Today is June 15, the day California officially reopens for the first time since the genesis of the pandemic. As an online program, this is less significant for us organizationally as it is formationally. It does something in us when a major, historic, life-altering, global crisis has officially been declared “over.”
As Christian educators, we celebrate with gratitude the rapid decline of deaths from the virus and the rise in economic promise for so many who need it. At the same time, our faith commitments to lamentation and wisdom seeking cause us to be careful about what life ‘after’ the pandemic should and could be like. Education, at the very least, has undergone some significant and lasting changes for us to consider.
In all of this, we seek God for healing.
Now we know that healing may not be a vanishing act where all the problems disappear. As a faculty we are meeting this summer every other week to look at words of healing, songs of healing, prayers of healing, and stories of healing. In this we ask that God’s Spirit would dwell richly in us and bring love out of brokenness, joy from despair, peace from fear, patience from impatience, kindness from spitefulness, goodness from fallenness, faithfulness from hopelessness, and self-control in place of carelessness. These things will take time and will look differently for everyone, but we do trust in God’s provision.
In addition to our devotions, we also have an opportunity to do some theological and spiritual professional development around this. Focusing on Christ as the “Wounded Healer,” we are exploring our own way forward as wounded healers in training.
As disciples, this way of Jesus where weakness, vulnerability, and release are God’s healing agents can be difficult to accept in our starkly achievement focused society.
Letting God heal us may not look like dusting it off our jeans and getting back on the horse. God’s ways are not our ways.
Here is a sample of one of our faculty reflection opportunities from our online chaplain. We’d love to hear your thoughts:
You know the story.
In fact, you’ve probably even seen this photo or one like it whenever this story gets discussed. It’s a story so familiar it’s almost a cliche.
Have you ever wondered why certain stories and verses get canonized within the cannon? Like why does everyone know John 3:16 but not Lamentations 3:16? Is it just because “He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, He hath covered me with ashes” doesn’t look as good on a bumper sticker?
Actually, there are a lot of ideas about why certain parts of the Bible become the building blocks of our personal theology while others fade into the drywall. It can be really powerful to explore with communities why certain passages do something in us that we keep needing to come back to. And why we also might need to work a little harder to take notice of some of those less popular parts in the Bible in order to see if God has something new to teach us.
There is healing in those conversations.
But all of that aside, I’ve never met a kid, grown up, atheist, PhD, high school dropout, Baptist, nor an Episcopalian who isn’t at least a little intrigued by the story where Jesus calms the sea. …Seriously, I’ve read it with a representative from each of those groups before, and it’s true. Everyone gets into this one.
There are probably a lot of reasons for this, but I have a hunch that it’s because it’s a healing story that isn’t neat and tidy. (That and everybody likes the ocean.) This healing story holds all of us. Some of us roll our eyes at the disciples forever doubting Jesus, while others of us look awkwardly at the floor when this one gets preached because we’re kind of bugged by Jesus’ nappy time while the disciples are under duress. Some of us see this as triumphant and powerful while others find this a little disturbing and weird.
Any yet within our diversity of responses to this passage, one unifying thing persists that we all see:
Christ heals; the waves do subside.
Although that isn’t the end of the story.
This healing ends with an ambiguous question that could be a reverent, rhetorical, recognition of Jesus’ divinity, or a scared, confused, bewildered plea to the universe for things to make sense again. God’s healing seems to do both of those things in us. It’s always good news, but it isn’t always polished.
It isn’t always over just because the waters settled.
Because after almost–but not quite–falling overboard, we don’t see things the same way.
Not after that threat. Not after that healing. No, after that miracle and after that crisis, things just look different.
Now there are new questions. And new concerns. And new worship.
Healing doesn’t bring us back to how things were; it brings us into something different.
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Song: “Jesus When You Gonna Wake Up?”