Summary: A sermon for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost Proper 9 The Paradox of God strong vs weak
5th Sunday after Pentecost
2nd Corinthians 12:2-10
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
We like winners. Our culture, our country, our society are caught up with the idea of winning. Winning, succeeding, getting ahead, overcoming great obstacles these are the ideals, these are the goals that society places on all people. We can see this as evidence by our preoccupation with sports. We like to see our team win. We like to follow a winner. I get caught up in that mentality each basketball season as I watch closely the progress of the Iowa Hawkeyes on the their road to the final four. I cheer when they win and I become sober, down cast when they loose.
Not only in sports, but through out all of life, we like to see and know about people who have succeeded. We like to read, or watch stories on TV of people who have overcome great mental or physical obstacles, then making a success of their lives. In the Reader’s Digest, I get caught up in the stories, "Drama in Real Life" as someone overcomes great odds to succeed. We like to see the underdog get ahead and become a winner.
In 1982 a story appeared in the Des Moines Register about a high school basketball player who hurt himself while weight lifting, and how he had broken and strained something in his back to a point where the doctors didn’t know if he would walk again. But the feeling in his legs returned, and now the boy is at the gym trying to learn to run and shoot baskets again. The article talked about his winning attitude, about the way he has overcome his accident, how he was making himself a winner again.
I wonder if they would have printed the article, if this boy had remained paralyzed from the neck down and then had to live the every day unglamorous struggle of having someone feed him, dress him, help him in the toilet. I wonder if they would have printed this article showing the frustration, the hurt, the helplessness that someone who is paralyzed feels. I wonder if they would have told about the pain of isolation, the hurt of rejection, the feeling that society doesn’t like losers only winners? I wonder they we only hear about those who make it back, and not about those who are daily struggling with the brokenness of life? There are many people who live lives of quiet brokenness and frustration, sensing, feeling the strong cultural preoccupation with winning, getting ahead and knowing they have given their all, they have tried, but cannot break out of their individual brokenness and have to live day in and day out with the consequences of this struggle.
A paradox is taking place in their lives. A paradox which says those they are weak in the eyes of society, they are strong in God’s eyes.