Sermon by Pastor Tim Woodard
June 28, 2015
Mark 5: 25-34
“Hear now these ancient words as written in the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 5, verses 25-34.”
Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?’ ” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
“Allow these words, spoken by Jesus so long ago, to open your heart and your mind to new faith.”
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Faith is a topic every pastor is expected to fully embrace, understand and practice! Every preacher is expected to have two or three good sermons dealing with faith at the ready, at all times! Faith is what Jesus advocated and constantly acknowledged when it occurred in his presence. Faith is what you and I need to have if we expect to be healed by the saving grace of our God. It is that important and that simple. Yet, it is not easy to always have the faith that we need!
After the Congregational meeting last Sunday, a handful of volunteers stayed behind to move out every single chair in this sanctuary to transform this room into a suitable location for our Vacation Bible School. Four white canopies were set up so that the atmosphere and tone of the week could take hold, transformed from the more formal sanctuary setting we now sit in. When the plans were made to make this happen it was by sheer faith that the organizers believed this could be accomplished, and it was! Thank you all for your due diligence! Without volunteers the makeover would not have occurred.
On Monday morning our volunteers for this year’s vacation Bible School gathered. Then began the process of checking in the youth that came to partake in the activities; one, two, three, four, hopefully there would be a few more. Five, six and oh yes here comes the seventh. A few more have communicated they would arrive on Tuesday; and yes, the count is now nine. No not a large group, yet nine souls, nine young vibrant hearts is enough to form a community! Look around you and reflect on the accomplishments of just one person that you are aware of, now multiply that by nine. The role of just one pastor over a span of a number of years touches and influences a great many others, generally, in a number of communities. The skills of just one police officer or just one firefighter has the potential of protecting and saving how many lives during their public service? Just imagine if no one had taken the time to interact with these. Just imagine if the classes they needed to attend were canceled due to low attendance. Now try to imagine what potential those nine young children that did come to our Vacation Bible School, represent. Thank God we had the opportunity to influence their lives in a positive way. Surely, God shall bless them and the lives that they touch during their journeys.
This is how the week began. Faith, in the process, faith in the planning and faith that we could make a real difference in the community we live in; this is how our volunteers put their plans, their faith into action! Did you realize how much prayer and trust had gone into the planning of this event? One writer asks us to: “Look around! Are there miracles happening that we do not notice because of the crush of so many who press upon us?” /Mark G. Vitalis Hoffman/ This writer (meaning myself) says it differently: ‘Look around you and witness the miracles that are happening all round you; and take note, you do not need a crowd to validate their presence either!’ /T. Woodard/
A few years back a group of folks that I was working with were looking for a miracle. They kept looking and looking but could not see whether God had answered their prayer and that a miracle had occurred. Yet, from where I stand today, the miracle did happen; simply not in the time nor space that was expected. Frankly, this occurs all the time. People ask God to fix something or to help someone, then they decide what the fix ought to look like and when it should occur, and when it doesn’t happen their way – they think God didn’t answer the prayer! When this happens there are a few possibilities that may or may not have transpired. Listen to this short story and you will begin to get the idea.
There was a young lad that had a toy that was broken. He took it to his father and asked him to fix it. After sometime had passed the lad asked his father: “Why haven’t you fixed my broken toy yet?” The father gently replied: “My dear boy, before I can fix it you must first let go and trust me with the broken toy – before I can fix it.” /Original Author Unknown/ Many of us are like this young lad – we are not yet ready or willing to let go and trust God with our problems nor our plans and dreams. We need to always remember, no matter what the nature of our prayer, we will need to let go and trust God if we expect things to be corrected or changed.
Sometimes, perhaps frequently for some of us, in certain times in our lives, we ask God for healing. It may be a sore tooth or it may be the pain from a devastating and potentially fatal illness, either way, we decide to ask God for help and we do so in the form of a prayer. Or perhaps we seek the holy touch of God in some special way. I know I have met numerous people that have told me they were healed when they fervently asked God to heal them, believing that indeed they would be. What does it mean to be healed? Is this the same as being cured? One pastor asks us this question: “Have you ever known yourself to be not necessarily ‘cured’ but still healed?” /Janet Hunt/ This is something that you may want to pray about or consider more fully. I ask you to consider, as good faithful Christians, do you believe God can heal the torment and distress that drives the actions of so many of your neighbors?
We all go through tough times, if not yet, you most likely will; that’s just how life is. Pastor Alan Brehm put it this way: “There are times in our lives when things happen that press us to our limits and beyond. When that happens, we can pull the covers over our heads, isolate ourselves, and try to escape from it all. Or we can embrace what we’re feeling and move forward in faith that God has a future for us.” It is just like preparing for a summer storm, we need to get ready now. Faith is not something we practice only in times of trouble. Faith is a critical element in our relationship with the ‘Divine Being’ we call by so many different names! Trust in the God of your understanding now, using whatever name you have come to know your Higher Power by.
What is faith? This is a question I hear all the time. One poet tells us that “Faith (is) Like Muscle” “Like living growing muscle – so is our faith growing by use, by testing, by struggle and strain – building faith like muscle in the doing, in the living, in the joy of the race – not on the sideline – believing is seeing – doing is believing.” /Raymond A. Foss/ Huckleberry Finn is quoted as saying “Faith is believing in something you know just isn’t so!” During this past week I spoke with the children about what faith is. I said if I know something for a fact then I don’t need faith. But, if I accept something without facts to back it up, then it takes a leap of faith to believe in it.
Hear this writing about faith. “To have faith is to defy logic. It takes faith to think positively. It takes faith to believe that there is a loving God who cares deeply about our pain. To believe in life, the universe, or yourself after numerous failures is to have courage. Faith is an act of courage. It is choosing to get up in the morning and face our fears and believe that God will help us. Faith is choosing to believe that even though we may have failed one hundred times before – that we can succeed the next time.” /Family Friend Poems/ I must concur with the author of this short writing, and I do believe that Jesus understood this as he walked among the people so long ago.
Professor Alyce M. McKenzie suggests that: “Though we are not called to go around curing people’s symptoms and raising them from physical death, we are called to seek Jesus’ touch.” That means you and I, we need to take an action, like the women in our scripture this morning. She actually sought out Jesus, believing with all her heart that if she could just touch the hem of his garment she would be healed. That’s the kind of faith, that’s the type of effort that we each need to make as we seek after the healing touch of God in our lives! That is the type of lesson our examples can pass on to others – when we stay the course – and keep on doing – even when we don’t trust it is working. We must trust that our efforts help others to: believe that they too can reach out in blind faith – believing that God will touch them along their journey.
One scholar asks this question: “When we pray for healing, who must have faith?” /Kenneth W. Collins/ Our scripture lesson this morning tells us that it was the faith of the woman that healed her! “Jesus said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’” /Mark 5:34/ Jesus has been quoted on numerous occasions within the scriptures of saying: “your faith has made you well!” We need to heed this vital message! Our personal faith is crucial to the process of our personal healing!
Pastor Janet Hunt, tells us that “very often illness isolates. This can be especially so when it is suffered over a long period of time as it was by the woman in our story.” Rev. Hunt asks of us to consider: “What does it mean for you to touch the cloak of Jesus?” And she goes on to challenge us to think about: “What is it that you will be able to do once the ‘hurt and pain’ stops?” /DancingWithTheWord.com, Jane Hunt/
Each one of us here today, have the opportunity to be healed by reaching out and touching the “holy.” Once we have, others whom we reach out to, be it through the outreach efforts of Vacation Bible School or through the caress of a Sunday worship experience. We are a community that believes. But it takes courage, devotion and truthfulness, as-well-as faith. Amen.