Summary: Fourth Sermon in the 2009 Lenten Series, ‘The Body of Christ.’
(Slide 1) As we begin this morning, I want us to take a moment and look at one of our hands. (Just turn it over and back and move your fingers. Study it for moment…look at the top…look at the bottom.)
I did some research this week about hands and found out some very interesting things about our human hand.
(Slide 2) From the website eatonhand.com we find that our hands…
(Slider 2a) are in a sense, ‘worked by remote control.’ Our fingers they say, are special, because “there are no muscles inside the fingers. The muscles which bend the finger joints are located in the palm and up in the mid forearm, and are connected to the finger bones by tendons, which pull on and move the fingers like the strings of a marionette.”
(Slide 2b) 34 muscles move the fingers and thumb
(Slide 2c) 48 nerves are in our hands
But, what makes our hand both special and amazing at the same time is the thumb and this is why.
(Slide 3) “The thumb is controlled by 9
individual muscles, which are controlled by all 3 major hand nerves.” (A direct quote from the website.)
(Slide 4) Finally, “the ability of the small and ring fingers to rotate across the palm to meet the thumb,” is what sets us apart from other creatures here on earth. (Did you know all of this? I didn’t!) We truly are, ‘fearfully and wonderfully made,’ to quote the Psalms.
Our hands are very important. Some of us have seen what machinery and war does to human hands. Some of us experience discomfort with our hands because of arthritis.
Our hands are what we use to touch someone with love, comfort, understanding, and…anger. We instruct our children and grandchildren on what good touch and what bad touch is.
We feed ourselves, and sometimes others, with our hands. We keep ourselves clean with our hands. We learn with our minds and our hands.
How different our lives would be if we could not use our hands. For our hands, help us to reach out, our hands make us human.
Jesus used His hands a lot. In the Lenten reading of a few moments ago, we heard some of the ways Jesus used His hands that I want to call our attention to because they are ways that we continue to be the Body of Christ.
(Slide 5) Jesus used His hands to heal. There are numerous references to His healing acts in the gospels. Some were physical such as Peter’s mother-in-law. Some were a combination of physical and emotional as in the woman who was touch by Christ through the hem of his garment and was not just physically but emotionally healed as well. I often pray when at the hospital for ‘steady hands’ and ‘clear thoughts’ of the medical personal because their hands and thoughts are critical to care.
God is still the Great Physician. He still heals both in divine and natural ways. He heals through the hands of the doctor, the nurse, and the surgeon.
Touch is a powerful thing. It is a fact that holding newborns help them to thrive and live.
God uses our appropriate touches to touch the lives of others.
How are your hands, how are our hands, being used in healing ways that are honoring to God?
(Slide 5a) Jesus also used His hands to set things straight.
His angry outburst in the temple that caused Him to overturn the moneylender’s tables and other commercial happenings came from a sense of righteous indignation. ‘You have made this a house of thieves! It is to be a house of prayer!’
Justice, setting things right, is an important part of how Jesus used His hands. Like writing in the sand something that we still wonder about as He pointed, a women who could have been stoned to death and the group who wanted to stone her, toward the justice of forgiveness and second chances.
We have been agents of justice from time to time by using our hands: pulling apart fighting children, using them to protect our community, taking away something from someone who stole and giving it back to its rightful owner.
How is God using your hands, and our hands, to set things straight in ways that are honoring to God?
(Slide 5b) Jesus used His hands to affirm and accept.
The best-known illustration is that of Jesus taking the children in His arms and blessing them. Blessing some one is a powerful and profound act. To bless some one is to empower them for something greater and more important. It says that you matter, you are important.
Today we use a handshake, a pat on the back, or a hug, to bless people. To let them know that we care and love them. We have used our hands to comfort those grieving with a hand and arm around the should, to celebrate a victory or a success with a ‘high five!,’ to hand a gift to someone for an accomplishment, or birthday, or just because it was the right thing to do.