What ideas or images come to mind when you think of miracles? Often Christians mistakenly reserve “miracle” only for the radical, dramatic, and inexplicable events that are beyond human influence. However, if we look to the deeper meaning of Jesus’ miracles, we do not find a theology that tells us what we are incapable of, but rather a theology that inspires us to embody what we are capable of by God’s grace. As we make ourselves available to this grace, we might discover subtly dramatic miracles breaking through in our everyday realities.
When we look at Jesus’ miracles in the Gospels, we quickly see that miracles are not about Jesus impressing people with “magical powers.” Rather, they are about the dynamic of human beings acting on their faith to participate in God’s healing work of restoring lives and relationships. Jesus does not simply go around healing passive bystanders; rather, throughout the miracle stories, we see person after person approaching Jesus with the necessary element of faith. Over and over again, we hear Jesus say, “It is your faith which has healed you.” By embracing their indomitable will to be healed, individuals and communities in the gospels find themselves with the unexpected, God-given resources, strength, and courage to rise up, to walk again, to see anew, to reconcile, to feed one another.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus encourages us, “Whoever trusts in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these” (John 14:12). Jesus healed illness, made the blind to see, and the lame to walk. As his followers, we are invited to participate in this same healing ministry. Not only this, but as we trust in Christ, we come to realize Christ’s unshakeable trust in us to do great things.
This meeting invites the group to reflect on Jesus’ healing ministry—how they have experienced healing in their own lives and to examine how God may calling them to participate in the healing of their own relationships and communities.
The first Scripture passage is Mark 10:46-52, in which Jesus heals a persistent blind man, declaring that his faith has made him well. Accompanying this passage is a short story from Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., which has parallel themes of persistence and faith through the healing process. A woman with Crohn’s disease has yet another setback, and through reflection on her journey of brokenness and healing, she comes to embrace her “indomitable will to live, her courage, and her ability to heal herself over and over again.” With the passage about the blind man and Remen’s short story as the basis for reflection, participants will be invited to consider their own journey of brokenness and healing as they come to embrace the healing grace God has for them.
- Instrumental music
- Copies of the reading
- Blank paper for Healing Timeline and crayons and/or something to write with
- Papers with the Journal Questions
Ask for the grace to see and embody God’s healing presence in our lives. You may want to consider singing together “Open My Eyes Lord.” Read the following passage as part of the prayer.
“They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’ So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said to him, ‘My teacher, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.” Mark 10:46-52
When have you seen someone hurting or when have you been hurting this week?
Ask one of your community members to read the passage “Reading Between the Lines” from Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. You may want to hand out copies of the reading to all of the group members.
Then, introduce the Healing Timeline. In the same way that Sara came to embrace anew the grace of healing by reflecting on her past experiences, I invite you to make a timeline of your own experiences of brokenness and healing. From your childhood to this moment right now, consider the ways in which you have experienced healing, restoration, and wholeness through experiences of woundedness or broken relationships. When you are finished with the timeline, there are a couple of questions on the back for you to respond to as well.
Hand out paper for Healing Timeline with Journal Questions on the back and play instrumental music while people write.
- Looking at your moments of brokenness and healing, do you notice any patterns or threads running throughout your experiences (the “story beneath the story,” as Remen says)? In one sentence, what truth are you coming to know about God’s healing dynamic in your own life?
- Consider these two quotes from the readings: “Your faith has healed you” (Mark 10:52). “Looking deeply and honestly at her woundedness, she had found her power; experienced her own indomitable will to live, her courage, and her ability to heal herself over and over again” (Remen). What power, gifts, or resources are you recognizing in yourself as you reflect on your own healing timeline?
- “When you open that door, you will receive what you need in your own process of healing” (Remen). What is on the other side of that door for you? What is the healing grace God wants to give you in this moment of your life?
- Where do you find God present or feel God distant as you look over your timeline?
As you finish your reflection, write your desires and prayer to God/Jesus and listen to God’s response to you.
Invite members to share what has emerged. You can either go question by question, or let people share from whatever question around which they have the most energy.
- What has struck you as you have been listening to others share? Do you notice any patterns or commonalities?
- How have you been feeling throughout the meeting? Comfortable?
- Is there anything you would like to share after listening to another person share?
Continue to reflect on the theme of healing and ask God to reveal to you the ways that God has participated in the healing of hurts in your life.
Consider having your group engage in “bodily prayer” by standing in a large circle. Invite participants to quiet themselves and close their eyes. Then, invite each person to extend their arms as if hugging someone. Read aloud: God yearns to draw you close so that your wounds may be healed. Imagine God embracing you and healing your wounds. Wait about one minute. Now I invite you to bring your hands over your hear. (Pause.) Sense God drawing you closer and closer. (Wait 30 seconds.) Healing God, look upon our faith as you did with Bartamaeus, and have mercy on us in your Son’s name. Amen.
“Christ has sent us on a mission…we are to become identified with His mission of bringing the good news to the poor, proclaiming liberty to captives and to the blind, new sight, setting the downtrodden free and proclaiming the Lord’s year of favor. Our life is essentially apostolic.” (CLC-USA General Principles #8)
“Each of us receives from God a call to make Christ and his saving action present to our surroundings. This personal apostolate is indispensable for extending the Gospel in a lasting and penetrating way among the great diversity of persons, places and situations.” (CLC-USA General Principles #8a)
“Praise the Lord! How good it is to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting. The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the broken-hearted, and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:1-3
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19
“The Father who dwells in me does his works…Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these.” (John 14:10, 12)