Sara Miles wrote Take This Bread, about a feeding ministry she began in St. Gregory’s Episcopal church in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her parents were devout atheists but one day she wandered into St. Gregory’s and was compelled by the experience of receiving open communion.
She said: Feed my sheep. Take this bread. Jesus used the imperative freely. If his followers do the same they sound bossy.
The title of her talk was: Healing and What It Means. I’ll paraphrase the way she began: The context of healing narratives is frequently the Levitical context. There are ritual ways to create God’s desired order, which comes by expelling the disordered one. Jesus doesn’t do this. Instead he breaks the Levitical laws and touches the unclean one. He takes on their contagion. He shifts the boundaries of order/disorder. Here are some quotations:
All cultures have unclean people.
We treat uncleanness as something a person IS, rather than something a person HAS. “You have a cold. You are schizophrenic.”
Healing is about restoring wholeness.
Healing prayer is not cure. God’s idea of healing is not our own. We will not end sorrow. We imitate Christ by being present and touching.
Healing only happens in relationship. Prayer is a form of relationship.
Healing starts when we stand in truth. When people say “Help” this is the first truth that itself is healing.
Healing hurts. (Here she used the metaphor of debridement after a burn.) We must let go of the identity as victim.
Any identity we cling to is an idol if it separates us from the goodness of God in creation.
We idolize separateness and are healed into an unbounded community.
Do you want to be made well if it separates you from your old identity?
Jesus gives us authority to heal. We will not cast out demons and dry tears, but he shows us a way to create a community with spaciousness at its heart.
During Q&A she was asked her opinion on 12-step groups as a way toward healing. She said there was much good in them, especially the emphasis on truth-telling, and that you cannot heal alone, you need others and God. A problem is that people can be cured but not healed (the “dry alcoholic”). She pointed to the health of the motto: Identify don’t compare. This is helpful in a healing ministry.
Reconciliation/confession is deeper than simply telling the truth. ?e.g. we tend to say: “Make me a better person (not right now).”
Often our prayer is us telling God what we think he wants us to say.