Summary: A sermon for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost Proper 9 A sermon about the Grace of God
4th Sunday after Pentecost
"My Grace is Sufficient"
6:1 ¶ He went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him.
2 And on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands!
3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.
4 And Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house."
5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them.
6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.
7 ¶ And he called to him the twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.
8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts;
9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.
10 And he said to them, "Where you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place.
11 And if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them."
12 So they went out and preached that men should repent.
13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.RSV
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
Do you know what a paradox is? Our lessons today concern the idea of a paradox in Christian living, a paradox of values, and a paradox of expectations. According to the dictionary a paradox is: a statement that seems to contradict itself but expresses an element of truth.
For example this is a paradox: Make haste slowly. It is a paradox because it seems to contradict itself. How can you go quickly slowly? But even if this seems to contradict itself, there is truth in that statement because sometimes in order to accomplish something quickly, you need to go slowly.
We live with things, ideas and values being in paradox to each other. A statement in our lesson from 2 Corinthians is also a paradox, it says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." How can a person have power when he or she is weak? According to our human standards, this is a paradox.
But as we study our 3 lessons this morning, we will see an element of truth to this statement about power in weakness.
Ezekiel lived with this paradox. He was called by God to be a prophet. to the nation of Israel, to a people who God said had rebelled against him, who would probably not even listen to this new prophet. Our text says when God called Ezekiel he was to stand upon his feet before God, the spirit of God entered him and set him on his feet. Ezekiel in his human weakness was given power by God to be a prophet to the rebellious nation of Israel. Ezekiel was given power in his human weakness to speak the word of God to a stubborn people, a sinning people, a people who had turned away from God.
’For my power is made perfect in weakness." In Ezekiel weakness God’ s power became perfect. Out of the weakness of this human being, God gave him strength to speak to a nation, to speak about the love of God for his chosen people. But notice even after the call, the results of this prophet’s work was not going to be successful. God told Ezekiel that the people may even refuse to listen to him, but God would be with him even in this weakness because God wanted the people to know a prophet would be among them. In weakness, Ezekiel brought the word of God to the nation of Israel even though they did not want to listen.
A pastor tells this story about the a man in his life. He says, "My grandfather was a humble country preacher and the best Christian I have ever known--poised, patient, unselfish, kind to a fault, courageous in his witness to pure religion, heroic in his championship of freedom, uncomplaining in adversity, gentle with friends and foes alike. Years after his death whenever I encountered people who had been his parishioners, I was aware of a strange light in their eyes and a warmth in their voice as they spoke of him."