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10 Pentecost - Luke 13:10-17

Eighteen years ago, the church was packed.

It was the Sunday after Nine Eleven, and people came to worship in droves.

They stopped coming almost as quickly; attendance, which had been declining before the

attacks, returned to normal trends within a few weeks.

The shock wore off, life for many people returned to something close enough to normal,

and the need for God or comfort or religion or assurances or whatever the crowds

were seeking was either unmet or faded away.

Maybe it got redirected to military action or economic patriotism.

The church and its leaders began to wonder and argue about what they did wrong

while the world moved on to other places and priorities.

The decline has continued, and so has the church's navel gazing and worry.

The woman crippled by a satanic spirit and bent over for eighteen years looks an

awful lot like today's American church.

She hears Jesus, but does not see him.

Her field of vision, her view of the world is downcast and limited.

She remembers younger days when it was so much easier.

She steps carefully in a world that doesn't seem to care about her.

She keeps returning to the synagogue, keeps attending to worship and teaching, keeps

listening and engaging and trying, keeps making appearances.

But she seems to be bent over with a burden she cannot shake, quite unable to stand up

straight and face a world that has changed so drastically in only eighteen years.

She is out of date, out of touch, out of style, and running out of energy.

She is getting older, moving slower, adjusting to her new reality that is not so new