Sunday, November 8, 2009

We are all Worthy of His Love

I don’t think I will ever forget one Saturday morning about eight years ago in Denver, Colorado. The Ladies Philoptochos Society had made arrangements for us to assist in the distributing Thanksgiving Dinner supplies in a low-income neighborhood of the city. The reason I will never forget that morning is not because of the poverty I witnessed as lines of people waiting patiently for food but because of one person I met that morning. We were all working different stations where families would walk up and receive a different part of their Thanksgiving meal: frozen turkey at one table, stuffing mix at another, etc. I was assigned to the bread station and we had tons of bread, more than we were going to need for the line of people that gathered that morning in the parking lot. I had decided to distribute extra bread since there was so much but one woman, with a young child with her said, “No thank you. I only need one. Let someone else have more if they need.” No keep in mind this woman was in line for a free Thanksgiving dinner because she couldn’t afford to buy it for herself. I was very humbled that morning as I stood at my station, with my warm coat and warm home to return to, and I was looking at a woman who by all estimates was much poorer than I was, and yet she gave me a blessing that morning. I think about that morning often.

This is very similar to the scene in this morning’s Gospel. “So it was, when Jesus returned, that the multitude welcomed Him, for they were all waiting for Him.” (Luke 8.40) In fact, that Saturday morning there were already families gathered in the parking lot waiting for us to get set up. It was well known that Jesus would be coming near and surely news had traveled around about the healing of the man with legion demons and the pigs diving off the steep cliff. I’m sure many people wanted to know what this Jesus was really all about so a large crowd gathered. St Luke tells us that the crowd was so large that people were pressing up against Jesus: “Peter and those with him said, ‘Master, the multitudes throng and press You.’” (Luke 8.45)

Despite the crowd we hear of two people coming to Christ and wanting to be blessed: Jairus a ruler of the Jews and another poor nameless woman who had been sick for more than twelve years. Jairus had no shame of needing Christ and no fear of approaching Him. “And he fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying.” (Luke 8.41) And Christ agreed to help and was on His way to Jairus’ home.

“But as He went, a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment.” Unlike Jairus, this poor woman was ashamed of approaching Christ because of her illness. She was afraid to make herself known to Jesus and the crowd. Perhaps she felt she was not worthy of Christ’s attention. After all, He was on His way to the home of a ruler of the synagogue. But Christ knew she was there.

“Jesus said, ‘Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” (Luke 8.46) Even though He was on His way to Jairus’ home, even though He was surrounded by a large crowd, Christ still had time to stop and heal the woman. St Luke tells us, “And immediately her flow of blood stopped.” (Luke 8.44) Jesus had time for her and He has time for us.

My brothers and sisters, maybe you are like this woman. Maybe you are suffering with something that you are ashamed of. Maybe you think Christ doesn’t have time for you. Maybe you think there are other people who are more important than you. God had time for her and He has time for you too. All you need to do is approached Him and ask. There is no need to be ashamed. God loves you no matter what you are suffering with and He wants you to be healed. Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5.31) Is there anyone among us not suffering? We are all in need of some healing in our lives and God has come to help us.

Maybe you are like Jairus. Maybe you have come to the Church and asked God for help and you are patiently waiting for a miracle. Maybe you’re up against the wall and need His help right now! Christ said, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” (Luke 8.50) Jesus knows better than we do what we need and He knows when we need it. All He asks us to do is believe, without doubt, that He has the power to help us and we will be saved!

For sure we are all like the crowd. We have gathered in this Church this morning to witness Christ and His love and grace. There are some among us who have asked for God’s help and we are praying for them today and we should pray with them every day. This is why we include a prayer list in every Sunday bulletin and every monthly newsletter; so we can pray for our brothers and sisters who are in need of God’s love and mercy and grace.

My brothers and sisters, each one of us this morning has a choice to make. If we are like the woman quietly coming in to the Church and hoping that God will hear our prayers or if we are like Jairus boldly coming forward and asking God for help or if we are witnesses to those who need God’s help; we all must make a choice to approach God. And He will listen. We have no reason to be ashamed, God will help us. We have no reason to panic, God knows how and when to help us too.

But we have no reason to just sit and watch. There are people we know, people we see every day, that need God’s help. Our job, at the very least, is to go out and let everyone know that Jesus Christ has come to Florence, South Carolina and is waiting for anyone who has need. He is the physician of our souls and bodies. Let’s go out and share the Good News with others.

God has come to help! It doesn’t matter who we are: men, women, rich, poor, Greek, non-Greek, black or white, corporate executives or janitors, Christ has time for each one of us. He is waiting for us and He knows exactly what we need.

Eight years ago I was blessed in a parking lot by a woman I didn’t know; a woman who didn’t think she was worthy of getting a second loaf of bread. She believed there were more important people who had a greater need. She gave me more than she will ever know that morning. I owe it to her, and to God, to let everyone know: when it comes to God’s love, it doesn’t matter who we are, we are worthy of His love and He always has time for us.

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