You are special – 2013-08-25 – Sermon

Am I worth it? – All for one

God does love us

God’s economy

Today’s gospel reading appears to be the smallest of miracles,
A woman was bent over and Jesus straightened her out,
why record such a small miracle?

And the answer to this is in the parable of the mustard seed that comes straight after.

In God’s economy,
In God’s Kingdom the smallest thing can have a huge effect.

Jesus says: “…someone plants a mustard seed in a garden. The seed grows as big as a tree, and birds nest in its branches.”

Jesus is saying,
in the parable and in the healing,
never underestimate the power of God and what God can do,
in your life,
in my life,
in our life together.

Am I worth it?

At times we ask of ourselves, “Am I worth it?”

We can have deep-seated insecurities,
and we sometimes wonder, am I worth it?

This almost always comes from relationships that have not always gone our way.

Sometimes these are good relationships,
but even the good relationships can cause problems in our life.

Maybe we haven’t received the right type of affirmation,
and so we wonder, am I worth it?

We see that in the Gospel that in God we are worth it.

The ministry of Jesus was not just about healing,
it was also about valuing,
and showing us how much he and the Father value and love us,
and that we are all worth it in God’s eyes.

< – the story of Punchinello we heard early reminds as we are all loved, we are all special – >

It is almost certain that the woman in today’s Gospel (Lk 13:10-21) had been abused in some way.

In Punchinello MAX LUCADO calls these marks and dots

This woman in the Gospel had suffered so much so that she couldn’t look people in the eye.

What’s more,
she had gone around for so long like this,
that her body had got used to it,
she was now physically bent over.

In these moments, Jesus can set us truly free.
If we open ourselves to God, the love of God can begin to repair the damage we have received.

The instant the love of God touch her she stood upright.

So why do we have what appears to be such an insignificant healing recorded?

For two simple reasons that we must not forget:

  1. you are worth it!
  2. the smallest action have have the biggest impact, this is what God’s Kingdom is like, it is like a mustard seed!

So that is the meaning for you and for me,
it is a healing recorded to remind us that we are known, loved and cared for.

A meaning for us

We can’t quite leave it there though,
because there is also a mean for us,
the gathered faith community.

Challenging the people of God

This story happened on the Sabbath,
and it is recorded by Luke on the Sabbath,
to remind us who the healing is directed to.

It is directed to us,
those who think that they are okay with God.

It is a healing in the midst of the people of God to challenge us to our core.

It challenges all of our rules,
all of our presuppositions,
and says: “are you sure?”

Jesus healed this woman on the Sabbath,
and he shouldn’t have,
he was plying his trade on the Sabbath,
here he was healing,
surely he shouldn’t have been doing this.

Upstaging

The real issue though wasn’t what he did,
it was how the leader of the synagogue felt,
he felt upstaged.

After the leader of the synagogue was there,
leading the synagogue,
preaching, teaching and welcoming,
on the Sabbath,
the biggest day of his working week.

It was no different then to today,
the Sabbath is a clergy person’s biggest day,
and the issue wasn’t what was happening,
but that this leader had just been upstaged by this renegade rabbi.

And Jesus’ answer to the challenge of him is quite gracious,
he doesn’t say to the leader “get over yourself and praise God,
he doesn’t say you hypocrite,
you work on the Sabbath too.”

Instead he simply points out that there is room in God,
in God’s law for what the feeling people amongst us call compassion,
and what the thinkers amongst us call common sense.

Jesus shows us that God isn’t so black-and-white to ignore the situation in front of us,
but rather God responds with compassion,
and says: “Look in this situation we need this.”

We see that in God we can’t disengage our brain,
or our hearts and simply say: “God says!”
rather we need to think what should I do?
How would Jesus respond.

And Jesus responded with compassion to the woman,
and he pointed out to the establishment that this was the sensible thing to do.

Known to us

Another challenge within this reading for us is to treat everyone with respect,
especially our own.

This woman wasn’t a “nobody” she was a member of their village and community,
and Jesus shows us that you can’t carry on ignoring the need of those around us;
there is a responsibility from the faith community to the faith community.

Jesus reminds the people that this is one of their own,
bound up by Satan,
what better thing can we do on our Sabbath?

Surely freeing someone from the bondage of Satan is the best use of the Sabbath?

Just last week we heard Jesus quote the prophet Micah,
and challenge the people that if they didn’t listen to God,
if they didn’t follow God’s ways,
if they didn’t live by God’s way of social justice,
then society would fall down around them.

Micah challenged the people and said: “there was no-one upright.”

So there was no one living God’s ways.

And here we see today,
someone bent over by everything that has likely gone wrong in her life,
and the life of Israel.

She is both a real person with real issues,
and her story,
of the how people ignore her,
is also symbolic of the struggles that Jesus and God have convincing people to follow their way,
and to care for those around them.

Jesus says: “You hypocrites, who are you trying to fool?” (v15)
You would untie your donkey and give it water,
how much more appropriate is it for me to untie one of God’s children and heal her!

Satan’s grip

Satan has Israel in his power, just as he had this woman,
and we are meant to draw the links between the way this woman is bound by Satan,
and the way Satan has bound Israel in laws which do not work,
as they are being so rigidly applied.

Israel can only work God’s call out if it will allow itself to be healed of Satan’s grip.

God’s Kingdom message must be heard and responded to by Israel,
by the faith community as well as the woman.

Jesus wishes to free Israel from the bondage that has it bent over,
and unable to stand up for social justice.

One small action

So one small action on the Sabbath shows the people what God is up to,
Israel is to be freed of her bondage to rules which don’t allow her to be the compassionate nation God was calling her to be.

This one small action in the synagogue may appear a waste of effort,
but it is like a small amount of yeast hidden in flour,
it seems insignificant,
but in time,
the whole loaf will be leavened and lifted up,
like this woman.

And every-time we break Satan’s chains on our life,
no matter how small,
it goes on having big effect in our lives.

And like the mustard seed,
we don’t realise how big until one day we see the massive good of God sprout in our life,
and the life of the community.

Conclusion

Today may you know you are known, loved and cared for.

May you know that God’s small work in your life,
and your acceptance and positive response to this will have huge and lasting positive effect.

Revd Dion J. Blundell 2012 (Distributed under Creative Commons agreement CC [BY-SA])

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 New Zealand License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nz/

Let us pray: Gracious God,
…. Amen.

(cc) by: Revd Dion J. Blundell 2012

Luke 13:10-21

One Sabbath, Jesus was teaching in a Jewish meeting place, and a woman was there who had been crippled by an evil spirit for eighteen years. She was completely bent over and could not straighten up. When Jesus saw the woman, he called her over and said, “You are now well.” He placed his hands on her, and right away she stood up straight and praised God.

The man in charge of the meeting place was angry because Jesus had healed someone on the Sabbath. So he said to the people, “Each week has six days when we can work. Come and be healed on one of those days, but not on the Sabbath.”

The Lord replied, “Are you trying to fool someone? Won’t any one of you untie your ox or donkey and lead it out to drink on a Sabbath? This woman belongs to the family of Abraham, but Satan has kept her bound for eighteen years. Isn’t it right to set her free on the Sabbath?” Jesus’ words made his enemies ashamed. But everyone else in the crowd was happy about the wonderful things he was doing.

Jesus said, “What is God’s kingdom like? What can I compare it with? It is like what happens when someone plants a mustard seed in a garden. The seed grows as big as a tree, and birds nest in its branches.”

Then Jesus said, “What can I compare God’s kingdom with? It is like what happens when a woman mixes yeast into three batches of flour. Finally, all the dough rises.”

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