Revelation 21 :1 – 6
…I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new…”
Luke 4 :14 – 21
[Jesus] stood up to read… “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing…”
“See, I Am Making All Things New.” This title comes from our first lesson, from the Revelation to John: “See, I am making all things new.” This speaks to our experience of salvation in this life: a newness of life beginning now… which may stretch the imagination. On the one hand, I’m not getting any younger, and nor are you. The newness promised is not a spiritual facelift. The newness of life Jesus is promising is from the inside out.
The English word “salvation” comes from the Latin that means “wholeness” or “healing.” The English verbs “to save” (as in rescuing), and “to salve” (as in using healing oil), and “to salvage” (as in bringing new life out of what is done or dead), all come from the same Latin etymological root: to save, to salve, to salvage in this life. That’s where we find the newness. When Jesus begins his public ministry, the very first words he claims for himself come from the prophecy of Isaiah – what we just heard in our Gospel lesson: he has come to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free….”[i] Where or why are people most held captive, oppressed, and blind to the light? Where are you? It’s in your memory. If you know something about an inner captivity, where you are prone to be a prisoner, the roots of your incarceration are in your past: things done or left undone, said or left unsaid in your past, and retained in your memory. You may not have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but you most likely have borne wounds and have suffered in your past because of others. They may have hurt you knowingly, or unwittingly.The people who have harmed you may have passed on to you what was passed on to them, generation-to-generation. You may have conscious memory of some event, some encounter, some significant wound in your memory – a one-time event or something that was ongoing – and that wound has impeded or prevented your inner freedom. That wound has in some real way imprisoned you from the inside out, bound you up in how you relate to yourself, how you relate to others, how you make decisions, how you understand your desires, how you navigate life… A wounding may keep you tied up, chained down, incarcerated in your memory. Or, at some point, you may have imprisoned yourself behind bars just to keep yourself safe. But at such cost and with such limitation. Or you may have colluded with wounds you have received at the hands of others, doing unto yourself what was done unto you.
So when we hear Jesus’ promise that he is “making all things new,” this is from the inside out, and I’m speaking here from the vantage point of memory, the healing of memories. I’m not speaking about spiritual amnesia, that an imprisoning memory will simply disappear (though that can happen). I’m speaking about the healing of memories, the healing of open wounds in our past that are pricked with pain and immobility. The experience of inner healing may come in one of two ways:
- The healing of the memory may come, not in the painful memory being shrunk, but rather, the memory being enlarged. What you experienced that one time or repeated times, perhaps in the hands or the words of others, was deeply wounding for you, and this other person may have been acting out of wounds done unto them. The tragedy – the experience of imprisonment – is even bigger than you; it’s also about them. The healing for you may come with the conversion of pain into compassion for this other person. I’m not suggesting the denial of your pain, nor the excusing of someone’s wrongful, wounding actions or words. But I am saying that your eyes may be opened to what you were before blind, that there was not just one tragedy – your tragedy – but at least two tragedies. The imprisoning of your own memory was afflicted upon you from a fellow prisoner. This kind of awareness will often times come with The healing of the memory has not shrunk but rather been enlarged in the memory.
- Another kind of experience of the healing of memories is in the salving of an open wound. Open wounds are hyper-sensitive. If you have an open wound in your memory, you will have an inflamed reaction, a disproportional response to anything that touches the wound. There may be a real lack of freedom somewhere in your life, and for good reason. You’re protecting a wound… as if your life depended upon it… which it probably does. The salving of this wound is to take the pain away, and clear up any infection that may have spread to other parts of your inner life. The healed wound may leave a scar, a well-won scar, but then, scar tissue is very strong. In this way, the healing of memories is both in the salving – taking away the pain – and also in the salvaging, giving you the freedom to reclaim a part of your life, probably a very important part of your life, that was lost. Jesus said he came “to seek out and to save the lost,” and that includes the losses in your life.[ii]
How to tap this healing through the work of Jesus? For Jesus, there is no past. Jesus is always present. Jesus is present to your past. When we hear Jesus promise, “I am with you to the end,” we also need to claim that Jesus has been with us since the beginning, since our beginning.[iii]Which goes back to our mother’s womb.[iv] You may have been conceived in love, with eager anticipation and great expectation, and you emerged from your mother’s womb so free and ready to become the amazing person you are. Or you may have been conceived by surprise, or with anger or disappointment,or where there was not enough love, or food, or protection, and that memory is like a chain ball which holds you back and ties you up. You need to be free, to claim the promise and dignity of your life. You’re worth it.
So we pray for our memory with our memory. There may be a wounding scene in your memory that is particularly inflamed. Pray that Jesus enter that scene – you do this with your mind’s eye – and watch what Jesus does. What does Jesus say? Jesus invites us, “Come unto me, all you who are heavy laden.”[v] How does Jesus come unto you in this scene? Watch and wait with Jesus in your mind’s eye. Something amazing will happen. Watch and wait and listen. Jesus will do his healing work in your conscious memory. Pray that Jesus enter that scene – you do this with your mind’s eye – and see what Jesus does. What does Jesus say? You may need to pray again, pray again, pray again with this scene, a kind of soaking prayer. How many times to pray about this memory? Until the pain is gone. You will know.
Or there may be a wound to your memory beyond your conscious awareness. Maybe from something while you were still in your mother’s womb, or maybe something that you have no way of knowing or should have no way of knowing, a memory that lodges in the deep recesses of your unconscious. And it’s there, in your unconscious, that the healing needs to happen and the healing will happen. In your prayer, name what you know. Or name what you don’t know – it may be there’s something related to… or there’s something about such-and-such… – or there’s some feeling you have, some fear, some block, some lack of freedom you experience that has deep roots – deeper than you can see… but you know something is present or something is missing, and that’s the problem.So you pray for healing. Pray for what you know, or pray for what you don’t know but can sense… sense something that is present, or something that is absent. It’s there that you pray for healing.
You may ask, “Does this work, this kind of prayer for the healing of memories? Does this work?” Yes. I know it does. Yes. I know it from the inside out. The salvation that Jesus brings to us – saving us, salving us, salvaging us – begins in this life, in the present, in Jesus’ presence, which is never past. If your prayer – your relationship with Jesus – seems in some way blocked by a wounding memory, the obstacle is not a block but a doorway, and Jesus is knocking very gently on that door to your heart.[vi] He’s safe to welcome. His healing work in your memory will make all the difference in the world to you.
This evening, after the serving of Holy Communion, we will offer anointing with healing oil and prayer for healing at the side altar. You may get in touch right now with a particularly painful memory where you need and want healing. Or you may not know exactly the memory, but you know the symptoms which may have dogged you or imprisoned you for a long while, maybe all your life. You may never know, you may never need to know consciously what caused this wound in your deep heart, in which case the prayer is for the healing of what you do know: healing to balm the pain, a release to set you free, a comfort to open your eyes. If you come for healing prayer you may want to name something or someone, or you may simply want to ask for healing of a memory (that you know) or a healing in your deep heart (for something that you don’t know but do experience). God is well apprised; you’re simply opening the door for healing.
We hear that Jesus has come to make all things new. And that’s from the inside out. And that’s for now. New now.
[i] Jesus’ words come from the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-3ff.
[ii] Luke 19:10.
[iii] Matthew 28:20.
[iv] Psalm 139 is a beautiful prayer for the children of God: “O God, you have searched me out and known me…. For you yourself created my inmost parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb….”
[vi] Revelation 3:20-21.
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