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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Christmas in March

We have Christmas at Christmas time.  We have Christmas in July.  But today I'd like to celebrate Christmas...once again.  I should save my thoughts for another time, I suppose.  But these are the overflow of my heart today...

I have been mulling over the thought of 'inner healing'.  Yes, I put that in quotes so you can catch my meaning - is it real?  What is it exactly?  How do you know when you've experienced inner healing?  I mean, really.  What do people mean when they go through life and experience some heartache or tragedy or trauma and then come out of it through some "journey" and arrive on the golden shores waltzing under the welcome banner of "You have now entered INNER HEALING.  Enjoy your stay."

I don't mean to mock it.  Okay, maybe I do.  Maybe because it is hard to grasp - and I wonder what it looks like for each of us - and that begs the question, do we all need some experience of inner healing?  Maybe, maybe not - I guess.

To be sure, I have experienced my own seasons of grief.  I have seen a need for inner healing, and I have sought it and prayed for it and come out wondering what it's all really about.  But the concept of healing isn't just related to my experience.  It is a theme throughout human history - the longing of the soul for wholeness, for integration, for a sense of the self that needs not to hide from the piercing gaze of truthful, honest, open, transparent relationships.

Perhaps this is why my favourite Christmas song of all time is Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.  Well, the first reason is probably because it is by Charles Wesley, my favourite hymnwriter.  I'm sure all of you reading this have a favourite hymnwriter, don't you?  Okay, it's just one of my very odd, distinctive hobbies - hymnology - knowing who wrote what, why and when and what page number and key signature it's in (in my Hymnal, of course).

What does this song, which we rightly associate with Advent, have to do with healing - much less inner healing?

I can barely sing through it without it stirring my heart - when I get to the line: "Ris'n with healing in His wings..." a sob is choked by my effort to sing.  Maybe that's why singing is healing in and of itself - because we are so stirred by music we might explode if we didn't have to get to the end of the song to resolve the harmonies.  Maybe music doesn't do that for you - but it does for me.  Perhaps that is why I hide behind a piano at times - because I don't need to be singing to hear and meditate and worship and can let it wash over me working its magic in my soul.

Recently a friend mentioned that the issue of healing is inherent in the Gospel message - that the good news of salvation is intricately linked to the healing of our souls.  The line in Isaiah has always puzzled me: "By His wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5) (and 1 Peter 2:24).  Right in the middle of describing how Jesus has come to save our lost souls we have this line about healing.  Good theology students like to tell us it is the sin-sickness of our souls that needs healing and that salvation is the cure.  I get that.

But the wounded soul may still need to drink deep of the well of healing that comes from the glorious message of the cross.

And I may be that wounded soul, in need of that continuous flow of hope and rescue - in need of healing and salvation.

So, I bring my woundedness to God and sing in worship: "Hail!  The Heav'n Born Prince of Peace!  Hail the Sun of Righteousness!  Light and Life to all He brings (and that means me!!), 
                                       
                      Risen With Healing In His Wings.

Mild, He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die,

Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give us second birth..."

We are now in a season of Lent - where in the Christian tradition some take these six weeks to mortify the flesh in some way so as to increase our hunger for Christ and enter into His self-abasement for a short season.  Whether you celebrate lent or not, the habit of reflection on His passion, the cross, our salvation and ultimately His resurrection is a worthy one.

This hymn celebrates the incarnation - the birth of Christ.  But it doesn't stop short of reminding us of why He was born - born to die.  And that with His birth, and then His death, and ultimately with His resurrection, we are born not only to new, everlasting life, but to the experience of healing.

He experienced the ultimate wounds, and He resurrected with ultimate healing.  There is hope for the wounded soul - By His wounds we are healed -

...and He calls us to return to Him - the Shepherd and overseer of our souls.

The conquering King, acquainted with grief, a man of sorrows, has passed through the deepest suffering that brings with it our hope of healing.

I need His light and life.  I need the healing only He can bring.



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