Sermon, “Do you want to be healed?” by Pastor Martha Postlethwaite >>July 15, 2018-sermon
July 15, 2018
He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no good deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.
Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
Allow me to introduce you to a friend of mine. He’s not a childhood friend, but he has been with me since I was 25 or so. I’ve never given him a name, but I suppose I ought to. He’s been very good to me.
It all started when I was serving my first THREE parishes in northern MN. I was 25 years old and had moved from New York City to the Methodist churches in Bertha, Hewitt and Wrightstown, Mn. It wasn’t the easiest adjustment for me or the good people of those churches. They didn’t want a woman and made that quite clear. And not only was I a woman, but I was so young. And to top it off, I was a city girl. What possible credibility could I have had with them?
One summer evening when I was driving from my office to our parsonage, I saw a turtle in the middle of Highway 61. It was a little bigger than this turtle…and it’s tail was quite a bit longer. I really didn’t know anything about turtles at the time, all I knew was that I was going to save this one. But this was a BIG turtle, so I walked to the middle of the two-lane highway and started talking to the beast. I said, “Okay, I want to help you. I’m just as scared of you as you are as me, so I am just going to touch the back of your shell, so you can get used to me. As I reached to touch the back of the shell on either side of its tail, it swung around faster than lighting, led by a very long neck and snapping mouth. Man, did that thing move fast. Fortunately I moved faster. I ran to my little orange Chevette, jumped in my car and began honking my head off. I only had a little pair of Dr. Scholl’s exercise sandals. I was lucky to get away with my toes.
Well, the farmers loved this story. They laughed so hard as they told stories about these giant snappers. They delighted in telling me that if that turtle had latched onto my tootsies, I would have had to cut it’s head off to get it to release it’s bite. They said they had run over those things in tractors and not even cracked the shell. They laughed at the chances that my puny little car could have done damage even if I had run over it. But do you know what? We started to bond. Every time I made a mistake, we grew a bit closer. Isn’t that how it works?
A few weeks after that, a package arrived in the mail. It was from my best friend in seminary, who I talked to on the phone every week. It was my stuffed friend here. She enclosed a note saying, “This is to remind you that you can’t help everybody.”
That is basically what Jesus is saying to his disciples and to us in the two brief stories we just heard from the gospel of Mark.
In the first story, he tells of going to his hometown and striking out. This comes after story upon story of him healing people all over the countryside, but when he gets home, he isn’t able to heal the people. He is shocked by their lack of belief.
There is his famous line…”Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.
Isn’t this the truth? I’m sure his relatives are jealous of his “success.” They are probably sitting there thinking, “Who does he think he IS? I changed his diapers. And now HE wants to heal ME.
This is a great example for all of us, especially when it comes to our own families. If someone you love has an addiction, you may want to help them more than anyone in the world only to find you are the last person they will receive help from.
That’s not saying that our love doesn’t make a difference, because it does. Just don’t be too discouraged when you loved one has a Eureka moment and tells you something a complete stranger said to them. They fail to notice that you have said the same thing a hundred times. Suddenly a stranger says it and it is brilliant.
And do you know what? That is just fine. Recovery, like life, has a lot to do with paying it forward. You may not be able to help your spouse, but you may be able to help someone you hardly know, while someone else helps your spouse.
One of the points Jesus makes is that people won’t be healed against their own will. They have to be willing. He often asks, “Do you want to be healed?” He tells this story of his own powerlessness to heal his own kin right before he sends the disciples out in twos to heal others.
He gives them great advice. Go in twos, because no one can to this alone. Don’t take anything with you. And if you are not welcomed or wanted in a house, brush the dirt off your sandals and move. The term, “Brush the dirt off your sandals,” is a euphemism for curse them. We might think of it as washing our hands of someone.
We can’t help everybody. God can, but as Jesus showed, not until a person is willing to be healed…wants to be healed.
Where are you today? Are you in need of healing, but not yet willing to surrender to a power greater than yourself? Are you trying to change someone who has not decided they want to be healed? Have you experienced something you want to share with those who are still hurting?
There is a reason we are together in this.