Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Touch of Faith / Call 2 Fall

Fifth Sunday of Pentecost
June 28th, 2015
Fr. Philip Eberhart

(Click title above for Audio at

Opening statement on the Supreme Court decision

I’ve been immersed throughout this past week in both the anticipation of, and the reaction to our latest blow to freedom in America.  Of course, I speak of the Supreme Court's handed down ruling on Marriage.  I noted that the Wall Street Journal simply headlined, “Court Rules Gays have Right to Marry.”  I think the operative words there for us in America are COURT RULES!
Regardless of subject matter, what we are seeing is an out-of-balance government, where special interest groups, through legislative and judicial intimidation are making the RULES for our life, apart from any process of the people, by the people and for the people.

We will discuss the finer points of our response during the coffee hour time today, putting off the beginning of our Joel Study to next week.  There are copies of the Anglican Church in Americas’ Statement on the SCOTUS decision and our Christian response.  Please pick one up per family, and if you like, come to coffee and let us chat about it together.

Please look over resources that are at your disposal in the statement and online in the next few days.  I believe that there will be much to watch and to discuss, as well as much to do in the days to come as we wait on the fall out from our government's missteps.
Now to the planned sermon:

The Touch of Faith

I’ve always been amazed as were the disciples who were around Jesus at the power and the mystery of the “touch of faith.”  The scriptures are repleat with these “touches” in both the old testament and the new.  Our gospel this morning is a very detailed account, especially when you consider the 'speed’ at which Mark moves in his accounts.  This account caught my eye for its personal detail…

Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years.  She had endured much under many physicians, and has spent all that she had;  and she was no better, but rather grew worse.  She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I touch his clothes, I will be made well.”  Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.

Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?”  And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?”  He looked all around to see who had done it.

But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, cam in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

Isn’t that amazing?!! We get a full picture of the suffering of this woman, what disease she had, her struggle with physicians of her day, and her faith and hope in coming to Jesus, even just to touch the "hem of his garment.”

And that very thing is where I want to camp for a few moments this morning.  The TOUCH of Faith.  Look again with me at a  couple of the phrases that Mark uses here:
A.  She came up behind him, completely blind sided him, and touched his cloak, or as Rabbi Jay Ledbetter told us a few months back, the "fringes” of his robes = the tzizit knotted fringes worn by the Jewish rabbi.
B.  IMMEDIATELY two things happened:  She was healed of her disease of 12 years AND Jesus knew it as well as she!

Immediately aware that POWER HAD GONE OUT FROM HIM - Jesus turned around in the crowd.

So here's the deal - Jesus is walking along the road, with a large group  of people, his disciples, other followers and interested people along for the walk - walking closely together so as to hear anything that the teacher may say - and in the midst of this melee, the woman comes to tough him - that's all, just touch him - not stop him or talk to him, but just to touch him.  Knowing that something would happen to her if she could do it.

And something did, indeed!  So fantastic that Jesus felt the power leave him for the healing.

What is it about this TOUCH that was different from all the others?
Let's look for a couple minutes at other touches in the Word…

This story of the woman is told in all three of the synoptic gospels, Matt 9/ Mark 5/ and Luke 8  along side of other references of this phenomena in his ministry.   In Matt 14:36 and Mark 3:10 as well as in Mark 6:56.  It appears that the woman's tactic caught on…

“Whenever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just TOUCH  the fringe of his cloak;  and as many as touched it were being cured!”

What is it about touching Jesus?  Everyone wanted to do it, in order to receive healing, power from him.  I'm reminded as well of the time in Acts where even the touch of Peter's shadow had healing power attached to it!  In another place there is talk of blessed handkerchiefs being sent out with prayer ministers that had been anointed by the apostles and there was healing from that as well.

Friends, what is my point here?

God is so anxious and willing for his healing to be manifested among us that it is even available just at our touch in faith?  Faith has a property that is attractive to the presence of God - it is like a sponge that is dry and waiting to soak up the water.  There is a quality of desperation - of need and openness to God's presence.

Friends, I believe that it is where we now find ourselves in our culture.  We need to acknowledge Him in the darkness in which we find ourselves.  Whether we are there personally or whether we sense it for our country and culture as a whole, we must practice this principle of desperate seeking to Touch the Hem of his garment.  We  must seek to lay hold of Jesus.

This morning is, by providence, the Sunday of our yearly Call2Fall - our dedicated prayer time
for our nation.  I think  this morning we have more than sufficient motivation for a really effective time of prayer as we Cry Out for mercy on our nation and for His guidance in these times that we are entering upon.  May His grace and mercy be with us this morning and each day as we pray for the nation and for the direction of this  season we find ourselves in at this time.

Let's join together for the next few minutes in fervent prayer for our nation and its leaders.
W  General Prayer of Repentance
 Heavenly Father,
Lord, You are good; Your steadfast love endures forever, and Your faithfulness to all generations (Ps 100:5, ESV). We come on bended knee to acknowledge our utter dependence upon You, our Creator, God, and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ. You are God of the Old and New Testaments. Your Covenant of love with us who believe is sealed by the blood of Your Son. Your promise to bless us if we believe, honor and obey You and to judge us if we do not, continues in force (Ps 95:6-7; Rom 5:8-9; Heb 8:10)
Lord, today, we unite with fellow Christians across America, from many denominations and backgrounds, falling to our knees before You, asking You to help us humble ourselves, not only today, but every day. Hear our prayers, forgive our sins and heal our land (2 Chr 7:14)!
We have been proud and arrogant, as individuals, families, churches and as a nation. You have singularly blessed us, but we have taken Your blessing for granted (Jas 4:6; 1 Pet 5:5-6) You are worthy of our love and devotion. Instead, we have forgotten You and ignored Your word. We have not esteemed You as Almighty God, nor have we honored, served and obeyed You as we ought (Ps 18; Rev 4:11).
Few of us are walking in pure devotion to You, worshiping wholeheartedly, praying without ceasing, and daily feeding upon Your word. Too few of us have given ourselves enthusiastically to do Your will and labored diligently to finish Your work. Rather we have forsaken You, the Spring of Living water, and imbibed the stagnant waters of our modern culture (Pr 12:24; Jer 2:13; Mt 4:10; Jn 4:34; 1 Th 5:17; 2 Tim 2:15).
You call us to be a light, to live holy lives, to walk in Christian love and carry the gospel of Christ to the nations. Instead, we have withheld the grace of Your gospel from our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, allowing far too many to face a Christ-less eternity. You command us to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, yet our youth are abandoning the faith in unprecedented numbers. While we ignore Your command to preach the gospel, those who serve false gods zealously proselytize, trapping millions in eternal darkness and confusion. We have been complacent, apathetic, lazy, disobedient, and unfaithful to Your call (Mt 5:14-16).
You charge us to be salt to our culture, to preserve truth and all that is godly and pure. Yet we have allowed the rot of godless media and entertainment to fill our homes. Instead of permeating our culture with vital Biblical truth, instead of filling our homes, churches, schools, businesses, halls of government, and thus our nation with eternal truth and reality, we have allowed them to be infected by lies and spiritual darkness. Instead of changing the world, the world has changed us. We seem impotent. Having failed to be the salt of the earth, we are fast becoming good for nothing except to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men (Mt 5:13).
Lord, the living faith of our Forefathers, their love and devotion to their children, and their commitment to future generations compelled them to sacrifice their lives for us. Yet we have become the “me generation.” We elect leaders, not for their righteousness, but their promise to give us benefits. Absorbed with our own lives and material possessions, we have lost sight of all that is important: God and family, our neighbors, our fellow countrymen and the people beyond the seas whom You love and for whom You gave Your Son (Pr 29:2; Ex 18:21).
Now, our nation is under judgment; natural disasters pummel our cities and countryside; we face war on two fronts; rogue nations hate us and international terrorists have penetrated our borders. Economic collapse cripples entire regions, millions are out of work; preachers and politicians are put on display for their acts of corruption and immorality; our leaders mortgage our children’s future to build political monuments to themselves. Our jails and prisons are filled to overflowing. Our children are enslaved by unthinkable sins, sex, drugs and alcohol. Abortion and sexual immorality have become protected rights, and legislators, judges and governors impose homosexual “marriage” upon their citizens. Our schools teach that “marriage” between a man and a man is morally equivalent to holy matrimony between a man and woman; evil is called good, and good is called evil. The curses you warned would come to a disobedient people have all come upon us (Dt 8:11-20; 28: all; Is 5:20)
Unless You, Lord, intervene and bring revival to the Church, Awakening to the nation and spiritual reformation to our culture, our once God-blessed nation will go the way of ancient Carthage, Greece, and Rome. Persecution will surely become our lot (Ps 85:6; 94:17; Mt 5:13b).
Lord, we cry out to You today. Hear our cry. Help us to seek Your Face. Show us Your Face, and help us to turn from our wicked ways (2 Chr 7:14).
Lord, Heal our Land. Show us mercy! Forgive us our sins and cleanse us! Revive Your churches. Set our pulpits aflame with righteousness. Purge compromise from our pews and cause Your word to go forth to every city and town in America. Make Your people salt and light again. Raise up godly leaders in church and state and grant that we might lead quiet and peaceable lives in godliness and honesty. Help us to return wholly to You and return, Lord, to us. We pray in the Name of Jesus, knowing that Your word declares, “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever." (2 Chr 7:14; Is 40:8; Joel 2:15-18; Mal 3:7a; 2 Cor 7:1; 1 Jn 1:9)
W The Confession and Absolution
We pray to you also for the forgiveness of our sins.
Silence may be kept.
                Most merciful God,
                we confess that we have sinned against you in            
                thought, word, and deed, by what we have done,
                and by what we have left undone.
                We have not loved you with our whole heart;
                we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
                We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
                For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
                have mercy on us and forgive us;
                that we may delight in your will,
                and walk in your ways,
                to the glory of your Name.  Amen.
The Bishop when present, or the Priest, stands and says
Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life. Amen.