wounded one cries to God.

Genesis 21.8-21   God finds us where we hide

Isaiah 62.1-5       God’s commitment to the healing of Jerusalem.

1 Corinthians 12.1-11 One Spirit, given for the good of all

John 2.1-11       An abundance of the best

Ruth 1           Committed to one another

Ruth 2           Making a home amongst strangers

Week 2: God moves us toward healing and peace

The story of Ruth not only illustrates the breadth and richness of God’s community, but also the way in which that community is built: through honesty, respect, faithfulness, generosity, persistence, resilience, courage and hope. The wounds of the world are not healed by prayer alone, but also by the effort of understanding, the humility of love, the courage to take risks and the grace of personal sacrifice. We commemorate Holocaust Day to remind ourselves that apathy and complacency - as well as sheer malevolence - produce terrible consequences.

Ruth 3           Trusting to the integrity of others

Ruth 4           Fruition and fulfilment

Psalm 19       The light of the world

Nehemiah 8.1-12   The joy of the Lord is your strength

1 Corinthians 12.12-31 One Body, inter-connected and inter-dependent

1 Corinthians 10.23-11.1 Consideration and respect

Psalm 88       The unhealed wound


Healing the Wounds of the World

We live in a world profoundly scarred by the memories of massacres, pogroms, genocides and other crimes against humanity on a vast scale. The Holocaust - the systematic slaughter of approximately six million European Jews by the Nazis between 1941 and 1945 - is one specific genocide which, in some ways, has come to symbolise all the others. Unfortunately, such crimes are still being committed. Can we, as Christians, lead by example, not only finding and pursuing a way of addressing the conflicts between us, but also modelling it in a manner that will encourage other communities to move “from death to life, from falsehood to truth, from despair to hope, from fear to trust, from hate to love, from war to peace.”

Unfortunately, the heart has gone out of the Christian Unity movement in recent years, as we get overwhelmed by survival issues, and bogged down in the minutiae of institutional co-operation. Despite some advances, such as the Anglican-Methodist Covenant, there is little enthusiasm for ecumenical work at the grass-roots. We are all too busy struggling to keep our own causes going, or to deal with vast quantities of institutional change, to seek a renewed vision in other directions. Divided, we are falling down.

Where we are coming together, it is around other tasks, or other issues, where co-operation is taken for granted and denominational differences or differences of theological emphasis are almost irrelevant. Where we are separated, we are, likewise, separated by issues, or by a differing attitude to issues. Not on denominational lines, but on the stance we take to an issue, even to whether it is an issue at all.

So denominational ecumenism fails to ignite the grassroots because it is outmoded. Indeed, it may now be possible because the denominations are, in a sense, already dead. We are living in the carcass of them because, at present, there is nowhere else to go. But over the next few years that will change. The new alignments and movements, already in effect on the ground, will begin to emerge as named, structural, visible organisations. The only question is how violent the process of transition will become, and what their future relationship with each other will be like.

This being the case, what is the process that will enable us to move forward together, rather than apart. It has to be based on the healing process that Gael Lindenfield has summarised:

Honesty. Exploring our feelings. Acknowledging the bruises.

Finding a safe place to express and explore our feelings, and to say, “I am hurting.”

Receiving - or giving ourselves - active listening support. Receiving comfort and consolation.

Investing in ourselves and being compensated for our losses.

Stepping outside the box. Re-framing our experience and gaining a fresh perspective.

Working for justice.

Reaching for forgiveness.  

How can this be expressed in readings?      

Honesty. Exploring our feelings. Acknowledging the bruises.

Psalms 38, 39; John 4.1-9

Finding a safe place to express and explore our feelings, and to say, “I am hurting.”

Genesis 16.1-16, 1 Kings 19.1-18; John 4.10-17a

Receiving - or giving ourselves - active listening support. Receiving comfort, consolation and the challenge to change, if we can bear it.

Genesis 21.8-21; Ruth 1; John 4.17b-24

Investing in ourselves and being compensated for our losses.

Ruth 2-3; John 4.25-30.

Stepping outside the box. Re-framing our experience and gaining a fresh perspective.

Ruth 4; John 4.39-42.

Working for justice.

1 Corinthians 6.1-11, 12-20; 8.1-13; 9.15-27; 10.23-11.1

Reaching for forgiveness.

1 Corinthians 13; Matthew 18.21-35;

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