Called by Name Essay

(Pastor Duncan Ibuuri)

Song: “Open my eyes, Lord we want to see Jesus” PP

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Prayer:

Thank you God for your wonderful love and mercy that shines down on us. When we hear this song Lord, we can almost feel you and see you and touch you. But then an aching in our heart begins, because in your word it says; for now we see through a glass which is strangely dim. One day, we will see your glorious face. Though the glass is strangely dim Lord, one day, we will look upon your face and feel so close to you.

Holy Spirit, thank you for residing within us to let us know we are yours. Holy Spirit, we love you! We all love you! Amen! _______________________________________________________________________

In our Gospel reading today, we find Jesus teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath. Then, suddenly there appears a woman.

One person out of that crowd who had a need different from the rest. Jesus

stopped his sermon and called her over to him.

Jesus was delivering His message to a group of people, but when this woman came in, He changed His focus to address the need of this woman. In other words, His message became personal.

He said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” And he

laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and

began praising God.

I believe that is the way Jesus works best. One on one; face to face; soul

to soul. I believe that is the way Jesus knows He has our full attention.

He calls us out from the group and deals with only us; one at a time.

He calls us by name. Imagine that! Out of the billions of people on the

earth, Jesus calls you, calls me, by name. He knows us that well.

There is a well-known hymn that begins,

“Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,

calling for you and for me.”

Jesus knows us so well, that He is able to look at us and see just what we need, where we need straightening. Perhaps physically straightened, as the woman in the story. Perhaps spiritually straightened, if we are heading astray. Perhaps emotionally, or psychologically straightened…

_____________________________________________________________________________________

I invite you for a moment to look at this story ‘spiritually’… (Pause)

“Woman, you are set free from your ailment.”

I want you to see that this woman, this daughter of Abraham, afflicted for 18 years with a spirit that left her crippled and bent over, is us!

And Jesus wants us to be whole. Jesus wants us to know him, one on one. As much as he did die for us (plural), he also died for us (individually). For you, for me. For each one of us. He cares that much for each of us.

As He cares for this woman. A woman not so important, but just another person worshipping on the Sabbath day in the synagogue of her ancestors, just another person carrying a heavy burden, and not doing well with it at all.

She is oppressed. Eighteen years she was afflicted by spirit that crippled her, that bent her over, that wore her down. Eighteen years.

She is bent over, crippled, unable to stand upright, in need, this woman comes to the synagogue to worship God. Perhaps to silently pray for help while others read the lesson and others teach and to the God who delivered Israel from bondage, to the God who led Israel with a cloud by day and fire by night, and brought them into a promised land…

She comes to a synagogue full of people, people like her in need, some not knowing just how much in need they are – because their outward circumstances are good, and others, like the bent over woman – knowing their pain – but resigned – after a year, or 18 years, or a lifetime, to their condition.

This woman is us, and we are her, bent over, crippled, oppressed by a spirit,

perhaps a spirit of self-doubt, a spirit that convinces her that she has no strength, no ability, no purpose, even though she is a child of Abraham,

even though she is one of God’s chosen ones.

And Jesus as he is teaching in the synagogue, sees this woman and discerns

that a spirit has oppressed her and bent her over for these many years

and in the midst of his teaching, He calls her to come to him…

She did not call upon Jesus for help but Jesus sees her and calls to her, and then he touches her and speaks to her saying, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment”

That is for us! That is what so many of us need. The word of Jesus addressed to us. The touch of Jesus healing us. And praise be to God when it happens to us, and praise be to God when it happens to others.

Think of the joy that flooded her soul, think of the joy that would flood your soul even as a witness to this.

Praise be to God – the Spirit of God is stronger than all the spirits that might oppress us.

Jesus sees us, He discerns who we are and the spirits that are is in us,

and He calls us, just as He called to the bent over woman. He reaches out to touch us and seeks to set us free.

Jesus is calling to us – He is stretching out His hand – He waits to speak a word to us. The question is, will we recognize Him in our midst, and accept what He has to offer us?

Jesus can set us free. In fact, those who respond to His call, He dispels all the oppressing spirits in our lives and makes us able to stand straight once again, to stand straight. Praise be to God now and forevermore. Amen! Amen

* HYMN:

THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

We give you our thanks, O God, with reverence and awe, for before we were

formed in the womb, you knew us; before we were born, you consecrated us.

You are our rock and haven, to whom we can always turn. In times past you

appointed prophets and put your words in their mouths, appointing them

over nations and kingdoms to destroy wickedness and overthrow the

ruthless, and to build justice and plant righteousness.

But in these last days you have sent your son, Jesus Christ, to whom every

day is a sacred new day of freedom. You have appointed him as the

mediator of a new covenant, in which we are brought to the city of the

living God with the angels and saints and the faithful of every age to

rejoice together at the wonderful things you are doing. Through him, your

living word, you reach out to us unbidden, and touch us and set us free.

We glorify your most holy name. Lord, hear our prayer…

Father and Mother of us all – we pray for those who are part of our human

family and part of the community in which we live. We pray for the little

ones – for those who are seen as unimportant – for those who are lost –

for those who grieve as ones with no hope – for those who hunger for the

Bread of Heaven and thirst for the Wine of Forgiveness. Grant, we pray,

that they may receive the vision that they need from your hands and the

encouragement that they long for… Lord hear our prayer…

We pray, Father, for those who are afflicted and in various ways – for the

young woman who is ill with Leukemia – for the Father whose mind is

assaulted by depression, and for all those whom we know who require a

blessing – be it physical, emotional, financial, or Spiritual…. Lord,

hear our prayer….

We commend to you as well, O Lord, those individuals and situations that

were shared in sharing time and those who names rest now upon our

hearts…… BIDDING PRAYER… Lord hear our prayer….

Touch, O God all those who are bent over and oppressed by crippling

spirits – and set free all those who are afflicted by by attitudes and

opinions and viewpoints that cause them and others to become bowed down

and to suffer needlessly. Create in them the joy that is meant to be part

of the Sabbath day – the day in which we have rest from our labours and

celebrate the wholeness that comes from you.

Amen.

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