Summary: In this sermon I looked at the account of the haemorrhaging woman’s encounter with Jesus and considered its significance for the Church today.
JESUS AND A TOUCH OF FAITH
INTRODUCTION _ KEITH
I had just started preaching one Sunday morning when I saw someone come into the church through the doors at the back. The man sat down in the back pew, right next to one of our most welcoming ladies, so I knew he’d be well looked after. After this slight distraction, I quickly got back into the preaching flow and brought God’s word to God’s people.
After singing the final hymn and pronouncing the blessing, I walked down the aisle to the back of the church ready to shake the hands of those who weren’t going to stay for a cup of after-service tea and, as I reached the back pew, I made a point of greeting the latecomer. He was a man aged somewhere in his thirties, looking a little dishevelled and smelling strongly of alcohol. “My name’s Keith” he said in a slurred fashion, “I’m a chronic alcoholic.” With that, he showed me the bottle of cider he had concealed inside his coat. “But don’t worry,” Keith assured me, “I’d never drink inside the church!” After a cup of coffee, Keith left with his bottle of cider still concealed beneath his coat and most of the congregation remained blissfully unaware.
Keith came back to the church each Sunday morning for several weeks after that first one, usually arriving in the second half of the service, staying for a short chat afterwards and then disappearing back onto the street. He came back, he said, because he felt welcome – which pleased me. At one point, he shared with me that the doctors had told him his liver wouldn’t work for much longer – I don’t know how true that was, but he was always under the influence of alcohol whenever I spoke with him.
One Sunday, Keith didn’t slip in at the back of the church and, though I saw him a couple of times after that, walking unsteadily down the street, he never came back to church again. He never once asked for anything – in fact, he kept himself very private and rejected offers of help – he just enjoyed being with us, being with the family of God, and being part of our worship for a while.
Keith is a man living on the edges - for many people, he would be someone to ignore, someone to avoid, someone to fear – but such a man, or woman, must surely find a welcome amongst the people who constitute the Body of Christ, the Church. After all, Jesus Himself without fail welcomed those who were to be found on the margins of His society: the poor, the sick, the disabled, the disreputable. This morning, I want to focus on one of those occasions, when He was – quite literally – touched by the faith of a woman, a touch that transformed her life.
We’re going to look more closely now at the Gospel account of …
JESUS AND A TOUCH OF FAITH
… and I invite you to step into the story with me.
Jesus and His disciples return to Capernaum from a trip across the Sea of Galilee, during which He had cast out a legion of demons from one poor man. By the time their boat arrives, a crowd has already gathered to meet them – by now, Jesus is a teacher and a healer of some repute, so this wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.