Fear and Faith

A Sermon Preached on the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost…

 Fear and Faith

Calming fears, providing healing, and giving faith are things given and not taken, or earned.  Have you ever found yourself playing “let’s make a deal” with God to calm fears during a violent thunderstorm, make a loved ones cancer go away, or be able to believe when you are full of doubt.  I know I do… and the tension of fear and faith are anxieties I wish I could just fix on my own.

The reality for most of us is that we go to God last, after we have tried to take it like a man, be strong, independent and responsible, and solve it ourselves.  We go to God when the going gets tough, when life is out of control and if we admit it, when we are truly desperate, desperate enough to give this God thing a try. 

Of course God knows us and loves us in spite of ourselves.  God experienced our reality and through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection reminds us again and again of that amazing and unending love for you and for me.  Jesus came to teach and point out the kingdom of God.  God reigns over all and made us to be a part of creation, no matter what.   

In Mark, particularly in chapters 4 and 5 we see how Jesus preached with actions speaking much larger than his words.  Through this Jesus shows us what the reign of God is like.  Jesus travels back and forth across the sea, doing what God sent him to do, demonstrating gracious acts of healing mercy and calming peace. 

But when Jesus shows up, the people do not always welcome him with open arms. 

  • Sometimes they have faith, sometimes they do not. 
  • Sometimes they are faithful, other times they are fearful.
  • Sometimes they have faith, and at times they are confused, hard-headed, and even hard-hearted in their encounters with our Lord and Savior.

There is Fear in the Text today…

  • Mark 4 and 5 point to Jesus’ complete power over all of the turmoil and fear in our world:
    • He deals with nature by calming the storm,
    • The supernatural  by casting out demons,
    • Suffering by healing the hemorrhaging woman, and
    • Death itself by resuscitating the little girl.
  • Today we heard the last two stories…
    • 12 years of bleeding,
      • getting ripped off by false hope and poor medical care
      • she would have been outcast due to purity laws
      • but she turns to this Jesus she has heard about… to only experience more fear and trembling
      • A dying daughter (of a church leader no less!),
        • who dies while Jesus is distracted by the unclean woman in the crowd
        • crowds weep and wail
        • when Jesus comments on all the commotion and says she is sleeping, they laugh at him thinking it is some cruel sick joke, or perhaps that he is filled with sheer stupidity.

And there is Fear in the World today…

  • About Global climate change
  • About disease and access to healthcare
  • About an economy that doesn’t seem to be rebounding
  • About civil disobedience and violence in Iran following a questionable election
  • About a threatening dictator with nuclear missiles pointed our way in North Korea

But there is Faith in the Text today!

  • The bleeding woman believed that “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.”
    • And it was her faith that made her well.
  • The 12 year old girl was called out of her sleep by Jesus
    • And he said to the father, “don’t be afraid, just believe.”
  • People saved, healed, made whole, given new life in community by Grace through Faith.
    • Faith that we do nothing to earn.
    • Faith that is the gift of a gracious and merciful God.

And there is also Faith in the World today!

  • Lutheran World Relief, Lutheran Social Services, and hundreds of other social service agencies, non-profits and NGO’s provide for basic human need around the globe.
  • Here at CtK we have…
    • Folks biking for refugees
    • Sponsoring tuition for Liberian students
    • 7 young men exploring the impact of creation, stuff and friendship on their lives this week at confirmation camp 
    • A dozen headed to New Orleans to experience Jesus, Justice and Jazz next month with 36,000 others
    • A new vision for parish education for faith exploration.  To grow in study, praise and service to follow the footsteps of Jesus and share the gifts given to us by God.

But as your vicar, engaged in my pastoral formation, I’m reminded of Luther’s charge to those who preach the Word…

  • The Cross – the ultimate symbol of paradox.  It represents…
    • Fear, humiliation, gruesome pain and death
    • Grace, resurrection, unconditional love and life
    • It represents Chesed the Hebrew word that best defines the basic nature of God, the very real reality of God’s unbreakable devotion.
    • The steadfast love (chesed) of the Lord never ceases.  Our God is an awesome God and we will never be without God’s presence!
  •  The Cross – a symbol prominently displayed on a wall in the Gathering Space that represents…
    • A symbol of the dying and rising experienced by…
      • Each of us individually, and
      • All of the people of God.
      • A gift from Kay and I to you and all who see it and add crosses to it.
      • A reminder of our love, but more importantly, God’s love (chesed) for you!

Luther also wanted preachers to Comfort the Afflicted and Afflict the Comfortable.

  • For some affliction, you may have noticed I’m out of the pulpit
    • Maybe making some of you uncomfortable… certainly out of my comfort zone.
    • But I’m about to change your sermon comfort zone even more than my location
    • I’m giving you each an assignment to think about and share an affliction
      • Something that weighs heavy on your heart,
      • Something that you are experiencing, or brings you anxiety by seeing or knowing about it 
      • A hurt, fear, or need that you cannot handle alone.
  •  For some comfort Elizabeth will shortly play a hymn of healing
    • The ushers will hand out envelopes full of band-aids and markers 
      • Take a band-aid and pass the envelope
      • Write a one or two work prayer request on it
      • Then bring it forward and put it on the blank cross here in the chancel
      • Place your fears on the cross and ask for faith that only God can give

You have written your needs on band-aids and given your hurts to God.  Through individual participation we have created an artistic offering in the shape of the greatest gift of all.  There is a balm in Gilead, it makes the wounded whole and heals the sin-sick soul!  Let us pray…

 O God of creation, who sustains and saves us,

Feed us at your table, and quench the thirst of needs.                                                                                          

Grant patience, peace, comfort and healing for our fears.                                                                  

Restore our brokenness and help our unbelief. 

In the powerful name of Jesus.   Amen.

 

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One thought on “Fear and Faith

  1. I have told many of my friends about the band aids on Sunday—how emotional it was for me and how powerful—thank you for your year at CTK—know where ever you end up in your ministry they will be blessed as we were
    h

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