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    Aug 25, 2019

    By the Power of His Love

    By the Power of His Love

    Passage: Luke 13:10-17

    Speaker: Chris Schaefer

    Series: All

    Category: All

    Our life is always a work in progress, as is our spiritual journey, so I am learning to give myself Sabbath. 

    Good Morning! Would you look down at your feet please? And while you’re looking down there would you look at the person’s feet sitting next to you? Imagine what it would be like to only see this view for 18 years. Now look up at our altar. The first thing you might see is our large cross. Right?

    The woman in our gospel today could only see what you have just seen – FEET! That’s all she saw of herself and others for 18 years. And in spite of this, she still comes to the synagogue. She joins her community to pray and worship. She might have thought her prayers would never be answered, but she still came.  She raised her voice in prayer with others. Then Jesus calls to her. He asks her to come to him.  

    Jesus tells her, "You are set free from your ailment!" He lays His hands on her and she can stand up straight! And what does she see after seeing only feet for the last 18 years? She sees the face of Jesus! The face of God! The same way you just lifted up your heads to see our altar cross that surely represents the face of Jesus in this place. The place where we also come together in community to pray and worship.  

    She came to worship and found healing. Jesus stopped His teaching and called to her. He felt love and compassion for her. He brought her the power of His love. 

    He touched her with the power of that love. He laid His gentle loving hands on her. How wonderful that must have felt. To feel the power of Jesus’ love pouring through her, healing her body. She was restored by that power.

    What about when we are bent over from our own ailments and burdens. Our own burdens… the burden of guilt, the burden of fear, the burden of inadequacy, the burden of loneliness, the burden of anger, the burden of our sins. That weight that we are carrying. The weight that makes us look down at our feet where we can only see that small part of ourselves and that of others. It is like you just can’t stand up straight.  

    When our burdens so overpower us that we can’t see Jesus’ face. We can’t see that cross that is right here in front of us. We can’t see those around us that also have burdens. 

    This is when we need the same healing that this woman received. We need the power of Jesus’ love. He calls to you and me. He asks us to come to Him. He wants to set us free so that we can gaze into His face. We need the power of love.

    The Presiding Bishop, Bishop Curry, in his sermon at the Royal wedding said this: “There is power in love. There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There’s power in love to show us the way to live.”1

    That’s the power of love we can receive from Jesus and the power of love we can share with each other. To help each other stand up straight again. To lift up each other, to liberate each other, to heal each other. The greatest power in the universe available to human beings is the power of love. It is not armies of the earth, the alliances of nations, or the wealth of mankind. It is the power of Jesus’ love. 

    We find the power of Jesus’ love among other places, right here. In our church on the Sabbath. Jesus healed on the Sabbath much to the leader of the synagogue’s disapproval. Jesus didn’t say to the leader that the rules of the Sabbath were wrong. He said on the Sabbath, he had as much right to set this woman free to stand erect as the Jewish people had to set their animals free to drink water. The leader of the synagogue had it mixed up. Jesus has reminded us many times that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 

    Our Episcopal Church has a program right now called “The Way of Love -A Jesus centered Life” and there are 7 practices – turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go, and the last one is rest!  And “The Way of Love” describes rest as “To receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration. From the beginning of creation, God has established the sacred pattern of going and returning, labor and rest. Especially today, God invites us to dedicate time for restoration and wholeness - within our bodies, minds, and souls, and within our communities and institutions. By resting we place our trust in God, the primary actor who brings all things to their fullness.” To rest, to take time to be restored!

    How can we ever see the face of Jesus if all we do is look at our feet, weighed down by our burdens? We need to rest. We need to Sabbath. We need two kinds of Sabbath!

    The first kind of Sabbath we are part of today when we come together to restore each other. To restore our community to its fullness. To let each other know that together we can and must be restored by the power of Jesus’ love through our prayer and worship in the Eucharist. 

    The second kind of Sabbath is our personal Sabbath. Our personal “time to rest”.  Taking time to be restored. Taking time to allow God to bring us to fullness. Taking time to rest in His arms. Taking time to have Him lay His loving hands upon us. Taking time to feel the power of His love. 

    We need to pull ourselves away, to focus on God and not on the things that bend us over. To allow for our minds, bodies and souls, especially our souls to be lifted up out of our burdens and to be restored to stand erect again.

    We can experience the love of God when we take a personal Sabbath. When we trust Him with all our burdens. So that we can stand straight up and look into His face.

    A part of my call to ministry is learning how to take Sabbath. And sometimes, I find myself looking at my feet as I move from place to place. While I love and care for many and their relationship with God, I forget to love and care for MY relationship with God. Our life is always a work in progress, as is our spiritual journey, so I am learning to give myself Sabbath.  

    We can encourage each other to Sabbath. As my wonderful husband, Jerry, often reminds me when he sees me looking at my feet just a little too much. One of the ways I sabbath daily, is to read Compline. Oh, I pray throughout the day, but Compline is different. It’s that time when I shut out the world and rest in Jesus’ arms. That time when it is just Him and me. Part of one of the scriptures passages in Compline is from Matthew. It says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

    When we are wearied by our labors and heavy-laden with our burdens, we must take our rest, our Sabbath. To restore ourselves, so that we can stand straight up again filled with the power of Jesus’ love.

    And I will leave you with these words from the song “Power of Your Love” by Hillsong:                                                                                            

    By the power of Your love; Hold me close;
    Let Your love surround me; Bring me near;                              
    Draw me to Your side In the power of Your love;
    Lord unveil my eyes

    Let me see You face to face                                                               

    Amen

    RESOURCES:
    1. Michael Curry, The Power of Love: Sermons, reflections, and wisdom to uplift and inspire (2018), p. 8

    Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash