The Journey 80: Transofrming the life of sick and suffering
Read: Mark 7:24-30
Key Bible Verse: “ Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard” [ Isaiah 58:8].
Rev. Larry Deitch and Dayton Beach Drive Church, Florida. Who is Rev. Larry Deitch? Larry Deitch is a pastor of a unique and an uncommon church in Florida named as the Dayton Beach Drive-In Church. The uniqueness of this church is that this church is by the seashore in Florida and here the worshippers park their cars, which becomes their personal pews, in front of a balcony of the church which becomes the "altar". The worshippers then tune their radios to a special FM frequency to listen to singing and a sermon that happens every week in the church. The whole concept of worship in an informal setting was something Deitch conceived. This outdoor church, which has more than 800 members, belongs to the Disciples of Christ denomination of churches. The concept of worshipping outdoors according to Deitch was that "We like to worship outdoors by the seashore like Jesus did!". Finally after 17 years of service, Deitch finally retired last Sunday, where he conducted his final worship before handing over the charge of the church to a new clergy. In a context like in the United States, where people are slowly moving away from church and its institutional patterns and are also sometimes critical of formal worship patterns, Deitch crossed the traditional boundaries and went beyond set new norms in the concept of worship, so that worship becomes informal and thus trying to attract people to church. I think one of the lesson that even Jesus did and teaches us is the conscious attempt on His part to move away from certain traditional concepts and norms for the sake of the gospel.
This week we are meditating on the theme “ Transforming the life of the sick and the suffering” based on the life of Syrian Phoenician woman in Mark 7. Here is a woman who is desperate and comes to seek help. But as we read the beginning verse we find, the encounter takes place in the vicinity of the city of Tyre and Sidon and the race of the woman is Syrian Phoenician. The traditional understanding that the Jews had at that time about these Syrian Phoenicians is that they were heathens, while only the Jews worshipped the living God. Hence the people living at the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon and also people belonging to the race of Syrian Phoenician just like the Samaritans were all condemned, and the Jews deliberately avoided any sort of relationship with them. All the conversations that Jesus has with the woman has to be seen in the light of the culture that was existing at that time. But it is in such a context, the Jesus heals the daughter of the Syrian Phoenician woman, showing through His actions, that the message of the gospel is inclusive. Jesus deliberately crossed the set norms or the traditional boundaries laid by the society to bring healing to the suffering community.
I think this is what we are also called to do. Unknowingly even when we see people suffering, we are not comfortable in crossing boundaries nor moving from set norms so that the message of the gospel and the healing that Jesus offers, is made available to the common people. This attitude could be even prevalent even in our concept of church and even worship. Sticking on to set norms may be good at times, but change, healing and transformation happens when we consciously try to move from certain norms so that gospel and its message of healing and liberation becomes inclusive.
Move on……..Don't get stuck somewhere……...
Let us Pray: God there are times when we are stuck in our concept of ministry, in our understanding of Gospel, resulting into creating blocks in our ministry. Help us to move beyond set norms so that your message is brought to one and all. Amen.