RCL Year B Proper 9
Ezekiel 2:1-5, Psalm 123, II Corinthians 12:2-10, Saint Mark 6:1-13

For thirty-one years of Ordination as a Deacon and as a Priest, I have been getting ready for the sermon today. More about that later.

Last Sunday, we heard Jesus declare to the woman he unknowingly cures, “your faith has made you well.”[1] And also I said that Jesus could well have said to Jairus, “your faith has brought your daughter back to life.” Against that background, we hear today Saint Mark comment in the Gospel today, “And [Jesus] could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.”[2]

One Bible I use for study glosses that verse thus: “[a]ccording to Mark, Jesus’ power could not take effect because of a person’s lack of faith.” And I say to you that our coöperation is important, if not necessary, to the coming of the kingdom, as in “thy kingdom come, thy will be done.”[3]

The thought first crossed my mind many years ago. But I have hesitated to say it in a sermon until today. Then I was in college and a member of a group called Young Life. We had Bible Studies often, and we used J. B. Phillips’ translation of the New Testament. I read it fervently and carried it with me wherever I went.

The lesson I learned then and suggest to you today is this. Our prayer, our faith, is an ingredient God uses to work his will. Every prayer we offer, however formal, however informal, has an effect upon the coming of the kingdom. Every prayer we offer brings a substantial consequentiality, perhaps unseen and perhaps unknown, but consequential nonetheless.

It seems, then, that being made in the image of God involves this coöperation. Our faith is an ingredient to God’s will being done on our behalf. An assent of our will, as in praying, the Our Father, opens the door to God’s complete and perfect will being accomplished in us. We must never discount this possibility until the Day he tells us one way or the other.

And so what we are doing today is important. Worship may indeed be the most important thing we do, for when we express our faith, when we place our faith in the hands of the true and living God, wonderful things come to be.

[1] Saint Mark 5:34.

[2] Saint Mark 6:5.

[3] The Book of Common Prayer, page 364.

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