Bidding Farewell and Faithwell: Take Courage

Each week Pastor Sarah offers a devotional reflection to connect with the South Shore UMC Family. Use this entry as a way to prepare your heart and mind for worship. See you Sunday!

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Sunday’s Scripture ~ John 16:25-33.


Devotional Scripture ~ Mark 9:24.


This week’s devotional text follows Mark’s telling of Jesus’ Transfiguration. Upon the mount, before Peter, James and John, Jesus is bathed with heavenly light. Elijah and Moses join him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”


What an extraordinary display of God’s power and God’s plan – that we would come to love Jesus after the example of God – and the path to doing so is by listening to him.


From this small group Jesus and the three disciples join a kerfuffle in town. A man brought his son who was possessed by a spirit to Jesus’ disciples to be healed…and they could not heal him. I imagine Jesus saying – quite exasperatedly – “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you” (v. 19)?


Initially, I thought Jesus’ words were just for his disciples…but they are fitting for the father as well.


Conceivably the scribes and the disciples are arguing over which ‘group’ will heal the child. The crowd arrives like moths to a flame to witness their argument. The boy’s father knew enough to bring the child into the community of Christ-followers…but that is where his faith paused upon meeting its growing edge. The disciples could not heal his boy; Jesus believed it was because of their lack of faith to do so. The man then turned to Jesus, and admits before God’s Son his own lack of faith, “But if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us” (v. 22).


If.


If.


What was the tone of Jesus’ response? He says, “If you are able! – All things can be done for the one who believes” (v. 23). Is he angry? Is he contradictory, taking on the posture of I’ll show you!?


Is he compassionate?

I am not sure. I will add this to my list of things to ask Jesus someday.


I like to think he is compassionate because Jesus heals the boy. I like to think he is compassionate because our bent towards conditionality – “if…then” statements in our conversations as well as “if…then” dichotomies in our interactions – lessens as our belief strengthens.


As our confidence in God grows. As evidence of God’s trustworthiness and graciousness meets the growing edges of our faith and invites them to expand – initially because of provided facts and eventually because of practiced faith. Jesus said in John’s Gospel, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (20:29). Their belief originated not in sight, but in sound. They listened. And their listening enveloped them into God’s power and God’s plan.


May it be so with us.


Reflection: Are you enjoying a season of deep peace and assurance of your faith? Share a prayer of gratitude with God. Are you struggling to believe? Share a prayer with God asking for help to overcome your unbelief.


Prayer: Guide me, O thou great Jehovah, pilgrim through this barren land. I am weak, but thou art mighty; hold me with thy powerful hand. Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more; feed me till I want no more.”* Amen.


*”Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” The United Methodist Hymnal 127.

**Devotional Resource: The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal