By Pastor Bruce
Considering the sermon by Pastor Bruce Spear on July 19, 2020
Scripture Readings: Matthew 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30
This story about Jesus healing the daughter of a woman in Phoenicia is one of the few instances of Jesus journeying beyond the borders of Israel. Just as in the story of the woman at the well, in holding this witty conversation with a Greek woman we see Jesus’ ability to connect with people from different backgrounds than his own Jewish upbringing.
What have been your experiences of going beyond the borders of people who look, think and feel the way you do and connecting with people with whom you may not initially have that much in common? Have you enjoyed the experience? Has anything surprised you about what you do have in common with people from backgrounds different than your own? Have any lasting friendships been born from these encounters? The Apostle Paul said, “I try to find common ground with everyone.” 1 Corinthians 9:22 NLT
Jesus commends this woman for her great faith in not allowing anything or anyone to deter her from getting help for her daughter. Luther said she “continued immediately and firmly to cling to her confidence in the good news she had heard and embraced concerning him, and never gives up until she receives from Jesus mercy for her daughter.” What can we learn from her example? What can we learn from the parable Jesus told with a similar theme? (Luke 18:1-8) NLT
One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”
Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly!”
Lastly, put yourself in the ER with the members of the urban congregation Michael Lindvall tells us about. In the eyes of your imagination place yourself in the position of the pastor, then in the position of one of the church staff, then as Clarence, then as the man who was mugged, then as an ER nurse witnessing this event. What thoughts and feelings do you associate with each person? What do you learn?
An employee of the urban congregation a pastor friend served was mugged while walking his dog, stabbed in the heart, and left to die. By the time the man was brought to the hospital, the emergency room staff said that there was only a 2% chance that he would survive.
Members of the church staff gathered around the dying man’s gurney to pray. My friend offered a prayer for peace and acceptance that essentially invited the man’s friends to come to peace with God’s inscrutable purposes.
At this point one of the church’s custodians began to pray a different kind of prayer. Clarence got in God’s face: “You gotta do something, God! You’ve done it for me, now you do it again, right here and now, please.” The man lived, in fact completely recovered from his wounds.
Michael L. Lindvall in Feasting on the Gospels, Westminster John Knox Press
I invite you to pray with Richard Foster: “My Lord and my God, I have a thousand arguments against Healing Prayer. You are the one argument for it… You win. Help me to be a conduit through which your healing love can flow to others. For Jesus’ sake. —Amen.”
Foster, Richard J. Prayer - 10th Anniversary Edition: Finding the Heart's True Home HarperCollins