The Gospel of Stronger
At the 2013 Boston marathon, a man named Jeff Bauman lost both of his legs when bombs exploded near the finish line. His story of injury and recovery is the subject of the film, Stronger, and one scene shows the changing of Jeff’s dressings for the first time. The film’s director situates the camera behind Jeff’s left shoulder, with his girlfriend at his side. An off-screen nurse warns him that this is the most painful part and tells him they can stop at any time. Another off-screen voice explains what he is doing with each minor movement of bandage removed from skin. Someone else gently tells Jeff he can look if he wants, but he doesn’t have to do so. He screams in pain. There is a pause, and another voice asks if he wants to stop. Another tells him how good he is doing. When they complete the dressing removal from one leg, there is great rejoicing and praise for Jeff’s endurance, words of reassurance that they’re almost done. The unbinding of Jeff’s wounds reminds us that healing has to be slow–and involves many voices, many hands, many eyes.
Unbind him, and let him go. ~ John 11:44
When Jesus commanded onlookers to unbind the resurrected Lazarus, the unbinding takes time so as not to further hurt the one who has been bound. So it is with not only our physical injuries but also the hurts we carry in spirit and soul. So it is when our communities experience the damages of natural disaster. Recovery can be as painful as, or more painful than, the actual injury. Just as Jeff could not heal by himself, we need the body of Jesus Christ.
What a relief to know that the unbinding is not the end of the story. Neither is the binding is the end of the story. The end of the story is healing. The end of the story is restoration. The end of the story is a strength uncovered only in the unbinding.
all good things to each of you,
Lectionary Texts for Sunday, July 28, 2019