LUKE: The Gospel For Rebels Week 4A Gospel for People with Disabilities

A Gospel for People with Disabilities

Week of February 28

Story from the Outside:
Chronic pain is funny, not haha funny, but odd, strange, funny. The thing about living with chronic pain is no one really knows you have it unless you tell them. From the outside I look perfectly healthy and normal, but on the inside there is a never ending storm that won’t quite settle down, and is never quite finished with me. A storm of pain that makes “feeling” and “being” normal almost impossible. A storm that leaves me feeling on the outside of most everything in my life.

This pain relentlessly taps me on the shoulder like an annoying child trying to get my attention. And if I don’t stuff it down, way down and rise above, it will consume me. In fact, stuffing it down is how I get through each day – but stuffing it down is also exhausting and eventually makes me a not very nice person to be around. My temper becomes short, tears are quick to come and the pain wins.
It’s this strange, seemingly invisible pain that makes me feel like a failure as a mother and a wife, as a friend, a sister, a daughter. I am often on the outside looking in, watching life happen for all of them and feeling like I cannot play too – “sorry, I’ll need to sit this one out”. And then I think, well didn’t they get ripped off. My children, my husband left to deal with a broken mommy and wife.

It’s always so present that I sometimes think that the pain starts to define me. It most unapologetically points out my physical and often mental limitations. I mean, how can anyone truly know what this feels like? How do I begin to explain it? I can’t.

So most days, I just stay silent, about the pain. Even the people who know I have this pain, don't know that often I’m suffering in silence right beside them.

I continue searching for ways to get out of pain – because I have to believe that this won’t last forever – how could it? Wouldn’t that be cruel and unusual punishment? Punishment for what, I often wonder? Snap, back to reality, there are people counting on me. Push the pain aside.

-- Deborah
Reflection Questions:
“It’s always so present that I sometimes think that the pain starts to define me” –Deborah

  1. Deborah feels defined by something completely out of her control. Something that impacts her life and the lives of those around her; yet her pain is invisible. How does knowing that some people are dealing with invisible differences impact the way you treat them and include them in things like church services or core groups?
  2. Have you ever felt like you had to hide a part of yourself in order to be accepted by the church, or any other group or people? 

Opening Prayer: 
Holy God, we pray for Deborah and her ongoing battle with chronic pain. Her story reminds us that we are surrounded on a daily basis by people battling all kinds of circumstances that are outside of their control. Forgive us for the times that we have failed to extend compassion and empathy to those that are hurting. Help us to be a people that truly sees, accepts, and includes others, especially those who feel like outsiders. Amen.

Read Aloud: 
Luke 13:10-17
Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. A woman was there who had been disabled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and couldn’t stand up straight. When he saw her, Jesus called her to him and said, “Woman, you are set free from your sickness.” He placed his hands on her and she straightened up at once and praised God.
The synagogue leader, incensed that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, responded, “There are six days during which work is permitted. Come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath day.”
The Lord replied, “Hypocrites! Don’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from its stall and lead it out to get a drink? Then isn’t it necessary that this woman, a daughter of Abraham, bound by Satan for eighteen long years, be set free from her bondage on the Sabbath day?” When he said these things, all his opponents were put to shame, but all those in the crowd rejoiced at all the extraordinary things he was doing.

Engaging the Scripture:  
  1. How does Jesus go about healing the woman? What does he say and do? 
  2. What comparison does he draw when he calls the synagogue leaders hypocrites? What stands out to you about this comparison Jesus chooses to make?

Luke 5:12-26
Jesus was in one of the towns where there was also a man covered with a skin disease. When he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged, “Lord, if you want, you can make me clean.”
Jesus reached out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do want to. Be clean.” Instantly, the skin disease left him. Jesus ordered him not to tell anyone. “Instead,” Jesus said, “go and show yourself to the priest and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses instructed. This will be a testimony to them.” News of him spread even more and huge crowds gathered to listen and to be healed from their illnesses. But Jesus would withdraw to deserted places for prayer.
One day when Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and legal experts were sitting nearby. They had come from every village in Galilee and Judea, and from Jerusalem. Now the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal. Some men were bringing a man who was paralyzed, lying on a cot. They wanted to carry him in and place him before Jesus, but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they took him up on the roof and lowered him—cot and all—through the roof tiles into the crowded room in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
The legal experts and Pharisees began to mutter among themselves, “Who is this who insults God? Only God can forgive sins!”
Jesus recognized what they were discussing and responded, “Why do you fill your minds with these questions? Which is easier—to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you will know that the Human One[a] has authority on the earth to forgive sins” —Jesus now spoke to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, get up, take your cot, and go home.” Right away, the man stood before them, picked up his cot, and went home, praising God.
All the people were beside themselves with wonder. Filled with awe, they glorified God, saying, “We’ve seen unimaginable things today.”

Engaging the Scripture:  
  1. What does the man with the man “covered with a skin disease” say to Jesus? How is this different from just asking Jesus to heal him? 
  2. In what ways is this account different from Jesus’ healing of the woman in the synagogue? In what ways is it the same? Consider both what the recipients do and say and what Jesus does and says in each story.
  1. What do you find most striking about the story of the paralytic and the men who manage to get him in front of Jesus? 
  2. How is what Jesus says here different from the other stories we are considering? What is the reaction of the Pharisees to this difference? How does Jesus respond to their anger?
Application Questions: 
  1. The synagogue leader, incensed that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, responded, “There are six days during which work is permitted. Come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath day.”  Jesus goes on to explain that some things HAVE to be done on sabbath, they are essential, and healing this woman was essential to Jesus. Talk about the feelings of the parties in this story. The leader, the woman, Jesus; have you ever been in any of their positions? What was that like?

  1. Pastor Matt says (referring to the woman healed in our first story) “Instead, the miracle here is that the one overlooked was finally seen.
  • Have you ever been overlooked? Overshadowed either because of a disability or other natural human characteristic? Did it transition to being “finally seen,” or did you change your circumstance? 
  • When the woman was seen and healed by Jesus, her life was changed. Jesus’ healing can come in different ways, especially in 2021. How have you experienced healing in the past year? How has your life changed as a resut of that healing?
  • How does the unconditional acceptance from Jesus impact your life or the life of someone you love?

Closing Prayer:  
Dear God, we are all in need of some type of healing. We name here, in the silence of our hearts, our pain. We lay our hurt at your feet, trusting in your infinite power and possibility.  We believe that healing is a dynamic and reachable experience, a reality that can be experienced right now. Help us to maintain a patient and loving attitude, believing that your healing activity is now at work in our mind and body. We look forward, with joyful expectation, to the perfect wholeness that you are manifesting within each of us. We rest in the certainty of your healing power, knowing that with you all things are possible. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Taking it Further (Challenge for Rebels): 
Check these out to take the heart of the sermon and our discussion further this week.

Watch these scenes from "The Chosen" television series:

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