Wednesday, January 21, 2015
In the Presbyterian denomination we have two disciplines for reading scripture. The first, “lectio divina” as we call it, is probably the most familiar to people. Readings are assigned based on the church year. Our second discipline is “lectio continua” or “continuous reading.” Continuous reading means exactly that, reading chapter by chapter through the Old and New Testaments. In our congregations at Ellsworth and Hager City we have progressed from Genesis to First Chronicles in the Old Testament and have gone once through the entire New Testament. We started over in Matthew and are now reading Mark. I have a noticed many things as the Bible is read aloud in the Sunday assembly that I never could have learned from private study; one recent and simple discovery is that Jesus really is the “Great Physician.” He is a doctor; he looks at people intently, he listens to them, he questions them, he touches the ear that is deaf, the eyes that cannot see. Recently I went to my doctor because of a problem (it turned out that I had sprained my big toe!) but sadly, my doctor, though he tried his best, was not able to question me, to listen me, to look at me. As I sat there explaining my symptoms, he had to type into a computer, noting down the things I said on some kind of form. I could tell that he would much rather not have had this chore to do. Later I happened to look at my record and noticed that he had gotten a lot wrong. He desperately needed a secretary! Even worse, he seemed to be under a time constraint. He wanted to understand my trouble but he also seemed worried about the time that was passing. In the end he did not dare to make a diagnosis but sent me to a specialist. Two specialists and a physical therapist later, I found out what the problem was. It was the physical therapist that finally got it right. Not surprisingly she was the only one to really look at my foot, the only one to manipulate the muscles, listen to my symptoms and thoroughly question me. She reaped the reward that comes from being a doctor like Jesus; she discovered the problem and was able to set me on a course to healing. I tell this story because it is so sad and frightening. My grandparents were both doctors and they wanted to help people. They would have been devastated by limitations that are imposed in our day on the medical community. There is too big a difference between our doctors and the Great Doctor, the Lord Jesus. This leads me to a question: Have we as a society done right by our doctors and nurses? Have we created a space where they can be free to take to time, to look, listen, touch, question? I make bold to say, I do not think so. How can we fix this problem? I leave this question open, because, frankly I do not know if we as a society have the will to make things better for our doctors and our nurses. However, I do know this, Jesus was and is and will be the Great Physician, he will continue to look at each one of us, to touch us, with compassion, with open ears, sharp questioning. As the Bible says, even when we are faithless, God is faithful for he cannot deny himself. Let’s pray that we can do better by one another and by our doctors, nurses and aides and that one day they can be free to be instruments of the Lord’s peace that they were meant to be.