Sermon: 25th August 2019

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Readings Jeremiah 1. 4-10

The Call of Jeremiah

The Lord said to me, “I chose you before I gave you life, and before you were born I selected you to be a prophet to the nations.”

I answered, “Sovereign Lord, I don’t know how to speak; I am too young.”

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say that you are too young, but go to the people I send you to, and tell them everything I command you to say. Do not be afraid of them, for I will be with you to protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Then the Lord reached out, touched my lips, and said to me, “Listen, I am giving you the words you must speak. 10 Today I give you authority over nations and kingdoms to uproot and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

Good News Translation (GNT)

Luke 13: 10-17

Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman on the Sabbath

10 One Sabbath Jesus was teaching in a synagogue. 11 A woman there had an evil spirit that had kept her sick for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called out to her, “Woman, you are free from your sickness!” 13 He placed his hands on her, and at once she straightened herself up and praised God.

14 The official of the synagogue was angry that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, so he spoke up and said to the people, “There are six days in which we should work; so come during those days and be healed, but not on the Sabbath!”

15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Any one of you would untie your ox or your donkey from the stall and take it out to give it water on the Sabbath. 16 Now here is this descendant of Abraham whom Satan has kept in bonds for eighteen years; should she not be released on the Sabbath?” 17 His answer made his enemies ashamed of themselves, while the people rejoiced over all the wonderful things that he did.

Good News Translation (GNT)

Sermon – Standing Tall

Prayer

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen

This sermon is about a woman and a man.

It is about a bent woman and the man who straightened her up.

To be clear this woman was older, stooped and ignored. I have seen this happen, a woman gets a health condition and begins to double over. (act out the process)  Now bent she treated differently by her family and friends. Quickly becomes detached from the mainstream as happened in this case. She is lonely, on life’s scrapheap through no fault of her own. She needs someone to take an interest, to acknowledge, help and heal her.

Fortunately, the man in the story is Jesus and he does not treat women in the same way as other men, not in his day and in too many places not in this day either!

The story, not surprisingly comes from Luke’s gospel because Luke gives more stories concerning Jesus and women than any other gospel writer.

Let me remind you of a few:

First, Jesus refuses to treat women as inferior. Given the decidedly negative cultural view of women in Jesus’ time, the Gospel writers each testify to Jesus’ treating women with respect, frequently responding in ways that reject cultural norms. Jesus recognises their dignity, their desires and their gifts.

Jesus, for example, speaks to women in public. He steps forward in a crowd of mourners to speak with the widow at Nain, and to call her son back to life (Luke 7:11-17).

He cures this woman who had been crippled for 18 years, laying hands on her in the Temple and saying, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity” (Luke 13:12). When the leader of the synagogue becomes indignant that Jesus has healed a woman on the Sabbath, Jesus uses a title of particular dignity for her, “daughter of Abraham” (Luke 13:16).

While the expression “son of Abraham” was often used to indicate that a male Jew was recognized as bound by covenant to God, women had never been called “daughters of Abraham.” With this title, Jesus recognizes this woman as having equal worth.

Jewish culture in the first century was decidedly patriarchal. The daily prayers of Jewish men included this prayer of thanksgiving: “Praised be God that he has not created me a woman.”

Usually, a woman was almost always under the protection and authority of a man: her father, her husband or a male relative of her husband if she was a widow.

Thus women were in a very vulnerable position within Judaism. They had little access to property or inheritance, except through a male relative. Any money a woman earned belonged to her husband. Men could legally divorce a woman for almost any reason, simply by handing her a writ of divorce. A woman, however, could not divorce her husband. No equally means no justice.

In the area of religious practice, women were in many ways overlooked. Men were required to pray certain prayers daily, but women were not. While the study of Scripture was regarded as extremely important for men, women were simply not allowed to study the sacred texts.

A woman’s place was thought to be in the home. Women were responsible for bearing the children, rearing them and maintaining a hospitable home. Men were not to greet women in public.

Jesus not only speaks with women at times entering prolonged dialogue. One such dialogue which recognises and honours the woman’s thirst for religious truth. Ultimately, he reveals his identity as the Messiah. When his disciples return, they are clearly uneasy with Jesus’ behaviour.

However Jesus, like the prophet Jeremiah knows he has been called since before he was born. Called to to bring Good News to the poor, proclaim release for captives – women, children or men. (Luke 4). He is effective at calling everyone to be able to stand tall.  In other words this story speaks to all of us today, whatever our age, stage or gender for we have all been bent by burdens and worries – work and family relationships.

He wants us to look the world in the eye and make a difference. His promise is to be with us every step of the way until the end of time. It is a promise I trust, built on my experience of him, what about you?

Thanks be to God. Amen.

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