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A Sermon On The Gospel For The Seventh Sunday After Epiphany - Year B
Mark 2:1-12
"God Always Heals" - by Rev. David Adams
(St. Anne's Anglican Church, Winnipeg, Manitoba)

READING:  Mark 2:1-12
SERMON :  "God Always Heals"

Rev. David Adams
   This sermon was written by the Rev. David Adams in 2003 and was 
   sent by him to the PRCL-List with the comment "A very unusual thing 
   happened today. I sat down to do next week's bulletin.  A sermon came 
   pouring out before I finished the bulletin. I have benefited from 
   sermons from this list.  Here is an attempt to give something back."  
   We wrote David asking permission to post his work on this site, 
   telling him: 'I think God gave it to you quickly for a reason.  And 
   hundreds of folk will read it, likely thousands over the next few 
   years.'  We like the sermon and how it comes from David's experience.
   It matches our understanding as well and does justice, I believe, to 
   one of my favourite gospel stories.       

God always heals.  God always heals.  God always heals.  I tell you
truly, healing is the thing God wants most for us.  Today's gospel is
a graphic illustration of that principle.

What a scene we have today in the gospel.  It is amazing.  It turns
everything upside down.  Jesus was teaching the crowd.  Jesus was
teaching something new.  People were excited.  They wanted to learn.
They packed the place.  And Jesus taught them.

There were five friends.  One of them was paralyzed.  They had heard
about Jesus.  He could cure people.  They started for Jesus.  The
crowd stopped them.  They couldn't get to Jesus.  The room was full.

God, I wish all of us had their faith.  They couldn't get to Jesus.
They still wanted something for their friend.  What did they do?  They
refused to take impossible for an answer.  Think about that.  There
was no way they could get their friend to Jesus.  There were too many
people in the way.

This is a good application for us.  We may feel drawn to Jesus.  We
have problems.  We have to work long hours.  We have other things that
have to get done.  There just aren't enough hours in the day.  When
can we make time for Jesus?  When?  We already go to church.  The
priest tells us that is good, but it's not enough for us.  There is
just no way we can get to Jesus the way we want.  Is there?

Sure there is.  Look at the friends.  They didn't care about the
obstacles.  They wanted to get to Jesus.  No one was at the side of
the building.  They went there.  From there to the roof.  Still no way
to Jesus.  And so they made a way.

We can do the same.  Maybe we have to give up a bit of television.
Maybe we get up a little earlier.  Make the time.  Read your Bible.
Take time to pray.  Do it again the next day.  It will change your
life.  It will change the lives of those around you, just like the
friends changed the life of the paralyzed man.

Jesus looked up.  He saw their faith.  He saw their need for their
friend to be healed.  And so he looked at the man.  He said, “Son,
your sins are forgiven.”  Let me interrupt the sermon for another
application for us.

This passage is a basis for intercessory prayer.  Are people you know
in trouble?  Keep praying for them.  Never give up.  Your faith
matters. How do we know?  The paralyzed  man was healed.  His sins
were forgiven.  Why?  The faith of his friends.

What is healing, anyway?  Well, we get a clue from the religious. 
They were grumbling inside.  Who was this man?  What did he mean?  How
could he forgive sins?  Forgive sins?  Only God could do that! 

Jesus knew what they were thinking.  Jesus was a man.  Jesus was also
God.  The gospel of John says all things were created through Jesus.
Jesus knew their hearts.  And so Jesus responded.  “Which is easier?”
Jesus asked.  “To say your sins are forgiven, or to say pick up your
mat and walk?”  Jesus went on.  To show that the son of man has
authority to forgive sins, pick up your mat and walk.  The man picked
up his mat and walked.

We have heard this story all our lives.  Familiarity robs it of
impact. Our familiarity with the story causes us to miss the nuances
here. Jesus did two different things.  First, he healed the man.  He
did that by forgiving his sins.

I can just hear the skeptics.  Wait a minute.  What are you trying to
pull?  That wasn't the healing.  The healing was when he got up.  No.
The skeptics miss the point.  They forget who we really are.

Who are we?  If we follow Jesus, we are becoming children of God. 
What were we humans made for?  To be companions for God.  We were made
to be companions of God for eternity.  Think about that.  Companions
of God [pause] for eternity!

Do you see how the screwed up the religious people were?  They were
acting like this world was what mattered.  They were acting like their
part of a century was all the reality there was.  Wrong!  We are
dealing with eternity.  We are dealing with love the likes of which we
couldn't understand until Jesus.  Most of us short of Sister Theresa
probably still don't understand it, but we are learning.  We are
becoming fit companions for that Love for eternity.  That is what we
are about. Eternity is reality, not the short amount of time we have

So where is healing needed?  In our relationship with God.  In our
relationship with love.  In our relationships with each other that
will last for eternity.  Stacked up against that, what does even
paralysis matter?  The religious folk with Jesus missed that truth. 
And so, Jesus gave them a chance.  He gave them a cure to ponder.  He
told the man to get up and walk.

This may seem off the wall.  I mean when we talk of healing, we think
of cures.  I say make another choice.  Start thinking differently. 

Think about the Apostle Paul.  He was one of the greatest quote
healers end quote ever.  At the height of his career his power to cure
was awesome.  People brought handkerchiefs.  They put them where his
shadow would fall on the handkerchiefs as he walked by.  They would
take them to the sick.  The sick would be cured.  Paul even raised a
dead man back to life.

Now remember one more thing.  Paul had a problem in his body.  He
called it a thorn in his flesh.  He couldn't cure it.  If anyone could
cure himself, you would think it would be Paul.  He couldn't cure
himself. What did he say about that?  He said he asked God three
times.  The answer came back.  The “thorn in the flesh” was to keep
him humble.  And that contented Paul.  Why?  Let's look at a verse in
a letter he wrote while in prison.

Philippians 1:6: I am confident that he who has begun a good work in
you will bring it to completion on the day of Christ's return.  Paul
knew the difference between cures and healings.  Paul was healed.  He
was in right relationship with God.  Now, as his life was ending, he
was passing on his faith in God's healing.  His handicap didn't
matter. What mattered was healing.  God was in charge of that.  The
good work begun in the Philippians would be brought to completion by
God.  Paul knew from his own experience.

Paul's experience reminds me of my own.  I remember my entrance into
this strange Episcopal world.  I had been raised in the Baptist
church. I was taught that what some call miracles no longer happened. 
They were needed just until the Bible was written.  Then they ended. 
I bought it.  Later I left that church, but the teaching stayed with
me.  I became a lawyer.  I ended up in an Episcopal church.  I sang
tenor in the choir.

One day one of the basses in the choir came up to me.  He said he
wanted me to come pray for his son and lay hands on him.  He blew me
away. Think about how strange that was for me.  It got worse.  I went
to the choir director.  She was a good friend.  I told her what the
bass asked.  She blew me away again.  She wasn't surprised at all. 
She said I had the most healing hands she had ever known.  It got
worse.  I went to my priest about these two nuts.  He said fine, you
need to join the Order of Saint Luke.  Here is Sister Ruth's phone
number.  That is how I know how the people there felt when they saw
the man pick up his mat. Just blown away covers it.  That was just the
start.  Let me tell you a little about my healing journey.

I have been used for temporary cures.  I will talk about just one.  I
knew God was sending me to a hospital.  A teenager had been ejected
from a car.  Then the car rolled over on him.  His hips were broken in
six places, among other injuries.  He would be in the hospital at
least two months.

Back then I was a lawyer.  I thought I was there to give him legal
advice.  He needed legal advice.  He was claiming to be a drunk driver
to save his friend who already had a conviction.  We talked as his
girlfriend held his hand.  Just as an afterthought, I touched the
girlfriend's shoulder and silently prayed for healing.  I never gave
it another thought.  I lost track of him that weekend.  The next
Friday evening, I was at his girlfriend's house.  He walked in the
door to borrow some stuff to go camping.  There I was.  Blown away

Look at me.  Do you think I like having a brace on a bum leg?  Do you
think I like living with intense pain?  Do you have any idea how much
I would give to *just be able to run*?  Believe me, I have sought a
cure. The cure hasn't come.  It doesn't matter.  I am being healed. 
God is working to bring the good work he began in me 53 years ago to
completion.  I know what is important.  I know some of who I am.  I am
like you.  I am a child of God.  That is what matters.

Today we learned the difference between healing and cures.  When we
pray and invite God into the situation, healing takes place.  God was
there anyway.  What the prayer for healing does is make us aware of
God's presence in the situation.  That is healing.  And so I can say
with perfect confidence, that God answers every prayer for healing.
[Pause.] Sometimes we even get a temporary cure.  Sometimes the man
walks in the door the next weekend.  Blown away again.

In the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

copyright - Sermon by Rev. David Adams 2003
          - Page by Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2003 - 2006
             please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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