5th Sunday after Pentecost
June 27, 2021
The Power of Faith
Faith: complete confidence in something or someone. Trust in something unknown to our experience but we believe in our minds that it is true. Trust: firm belief in the reliability, strength, truth, or ability of something, or someone.
If it weren’t for faith and trust, we would not have relationships, discovery (planets), inventions (electric cars), exploration (space), advances in medicine (covid-19 vaccine), or feats of wonder (Nik Wallenda crossing Niagara Falls on a tight rope).
Think about times when you have taken a risk—asking for a raise, sought a better job, spoke your mind, helped someone in need, trusted in the knowledge of others. These are all instances of risks based in faith. Almost every step we have taken in our lives has involved some degree of faith. Some of those risks have defined who we are and our lives.
We all got up this morning. It is a typical Sunday morning. How much of the day can you be certain of? How certain are you that your day will go as you have imagined it? Surprisingly, chances are that not all of your day will go as planned. We are constantly adapting our lives based on faith and what we know.
What happens when we put our trust in the power of Jesus, when we put our faith in Jesus to heal our brokenness, or direct our lives? We step into the world of the unknown when we put our believe in Jesus, trusting that the Holy Spirit is present with us. We believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to work on our behalf or on the behalf of someone else.
Faith allows us to risk wholeness, healing, life lived abundantly, and a better world.
Our Scripture this morning includes two stories—one sandwiched between the other. Both exemplify the power of faith.
We begin by hearing the request of Jairus, a leader in the synagogue, for Jesus to come heal Jairus’ daughter who is near death. As Jesus plans to honor Jairus’ pleadings a large crowd seems to be hampering his ability to make much headway with his travels. There is a lot of bumping and jostling. An unnamed women, having heard about Jesus power to heal, manages to come up behind him and touch the hem of his robe. As she does this she immediately feels the change in her body. This poor women has suffered with hemorrhages for 12 years and has exhausted all her resources seeking help from doctors. She has faith that Jesus will be the answer to her prayers.
Just as the woman had felt an immediate change so had Jesus felt his power leave his body for an instant. He turns and asks who touched him. The woman comes fearfully before him and admits she was the one. This admission by a woman would have been un-permitted for several reasons. She was a woman, unclean, and an outcast. As a woman she would not have been allowed to approach and touch a man especially if she was unclean.
Jesus does not reprimand her, rather he calls her “daughter” and praises her. He said it was her faith that made her well and pronounced her healed. Then Jesus continues on his way to the house of Jairus. But the crowd is telling him not to bother for the girl certainly must be dead. The paid mourners and neighbors are carrying on weeping and whaling outside the home. They find Jesus’ saying she is not dead but sleeping laughable. But Jesus tells Jairus not to fear but believe. Then he sends everyone away except his three trusted but clueless disciples, John, Peter, and James and of course the girl’s mother and father.
Jesus then takes the girl’s hand and asks her to rise, which she does. She begins to walk around. Those present were amazed! Jesus gave strict orders to them not to tell anyone about the healing and to give her something to eat.
What does all this say to us?
Prayers said on behalf of others is mysterious. Prayer is powerful. Prayer need not be focused on just one person and can empower tremendous healing. Prayer can be initiated by an unrelated person, even someone outside of the synagogue or in our case the church. As Jesus said in our lesson two weeks ago even a little bit of faith can move mountains.
In this morning’s lesson the huge faith does not come from the devoutly religious men of the synagogue or even Jairus who pleaded for help, but is influenced by the doubt of his unbelieving family and friends. Jesus needed to shut out those doubts from Jairus’ mind so he could focus on the faith needed to believe in Jesus’ power to heal.
The great depth of faith in our story came from an outcast sickly woman who believed that even touching Jesus’ clothing would be enough to make her well. We seldom acknowledge that faith may come in surprising ways from people, places, and circumstances we least expect and yet can birth unexpected outcomes.
It is not uncommon to find the most powerful faith coming from those in the worst of situations who are willing to take great risks in order to ask healing, community, acceptance, and hope. We, like Jairus’ well intended synagogue friends, have held on to the expected, ordinary, status quo so that we have become a non-risk community. We are dedicated to keeping things the same.
How strong is our faith? Do we confess our faith yet turn around and plan our own way in our lives, in our church and in our world? Do we truly put our trust in the Holy Spirit to lead us? Boldly step forward into the future in which we have no clue what will happen?
Do we lead from a place of scarcity or from abundance of faith? Do we let the Holy Spirit guide us as we make decisions? Or do we place more faith in our own abilities than in God’s ability to change us, our church, our community, and our world?
The scriptures never fail to challenge us to look at who we confess to be. They challenge us to constantly re-evaluate our minds, hearts, and most of all our faith. The scriptures challenge us to be risk takers in mission, word, and deed believing that Jesus still has the power to heal and resurrect.
How is the health of our faith? In the greatest of hope may we truly examine our faith!