Jesus extended divine assistance to two people in this passage today and I'd like to highlight this from the Good News Translation. Jesus said to her, "My daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed of your trouble."
In today's Gospel reading the lives of two people intersect. One, apparently seems to be maybe from a little more of the upper echelon, another from more, perhaps the lower echelons of society. It doesn't really say that. So I'm not really sure why I get that feeling as we read, but just the way that they're presented, it makes me feel that way. And that both of them though were needing divine assistance with the healthcare issues that confronted them. The one, his daughter perishing and the other, who had this chronic illness and both of them just in terrible situations and money couldn't fix it.
Transcript of sermon preached extemporaneously
on June 26, 2021 for Briensburg UMC [Audio]
And nobody that had any know-how was able to help them. And that's when they turned to Jesus. And Jesus demonstrated that meeting the needs of people is not just something that he is willing and able to do, but something that he expects us to follow his example in addressing those needs. Over and over, he helped people and over and over, he empowered and called us and invited us and challenges us to do likewise. To follow and do as he does. And so we try to help each other. Everybody we try to help each other individually, sacramentally in the laying on of hands and then in prayers that we lift up and practically in our prayer and our advocacy and participation and support for aid programs and for the people who are able to minister health and wholeness and other forms of support to people in need in whatever their needs may be.
Jesus extended divine assistance
Jesus said to her, “My daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your trouble.” (Mark 5:34 GNT)
And collectively we do this too through the church and through the government and through nonprofit organizations and then just from friends helping each other and friends helping friends, and we do it collaboratively. We help people by getting together and cooperating and combining with other people in groups to work together to find ways to help people and to meet the needs, whatever they may be.
God can help even when no one else can. And the Psalmist said, "Oh Lord, from the depths of despair, I cry for your help." And we have that hymn "Oh, where could I go? Oh, where could I go? Seeking a refuge for my soul." So there are some things that just nobody can help with. The doctors might not know how to make anybody any better. No amount of money can fix the problem, or if it could, they don't have the money.
God can help even when no other can
O Lord, from the depths of despair I cry for your help. (Psalm 130:1 TLB)
There's all kinds of issues that we have that we just kind of come to the end of the rope on and we don't know what to do. We turn to the Lord and we know that the Lord is there and can help us, when no one else can. And one of the greatest prayers, and I'd say maybe one of the most frequent prayers that I have is just simply "Lord help me." When Peter walked on the water, he began to sink because his faith wasn't any better than the rest of ours, I guess, in that regard or big enough. But anyway, and he began to sink in the waves and he just cried out, "Lord, help me." And so, how many times have we cried that out? And that's pretty primal prayer, I think for everyone.
But God is always present, so that's always good. We can always cry out to God because God is always present and always, ready to help us. In the reading from Lamentations it has this verse. "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness." And so that course brings together, brings to mind the hymn, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Morning by morning new Mercies I see." And another hymn, "Just When I Need Him Most, Jesus is there to comfort and care just when I need him most." And Jesus' prayer in the garden, "Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done," invites us to trust God's decisions on how our prayers will be answered. We present ourselves to God, ready to be God's answer to someone else's prayer.
God is always present and ready
It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23 KJV)
And we just never know how our prayers will be answered. And oftentimes they're answered in ways that were not what we were really picturing or hoping for, but we do place that in God's hands and trust him and we can't really find the reason, but we can maybe find the blessing that is involved in the way that he is answering our prayers and trying to make the most of that and know that he is still working on things and there's a lot to come together for us, but God is there and God is always present with us. And maybe the biggest thing about that really about his mercies and his compassion is that he's always there. He's always wherever we are caring about us as close as our own breath. And God challenges us to be fair and equitable in our sharing of human resources with the people around us.
The scripture says, "The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little." That was a quotation in today's Epistle reading from Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians, but it comes from back when the children of Israel were traveling through the desert and the Exodus, and they didn't have any food. And so, then the Lord provided food, manna, and he added some quail along the way too. But the manna is the big thing that we always remember, especially at communion and all like that too. We think it's the manna that bread from heaven and that was provided. But the way it was provided was on a daily basis. As we pray, "Give us this day, our daily bread" on a daily basis, this food was provided and everybody could go out and gather up what they could and put it in a little jar and bring it.
And there was always enough for one day, except for on Friday, they gathered enough for the next day too, so they wouldn't have to go gather on the Sabbath. So that every day for 40 years, they gathered this bread up, every day except on the Sabbath day when they ate what they had gathered on Friday. And so, the deal was though that everybody went out and gathered, but the one everybody gathered, some gathered a little more in some, a little less, but nobody gathered too much and everybody gathered enough. And so I think in our prayer life and in our giving and our sharing and our work for assisting people and in assisting each other and everything that we do, then we try to be fair and be equitable. And I think that the Bible readings for today speak to that.
We have the hymn "Send the Light" (and I drove Cheryl nuts one time singing that over and over again, and I thought she was enjoying it, but I miss interpreted the face she was making, I guess, but I was singing "send the light"). "We have heard the Macedonian call today, send the light, send the light and the golden offering at the cross we lay, send the light" and "Let us not grow weary in the work of love, send the light, send the light." And that is a beautiful hymn.
God challenges us to be fair and equitable in our sharing of human resources
As the scripture says, “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” (2 Corinthians 8:15)
But we not only turn people over to the Lord when we pray for them, but then we work together to find ways to address the inequities of society. And a lot of that is way beyond any, our capabilities as individuals, or even us together here today as a group or even our whole congregation or our whole denomination really. Some of these issues in society are bigger than any of us or all of us. Well, we try to do is, is to share the abundance of creation fairly.
And that's what God has offered him. Christ in John:10, Jesus was talking about how he was a good shepherd. And he said, I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly. So God wants us to have a good life and, and wants us to have the fullness of life. And sometimes we don't even really know exactly what that means, but he wants us to have it. God knows what it means, and he wants us to have it.
And in, in terms of the sharing with the poverty we have the poverty line and I looked up on the ATD Fourth World report that in 2018, the federal poverty line was $12,140 for an individual. And then it has more for the family of two and more for a family of three and up to $25,100 for a family of four. And so we have that poverty line where we can kind of identify those who gathered but are not hardly gathering enough. There's somewhere in that, along that range, there, there might be there can extenuating circumstances that make it even more for those that might need a little more and a little less than that, but that comes in to about where the poverty line is, but the riches line is as yet undefined.
And that comes up quite a bit. It's been coming up a lot lately too, as no one exactly wants the other end of the descriptors talking about the one who gathered much did not have too much. I don't know what too much isn't, nobody seems to feel like they have too much, but I think that the biblical and political systems have always tried to address in part the concept that those with the least should be assisted by those with the most without causing them or anybody else harm to anything, anybody in between. In the transactions that somehow we pray for and we advocate systems that that makes sure everybody has a fair and equitable distribution of the resources of the world. And all our systems though, always seem to be a little bit perforated with loopholes that still leave some lavishing in wealth and others languishing in poverty.
You got this
Be not afraid, only believe. (Mark 5:36 KJV)
So, there are some thoughts there about meeting the needs and how Jesus would look at how Jesus did. How Christ led his disciples to, to pray for people and to help where they could and to work together with other people to make decisions and with our whole social structure and everything like that, to do what we can to see what the needs are of people and meet their needs. And there are a lot of needs in the world today that we lift up in our prayer line. A lot of times more of the personal needs, but also the needs of communities and groups of people.
And, and so really if we want to, we can say you've got this Because in the another part of the Gospel reading today, Jesus said, "be not afraid only believe." And he was saying that in a pretty scary situation. A person's daughter had died and he was encouraging him not to be afraid, but to believe. And there's a hymn about that. "Only believe all things are possible, only believe." And even in the most difficult challenges can be at least addressed and sometimes overcome by those who are willing to believe what Jesus said in Luke 1:37, it's in the New King James version "for God, nothing will be impossible."
So in our readings today, I think they challenge us by broadening our whole idea of looking at all the different kinds of needs that people have, whether they're spiritual or material or they're health or financial, or all the other needs that people have in our unending list. And the challenges that we face that are so often bigger than what anybody can do. But as God's people of faith, who believe in God and believe in and trust God and believe in his, not only his ability, but his willingness, God's willingness to help people that we can be a part of that cause that he has to bring abundant life, to make people's lives better. And we can believe that that what we do is a part of the many possibilities that God works through.