1 Honor physicians for their services, for the Lord created them; 2 for their gift of healing comes from the Most High, and they are rewarded by the king. 3 The skill of physicians makes them distinguished, and in the presence of the great they are admired. 4 The Lord created medicines out of the earth, and the sensible will not despise them. 5 Was not water made sweet with a tree in order that its power might be known? 6 And he gave skill to human beings that he might be glorified in his marvelous works. 7 By them the physician heals and takes away pain; 8 the pharmacist makes a mixture from them. God’s works will never be finished; and from him health spreads over all the earth. 9 My child, when you are ill, do not delay, but pray to the Lord, and he will heal you. 10 Give up your faults and direct your hands rightly, and cleanse your heart from all sin. 11 Offer a sweet-smelling sacrifice, and a memorial portion of choice flour, and pour oil on your offering, as much as you can afford. 12 Then give the physician his place, for the Lord created him; do not let him leave you, for you need him. 13 There may come a time when recovery lies in the hands of physicians, 14 for they too pray to the Lord that he grant them success in diagnosis and in healing, for the sake of preserving life. 15 He who sins against his Maker, will be defiant toward the physician.
Sirach 38:1-15, NRSV
If you’re not familiar with the words of the book of Sirach, you’re not alone. Categorized in a body of writings known as “the Apocrypha,” Sirach is one of a series of books that are recognized as scripture in some Christian traditions, but not in others (including our own). However, even if we United Methodists don’t elevate Sirach and the other works of the Apocrypha to scripture’s level of authority, we still recognize the wisdom and inspiration to be found there.
As I take in these words from Sirach, words written over twenty-two centuries ago, I find them to be as relevant as they would be if they’d been written twenty-two minutes ago. “Honor physicians for their services,” we read, “for the Lord created them; for their gift of healing comes from the Most High … And he gave skill to human beings that he might be glorified in his marvelous works” (Sirach 38:1-2, 6, NRSV). It’s a passage that celebrates physicians, pharmacists (and, by extension, nurses and technicians and researchers, too). It’s a passage that glorifies the God who created them and gifted them with the skill of healing. It’s a passage that lifts up healers — divine and human alike.
“He gave skill to human beings that he might be glorified in his marvelous works” (Sirach 38:6, NRSV). If the human work of healing brings glory to God… then oh, may God be glorified! So glorified! Glorified in a great, grand, curve-flattened, vaccine-discovered, pandemic-ended kind of way. That’s my prayer today, church.
In our lives, in our world, and in the hands of the healers among us… be glorified, Lord, today.
Want to hear more on this passage from the book of Sirach? Our DS recently offered these words of reflection (followed by a musical gift I think you just might recognize!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXFgaUHSA7A&feature=youtu.be
And remember, friends:
Our God is bigger than coronavirus.
Our vision is bigger than coronavirus, too.
We are people blessing people.
We are Wesley Church.
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