Friday 8th October 2021
Now he 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. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
I was walking down the road the other day and noticed an elderly woman shuffling slowly along the pavement, her back bent almost in half, no longer being able to hold her head high.
As a Church Related Community Worker, I meet many people who in many ways are like this in the Scripture reading. They may not be physically bent over but they are emotionally disabled, weighed down by some invisible load. It is as though they are carrying a physical burden.
A common invisible burden carried by many is debt and Churches often find themselves at the forefront of tackling this. Our buildings often host debt advice clinics. Church Action on Poverty has a long history of campaigning and raising awareness on the issues around debt. After research into the unavoidable rise of debt for some during lockdown, the Joint Public Issues Team launched their ‘Reset the Debt’ which calls for debt forgiveness or Jubilee as part of the solution. Here in Scotland, the Church is a key player in the Poverty Truth Commission which facilitates regular conversations between those who are living in poverty and those in positions of power.
Having, in the past, worked with Christians Against Poverty who provide free debt help, practical and emotional support, I have witnessed the transformation that takes place when people are freed from the immense burden that debt can cause. Freed from endless phone calls, threats of bailiffs and sometimes physical violence. They are able to straighten up, walk tall and face the world again without shame or fear.
We pray for those who are burdened by unavoidable debts
And pray that we who know our indebtedness
May act so that all can experience release and freedom.
For your promise is life in all its fullness.
We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen
(adapted from JPIT Reset the Debt)