Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC
Wednesday, December 15
By Suzanne Matheny
A Gift of the Spirit
Read Luke 4:40 (NLT)
“As the sun went down that evening, people throughout the village brought sick family members to Jesus. No matter what their diseases were, the touch of his hand healed every one.”
Maurice (not his real name) is an elderly man I’ve recently met. He is bright and a proud U.S. Navy veteran, having faithfully and willingly served sixteen years defending our democracy, even when the color of his skin prohibited the full exercise of his rights. Now confined to assisted living and suffering from an illness manifested in part by a shuffling gait, aphasia and jumbled speech, conversing with him can be challenging. Yet his warm smile, gentle, forgiving nature and grateful appreciation for the smallest of gifts far outweigh any fear or hesitancy of conversing with him.
Our brief conversations consist of a lot of smiles and nodding of heads; but one evening at dinner something miraculous happened. When I arrived at the dinner table it was evident he was waiting to ask – albeit in his labored style – if he could say grace. From his tongue and voice came a most beautiful, poetic and clearly enunciated Spirit-led prayer. I understood every word; but more than that, I recognized this was sacred ground and the Kingdom of Heaven was near.
I don’t recall his words, but the spirit of the moment is unforgettable; and wrapped up in all of this was the mysteriously healing power and presence of the Spirit. For that moment, Maurice and I experienced healing, both in his ability to speak and my ability to understand his words, and also spiritually; and that, dear friends, is a gift to be celebrated this Christmas.
Omniscient God, for the gift of the baby boy, Jesus, who grew to heal the sick and empower his disciples to heal; and for today’s miraculous moments of healing – some mysteriously through your Spirit, some through the gifts of ministers, caregivers, and loving family and friends, we are indeed grateful. And when healing as we understand or hope it to be is not evident, we humbly ask for strength and peace, and the assurance of your love and presence. In the name of Jesus, the healer, Amen.