St. Matthew’s Sermon 07-01-2018

St. Matthew’s Sermon 07-01-2018

Where Hope Exceeds the Pain

2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27, Psalm 130, 2 Corinthians 8:7-15, Mark 5:21-43

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God. Amen

Before the service a hooded Robe was placed on front-inside pew with White stole. (White represents the light of day, the light of Christ and the resurrection)

I have placed in our presence, this cloak. With it is a white stole. White is the color we use every communion Sunday. White is the color of the light of day, the light of Christ, and the symbol of the resurrection. It reminds us of Christ’s eternal presence in every moment of our lives. Today, may this be a symbol to you, of the power of God to make the impossible reality, the presence of Christ in your life, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all you do.

(Blessing of the Robe) Heavenly Father, we place this cloth, made by human hands from elements of your great creation, in our presence. Bless this cloak that today it may be to us a reminder of your healing power in our personal lives and in the world in which we live made available to us through faith in Jesus Christ.



Owing to a lack of attention, the stigmatization, and the shame assigned to suicide for both the victim and the family; the mental illness of depression and the sometimes fatal result of that illness has had little understanding until recent decades.

In my pre-adult years, I seldom heard of anyone committing suicide. But that wasn’t because it wasn’t happening, it was because it was being hidden, it wasn’t being talked about.

I do remember, on the few occasions when I heard of people having struggles with mental illness, usually termed “having a mental breakdown”, my father saying “I don’t understand why people can’t just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and go on with life”.

My father was right; he “didn’t understand”. He wasn’t taught and apparently he never had the experience of feeling totally overwhelmed with life situations, or he was gifted with the ability to pull himself up; a capacity that not everyone has.

Even today, our understanding of mental illness is stifled with the attached stigma and, even with the wonders of advanced science, there is still a lot of mystery surrounding mental illness in general, and specifically in depression.

We had a good gathering here at St. Matthew’s Monday evening for our Suicide Awareness and Prevention event. I personally was reminded of some facts I had forgotten and learned some things I didn’t know before.

Just to name a few of the most important facts to learn in attempting to gain understanding: I was reminded that not all suicides are the result of prolonged mental illness; some are impulsive reactions to a tragic situation. In this regard I remember stories of the spiking rate of suicides during the market-crash of 1929. I was reminded that suicidal people don’t wantto die; they just want the pain to stop. And I was reminded that that the driving force can be physical or emotional pain.

The one thing that came to me in new information, however, and something that really stood out in my mind in this class that I hadn’t heard before, was the explanation that “Suicidal thoughts begin when the pain exceeds hope”. Let that sink in for a moment… When the pain someone is experiencing, physical or mental, exceeds the hope that things will ever get better…


It’s relative, then. The amount of pain is only one factor; the amount of hope is the other. Thus, no matter how severe the pain, if there is a greater amount of hope, there is survival. Conversely, if one is feeling total hopelessness, a lesser amount of pain could push them over-the-edge. And it’s this relationship of pain and hope that got the ministerial wheels in my mind spinning.

It is odd, I thought, that Jesus uses the word “hope” only 3 times in the gospels; once each in Matthew, Luke, and John. Paul, on the other hand, uses “hope” no less than 51 times in his writings. But, if we open our thinking to include “faith” as a form of “hope” we see something different. Jesus uses that word 31 times! And, if we think of “believe” or “belief” as being equal to “hope”, we add even more!

Today’s Gospel reading highlights this! First is the story of the woman with perpetual bleeding. She had endured much, spent all her money trying to find a cure and things got worse rather than better. It doesn’t take any stretch of the imagination to think of her as being without hope. But there’s one last bit of light in her life! She’s heard of the miraculous healings performed by this man Jesus! Everyone he touched was healed, without fail! Yet, in this huge crowd and the fact that he’s moving quickly to save the life of Jairus’ daughter; how is she ever going to get his attention to plea for his help?

But she has one last glimmer of hope! She believes that if she just touches his clothes she will be healed! It works! And she hears the words “Your faith has made you well…”

Intermingled with that story is the story of Jairus’ plea for his daughter. While still on the way to her, word comes that it’s too late, there’s no need to bother the Master any more; the child has died… It doesn’t get any more hopeless than that.

But, of course, that’s not the end of the story. Jairus hears Jesus speak the words “Do not fear, only believe”. And soon he sees his daughter back on her feet like nothing happened.

Although the word “hope” isn’t used in these stories, hope is a clear part of them! The woman had hope that Jesus could heal her; Jairus had hope that Jesus could save his daughter! And in both cases, what seemed hopeless was turned around to fullness of life through faith… through belief!

And this is our hope! Not only the hope of better days without pain and suffering in the next life; but hope that things can be better in this life through faith in the healing power of God through Jesus Christ! This is the hope that always, and in all ways, exceeds all pain and suffering!


In a few moments we will prepare ourselves to be reminded of Christ’s continuing presence with us in the sacramental meal. As you do so, I invite you to consider where you need hope in your life or where you would like to see hope in the troubled world around us. Then, if you dare, as you approach the table, with faith touch the cloak of Jesus and feel the healing begin.

At this, be overcome with amazement!



2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27
1:1 After the death of Saul, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag.
1:17 David intoned this lamentation over Saul and his son Jonathan.
1:18 (He ordered that The Song of the Bow be taught to the people of Judah; it is written in the Book of Jashar.) He said:
1:19 Your glory, O Israel, lies slain upon your high places! How the mighty have fallen!
1:20 Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon; or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice, the daughters of the uncircumcised will exult.
1:21 You mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew or rain upon you, nor bounteous fields! For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul, anointed with oil no more.
1:22 From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan did not turn back, nor the sword of Saul return empty.
1:23 Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely! In life and in death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.
1:24 O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you with crimson, in luxury, who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
1:25 How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.
1:26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
1:27 How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!

Psalm 130
130:1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD.
130:2 Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
130:3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?
130:4 But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
130:6 my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.
130:7 O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.
130:8 It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.


2 Corinthians 8:7-15
8:7 Now as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you–so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.
8:8 I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others.
8:9 For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.
8:10 And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something–
8:11 now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means.
8:12 For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has–not according to what one does not have.
8:13 I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between
8:14 your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance.
8:15 As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”


Mark 5:21-43
5:21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea.
5:22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet
5:23 and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.”
5:24 So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him.
5:25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years.
5:26 She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse.
5:27 She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak,
5:28 for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.”
5:29 Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.
5:30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?”
5:31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?'”
5:32 He looked all around to see who had done it.
5:33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.
5:34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
5:35 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?”
5:36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”
5:37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.
5:38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.
5:39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.”
5:40 And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was.
5:41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!”
5:42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement.
5:43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.