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Memorial Day Sunday, 2024

Sermon Title, “God Comforts the Wounded”

Text below is not a transcript or a manuscript. The sermon may have deviated from what was written.

Every day, people walk our streets with their wounds, drive to work and back with their wounds, attend business meetings with their wounds

Not all of these wounds are visible. In fact, most wounds are invisible. They and we carry our wounds often in silence. Most people 

In our own way, we identify with these wounds because life has a way of wounding us. Many people can’t see our wounds. There are different reasons why. Maybe they don’t want to see our wounds because their wounds are too great. Maybe they want to remain ignorant intentionally. It’s much easier to look away than to look. 

Sometimes, we don’t want to acknowledge our wounds because to do so would unleash storms—rainwater from our tears, clouds from our gloom, thunder from our anger. 

The Psalmist asks Where does my help come from? And then offers a self-response: My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. 

Paul writes, “God is the compassionate Father and God of all comfort.”

God knows intimately what it means to be wounded. 

God in Christ. Jesus is God in the flesh. God who walked the earth, God who experienced frustration, God who felt sorrow, God who suffered every blow, God who was stabbed in the back, God who was pierced by the sword and died. And then God, who had hope and liberation. This is what it meant to be God in Christ. God knows what it fully means to be human. 

God feels our pain, our sorrow, our tears, our angers, our frustrations. God identifies with us because God has been in our position. 

I believe God grew in relationship with humanity. That relationship, the experience of being wounded, increased God’s empathy for humanity. How could it not lead to growth? 

How many of us have been wounded, and that increased our empathy for people in similar situations? How many of us have had family and friends wounded? It transforms us. It gives a deeper perspective. 

Many people have seen their suffering in the suffering of Christ. They feel an intimate connection to Christ’s suffering. They find that Christ is empathetic to their experience. They even feel a sense of union with Christ. Your pain is his pain. 

It’s always vital to be clear when we relate Christ’s suffering to our own. In the past, it has led to the claim that suffering is the ideal, the only way to experience Christ. It justifies someone’s abuse in theological terms, claiming you deserve it because this is what God wants. God wants this for you so you can feel Christ’s pain. But that is wrong. Violence does not come from God. 

We can acknowledge that suffering and pain are part of the human condition. But that does not mean we need to make them a moral good. Instead, we can see the suffering and pain we have experienced and transform it into meaningful work. Paul writes, “We can comfort other people who are in every kind of trouble.” Our pain and suffering can meet another’s pain and suffering. By walking with each other in our woundedness, we can heal and comfort together.  “We are partners in comfort.”

Traumatic experiences violate our humanity. Trauma shakes the ground under our feet.  It cuts into our personality and has the potential to leave us fragmented. Our lives may feel like it has been split into two or more. They make us feel unsafe.

Because trauma makes us feel unsafe, healing from a traumatic event requires feeling safe and comfortable to talk about our experience. 

We hold together the necessity of psychological care and pastoral care. Talking to a counselor or therapist is vital. Counselors and therapists have been trained to create a safe space for us to speak so we may heal. Pastoral care focuses on the spiritual, Helping us make meaning of our suffering and identifying from our religious tradition practices that may help comfort us. Spiritually informed trauma invites God into the healing process. It helps us focus our attention on the God of all comfort. 

God already knows we are wounded. Praying to God is intentionally opening ourselves up to God’s comfort. We cannot remain closed when God has already opened all the gates for us, and they never close; they’re open night and day. 

Pray for God. Pray for God to give you the courage to seek support. 

God’s comfort becomes the thing and event that comforts us. It’s those things that we love. As Marie Kondo might say, it’s the things that bring us joy. It might be your favotire shirt, your favority toy. It can be an experience. 

The refuge for my comfort comes from the things I love. God are in these: 

I love the scent of lilacs. I love the sound of an orchestra. I love the taste of mashed potatoes with lots of butter. I love to feel dirt as it sifts through my fingers. 

I love sitting next to a cascading waterfall and listening to 

I love opening the patio door after the long winter months. 

I love a clean house. 

I love spending time with friends. 

I love spending time with family

I love going to the movie theater and watching dramas and comedies and adventures. I love especially like independent films. 

I love laying in bed as long as I can. I love to stretch my legs as I get out of the car after a long drive.  

All these bring me comfort, just writing this list made me fall asleep,  what is your list? What is yours to calm your heart and body? 

As it is Memorial Day weekend, we honor everyone’s service to our country. It is also a day to remember everyone who has been injured in the war and those who did not return home. 

War violates human safety. It can leave a soldier returning home fragmented. The violence inflicted upon them or what they need to do to survive can stay with them forever. 

Returning vets require a safe and comfortable place to talk with fellow soldiers about their experiences. These wounds may persist, and if they do, they need to seek professional help. Too many veterans have come home, from their experiences in conflict, feeling isolated and unable to speak to their families and friends. 

 The VA has support groups, and many nonprofits provide services, such as the Wounded Healer Project, Veterans Healing Veterans, and Veterans Expedition Therapy. 

Some come home feeling isolated from God. They need to know God meets them where they are, with unconditional love. 

And they need to know the God of all comfort is with them.