Thursday, June 18, 2015

My June 28th Sermon

Next week on Friday my brother-in-law and I will be staying at the hospital with his daughter after she has her cancer surgery. I am to have the sermon the following Sunday so I have prepared ahead of time. I am not sure what all that will entail.  I may be presiding as well since he was to have presided. That's not a problem for me but I felt I needed to be prepared early..just in case. This is my sermon for the 28th.

Act in Faith
June 28th, 2015
Mark 5:21-43New King James Version (NKJV)

I’d like to share today’s scripture with you. It comes from Mark 5: 21 - 43

21 Now when Jesus had crossed over again by boat to the other side, a great multitude gathered to him; and he was by the sea. 22 And behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name. And when he saw him, he fell at his feet 23 and begged him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live.” 24 So Jesus went with him, and a great multitude followed him and thronged him.
25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If only I may touch his clothes, I shall be made well.”
29 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that power had gone out of him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?”
31 But his disciples said to him, “You see the multitude thronging you, and you say, ‘Who touched me?’”
32 And he looked around to see her who had done this thing. 33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”
35 While he was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?”
36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” 37 And he permitted no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. 38 Then he came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. 39 When he came in, he said to them, “Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.”
40 And they ridiculed him. But when he had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with him, and entered where the child was lying. 41 Then he took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement. 43 But he commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and said that something should be given her to eat.
There is an important part of this lesson that we should address. Jesus was on his way to provide ministry to Jairus’ daughter and was interrupted by the hemorrhaging woman.  Jairus was an important person in the community and the woman was considered a social outcast and unclean by that society. 

The theological lesson we find here is that Jesus took care of the immediate need of the lost, least and lonely person first before dealing with the needs of those powerful and socially connected. Jesus not only healed her of the hemorrhaging but also addressed her directly and wanted to meet her. He called her “daughter”, an endearing term that brought her back into relationship with others.  He encouraged her to go in peace and liberated her from her physical affliction.    

The rest of the story is important too. Consider this: both the hemorrhaging woman and the girl were powerless. They were female in a male dominated society. They were both considered unclean. The woman was bleeding and the girl was dead. Jesus ignored these considerations and healed them both. Both were restored to faith and trust in God. 

Faith calls for humility, persistence, risk and courage. All are needed in difficult situations and even seemingly hopeless situations.  Sometimes healing is simply facing a seemingly impossible situation with courage. In times like those, we have a decision to make. Are we fearful and distraught and unable to act or do we summon our courage and resign ourselves to whatever life consequences we face.   Our faith and trust is tried when our most serious and steadfast pleas do not result in the answers we want.  

When we have real faith, we learn to face life’s difficult occasions courageously. As psychiatrist, Scott Peck, always said, “Life is difficult”.  In his book Further Along the Road Less Traveled, he added “Life is complex”.  

The journey of life is not always what we envision when we are young.  But we do not have to make that journey alone. We always have God along with us, attempting to guide us along the way. God is a force we all see differently, but whose presence most of us are aware. As we make our way on our particular journey, we also have friends and we can help one another.  There are no easy answers in life’s journey as some of us have discovered. We should abandon the urge to simplify everything and to look for formulas and easy answers and begin to think multidimensionally….to appreciate the causes and consequences that are inherent in every experience of life and to appreciate the fact that life is so complex. 

But as both the people in our scripture learned, they had to depend on others to reinforce their faith. …to find their courage.  Jairus did not say “it’s no use coming, she’s dead now”. He found his humility and then his courage and they continued their journey. The woman with the issue of blood had the same experience and she also had the persistence that is necessary as a primary ingredient of faith. Even though she could have been cast out by the crowd because of her taboo health problem, she pressed forward anyhow. She was persistent and she took the risk. 

In time, each of us will have difficulties to face in our lives.  We will need our faith, humility, persistence and courage.  We will occasionally need to take risks. Few of us will escape life’s difficulties.

I was reading my son, Scott’s facebook page awhile back and he gave a perfect example.  Scott had gone into the army at age 33, 30 pounds overweight. Halfway through basic training, he knew he wasn’t going to be able to get through it.  He went to his drill sergeant and told him. “Sergeant, I’m not going to be able to finish. I’m just too overweight and out of shape and too old to do this.” His sergeant told him, “Miller if you drop out, I have all those 18 year olds in there saying “If that old man can do this, we can do it”. I will lose half of them.  Scott stayed and recently on his facebook page he said, “Yup! I remember March 1993 Fort McClellan, Alabama, drill sergeants (past and present) for making my life miserable. It made me a better person and a stronger soldier! What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!” He’s right, you know. 

There is such a thing as constructive suffering. The difference between unconstructive suffering and constructive suffering is one of the most important things to learn in dealing with the pain we will encounter in life. Unconstructive suffering. Like a headache, is something we ought to get rid of. Constructive suffering..or as some would call it, existential suffering, we ought to bear and work through.  It enhances our existence.

I admit that is a scary thing to do, but this is where the courage comes in. One of the things that constantly amazes me is how few people understand what courage really is.  Most people believe courage is the absence of fear.  The absence of fear is not courage.  The absence of fear is some kind of brain damage. 

Courage is the capacity to go ahead and act in spite of fear..or in spite of the pain. To take a risk when we’re scared to death! When we do that, we find that overcoming that fear will not only make us stronger but will be a big step towards teaching us the persistence and humility that go with courage as well. 

That’s what the woman with the issue of blood did…and demonstrated.  She acted in faith. She displayed humility, persistence and courage.  And because of that, she was able to be healed….not only of her ailment, but also her self-worth.  Jesus healed her but he also enabled her to exercise her own faith and take a risk, to be persistent, and to find the courage she needed to act even though she was terrified.   That is a true act of faith!


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