Summary: The story of the woman with a hemorrhage teaches us about God’s inclusion of all people, the melding of faith and grace, and the necessity of faith driving us to action.
Matthew 9:20-22 “An Empty Handed Request”
A fascinating characteristic of Scripture is that any given passage can have several meanings and interpretations. One day we will read a passage and we will be touched by a particular message. Another day we can read the same passage and see a different message. Both messages are valid and both are important and meaningful to us at that specific moment in our lives.
The passage of Scripture that was read today sounds familiar to many of us. The passage was part of the lesson several Sundays ago. Today we will look at it from a slightly different perspective and see what message of hope this miracle of Jesus has for us.
DRAWING WIDER CIRCLES
We often talk about our image of heaven—the white clouds, streets of gold, and pearly gates. As you picture heaven, who do you see populating it? Sure there are angels, Jesus, St. Paul and St. Peter, along with Mary, but who else? Perhaps an easier question might be who do you not expect to see in heaven
When the Jews who lived at the time of Jesus conjured up images of heaven, they only saw it populated by Jews. No Romans, no Greeks would be allowed in heaven. They drew the circle of inclusion close to themselves. There would be no idolaters, no one from the nations that neighbored them, no lepers, and no tax collectors. The list went on and on. In the minds of the Jews, heaven was a rather exclusive place.
Jesus didn’t accept the common view of heaven. He kept drawing the circles, which included the people accepted by God, wider and wider. Jesus’ circles included Roman soldiers, sick women, tax collectors, poor people, hungry people, and groups of people that the Jews would never have imagined as being acceptable to God.
This is good news for us and for everyone, because there are those times when we really don’t feel very righteous. There are even those times when we aren’t very righteous. At these times, this miracle story proclaims to us that God loves us and that there is absolutely nothing in all of creation that is able to keep God from loving us. We might not have any right coming to God with a prayer request, but because of Jesus, we do have the ability to do so.
Following the example of Jesus, we not only need to celebrate the truth that we are included in God’s love, but we also need to include others in our circles and celebrate the good news of God’s love with them.
THE ACTION OF FAITH
It was not enough for the woman to believe that Jesus was able to heal her. She needed to act on her belief. She needed to take a step of faith and to touch his robe.
We learn an important lesson from the woman. Christianity is more than believing the right things. We also need to act on those things that we believe to be true and to allow them to shape our lives. The common phrase for this is to, “practice what we preach.”
Ø We will take a step of faith as a congregation and believe that moving our worship service to the Rosefield Charter School will help us reach out to the community of Surprise, and enable us to grow into a mighty congregation.
Ø We are challenged to respond to hate with love and to trust that love conquers all.
Ø We are invited to tithe and to take the step of faith that when we give to God a portion of our income we will still have enough to meet all of our needs.
FAITH AND GRACE
A lack of faith limits us. I do not think have ever met someone who did something that they didn’t believe they were capable of doing. If we say “I can’t do that,” we won’t do it.
Faith joins with God’s grace to accomplish God’s will. It was God’s grace that healed the woman, but the woman had to believe that God was able to heal her and wanted to heal her. If she had not believed, she would not have been healed.
God gives us faith and invites us to believe beyond logic and security and step out in faith. In what way is God leading you? How are you being invited and challenged to take a step of faith?
The story of the hemorrhaging woman reminds us that we need to have a change of head and heart if we are to see God’s love and power demonstrated in our lives and in our world.
We want to leave this worship service with more than a new piece of information, or a different belief. We also want to leave with a new style of life.
We want to be people who have experienced God’s love and who have been transformed by God into loving people whose actions speak even louder than their words.