Monday, November 16, 2015

Do you know God?

Sermon for Thursday, November 12, preached from the lessons for Trinity 24.

      We encounter this text over and over again.  It is a compelling picture.  A woman who had gone from doctor to doctor and become the victim of all that was wrong with the medical system of the day.  Does it sound familiar?  If you have waited in an emergency room you know her frustration.  And then there is a man who is desperate after watching his daughter suffer and die.  The body is not even cold and he leaves in the hope that the man about whom everyone was whispering -- the only one who might hold hope in the face of death.
    Today we would tell the woman to try one more doctor and tell the man to give up his hope and make his peace with death.  Today we would dismiss such a story as pure superstition or whimsy.  Even the pious would say God is too busy to be bothered with everything and sometimes even God cannot or will not intervene so get over it and get on with it.  But not here.
    Need I remind you that the word translated in this text to make well or to heal is the same word as to save.  There is more to these stories of desperation and hope than somebody merely looking for one more day or a pain free day.  No, this is about faith that knows God, knows the heart of God, and knows where God is to be found.
    Faith does not presume to have all the answers.  Faith does not even guarantee knowing the right questions.  This woman did not think to ask Jesus but simply thrust out her hand to touch Him.  Perhaps she piously did not want to bother Jesus who was headed out on a mission to the urgent need of another.  Perhaps she was not sure that Jesus would acquiesce to her need if she had asked Him directly.  You can fault her for this but she knew enough to know that Jesus was her answer -- whether her body was restored or not.
    Faith knows God – knows the power of God.  This wounded woman and grieving dad knew the power of God.  God can.  That was their faith.  God can.  But this was not theory for them.  They knew God could and they believed He would.  They knew God’s power and they knew the heart of God was rich in mercy, that God’s will was nothing to fear.
    Faith knows God, knows the heart of God, and knows where God is.  The grieving father went to Jesus and did not wait for Jesus to come to him.  The woman with the flow of blood did not wait for God to come to her, she sought out God where God was to be found - in the flesh and blood of His one and only Son.
    So what about you?  Do you know God?  This is not a question about aesthetics or theory but about God's power to answer the crying needs of this mortal life.  God has revealed Himself to us so that we might know Him but even more so we might know His power to intervene in our sinful, wounded, death bound lives.  This is the conviction faith believes - that God can.  We look to the cross and what do we see?  We see the God who has the power to redeem, save, heal, and make well.  This is about seeing God in the great advancements of men even when we abuse the technology or trivialize it for foolish end.  This is about seeing God in all things, the God whose power glues together the universe and holds the might of man in the palm of His hand.  This is about seeing God in the cross where every hopeless cause and wounded heart finds answer.
    This is also about knowing the heart of God, knowing the will of God.  This is about the faith that does not fear God’s gracious will but counts upon it.  This is about the faith that looks to the cross and sees there in unmistakable terms what God thinks about you and your need.  This is about the boldness of faith that lives life in the shadow of that cross.
    And finally, this is about knowing where God is.  Choosing not to hide in the corner of your room but to seek out and be faithful in the house of the Lord where His Word speaks, His water cleanses, His voice absolves, and His flesh and blood feeds.  Know where the Lord is to be found and put yourself there.  That is the example of this grieving father and this wounded woman.  Don’t sit at home and complain about things that do not matter when Christ is here, in this place, still healing, making well, forgiving, redeeming, and saving.  Do not dismiss the means of grace for they are the very instruments of God’s hand at work and Jesus power to address us with heavenly grace and lavish mercy.  Do not dismiss the grace that enables you to stand in the midst of your struggles as somehow less effective or less important than the grace which releases you from all your struggles.
    Know God and His power.  Know the heart of God in His Son.  And know where God is to be found in His Word and Sacraments. . . and then you will hear the sweet words of Jesus that turn affliction and death upon their ears. . . Go, your faith has saved you.  Amen.

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