In pm's words
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September 10, 2018, 7:54 AM

the one about God showing up...


Sermon from September 9, 2018

Texts: Isaiah 35:4-7a & Mark 7:24-37

Grace and peace to you from God our creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, I’ll be honest. This is one of my least favorite Gospel stories, in fact it is one of my least favorite stories from the entirety of our scriptures. It is here that Jesus just doesn’t act like the Jesus we know. Jesus – at first – doesn’t even live into the life that he’s laid out for his disciples and those gathered around him.

In this small part of Mark’s Gospel, we see Jesus – I think – at his most human. He appears to be cranky. He wants to be alone. Yet, in spite of all those ‘wants’ of Jesus, the Syrophoenician woman shows up and approaches our Lord. This woman crosses all those cultural walls and barriers to be with the one whom she believes in and trusts can and will heal her daughter.

And Jesus’ response to her is less than kind. He calls her a dog. He dismisses her plea possibly because she is not a fellow adherent to the Jewish faith and way of life. She’s an outsider. She’s a Gentile. I do not like how Jesus acts towards this mother.

As much as I dislike this text because of how Jesus reacts, there is one aspect of it that I do very much love. This mother’s boldness is what we need in the world. She knows who Jesus is. She trusts in the numerous stories about him. She believes he can and will save her daughter. Even when Jesus seems to ‘pass’ on that opportunity, she persists, and she succeeds in confirming to Jesus that his call and his love is extended to all in the world, not just a select few.

I have a dear friend who likes to say that after meeting Jesus, he wants to go and find this woman to talk to her. To ask her those questions that run in all our minds about this encounter. “How’d you get the courage to do this? What was it like ‘standing up’ to Jesus? Where did that trust and that faith come from?”

I would like to think, that even as a Gentile woman, one who is outside the norm and life of the Jewish faithful, that she would say, “I did it all because when God shows up, look what happens.”

In our first reading from Isaiah this morning, we read of the prophet’s great and uplifting words about God showing up. It first starts with vengeance and terrible recompense, but moves in a way that I think we don’t expect. How often do we hear that our God’s ‘vengeance’ will be swift and powerful? That the world will rue the day when the Lord shows up. We’ve heard that there will be fire and brimstone. That things will cease to be. That God is going to take the truly faithful away from this desolate and unfaithful place.

Except, that’s not really what scripture says. There are more instances that when “that day” comes it will be one of glory and fullness. That God will descend upon the earth and bring creation to its completeness – one truly with and for the Lord.

I love how the prophet Isaiah describes that day where all that has been ‘wrong’ or ‘broken’ in the world will be made right. The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will jump, the mute will praise. Everyone – every one will experience the fullness, the full goodness, and the glory of God.

Why? Because that’s what happens when God shows up. Things are made right.

The Syrophoenician woman knew that promise. She trusted in that future. She brought her daughter to that well of hope so that she might, so that she would he healed.

This loving mother brought her daughter to Jesus because when God shows up… look what happens.

Healing takes place. Brokenness is made whole. Love is poured in.

She brought the one who couldn’t bring herself. She trusted in the hope and promise of Jesus and God that even her daughter would be lifted up in that love and grace.

So too do the friends of the deaf man trust in that hope. They bring their friend to the one who can heal. Because when God shows up, look what happens.

We bring people to our Lord, we speak on their behalf because when God shows up, look what happens.

This past week a friend of mine from camp ended his life. He was a man who was kind, faithful, loving, full of life, funny (if not a bit odd), and possessed incredible musical gifts. Yet, in spite of all that goodness, he struggled bitterly with depression and hopelessness. As much as he loved and showed loved to others through his goofiness, his faith and hope in others, his back-cracking hugs, his from-the-elbow waves, his willingness to share and teach music, and that loving smile he was tormented by the lies in his head that made him feel unloved, unworthy, un-everything. That those demons were strong enough to end his life.

Even in his death – I, and so many others – still bring Adam to God. We still speak on his behalf so that healing might occur. We still pray that he knows God’s love for him more fully and completely than any of us now.

Because I know that when God shows up…look what happens. Life, new life, resurrected life, the promise of hope, forgiveness, wholeness, unfailing love, never-ending grace show up.

This morning, we read a text where I very much disagree with Jesus’ reaction. He pushed a woman seeking help and healing for her child to the side. Yet, she knew, and she trusted in who Jesus was. She knew that because God shows up, look what can happen.

The deaf man’s friends bring him to Jesus because they knew and trusted in who Jesus was. They knew that because God shows up, look what can happen.

Adam’s friends – we bring him to Jesus, we speak on his behalf even in his death, because we know and trust in who Jesus is. We know that because God shows up, look what can happen. We continue to speak on Adam’s behalf because he spoke on the behalf of others to bring them to this God of love and grace – through his music, through his care and love for others, through his gifts at camp with people of all ages.

Bring folks to God. Allow others to bring you to God. When God shows up, look what happens.

Not so that you ‘get right’ or so they can ‘fix’ whatever ails them. We bring others to God, we speak on their behalf, out of desperate love for those we care about. We bring the ones we love and care for – everyone we meet because we are all brothers and sisters in faith – because we trust in who Jesus is. Because when God shows up – life abounds. Love overflows.

Even when it is difficult for others to see and know, we continue to show God’s love and care for them and the world. Always.

We know we are loved, welcomed, accepted, and forgiven in mercy and love because God showed up. God continues to show up and look what happens. Life and grace and love abound. Amen.

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