Listen to others’ journeys, understand how to help, pastor urges
As printed in The Marketplace - 2019 - January/February
People under-estimate their ability to be a healing presence in the world, Shannon Dycus says.
“We know — what MEDA embodies — is that there are many significant ways to make impact upon the lives of burdened people,” she said.
Dycus, co-pastor at Indianapolis’s First Mennonite Church, made the comments in a sermon entitled “Her touch, our faith and the power of Jesus” at the closing session of MEDA’s annual convention.
She built the sermon around a story in the New Testament book of Luke, chapter eight (verses 42-48), where a woman receives healing after touching the edge of Jesus’ cloak while he was making his way through a crowd.
The woman, who had lived with the reality of hemorrhaging blood for 12 years, was an outcast who stepped out in faith to become whole.
Dycus challenged her audience to consider how they have opportunities to give power and hope to the most vulnerable. Many people make the mistake, when they hear the story of the woman’s healing, of distancing themselves from the possibility that they could provide healing in another sense for others. While being awed by Jesus’ miraculous work, they fail to understand how they too could contribute to healing.
“There is a flow of compassion within you that can restore her hope,” she said. “We have a channel of investing that can re-establish her resources. You have the capacity to see her in a way that will restore her dignity. In our individual and collective beings, we possess a power that loves, heals, restores. But we forget.”
Intersections like the one where Jesus met the hurting woman are “places of connection and conflict, chaos and community,” she said. “Jesus, in this segment of Luke 8, stands at the possibility of empowering the most vulnerable. We stand with him.”
We need to continue to listen and understand the road hurting people have travelled as life brings us to the intersection of new projects and new relationships, she said. “We cannot simply see the people in front of us and miss the story that shapes them… When we see the person and the road, we are able to heal bodies and journeys.”
Dycus told of spending a year living in the Dominican Republic, working with people who were being exploited by drugs and sexual violence. While she was sent to support and help those people, she found that learning about their lives expanded and challenged her world. “I continue to be sure their impact on my life is far greater than mine on theirs.”
Jesus calls people to live into the same power that was breathed into him, she said. He “models a way of seeing and blessing others so they might have the resources to be both healthy and whole.”
That journey requires following God into the crowd. “It means following a God that we cannot predict or control. It means following a God that leads us through healing and heartache and healing again.”
At the end of her message, Dycus noted that for the ancient Israelites, prayer smelled like frankincense, royalty smelled like myrrh, and sacrifice smelled like hyssop. “To be anointed with oil was to be chosen, consecrated and commissioned for a holy task.”
She invited people in attendance to come to the front of the room to have their hands or forehead anointed with oil as a symbol of remembering. “The Spirit of God invites us to remember and restore the power in your body, in this body to heal and bless that all of creation might be well,” she said in conclusion.
“Come and Remember! Go to proclaim!” ◆