Before anything else can happen, we need to be restored. Restoration is different than fixing something. Anyone who spends the time restoring something, who brings the talent, creativity, love and deep strength that is required, knows that the work must be exact. We can fix with duct tape… what can’t be fixed with duct tape… well, except ducts where it flaps off after the glue warms as hot air moves through the ducts. (What is up with that?) We may even be able to create with duct tape, but we can’t restore with duct tape. Restoration requires master craftsmanship. It requires steadiness to a vision of both what was and what will be.
And this is a curiosity about restoration. The thing restored is both becoming what it was and also becoming something new. When restoration is finished the old is actually lost because the new becomes a living experience. That is the reason we restore. We don’t restore so that something can now be put in the attic. We restore so that there will be new participation in life.
That’s the work of God in humanity.
God’s work is restoration. God doesn’t come to fix. God comes to restore. And by restoring God leads us into newness, new participation in living.
God didn’t come to make us good or better, but to restore us.
This is revealed in two particular stories (sort of three) in the stories of Jesus. It is the story of the paralytic who is brought for healing. This story is found in the Gospels of Mark and Luke and they are gently different. In Mark’s version, Jesus, when looking at the friends who brought the paralytic and dug a hole in the roof to get him to Jesus, turns to the man and says, “My son…” In Luke’s version, Jesus says, “Friend…” The other story is the one of the woman with the bleeding disease who is healed when she touched Jesus’ clothes. In that, when Jesus speaks to the woman he says, “Daughter…”
Friend, son, daughter… words of restoration. Jesus restores these people into relationship.
When Christians step out into the world, we sometimes feel like we need to fix it. So we approach it with our holy duct tape. We use the language we’ve created that should fix whatever’s wrong. “Sinner,” “need to be redeemed,” “accept Jesus,” “savior,” “lord”… And, for some reason this doesn’t work with most people. Maybe that’s because we’re talking about relationships and the only thing our holy duct tape doesn’t work on is relationships.
Reconciliation… the ministry the Bible says we were called by God to do… means restoring an old friendship. Restoration requires talent, creativity, deep strength that comes from character and love… and the work must be exact, so that it moves into new participation in life.
At First Pres this Sunday, June 11, downtown Lancaster, we’re going to have healing prayer as we call ourselves into being Authentic Church. We’ve been doing this for 275 years this year. We’re not doing something we haven’t done or been before. We’re just reminding ourselves that the work of restoration is something to celebrate and through it we live into new participation in our future.