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Service of Healing

The following sermon was preached by Linda Johnson Seyenkulo, former Dean of the Community, in Augustana Chapel at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago on Thursday, April 10, 2008.


Psalm 116

"I love the Lord, he heard my cry, and pitied every groan. Long as I live, and troubles rise, I'll hasten to his throne."

The words of the song, based on Psalm 116, echoed through my mind as I prepared for chapel today and thought of the past few weeks at LSTC.

While they have ranged from test and papers, to overbooked schedules, to accidents, faculty interviews and resignations, sick parents, colds and flu winging through the hallways, internship and CPE interviews, never ending snowfall and cold, first call assignments, and most weighty of all, the deaths of friends, family members, parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, and most recently, little baby Helena whom many of us knew and loved----The events of the past few weeks have left us tired, sad, sometimes testy, and burdened with the realities of the human life.

I thought of the Lord hearing and pitying our groans---of God grieving with us as Dr. Klein talked about earlier in the week. I thought of the long road to Emmaus and how, most likely, those folks felt, maybe even in stronger ways, the weight of being human. We had hoped… they said. We had hoped for something different. We had hoped for another way for the story to end this time.

We like them had hoped…

  • That surgeries would make loved ones well, leading to life and joy rather than death and sadness,
  • That people we love would not die,
  • That our calls would be honored in the way we understand them to be,
  • That we'd stay well until the last paper is turned in and that health would dwell with our families,
  • That spring would indeed come and stay for awhile,
  • That life's responsibilities would not overwhelm us,
  • That new faculty would come on soon and current faculty would stay,
  • That each new trip would end safely,
  • That we would have time to take a breath and relax a bit,
  • Maybe even that things would stay the same for just a little while.

We had hoped---and it seems that hope was not to be realized in many cases. And so today, we gather together today as people who "love the Lord" and who come seeking comfort, reassurance, and a glimpse that God is indeed with us in and through all things-where hope is not realized and where hope abounds.

The thing is, beloved of the Lord, the thing is that we gather today in the presence of God whose ear is inclined and who hears our cries---who holds precious the lives of those we love who have died. We gather today in the presence of Jesus who walked the extra----not one, not two---but the extra 7 miles (in the wrong direction as Dr. Rossing said yesterday) to be with two folks whose eyes could not see and hearts could not feel anything but their dashed hopes----Jesus who does the same with us in the midst of our own lost hopes. We gather today in the presence of the Spirit who comforts and guides us in the midst of the complexities and busyness of this human Christian life.

We gather for healing from those "Hoped for" things that keep us from knowing the work and presence of God in our lives. May God's spirit come through the laying on of hands and the anointing with oil---and may you see Jesus!

Amen.

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