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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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'A man ran up to Jesus ...'

Was he the first to suffer from affluenza the sickness that puts us and our planet in peril?

"A man ran up to Jesus and knelt before him ..." in an encounter we know from Mark 10:17-22. He was rich, but he was not whole. Perhaps he was much like American Christians today who are stricken with the disease that filmmaker John de Graaf calls "affluenza" (visit the PBS Affluenza Web site). A combination of the words "affluence" and "influenza," affluenza can be defined as:

• An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the American dream.

• An unsustainable addiction to economic growth.

Perhaps the rich man's sickness is linked to our planet's sickness. Our Earth is ill with the fever of global warming and it is crying out to us.

What are our ills, our wounds, today? Do you live with a chronic disease, like Paul's "thorn in the flesh" — diabetes, asthma, HIV or addiction?

The Gospels depict a veritable procession of woundedness meeting Jesus' power to heal. The pattern is familiar: Jesus is passing through a village when someone runs up and falls down before him with a specific request.

"Make me well," begs the man with leprosy as he falls to his knees before Jesus.

"Heal my daughter," is the appeal of Jairus as he falls at Jesus' feet. Each comes with a specific request for healing.


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April issue

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