Withered—and filled with power

Photo: Apiwut Sookkasame
Published March 1, 2021

“For in his power are the hidden mysteries of earth.” This translation by Rabbi Hillel Danziger of the first part of Verse 4 of Psalm 95 reveals a rabbinic insight about the presence of God’s energies and power in Creation.

This insight has many echoes in teachings I have heard from Indigenous elders. It is teaching that is a beautiful departure from the spirit-deprived, mechanical worldview that is common among many across the global culture today. It was common among the early Christians. One of the earliest teachers of the church, St. Justin Martyr, spoke of the “seeds of the Word” which God had placed in every human heart. This and Jesus’s own teaching about seeds are an indication of the mysteries of the hidden presence of the sacred energies and power of God in life, Creation and humanity.

In Mark 3:1-6 we have a stirring portrait of these principles. A man with a withered hand is watched closely by those wanting to catch Jesus healing on the Sabbath and, thereby, breaking the law. Jesus asks the man to come forward under his own power. He then says, “Stretch forth your hand.” The man does, healing his hand. Note that Jesus does not break the Sabbath. The man heals himself. It is the Word of Jesus, the Living Word, that calls forth the Word in the man, that reaches for life and finds healing.

As a church, we are a people filled with life, yet at the moment we feel withered. As a world we feel tired, worn and withered. In this moment, we are called by the Word of life to reach out our withered hand—withered but still filled with the hidden mysteries of God—toward the architect of life, the living Word of God made flesh in Jesus, and be restored to wholeness.


  • Mark MacDonald

    Mark MacDonald was national Indigenous Anglican bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada from 2007 to 2019, and national Indigenous Anglican archbishop from 2019 to 2022.

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