St. Michael and All Angels
We seek to be a light of Christ in the community, where all are welcome to experience God's love and blessings.

June 11, 2023 - 2nd Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 5)

Being a Christian involves believing that certain things are true – especially, and most importantly, that God was incarnate in Jesus Christ, and that God raised him from the dead for us. But faith is something quite different from belief – it is not just a matter of “believing that…” or holding that certain things are true, but rather a matter of “believing in…” or trusting the person who tells you these things. 

In Chapter 12 of Genesis, we hear, “the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed’” (Gen 12:1-3). God made a promise to Abram. The whole entire rest of the Bible, right through the book of Revelation, is about the fate of that promise. Some people believed that promise, while others didn’t, and so the story becomes a struggle and a drama in which God fulfills the promise in a way that no one could have anticipated.

Paul’s account in Romans makes Abram (who has been renamed Abraham if you remember) the great exemplar of our faith. Why? Because he believed the promise of God in spite of its absurdity. After all, Abraham was old. His wife had never been able to bear children, even when she was young. And HE was to be the father of many nations? But to Abraham, nothing made his faith waver. “No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Rom 4:20-21).

The Christian faith is about believing without evidence. Or perhaps about believing even in the very face of the evidence. The greatest evidence that God is trustworthy is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Our faith is guaranteed by the God “who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Rom 4:17). And so Paul says that Abraham, the exemplar of our faith, believed the promise “hoping against hope” (Rom 4:18).

In the Letter to the Hebrews, we hear that faith “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). Paul is imploring is, like Abraham, to trust in God’s promise despite its unlikeliness. We are to hope against hope in the power of the Holy Spirit. That hope should empower us to act – it requires a response. It requires courage – spiritual courage – for us to walk forward when all the evidence is working to make us stand still or turn away. We are invited to walk alongside Abraham by stepping out and acting upon what we believe.

In Matthew’s Gospel today, Jesus heals the woman and raises the dead girl. Jesus’ healing in this Gospel story is physical. But healing can also be relational and social, restoring the marginalized into the community, where they can be lovingly touched as part of society again. Nothing can replace a restorative healing touch to those who need to know that they are not alone. What kind of God will go all the way to touch death in order to destroy it for us? A God whose ministry is based in mercy.

This past week, we all watched in horror as the smoke from fires in Canada blanketed us and forced us inside. As I consulted with Jack and Kerwin and we canceled the work day planned for this past Wednesday, I began to ponder the fires and the resulting smoke. And while it is a clear message of the realities of climate change for our world today, I think it ties in perfectly to today’s lessons. Trees burning in one country affect another. We humans are all interconnected. What one part of the world does affects another. It is time to live with compassion and mercy. It’s not time to live in fear or greed. Let us step out, and act upon our faith like Abraham, rather than turning away and reacting in fear.