EN-US style='mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Lord, may your words be spoken, and your words be heard, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – Amen
I stand before you about to speak about the Gospel
You might be thinking, don’t you do that every time you preach a sermon… and well, I like to think that is true – but today the gospel message is so clear and simple that it is an exciting day
I will share with those gathered, both members and guests alike, from one of the great stories of Bible
In fact, it is such a strong story that the vast majority of commentators completely bi-passed the other readings for the day, and there is a wealth of material on this small story of just 6 verses
You should also know that over 70% of the Bible is stories or narrative – that is the prime literally device in which God communicates with us
God spends far more time on teaching us through the experiences of others than any list of commandments… or any other format
God’s love is to share through others…
In the entire Bible, each story is part of God’s redemptive work in humanity
From the garden and the fall,
· to the law and wisdom and the message of the prophets
· to God amongst us - Jesus and the teaching of Christ,
· to the cross- and the resurrection
· to the founding of the church at Pentecost and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit
with the book of Acts the only unfinished book of the bible, unfinished because the work continues to this day,
and to the vision of glory, the vision from revelations of the great and glorious uniting of the faithful in the heavenly city
In it all God is spreading His Good News message, the message of redemption – the Gospel - to anyone with ears to hear
The Gospel reading today is about as clear an understanding of healing by Jesus as can be found anywhere, and it shows profoundly our role, and God’s grace
I would like you to explore this story imagining that you are the main character
Imagine for moment if you will, you are Blind, you weren’t always blind, in fact at one point you were a man of some notable reputation. You were important in town but something has happened that you have lost your sight.
And imagine that this physical limitation, this physical impediment is viewed socially and culturally as a blight on society, and so you are ostracized.
You are forced outside the city, away from everything and everybody.
You are separated from your whole family, friends and any possibility of work.
Your sole means of getting any money for food is limited to begging and that is even very hard as you are supposed to stay away from everyone.
When once you were important in the city, now you are forced to set up, each day outside the city,
Outside the control of the leaders – outside on one of the routes out of town, in the hopes that someone who is leaving town fully stocked up will take pity on your situation
Then you hear that a great healer is coming through your city.
You decide that this is your chance, you are fed up with the life that you are forced to live, you are going to ignore all religious laws and will ask him to heal you.
You wait by the roadside… and wait… and wait… you are used to waiting but this time the excitement makes the wait feel like forever…
Then, at last you hear that He is approaching… Now is the moment that you have been waiting for. There is a large crowd all around you – you can hear the sound of much commotion - And so you yell out…
Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me
Son of David – where did that come from – of course you know that all Israel are sons and daughters of David – however in this moment, something has inspired you, something has come over you and you know deep down inside you that THE Son of David is the healer you have been waiting for
Your yelling has shocked those around you and they try to quiet you
But the urge is too great, the need too strong – the certainty almost overwhelming
The Messiah is near, and you have to speak to Him, in Him you will find sight
So, ignoring the others around you yell out even louder
Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me
To your great surprise the noise of the crowd stills, the sound of footsteps rushing forward stops
And this Jesus says “Call him here”
Then the others nearby you that were trying to keep you quiet, all of a sudden have changed and they say “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.”
You spring to your feet, throwing off your old heavy cloak and walk straight to that voice – the voice that you know is the Son of David
To the crowd’s amazement this Jesus says to you
“What do you want Me to do for you?”
He knows what you are thinking, he knows what you are afraid of, He knows that you know he IS THE Son of David, the Messiah – in your bones you can feel it – and so in faith you say
“Rabbi, let me see again.”
Then Jesus says to you “Go; your faith has made you well.”
Immediately you regained your sight
You are given vision by Jesus and so what else is there to do but followed him on the way.
Healing is a touchy subject. It is the source of a great deal of potential manipulation.
You only have to take a quick look at Benny Hinn to see how dangerous it can be.
· It is filled with expectations; Yet fears;
· A desire to believe; Yet worldly skepticism.
At the core it questions the power and influence of our faith on our earthly existence.
So I would like to share a few thoughts with you about what I understand as biblical healing:
First - Since ‘the fall from grace in the garden’ all sickness and disease was viewed by the Ancient Hebrews as a product of sin and this is the foundation revealed in stories in the Bible.
We see that understanding in Job and from Job’s friends and we see it from the mouths of the disciples
His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”(John 9:2)
Second - healing by Jesus was connected to preaching or proclaiming the good news of God.
Physical healing is a device for the message. - Jesus’ intention was primarily spiritual healing.
“Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. (Matthew 9:22)
And in the small passage in the first chapter of Mark, we hear directly from Jesus:
Jesus answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons. (Mark 1:38-39)
Thirdly - healing was connected to illustrate or prove God’s authority, it was dramatic and public.
Then some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.”
Those three principals of healing are important to put healing into proper perspective…
But consider one more. - Consider God’s “big picture plan”
God’s plan of redemption - God makes those outsiders - - - insiders
God transforms by his healing grace…Those that the world considered untouchable
God reaches out to them, touches them and brings them into belonging
God gives them His Vision
Last winter a newborn kitten was thrown from an automobile by a cruel person who did not want it.
The ASPCA brought the tiny gray creature to an animal hospital where a young veterinarian's assistant gave it tender loving care.
Having been exposed for some time to sub-zero temperatures, the kitten was in sad shape. Her ears were frostbitten, as were her tail and right hind leg.
The assistant helped the veterinarian to amputate the leg, bob the tail and trim the fragile ears.
Then she cared for the little kitten with a gentle love and even took it home on weekends when no one was at the pet hospital.
Each time anyone approached to feed or pet the small animal, it trembled with fear. It took many months for the kitten to accept loving care without fear.
Why is it we can deal gently with animals, like that?
And why is it we can't extend the same tenderness to our fellow human beings?
2000 years ago God came in the flesh to live as one of us.
Jesus arrived in the flesh as a frail baby, grew up living a human existence.
And when the time came He went about the land to preach and to heal.
God reached out and touched us, touched the untouchables.
Jesus choose to make us clean and to give us his vision.
At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out.
And The Holy Spirit was poured into our hearts… each and every one of us… and calls each in our own way to respond
Modern day outsiders are not hard to find…
In Spokane, Washington, a city with 200,000-plus population, there is a 69-year-old Catholic nun, Sister Lois Marie Hogewoning, who has ministered for years to the senior citizens in the downtown area.
Clad in a black habit and veil, Sister Lois Marie is a well-known figure as she walks the fringes of Spokane's downtown area visiting second- and third-class hotels to check on elderly friends.
Always, in her conversations with these friends, five words ring out forcefully:
"Is there anything you need?"
If there is a true need, Sister Lois Marie will often supply it.
She has an uncanny knack of finding the merchandise or money her friends need.
Following a hotel fire a few years ago, Sister Lois Marie personally visited each homeless resident to assess his or her needs.
She made sure each had a room and enough clothing, food, and furnishings.
To supply the material needs of others, Sister Lois Marie first starts with the most basic need — love.
"Love is an essential need at age 2, 22, or 92," she said, explaining that it can be found in the grandest and smallest of gestures.
"One day, a lonely woman cried when she told me what a wave of my hand meant to her. What an easy way to express love."
Although she has received a number of local, state, and national awards for her work, Sister Lois Marie's most cherished rewards come from the words and smiles of those she has helped.
One such example is a relationship with a reformed alcoholic who became one of her dearest friends.
But one Christmas, Sister Lois Marie was shocked to find him drunk in his hotel room.
"His clothes were soiled, and his room was a heap," Sister recalls.
"I could barely understand him, his tongue was so thick from alcohol. I said to him: 'I couldn't feel worse if you were my own father!”
And for some reason, that did it.
He immediately realized that I truly cared.
Later, this man — tall, clean, and sober — confided in me, 'Sister, I never really wanted to stop drinking, until I met you.'"
We all fall short of God’s glory
I know that I can look into my own heart and I know what it is like to be an outsider
To be out of step with others …But most importantly; to be out of step with God…
….But I know that Jesus has invited me in …and I know that it is truly and only Jesus that heals
Finally, I know that when I enter into that heavenly city, when I meet my Lord and Saviour,
I won’t be able to contain my joy either
I too will yell for all to hear –
Jesus, Son of David, thank you for having mercy on me - Amen
 Illustration Sourcebank II # 1816 - GENTLENESS, GENEROSITY
 Illustration Sourcebank II # 2819 - MINISTERING, LOVE, CARING — from Inland Catholic Register