March 17, 2018: I still have scars from…

Posted on : Mar 15th, 2018 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

The Balm of Gilead Ministries offers an interesting restatement of the traditional saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me.”  Their phrasing is: “Sticks and stones will break bones that soon heal but emotional abuse can wound the heart for a lifetime.”

Marchaé Grair, our UCC Social Media Director, tells about a storytelling church service in which the participants were invited to complete the sentence, “I still have scars from when….”   Marchaé wrote, “I still have scars from when my dad disappeared for ten years.”

This Saturday I’m going to invite you to complete that sentence, if you wish.

Many wounds, especially emotional wounds, leave behind scars.  Some of those scars mark us for life.  Some scars are reminders of the wounds we had but are now healed.  Some wounds break open and need healing again.  As we come to the close of our Lenten Season, we continue to focus on looking at our lives and getting rid of what is not working.  Another way of saying that is, allowing God to bring peace and healing into our lives.

Using the prophet Jeremiah, God asks: “Is there no balm in Gilead?  Is there no physician there?”  What does this often-quoted scripture mean?  The word “balm” means healing ointment.

In the Bible, the “balm of Gilead” was a rare perfumed ointment which was used medicinally.  It is named for the region of Gilead where it was produced.  Because this healing balm was made there, Gilead became known as a place of healing.  But then the people went astray.  They worshiped false idols, not God, and much like our current situation, their lives were in chaos.  There was no healing to be found in Gilead.  Thus, Jeremiah voiced God’s question: “Is there no balm in Gilead?  Is there no physician there?  Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?”

In Christian circles one of the names attributed to Jesus was “Jesus is the Balm of Gilead.”  He is the healing ointment, sent to heal all wounds.  The one thing Jesus does more than anything else in his adult life is heal people’s wounds.

In this Lenten Season may we be healed and may the scars we bear remind us of the healing we have received.




~ This Sunday’s Scriptures ~

Jeremiah 8: 18-22

My joy is gone, grief is upon me,
my heart is sick.
 Listen!  I can hear the cry of my poor people
from far and wide in the land:
“Is God not in Zion?
Is Zion’s King not in her?”
(“Why have they provoked me to anger with their images,
with their foreign idols?”)
 “The harvest is past, the summer is ended,
and we are not saved.”
 For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt,
I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.

 Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of my poor people
not been restored?

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