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Speaking to the Soul: Stretch Out Your Hand

Speaking to the Soul: Stretch Out Your Hand

Monday, April 27, 2015 – 4 Easter, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 41, 52 (morning) // 44 (evening)

Wisdom 1:16-2:11, 21-24

Colossians 1:1-14

Luke 6:1-11

I lived in Kathmandu, Nepal from 2002 to 2004. I attended daily Mass with a women’s religious community, and I distinctly remember hearing a very short sermon on today’s gospel reading. In this passage, the scribes and Pharisees are watching Jesus’s every move, trying to catch him in the act of lawbreaking. In particular, they want to see whether Jesus will heal on the sabbath.


When Jesus meets a man with a withered hand, Jesus gives the man two instructions: (1) “Come and stand here,” and (2) “Stretch out your hand.” When the man stretches out his hand, it is whole and fully restored.


In his sermon, Father John pointed out that Jesus hadn’t really done anything that he could be charged with. I still remember Father John’s intonation: “Jesus. Does. NOTHING!” . . . meaning that, in this story, Jesus doesn’t heal through any specific actions that could constitute a violation of sabbath regulations. In other words, the healing presence of Jesus is beyond the capacity of any law to regulate.


Father John died several years ago. He didn’t live to see the earthquake that has leveled so much of the country where he spent his entire adult life in ministry. He’s one of so many people who taught me nearly every spiritual lesson I’ve learned in my life, and almost all of those people are in Nepal. I learned these lessons from people who have almost nothing, from people who choose to pour out their lives in service, from people who persevere in ministry when their idealism has run out, from people who enrich their lives with all the world’s wisdom, and from people whose brilliance and optimism and friendship shine against all the world’s odds.


The first verse from our Psalm for this morning will be my prayer in the coming days. It proclaims, “Happy are they who consider the poor and needy! / the Lord will deliver them in the time of trouble.” If we can put our faith in these words of the Psalmist, then deliverance will come to many people in Nepal, for so many of them have considered the poor and the needy.


Of course, the Lord’s deliverance looks very different in different people’s lives, and I’m not sure what deliverance we will see. But we do know that the Lord’s deliverance is always connected to the ways we link our lives with those who are poor. And we know that when we stretch out our hands, at least something is restored.


Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps  program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


image: By Mapbox  via Wikimedia Commons


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