Bent But Not Broken

Reflection on (Luke 13:10-13)

Stories of healing are evident in many places in the Bible. One such story is that of the Bent Woman recorded in Luke 13:10-13:

Now [Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. (NRSV)

I can identify with this “bent woman.” She is in pain and in search of some relief. She doesn’t know where to turn for help because, although she is distressed, she does not know the exact nature of her discontentment. No one is able to console her. No one has the “right” answers to help her out of her predicament. She desperately tries all kinds of ways and looks in all kinds of places to make the pain go away.

You may know someone like her, too. In the story, the bent woman doesn’t have the presence of mind to ask for help, but Jesus saw her need and responded with a healing touch. That’s what he did for me. He can do the same thing for you.


Precious Jesus, thank you for anticipating our needs and calling us over so that we may be healed. In your holy name, we pray. Amen.

Source: Lorrie C. Reed. (2014) How Big Is Her God? A Black Woman’s Theological Reflections on Domestic Violence (2nd Edition).

Keeping the Story Alive

Reflection on Deuteronomy 6:20-21 (NLT)

In the future, your children will ask you, “What is the meaning of these laws, decrees, and regulations that the Lord our God has commanded us to obey?” Then you must tell them, “We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his strong hand.”

I read somewhere that storytelling helps the mind impose order on the world’s nonsense. Stories have been used throughout the centuries to transmit information from one generation to the next so that the mistakes of the centuries will not be repeated out of ignorance. Our stories are works in progress.

All Giza Pyramids in one shot. Русский: Все пи...

A curious thing about stories — people tend to make the stories fit their personal circumstances. Sometimes they add fresh details and color to the retelling. Sometimes the stories take unexpected twists and turns, as if these accounts had a life of their own.

It occurs to me that perhaps our tendency to embellish the story represents our attempts to get things just right or to tie up loose ends so that the world makes sense to us. Then again, there has always been the impetus to get the story straight and to fill in the blanks – to cling to that which is good and right and true and make it a part of the community’s reality. Besides that, personalizing the story gives us something robust to pass along to our progeny.

Today’s scripture reminds me that we are obligated to keep God’s story going. We are directed to pass along the details of how God delivered us. We are compelled to reinterpret the modern-day essence of ancient miracles in vivid colors so the next generation will know about problems solved, sickness healed, and souls set free by the mighty hand of God. We are moved to make it personal. We retell the tales to those who come after us. We want them to have hope that God is infinitely able to deliver us from Egypt with a firm hand.


Mighty God, we thank you for giving us stories of deliverance to pass along through the generations, for they provide us with hope. Amen.

Hitting the High Notes

Reflection on Psalm 92:1-4

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening, accompanied by a ten-stringed instrument, a harp, and the melody of a lyre. You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done.

Amazing things happened on Sunday mornings at Serenity Village and Rehabilitation Center.1 Nearly everyone on the memory care unit had some form of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. As chaplain intern, I was responsible for assisting with the weekly worship services. It didn’t take me long to realize that the outward listlessness of some of the residents did not necessarily match what they were thinking and feeling inside.

I became acutely aware of this one Sunday morning during worship. The liturgical team had just read the scripture and prayed. Then we began to sing a hymn. One of the residents, who I initially thought was sleeping, began to smile. I knew then that he had been able to make a connection with what was being said and done during the service. Although this resident was not able to vocalize lyrics, he derived some pleasure from the music.

The deeper I delved into the matter, the more I became aware that spirituality, faith, and religious rituals seemed to be necessary for the overall well being of the Alzheimer’s patients at Serenity.  Based on some research I had read, I believed that music tended to calm them down, alleviate their depression, and stimulate recollection of past events. I was also convinced that music therapy could reduce wandering and restlessness and increase chemicals in the brain that promoted sleep and eased anxiety.

Not only that; I noticed that music tended to awaken long dormant, but deeply embedded, memories. On another day when I was in the break room sitting with several residents who were listening to old hymns on the intercom, many of them appeared to be relishing the songs they heard. As I saw their faces light up, I asked, “Do you know this song?” In response, residents who hadn’t said a word in weeks responded haltingly with their recollections. They called up their stories in detail replete with descriptions of people, places, and circumstances, depending on their ability to express themselves verbally.

To my surprise, Mr. Crenshaw’s feet began to keep time with the rhythm. The heads of the other three residents who shared the table with us also began to bounce to the beat. Smiles brightened faces, and mouths flashed yellowing teeth as the mood changed in the common area. Different musical selections were played throughout the morning while CNAs went about the task of caring for those who had only these familiar songs to awaken memories that had been dormant for too long.


Amazing God, thank you for the gift of music. Amen.