Summary: A sermon about changing perceptions.

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Luke 13:10-17

“With Jesus, Lemons do make Excellent Lemonade!!!”

Anne O’Brien Prince and Jeremy Prince moved from Ireland to Massachusetts with their 5 kids last year, in part, so that their children could “experience America.”

One of the Prince children was 15-year-old Phoebe, who, it seems, America did not give a very kind welcome.

Prosecutors say that witness accounts paint an “intolerable” campaign of insults, humiliation and, in the final days of Phoebe’s life—threats.

Witnesses say that Phoebe was so terrified she went to school administrators because “she was scared and wanted to go home,” but later told a friend that no action would be taken on her behalf.

Court papers describe what investigators indicate was a pattern of abusive taunts, text messages, Facebook postings, threats, and efforts to corner Phoebe, whose reactions are described as fearful, panicked and distraught.

Phoebe is quoted as telling a friend on January 13th of this year, one day before she committed suicide, that “school has been close to intolerable lately.”

The day Phoebe killed herself one student allegedly threw an energy drink at her from a moving car, calling her names and laughing.

This apparently was the last straw for Phoebe, because her younger sister found her hanging in the stairwell of her home later that day.

I think it’s safe to say that young Phoebe Prince was a “bent over woman.”

Although her principal described her as “smart and charming,” the taunts from her peers bent her and bent her until she finally broke.

I fear there are a lot of us who are walking through this life—“bent over.”

If we don’t look especially close at our Gospel Lesson for this morning we might just assume that Jesus healed the woman of a physical disease of the spine like osteoporosis or scoliosis.

While this is possible, it isn’t necessarily what Luke is telling us.

The seventeenth century translation says the woman was “bowed by a spirit of infirmity”—which suggests a spiritual problem rather than a physical one.

The more modern New English Bible translates the Greek by saying, she was “possessed by a spirit that had crippled her.”

J.B. Philips’ translation cuts to the heart by saying that for eighteen years the woman had been doubled over from some “psychological cause.”

Now, what might that be?

What psychological problem or spiritual crisis could keep a person “bent over” for nearly two decades?

Maybe somebody had persistently abused her, verbally or physically.

Perhaps she had been called so many bad names that she had come to own those names—bending from their pressure.

Or maybe she had some twisted up emotions that communicated themselves to her body, and she found she couldn’t get herself straight.

Have you ever been “bent over”?

Perhaps you feel that way now.

The pressures of this world can take a toll on the psyche.

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