Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Bishop's Message

RSS By: Bishop Robert Alan Rimbo

The Rev. Dr. Robert Rimbo shares regular thoughts and reflections about our life together.

How far do we go to help?

Jul 17, 2015

During the ELCA Youth Gathering, members of our synod joined together for a day of story sharing and worship. Bishop Rimbo preached this sermon on Mark 2:1-10, where Jesus heals a man that was lowered through the roof by his friends.

 

RARgatheiring15I'm so glad you are all here in Detroit. I'm so glad this great city is being raised up, and especially by your presence and witness and service. We sang it: Jesus lifted me, and we'll sing it again. And the people of Detroit have sensed that Jesus is lifting them because of you. Do not sell yourselves short. Our presence here is significant, important.

 

I know a lot of people here in Detroit. Lois and I and our family lived in this metropolitan area for 23 years. Lois taught a lot of kids here. I was pastor in two congregations and bishop here. So we've seen a lot of friends these days and they are so energized, so encouraged, so lifted up by you. There have been times when Detroit has been labeled "God-forsaken." But we're proving that label wrong. Thank you! You are the church!

 

This story from Mark tells us just how far people have been willing to go to help others. Four people helped their friend to get close enough to Jesus to allow Jesus to heal him.

 

I'm guessing these people tried other things before they tried to see what Jesus could do for him. Just like the people in this city have tried all kinds of things.

 

I imagine them saying stuff like...

 

"You should just get used to this paralysis thing, friend. It's awful, but there's not much you can do abut it. Life goes on. At least for us it goes on."    

 

Or

 

"You have to try harder to get better. Maybe if you work harder at your physical therapy, or pay more attention to your diet, or see a different doctor, or have a better attitude, things will improve.

 

Or

 

They might even have asked him: "why do you think God is punishing you? Something you did, something you're responsible for? Did you ever think of that? Maybe you did this to yourself."

 

Or...I bet they even remembered stories from the past about healings and raising the dead, even. There were more than a few of those in the Old Testament. Maybe they remembered those and were ready to do whatever Jesus told them to do. We don't know.

 

What we DO know is that, according to Mark, Jesus had just come to Capernaum after a wild tour of Galilee, calling his disciples, preaching in synagogues, casting out demons and healing a man with leprosy.

 

And maybe that was enough. Maybe the news that there was this guy who knew about God in town at that moment who could help bring healing, maybe that word was enough to energize them, to encourage them, to push them into taking steps they might otherwise not have taken.

 

And so they gathered around their paralyzed friend. And they hoped. And they lifted. And they went to Jesus.

 

I bet you have felt that your life and your witness doesn't make a difference. Have you? Do you know someone who feels that way?

 

Let's learn from these people. Don't give up. Somebody you know - like the people here in Detroit and the people in New York whom you have represented - someone has to see Jesus, get close to Jesus, despite the risks, despite the obstacles.

 

But you have faith, my sisters and brothers, you have hope, you know this Jesus. And right now we are gathered at his feet. We know how the story turns out. There is faith. There is forgiveness. There is healing. There is life. And most of all, there is Jesus. For the paralyzed man and his friends and the people of Detroit and Each one of us.

  

Rise up together, sisters and brothers. Jesus is with us now.

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