This may come as no surprise to you, but this winter has brought along a nasty season of sickness. Currently, I am working my way through a box of tissues and trying to figure out if this is the fourth or the fifth time I have been hit with whatever bugs are going around. It could be the price one pays with a young child who brings all manner of things home from daycare. But it seems as if everyone is more susceptible this year to the variety of viruses swirling through the air. Some of you have been to the hospital, and some of you may be finishing off a regimen of germ-killing drugs.
There is something unifying about finding a cure for sickness. You might share a knowing nod with someone in a waiting room or in the cough-syrup aisle. Maybe you have bonded with others who live with the same chronic illness you have. Or perhaps you unite with others who have had their worlds shaken by a terrible disease, raising awareness and funds so that no one will ever have to live through that same terror.
Fred Pratt Green isn’t necessarily a household name, yet there is a good chance you know his work. A dozen of his hymns are featured in our current hymnal. In one of his lesser known pieces (Hymn #610 in Evangelical Lutheran Worship), he captures this idea that we can find unity in our quest for healing:
O Christ, the healer, we have come
to pray for health, to plead for friends.
How can we fail to be restored,
when reached by love that never ends?
From every ailment flesh endures
our bodies clamor to be freed;
yet in our hearts we would confess
that wholeness is our deepest need.
In conflicts that destroy our health,
we diagnose the world's disease;
our common life declares our ills:
is there no cure, O Christ, for these?
Grant that we all, made one in faith,
in your community may find
the wholeness that, enriching us,
shall reach the whole of humankind.
There is no amount of money, soap, or sanitizer to protect you and your loved ones from being ill. Everyone, rich and poor, young and old, gets sick. Disease does not discriminate. When you are sick, it is far from easy to think beyond yourself and your most urgent needs. But, the next time you are on the mend, take a moment to imagine how similar you are to all of God’s people. Everyone deserves good health and loving care. May Jesus Christ, the healer of our every ill, unite us in our search for wholeness.
Pastor Chad McKenna