Come, wounded healer, your sufferings reveal
Source: Singing the Faith: 271ii
Words: Martin Leckebusch
Music: “Nuffield” by Paul Leddington Wright
Ideas for use
Source images representing the paradoxes of this hymn and place them side by side (either as projected images or as physical images within the worship space): wounded / healers; hate / love; brokenness / victory.
In a small group setting you might explore how one can be a “wounded healer” (see the Henri Nouwen quotation below).
Alternatively, reflect on the “paradoxical” descriptions of the life and ministry of Jesus in this hymn. Suggest examples from the gospel stories to illustrate these descriptions. Can you identify additional “paradoxes?
How do the “both-and” descriptions of Jesus help your understanding of God’s engagement with us and the world?
In some respects, “Come, wounded Healer” serves as a companion hymn to Martin Leckebusch’s He came to earth in poverty (StF 246). “He came to earth” explores the Christian idea of God as a servant in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. “Come, wounded Healer” unpacks the nature of Jesus’ ministry and example in the form of three more seeming contradictions. Jesus is described as:
- wounded Healer
- hated Lover
- broken Victor
By absorbing what others threw at him (physical torment, scorn and abuse, loss of life), Jesus enacted a way of transforming his pain and suffering into love for others. Martin offers this understanding as a gift for others “who bear torment and yearn to be whole”.
Though offered in love, for some this is a difficult message. Supporters of abused women, for example, are often critical of the concept of patient suffering. In singing this hymn, it is important to be clear about what it is not. It is not an excuse for saying that poverty, human loss, abuse, isolation or discrimination are “crosses to be borne” and a path, in themselves, to better things. Rather, it is re-statement of Jesus’ “willing agreement to share in our strife”. We are not alone, is the Gospel message; God is in all of this with us – an understanding that has the potential to draw us out of despair. As Martin writes in He came to earth:
Our daily lives he understands
with perfect fellow-feeling.
The writer and pastor Henri Nouwen volunteered within the L’Arche community with those with learning disabilities. Out of that and many other experiences he wrote his book The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society. He writes:
“Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people. The main question is not “How can we hide our wounds?” so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but “How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?” When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.
“Jesus is God’s wounded healer: through his wounds we are healed. Jesus’ suffering and death brought joy and life. His humiliation brought glory; his rejection brought a community of love. As followers of Jesus we can also allow our wounds to bring healing to others.
“To enter into solidarity with a suffering person does not mean that we have to talk with that person about our own suffering. Speaking about our own pain is seldom helpful for someone who is in pain. A wounded healer is someone who can listen to a person in pain without having to speak about his or her own wounds. When we have lived through a painful depression, we can listen with great attentiveness and love to a depressed friend without mentioning our experience. Mostly it is better not to direct a suffering person’s attention to ourselves. We have to trust that our own bandaged wounds will allow us to listen to others with our whole beings. That is healing.”
Read more of Henri Nouwen’s thoughts in The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society.