Over this Lenten season, the Spiritual Formation team at First Presbyterian Church in Bend put a call out to all to submit writings for a Lenten Devotional. I will do my best to post those here daily. You can also go to our website and access all of the devotions on a pdf file.
Here is the second submission:
Christ’s Unconditional Love Is Ever Present (Matthew 8: 30-56)
Matthew in his eighth chapter from verses 30 through 56 describes an amazing series of climate change, healing, exorcism and life renewal events that unfold as Christ performs miracles for His fellow humans, beset with fear, pain, loneliness and deep grief.
Matthew carefully journals the incredulity of the populace as they witness these once-in-a-lifetime phenomena. Imagine how our First Presbyterian community would react if Jesus, while in the sanctuary, cured a congregant from her Parkinson’s disease just by taking her hand.
Presented with the Messiah whose unconditional love makes full each human who seeks His blessings, the Jews initially are fearful, then discriminatory… “Then all the people of the region of the Gadarenes asked Jesus to leave them because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.”
In re-reading Matthew 8:30-56, I was struck with how Christ didn’t hesitate to love or didn’t investigate the credentials before he performed his miracles. With regard to curing the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years, His parting comment to her is, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
This is as simple as it gets. Christ sees someone in pain and unconditionally relieves the pain, soothes the spirit and doesn’t verbalize to the crowds who He is and why He has the powers He has.
Every day, each of us are presented with opportunities to provide unconditional love to another. I don’t mean necessarily with big hugs and poetic words of affection—although that would be nice. I mean by listening more thoughtfully to someone’s story. By doing a chore on the home front that wasn’t requested or expected. How about asking the weary supermarket check-out clerk how his or her day is going? In these bleak economic times, Bend is rich with opportunities for us all to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless.
In the region of the Gadarenes, Christ dispensed His Love to any and all who asked. And He asks us today to do likewise right here in Bend. –Tim Conlon