Luke 13:10-17 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.
Reflection: This passage in gospel of Luke tells of a woman afflicted by a crippling condition that had crippled her for eighteen years. She attends the synagogue as probably was her custom to continue building upon her faith formation through the worship and praise God. Jesus is also present in the synagogue that particular Sabbath. He is scheduled to teach the gathered. Jesus then sees her, has compassion on her, lays his hands on her, and heals her. She immediately stood up straight and began praising God. She leaves the worship service, freed of her affliction, to live in her community as a witness of God’s grace through Christ.
Have you ever had such an experience?
Worship is powerful because all the means of God’s grace are available to the gathered; be they 10 or 10,000. We really never know how Christian hospitality and fellowship, songs of praise and worship, prayers, silence, meditation, the reading of Scripture, opportunities to give, liturgies, the sacraments of baptism of Holy Communion, even church architecture and art, will proclaim and make near and accessible to us the glory, grace, and power of our triune God. Such a multi-dimensional spiritual presence of God’s grace is a gift of God to the people of God. Through these spiritual means, or conduits of God’s glory and care, the spirit of God mysteriously opens and penetrates our inner life to save, free, liberate, and fill us with God’s presence and power for living. In turn, we live in the world as an open channel of God’s glory and grace, led and used by God, to illuminate the hearts of those we meet.
Regular worship is vital to our spiritual formation and our daily living. The progress of our faith formation is often subtle, barely noticeable on a day to day or week to week basis. We cannot appreciate just how profound our formation has become through years of openly practicing and partaking of God’s means of grace until we face a crisis. It is in the difficult seasons of our lives, when we are weighed down with life’s problems, worries, and cares that we find ourselves deeply grounded and strong in our trust of God’s goodness and promises to be our very present help in our time of trouble (Ps. 46:1). Then there are those expected but rare moments when we are in worship and we experience an abrupt and powerful breakthrough or transformation in our lives that opens and frees us of whatever is bending our spirit, just like the woman today’s gospel.
The woman in today’s gospel attended the synagogue that Sabbath expecting to make her prayers known to God, to hear sound teaching about God’s nature and ways, and to be with her friends. She not only gave her worship to God, she was open to receive whatever God had for her in return. On that seemingly ordinary Sabbath, she received more than what she expected when she powerfully encountered God’s indescribable gift (2 Cor. 9:15), the one the prophets declared, the one spoken of in all Hebrew scripture, her deliverer, her peace, her healer, Jesus Christ.
As we worship this Sunday to strengthen and form our faith, may we be open to encountering Christ’s saving, healing, and liberating power through God’s means of grace.
Prayer: Powerfully encounter us, blessed and compassionate Lord, in our times of worship through your abundant means of grace. Open our hearts and minds to receive what you have for us today so may declare your glory and praise you with our lives in the world.