So the next opportunity for a message went like this...Opening remarks (Mike) (My intro comments)
Tonight we're going to talk about faith and healing. (Pass out pads and pens) Our faith is our lifesource, our connection to the living God. In doing this message, I'm being challenged and I'd like you to join me. The challenge tonight is to really open up to God, to ask him to show us a starting place where he would like to see growth. Ask Him for one thing to take away from tonight to work on, an idea, a different way of thinking, a different way of living. We have to grow, we have to change, because if we stay the same we are no closer to God than when we first began. The notepads and pens are for writing down anything that strikes your interest tonight and we'll have a time of reflection at the end to talk to God about what He wants us to take home tonight. Let's begin with prayer. Raeann?Opening prayer (Raeann's choice of either of the following two prayers)
Father you are our Alpha and Omega, our beginning and our end. Holy Spirit, you fill us and embue us with the very essence of divinity. Christ Jesus, you are the Holy One sent from the Lord God Almighty himself to redeem, to heal the world. We gather together tonight to become clay in your hands, to be remolded, remodeled into the vision you have had for us since the creation of the world. Open our ears that we may hear, open our eyes that we may see, heal our blind vision of our lives, heal our brokenness and recreate in us the image of God that you instilled. Let us learn tonight to love as you love, live as you live that the thanksgiving of many may redound for Your glory, O Lord of all Creation.
Lord God, you who knit our bodies
together in our mother's womb
you knew us before our creation
and imagined all we could be
you whom we call Abba, Father
We bow before you now, asking
for your presence in our midst(?)
We seek wisdom and instruction
all truth, all goodness comes from you
Our hearts and minds open to your love (?)
Mend our wounds, scars, pain and sorrow
Unwind our twisted pathways too
Bend the errant branch before you
to hold good fruit, prune dead away
Shaped and grown to rejoice with you.
Lead Creator, Abba Father
Dance divinity's music true
Sons and daughters of the Spirit
Spinning grace and faith fast stepping
Joy and peace, hope and loveThe Puppet's story (Kelsey, Clarissa, Mike and I)
Char: So the story we'll be hearing about tonight is from Luke Chapter 8, the story of the woman who was bleeding and Jesus healing Jarius' daughter.
Erica (clarissa): "Oh cool, oh cool! I love that story can I listen too? Please, I'll be really quiet... Please, please, please...
Char: "Sure you can everyone is welcome to join us, I'm Char, what's your name?
Erica: My name's Erica"
Snuffy (Kelsey): And I'm Snuffy. Can I listen too?
Char: Hi, Snuffy and Erica, nice to meet you. Sure, you can listen too..
Snuffy: Umm, what am I listening to?
Erica: The story of Jarius' daughter, duhhh.
Snuffy: Excuse me, that wasn't nice. You need to say sorry.
Erica: Sorry for being mean. I just sometimes say things without thinking.
Mike: Hey, it isn't just the story of Jarius' daughter, it's the story of the woman who was bleeding. Oh hi, my name's ----
Char: Yes you are right, it is both their stories.
Erica: Hi Jack, glad you made it. Kids can you tell Jack what story we're telling?
Jack:(really excited) that's my favorite story! Oh can I tell it, can I tell it please! Please!
Char: I don't know, kids do would you like Jack to tell the story?
Char: Okay, Jack go ahead...
Jack: Okay, everybody sit down and get comfortable. Long, long ago and far, far away there lived a Jedi knight
Mike: Jack! Wrong story!
Jack: Oops, just kidding. Well you know the Jedi knights were kind of like Jesus.
Erica: That's a discussion for another night. Can you tell the Jarius' story or not?
Jack: Yeah, I will I promise this time. Long long ago, and far far away in the land of Israel God sent his Son Jesus to live with his people and teach them how to be God's children again. Jesus did many incredible things before God took him back and one of them is the story of Jarius.
Everyone had heard that Jesus was coming and was very excited. Jarius was really really excited because his daughter, his baby girl, his only child was really really sick. She was so sick he was afraid she would die. He went as fast as he could to where Jesus was and fell down at his feet. He begged him, "Jesus, please please come to my house, please touch my daughter and heal her I'm so afraid she'll die"
Jesus started towards Jarius house through the really crowded streets. Hey guys, how crowded do you think those streets were? Can you show me? (Ask a girl to be the woman beforehand to touch "Jesus" shirt ask a boy to be Jesus) Can you tell who touched your shirt? That's what it was like, but even more crowded...
A woman who was sick from bleeding snuck up and touched the edge of Jesus cloak and immediately her bleeding stopped.
Jesus said, who touched me?
Peter said " Look at all the people, everyone is touching you!
Jesus said "I know that power went out, someone touched me."
The woman wanted to hide, but everyone was going to look for her. So she came and fell at Jesus' feet. She told how she had touched his cloak for healing and God had instantly healed her.
48Then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."
While Jesus was saying that to the woman, someone from Jarius house came to him and
(this is where I started ad libbing from the actual verses)
49While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," he said. "Don't bother the teacher any more."
50Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, "Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed."
51When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child's father and mother. 52Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. "Stop wailing," Jesus said. "She is not dead but asleep."
53They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54But he took her by the hand and said, "My child, get up!" 55Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.
Snuffy: hey, if they weren't supposed to tell, how do we know the story?
Mike: obviously they didn't keep the secret. Jesus told lots of people not to tell others and they did.
Erica: It sounds like God comes through when no one else can. Remember that song Julie taught you all a couple of weeks ago "My God is so great, so mightly and powerful, there is nothing my God cannot do.God is so Big (Julie)
Erica: There's lots of stories about Jesus healing people, but they are all about people's faith in Jesus and God too. Remember, Jesus said that when people didn't believe, he couldn't do the miracles. It's team work. God does the work, but he only does it when we trust and believe in Him.
Jack: Jesus didn't even have to touch the woman, she just touched his cloak and she believed that God could heal her and she was. We can't touch Jesus right now, but like the woman we can believe that God can do incredible stuff still today.Thoughts about Faith and Healing (Brainstorming) How do we think about these stories today? What bothers you? What do you wish for? Scripture Reading
(who are you in the story, Luke and Mark versions, sharing perspectives time) my personal story will wrap up this and transition us
My story: In November of 1999, I went in for my yearly physical to a new doctor. I had noticed a lump in my stomach that occurred regularly. After some poking and prodding, he told me I was just constipated. When November rolled around again, the company Matt worked for suddenly closed their doors one day, and had been "forgetting" to pay the health insurance premiums. Suddenly we were without work, without insurance and my lump was constantly noticeable.
At Thanksgiving, my family got together with my grandfather. I took a photo of my dad and grandfather side by side, they looked like old and wizened brothers. Grandpa swore at him and told him he better get in to see a doctor - or else!
My dad did go in and for the next month came in for test after test, everything the doctor could think of. At Christmas he was hospitalized, after he collapsed. The bloodwork was crazy with extra plasma cells, but the doctor's still had no idea what was causing it. Dad didn't want to talk about it, go see a different doctor or find an alternate treatments. He said, what will happen will happen. He felt that God couldn't forgive some terrible things he had done and it seemed like he felt this illness was a deserved punishment...
Our insurance was still messed up, I still hadn't even gone to see a doctor.
By March, my stomach had grown so large that people at work and at church were stopping me to congratulate me on my pregnancy - touching my stomach, asking when I was due. I was beginning to panic, I was bleeding. My cycles had over the course of the last 3-4 months lengthened so much that I didn't have a cycle anymore. I just bled. I'd stand up and bleed. I'd lay down and bleed. I bled as I walked around. I was constantly going to the bathroom, constantly thirsty, tired, out of breath. My boss was incredibly kind. I'd arrive, get out of the car and bleed so heavily that I'd get dizzy. I took to bringing towels and wearing skirts, bringing extra clothes.
Meanwhile, the doctor's finally figured out what was wrong with my father, a very rare, cancer like disease called amyloidosys where the bone marrow starts churning out one of the types of plasma and doesn't stop. It overproduces the cells until the body chokes on them - they clog the organs until the heart literally can't beat, the kidneys and liver fail. The doctor's found a type of medicine that stopped the production of the cells, but for my dad the damage was already too great. They gave him 6 weeks to 6 years to live.
End of April the insurance was finally straightened out and May 3rd, I went in to a different doctor in Plainfield. The new doctor examined me and his first words were: "Do you have any idea how sick you are? You could die...soon. Do you have any children? (We didn't, we'd been putting it off")
"I'm sorry, but it looks like you probably have a massive fibroid tumor. Is your bleeding always this bad? You'll probably have to have a hystectomy. I don't know how or if they can get this out otherwise. Dr. Snydersmith did blood work and ordered ultrasounds, he set me up with Dr. Lisac, a gynecologist at Rush Copley for a consultation.
My dad's kidneys had failed and he was traveling to Rush Copley for dialysis treatments twice a week. He was constantly short of breath, because his heart couldn't pump hard enough to keep him oxygenated.
I started researching fibroids. The conviction immediately had started growing in my heart that God had something different in mind, than a hystectomy. My dad had no interest in seeing if there was an alternate treatment. He felt the doctors were doing everything they could, if he died, he died. So many years of listening to dad talking about wanting to escape his life, made me think that he'd finally gotten his wish. I believed in something else.
The tests and Dr. Lisac confirmed the existence of a massive fibroid tumor - 8" x 8" x 5." The tumor was preventing the normal closure of the uterine arteries causing my intense bleeding. He referred me to specialists, including the best fibroid surgeon in Chicago and scheduled tests. And since, everything he said ended in hysterectomy and God was saying not, I started looking for alternatives. In the course of the week and a half, between Dr. Snydersmith's diagnosis and Dr. Binor (the fibroid surgeon)'s appointment, I read everything I could find. God had help me latch on to the key, the sheer size of the tumor made the uterine wall so thin that it would be like trying to sew a balloon back together. The morning prior to Dr. Binor's appointment I met with the head of radiology at Northwestern and talked about embolization, where they cut of the blood supply to a tumor and kill it, which causes it to shrink. I wanted to know if embolization and then surgery to remove the tumor was possible. He was cautiously optimistic but he emphasized, no one had ever done it.
That afternoon, after listening to Dr. Binor explain how he would tell his own wife to have a hystectomy, I offered the alternative. Embolization to shrink the tumor and then surgical removal. He was skeptical - no one had ever combined the procedures and it was a very long time to wait for a remote chance of success.
I knew from my research that small tumors have an average shrinkage of 42%, but I'd only found one case had where a large one gotten anywhere near that. Dr. Binor is a devout Jew and so I was honest with him:
I believe in the God of the Old and New Testament who did all kinds of miracles. I want a miracle and the only way to get that is to go through the process and let God decide whether he'll give me one or not. What's the worst that can happen? I have a hysterectomy. I have nothing to lose but some time and it gives God a chance to do what he will.
Dr. Binor thought I was crazy but the plan became: an embolization to kill the tumor, wait 6 mos, put me into artificial menopause with Lupron for 3 mos to shrink anything left alive (and drive Matt crazy), then surgery to remove the tumor.
My dad died a month after the embolization. The tumor shrank a total of 48% and Dr. Binor and Dr. Lisac were amazed when it shelled out perfectly into Binors hands at the surgery. Corwin was conceived 3 months later. My uterus did not rupture during pregnancy and the c-section went cleanly 9 months later. We have two beautiful children that we would not have had without a miracle from God.
So why a miracle for me and death for my dad? It's too pat and easy to say "well you had faith" We prayed and believed and asked for a miracle for my dad. We only stopped asking after he drew his last breath. We wanted a miracle, a last minute life altering reprieve where suddenly he would live and value life and us more. Instead he died. Honestly, I know that this is one of those unanswerable questions - the ones you ask when you see God face to face. But his still small voice inside me says it's important to keep asking it and keep seeking the answer because the question that really lies at the heart of it is about Faith. What is our faith really like? What exactly is it that we believe in?
I used to think faith was like something physical - either you had it or you didn't - as though it were an object to be obtained. As we've listened to Luke though, its become apparent that it is a continuum, that your faith starts small and is nurtured and grows.
There's a statistic floating around out there that on average every ten years a major event strikes any given individual. A major job loss, sickness, unexpected disaster, major life shifts. Whether the statistic is accurate or not, what is absolutely true is that we will face disasters in our lives from which no one else will be able to save us. What good will our faith be to us in those moments? Will we turn away and claim there is no God because we thought faith was like standard of living insurance? Will we cry out to God about the unfairness of it all, because we think we're special and deserve better? Can we begin to see these moments as opportunities - and I am not minimalizing the pain -these moments are chances to see God intersect with the mundane and transform it into something spectacular. There have been two ways our family has dealt with the pain - First, to turn from God and wallow in it as my Dad did with his ameloidosis and my brother did when his lungs collapsed. My brother has survived.
The other way to deal with it is to turn to God and wallow in it - In our story, both the woman and Jarius's daughter were "made whole." The greek word is "sozo" in both cases, it indicates being saved from extremity. Within Jewish tradition, this idea of being saved in extremity is the God's role alone: idols, angels, astrologers, armies, kings cannot save. It was a serious sin when Israel asked for a king in the OT, Israel indicated that it wanted to save itself, salvation coming from it's own ranks, rather than directly from God. God was to be the source of saving, lest someone who was weaker resort to sin in order to survive. Thus only God who had all might and right, could help overcome extremity. Man's intervention to help and save could take place only if God works in them and through them.
My sister's story is an incredible constant act of God saving her from extremity. She was into drugs, alcohol, parties and lots of sleeping around. When she became pregnant, not even knowing who the father was, she chose to let God save her from her extremity. He has taken her alcohol, smoking, and drug addictions away. He has provided housing several times by divine intervention. He has given her raises at work when she needs more money to live on, directly and obviously provided ways to deal as a single mom. Her story is incredible, and He comes through for her every single time, not just in a getting by sense, but really blessing her. I want that kind of relationship with God?
This is the God in whom we have faith. The God who brought Israel out of Egypt, parted the Red Sea, provided food and drink and kept his people safe. The God who took form among us as Jesus, who healed the blind, walked on water, brought the paralyzed to their feet, who has touched you and me - who has asked us to let him save us in our extremity.
"Sozo" made whole is used by Luke when he talks about healing but also when he talks about God saving us from our sin. If God is supposed to be the only one to save us in extremity, can you begin to see the problem when people try to save themselves, be self-sufficient? Can you see why it was faith for the bleeding woman having exhausted her other options to throw herself at Jesus' mercy hoping for God's miracle. Why Jarius needed to believe that Jesus could do as he had promised?
Faith presented in Luke is dynamic. It has the implications of entrusting oneself to God - like the those being healed of infirmities, of committing oneself and pursuing God in Luke's mentions of the crowds and the efforts people made to get to Jesus, of action dominating knowledge - those who needed Jesus being honored over religious and intellectual leadership, of faith a response to God's action - the crowds surrounding Jesus and people pressing in to be healed as others have been healed and finally Luke includes in his descriptions of faith, a desperate, unsure hope for God to come through. "Will you heal me Jesus." I don't know about you but the faith I grew up with wasn't this kind of faith. This is a faith built on evidence and action, a faith built on being in extremity. Watching my sister, I've seen faith start out as a tiny seed, something desperately hoped for and needed, and as each time God came through watched that faith grow. That tiny seed took root the moment she let God save her in her extremity and has grown into a wild vine that has covered most of her life. Watching Beth live out her faith, helped me trust God to save me in my extremity.
Don't misunderstand me. Faith is not a bargaining chip. It isn't something that gets us what we want. We are not at the center. (Circle diagram) God is. Faith is a response to God.
In faith, both Jarius and the woman were looking for Jesus. They were looking for God to intersect with their lives and save them.
In faith, both the bleeding woman and Jarius physically sought Jesus. They went after their healing, they pursued it. They found out Jesus was coming and made sure to get to him. Jarius relied on Jesus authority to connect to God's power. He needed Jesus' to come with him, to touch his daughter, to be there. The woman focused on Jesus' as a vessel of God, she touched his cloak assuming she could make the connection there.
In faith, they trusted in Jesus. For Jarius, Jesus was God personified, he trusted him to choose to heal his daughter. For the woman, Jesus was the vessel of God's healing. She trusted that God would heal her.
In faith, though they had exhausted their own means, they knew they hadn't exhausted God's means. Jarius' daughter was dead before Jesus even arrived. The woman had spent all she had on physicians. They were trying to bite off something only God could chew.
We're going to spend the next few minutes talking to God. I'll be reading some questions and then there will be a few minutes of silence for you to talk with God directly about what he wants you to hold onto this week.
Is this my kind of faith? Is this the kind of faith that we have experienced in our own lives? Do I entrusting myself to God, ? Do you? My future even? Is our faith a pursuit of God like Jarius and the woman - will we not let him get away? Do my actions dominate my knowledge- do I try to let God rather than just think about it...? Do I seek to see God at work around me, that when my time for desperate measures comes, my faith is a response to God's action that I've already seen? Can I let myself be comfortable with a desperate, unsure hope for God to come through, so that I don't try to fix it myself and deny God the chance to make my mundane, his kind of spectacular.
Reflection (directed time alone with God)
Song: It is well with my soul Communion (Mike) Responsive Reading (Wendy)
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
Always bearing about in the body the sufficiency of Jesus Christ, that His life might be made manifest in our body.
For in all of our brothers and sisters upon this earth, we see Christ looking at us from their eyes
And in our lives, Christ becomes present to love others. For the Lord God sent his Son the Christ to heal the nations and return the outcast.
We are called to Love the Lord Our God with all our heart, and soul and mind. And to love our neighbor as ourselves.
In this we become God's vessels of grace and mercy, of healing and redemption.
For all things are for His sake, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Closing Prayer (Steve)
Closing Remarks (Mike)
And so, that was that service...