Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sermon: June 8

She said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well." Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, "Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well."

That’s Faithfulness in the midst of illness/suffering.

A leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before Jesus, saying, "My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live."

That’s Faithfulness in the midst of grief/mourning.

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him.

That’s Faithfulness as an outsider/traitor

Today’s Gospel reading is all about Faithfulness which is also present in our OT & NT readings as well.

For Abram’s response in Genesis to God’s call to go as the Lord told him, he went with Sara his wife and his nephew Lot and took all their possessions. For this act, the Lord blesses them! And that is faithfulness. In Romans, Paul remembers Abraham for his faith. Not because he did some valiant work: but Abram believed God, did what God called him & his family to do and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.

As we recognize the children, acolytes, HS seniors graduating, this morning, we are reminded of the faithfulness of children, of their curiosity and love and discovery, of whom Jesus said for us to enter the kingdom of heaven we are to become like children.

This week, some of us are going to see the movie Prince Caspian based on one of the books of the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. One year has passed in our world since the first adventure ended (The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe), but in Narnia, almost 1,300 years have passed when the Pevensie children return to Narnia. Aslan the Lion is in many ways the Christ character of the story, but the children who learned to trust and love him in the first story have nearly forgotten him in the second book except for the youngest Lucy.

She is the one who sees him when the others say they haven’t. It is her faithfulness that finally leads them on the right road to help Prince Caspian. She has that magical faith of a child and yet there is more to it than that, for she is older and despite everyone who fails to see Aslan, she does and continues to believe. That’s faithfulness too.

But Aslan doesn’t stop his work until all see him again, he continues on, waiting for those to come around, just as Jesus confronted by others about his ministry said, I have come to call not the righteous but sinners. Understanding that he was calling those who had faith and those who as of yet did not. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Jesus said.

If we understand that our selves, our souls, our bodies, are in need of health, in need of the power of God, then we can be open to hear the words from the physician of our souls, Jesus Christ, for he has the words that will make our lives what they can be. "Go and learn what this means," says Jesus, “I desire mercy not sacrifice.”

Jesus does not want to make insiders and outsiders for the Kingdom of God. He wants everybody in! But he challenges those who think they are righteous, who have it all going for them, who are not the poor, the powerless, the outcasts of society, to truly consider whether or not they are doing what God wants. Are they hearing the call? Where is mercy in their lives?

Like the older children in Narnia, they come again to faith through Lucy’s help as they learn they were not hearing Aslan's call…

We must remember that as we gather here at St. Peter’s, we are not the righteous gift of God for the world. But we are sinners who have heard the call of Jesus Christ to come follow, and are attempting to live out of love and mercy as Jesus would have us do.

May we hear the call of Jesus, in our lives, a call to radical discipleship, a call to embrace the outcasts of our society to bring them the love of God. To bring healing, forgiveness and hope. To bring mercy.

May our lives be open to what Jesus can bring (just as Abram heard God’s call to go and he and his family followed that call. Matthew heard the call of Christ, gave up his work as a tax collector and followed Jesus. The leader of the synagogue and the woman with the hemorrhage, heard of Jesus and believed in him. Lucy continued to have faith even as her older brothers and sister did not.) And in faithfulness, be ready to follow where Christ calls us to go. Amen.

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