“Joy for the Healing of the Nations”

Isaiah 12:1-6; Rev. 22:1-2 (NRSV)
South & New Life Presbyterian Churches – December 13, 2015
The Reverend Deborah Fae Swift


Since this is our Advent Healing Service today, I want to share just a couple of thoughts about what healing looks like and what it might mean to us in 2016.

Many of us have either dealt with life-threatening illnesses in our lives OR have known someone who HAS. Sometimes the battles we fight lead to renewed health as we define it … sometimes not.

We tend to forget that every single one of us is a SPIRITUAL being that is temporarily housed inside this physical BODY.

I think back to a popular movie several years ago called Cocoon. It was about a retirement community in Florida and these benevolent aliens from another planet came to rescue some of their colleagues who were in sort of a suspended animation in a cocoon-like pod on the ocean floor. It’s a sweet little movie about aging and life.  They rescued the cocoon pods and stored them in a swimming pool. Well, when the folks from the retirement community swam in the water with the pods there, they felt YOUNGER … their cells were rejuvenating and their physical ailments were CURED.

There’s this one scene where an alien young woman is attracted to a human young man and she opens up her body with the same kind of movement that we’d use to take off a bathrobe. Out pours all this LIGHT … it is her pure essence that is being contained by the body she’s adopted for life here on earth.

THAT is who WE are, too.  We are SPIRITUAL  people who, for a time, come in and inhabit a PHYSICAL, material, corporeal body.

It is, after all … what GOD did. God’s Spirit came into HUMAN FORM at Christmas and Jesus was subject to all of the laws of life on earth … temptations and aches and  pains … hunger … thirst … joy … sorrow … he  felt it ALL.

That’s why we celebrate CHRISTMAS because it is that LIGHT … that pure LOVE … coming into human form … coming to be encased in flesh.


Well … things HAPPEN to our bodies. They get injured … sometimes we lose parts of them to disease or trauma … Our bodies age and break … they cease to work as they once did.

It’s all part of being human.

And there’s nothing we can do about it.

But what we CAN do something about is nurturing the SOUL … the spirit that is within us.

When things are right with our SOULS … we recognize that the physical part of what we are living with is just TEMPORARY.

And so TODAY is about HEALING … it’s about WHOLENESS and WELLNESS and  asking God to RESTORE us and REJUVENATE us like those people in the MOVIE felt rejuvenated when they swam in the water with those pods. WE get invited to swim in the SPIRIT of God’s  Love and to incorporate that state of perfect Oneness … of perfect SHALOM into our being.


But this is not just about the healing that comes to us and to people we know … we are ALSO here to pray for the healing of the planet.  To pray for the healing of the NATIONS.

Friends, our world is in sorry shape. Not just HERE, but EVERYWHERE … and we have to remember that Jesus came for ALL people … not just the Jews … the Wise Men came from Iran (called Persia in those days) … in his lifetime he dealt with the Syro-Phoenician woman … and with travelers from around the known world.

Jesus is for EVERYONE! And in the Book of Revelation we read about the time that is to come. Listen for the Word of God in Revelation 2: 1-2:

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

This is part of John’s dream …  his VISION of what life will be like when GOD rules the world. We’re not THERE yet, are we?  But when that happens … when the Prince of PEACE … this Jesus-guy whose birth we are celebrating in two weeks … when it’s finally time, then the bright, crystal, water of life will flow down the middle of the streets of the city.

We will HAVE life-giving water here ALL the time … and the Tree of Life will grow on its banks … life-giving, shade-giving … fruit-bearing trees … and the LEAVES of the tree will be for the HEALING of the NATIONS.

What a beautiful image, isn’t it?

All the water we need … lush fruit to feed and nurture us and all nations healed … made ONE with the all-loving, all-forgiving power of the Most High.


THAT’s what today is about … reminding us that the birth we are about to celebrate brings into our existence … our 3-D world … One who can DO all of that.

One who brings US peace and healing now through the presence of the Holy Spirit, and who will bring peace and healing to the NATIONS at the time of God’s reign on earth.

Imagine a whole WORLD of people who are healed …  whole … well … balanced in body, mind, and soul. I’m telling you … if WE can get ourselves on track then the WORLD will get on track because we’re all CONNECTED. We’re not separate from the world. What WE can do to heal the nations is to  be healed within ourselves and to share that healing with others.


But when is that going to BE?

When is the reign of God when all will be WELL?

When do we get to see and LIVE in the Kingdom of God?


Some would have us believe that that’s heaven. When we get to heaven we’ll all be in the KOG. But that’s NOT what Jesus says. He says it is HERE …  right NOW. The Kingdom of God – that time of peace and healing … that place of wholeness and wellness … of perfect balance and SHALOM – it is INSIDE of each ONE of us right NOW.

When we REMEMBER that, then the whole Body-Mind connection takes over and we DO feel better. We ARE healed of so many different things that ail us. And when WE are healed, the WORLD is healed.


Friends … this healing stuff isn’t about hocus pocus.

And it’s not just about mind over matter and controlling our thoughts … thinking positively.

It’s about inviting the healing presence of God to come into us and make us WELL … put us RIGHT with  God again. Y’know … that’s what “repentance” is really all about … it’s NOT about feeling BAD for what we’ve done. The REAL meaning of the word “repentance” is about REALIGNING ourselves with God and God’s ways of doing things … turning back to the SOURCE of life … the source of all Love and LIGHT.

So as we prepare to celebrate the birth of the one who brings us new life … let us realign ourselves with the Love (capital “L”) of the Universe. And let us come this day and be healed … let the healing be for us and let it be for the healing of the nations. Joy to the world … the Lord has come.  Amen.


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