Sunday, July 3, 2022

Unexpected Miracles


When we pray for a miracle, we should trust God in how it comes to us.

 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?     (2 Kings 5:13 KJV)

 We should, as the saying goes, “expect a miracle,” but we don’t always know how it will happen, or when it is coming, or even what it will be. Naaman had high hopes and expectations that his leprosy would be miraculously cured. Naaman was enraged that the miracle might come in a less elaborate way than he expected, but his servants convinced him to accept the humble approach Elisha offered, and be healed.

Transcript of the sermon preached on July 3, 2022, at Briensburg UMC | [Audio Podcast] 

4th Sunday after Pentecost 

2 Kings 5:1-14
Psalm 30
Galatians 6:7-16
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20


 With the Psalmist we praise God for the miracles we and others have already received.

 O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me.     (Psalm 30:2 KJV)

 Stuart Hamblen wrote in his hymn, “It is no secret what God can do. What he’s done for others He’ll do for you.” The greatest miracles of the Bible come in response to the most humble requests. “He Touched Me, and made me whole” as Bill Gaither worded it in his hymn

 Everything we do eventually has its results.

 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.      (Galatians 6:9 KJV)

 So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest. (Galatians 6:9 GNT)

 Charles H Gabriel in his hymn “Send the Light” phrased it, “Let us not grow weary in the work of love.” John Wesley attributed with “Do all the good you can… as long as ever you can.” This verse about “sowing seeds of kindness” from the hymn by Knowles Shaw:

Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,
Fearing neither clouds nor winter's chilling breeze;
By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.


Let's just plant the seeds and trust God for the unexpected miracles that come as a result.

 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.      (Luke 10:2 KJV)

 Conspicuously absent from their instructions: Imposing their religious and political opinions aka beliefs. There were plenty of those kinds of groups that the other religious and political leaders were representing:  Saducees, Pharisees, Essenes, Romans, Greeks, on and on with various expressions and traditions and opinions and beliefs.

 And there was then as there is now, plenty to argue about. Jesus stood firmly and against oppression and he stood firmly against exclusion and he stood firmly against injustice. Jesus stood even more firmly and without apology FOR inclusiveness and justice and forgiveness and mercy and love.

 We in the United Methodist Church have not grown “weary in the work of love” but we have grown weary of the endless and futile arguments of those who, as Jesus said in Matthew 13 in the Good News Translation, “lock the door to the Kingdom of heaven in people's faces, but [they themselves] don't go in, nor do [they] allow in those who are trying to enter!” (Matthew 13:13 GNT) 

 We yearn to truly represent our long-standing United Methodist motto “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” in a world that needs to be sincerely loved with the unconditional love of Christ now as much as ever.

 Jesus sent these 70 (or 72 according to some translations) with this three-fold mission:  offer peace, heal the sick, and, as phrased in The Message, “tell them, ‘God’s kingdom is right on your doorstep!’

Jesus sends us to Offer peace -- Peace not argument.  We proclaim our faith and we state our positions and share our ideas and beliefs and we point to resources and books and articles for more information. We gather like “birds of a feather” to study and learn together and share in the work we believe in. But we don’t argue with people who have different beliefs and practices, or who have not yet come to realize that “God is love.”

 John Wesley sent Thomas Coke to America with these words, “Offer them Christ.”  Christ sends us to offer peace, true peace, “peace that passeth understanding,” as Paul said,  the Peace of Christ.

Jesus sends us to Heal the sick. In our Three General Rules we say, “Do no harm, do good, stay in love with God.” We are sent to offer the wholeness and encouragement of Christ, to offer spiritual and temporal healing, each of us according to our gifts and graces and skills, to everyone according to whatever their hurts and brokenness may require. 

Jesus sends us to tell them the kingdom of God has come to them. We extend the Great Invitation Jesus offered, “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Jesus sends us to do the same as he did throughout his earthly ministry, as we say in our Communion Liturgy, “he healed and taught and ate with sinners, and won for [God] a new people by water and the Spirit.”

 In the Great Commission Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus sends us saying,

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

In Acts 1:8  he sends us “to be witnesses… unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Mark 16:17-18 Jesus promises us that these kinds of signs shall follow us: All kinds of healing at every level as we preach the gospel to every creature. Communication of the Gospel in an infinite variety of forms. Restoration and regeneration for all people as they respond to the invitation to Christian discipleship

 Let us then be those who go from this place in communion with Christians around the world to be recipients and channels for unexpected miracles beyond our ability to even imagine. We share the mission statement of The United Methodist Church to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

 In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity School, Lectionary Series.  "Helping, Sharing, Caring, Harmony, Peace -- Children's Hospital." Clair Witcomb with eh Nechells Community, Birmingham, England.


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