Adventures in Healing and Wholeness #8

Mark 3: 7-12 speaks of unclean spirits shouting to Jesus, “You are the Son of God.” Now, I am not sure what I think of unclean spirits. In the first century, illness was attributed to a number of causes: punishment, God’s activity, and the action of evil spirits. Whether or not you are a fan of “The Exorcist” or believe in the reality of evil spirits, we know that there are spiritual factors at work in health and illness. Unconscious forces can imprison us, lead to emotional and physical disease, and destroy our personalities. Sometimes it’s virtually impossible to get control of these powers and turn them to the good.

Yet, something curious happens in this passage. The evil spirits know Jesus’ identity. It seems as if there is a movement toward healing even in the destructive elements of life. Deep in the unconscious, God’s spirit is also at work, aiming us in the direction of the resources that will bring us to a place of peace and wholeness. The healing presence within these spirits calls out to Jesus, seeking release, transformation, and wellness, and Jesus transforms the negative to positive well-being.

These forces are powerful and life-destroying. But, God does not abandon them, or people who are dealing with unconscious powers over which they have little or no control. There is no person or place immune from God’s healing touch. And, God wants all to have abundant life.

While you may not see life in terms of evil spirits (I don’t as a rule myself invoke supernatural causes for physical and mental health issues), you may be dealing with addictions, emotional reactions, memories, habitual responses and behaviors, or unconscious forces about which you seem to have little or no control. These are surely issues of the “spirit.” You may choose to place these forces in God’s hands, asking these forces to awaken to God’s wholeness, and awakening yourself to God’s life-transforming resources. (You may also look for divine healing through counseling, spiritual direction, and medication.)

In today’s affirmations, take time to repeat these phrases:
God seeks healing in every aspect of my life.
God is healing my addictions and compulsive or unconscious negative thoughts and
behaviors.
I open to God’s healing energy in every aspect of my life.

Bruce Epperly is a theologian, spiritual guide, healing companion, retreat leader and lecturer, and author of nineteen books, including Holy Adventure: 41 Days of Audacious Living; God’s Touch: Faith, Wholeness, and the Healing Miracles of Jesus; and Tending to the Holy: The Practice of the Presence of God in Ministry. He has taught at Georgetown University, Wesley Theological Seminary, Claremont School of Theology, and Lancaster Theological Seminary. He is currently theologian in residence at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His most recent book Process Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed will be released in May 2011. He can be reached for lectures, seminars, and retreats at bruceepperly@gmail.com

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About Bruce Epperly

Rev. Bruce Epperly, Ph.D., serves as Pastor at South Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Centerville, MA. Prior to coming to Cape Cod in 2013, he served on the faculties and often in administrative and chaplaincy roles at Georgetown University, Claremont School of Theology, Wesley Theological Seminary, and Lancaster Theological Seminary. Bruce is currently a professor in spirituality, ministry, and theology in the doctoral program at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C. He has served as pastor or interim pastor of congregations in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. He is the author or co-author of over 35 books in the areas of theology, spirituality, ministerial excellence and spiritual formation, scripture, and healing and wholeness, including Process Theology: Embracing Adventure with God; Finding God in Suffering: A Journey with Job; From Here to Eternity: Preparing for the Next Adventure; and A Center in the Cyclone: Clergy Self-care in the 21st Century.