June 17, 2021

Morning Worship Service for 20th June 2021

Passage: Mark Chapter 5 verses 21-43

A prayer of adoration
Eternal God,
we adore you for your incredible, life-changing love.
A woman in the crowd is called daughter.
Parents are given back their beloved child.
You care enough to heal those considered unclean.
You care enough to ensure a fragile child is fed.
You are mighty in power and yet so gentle.
God our creator, our redeemer and our comforter,
we adore you, and we raise our hands in praise
singing, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia. Amen.
A prayer of confession
God of the streets and crowds of the world,
we come to you in sorrow and shame
for the times we have allowed prejudice to distance us from those you would draw close to.
Raise us up to love and serve you.
We bring to you the times when we have been too proud to ask for help and too distracted to help others.
Raise us up to love and serve you.
We acknowledge the times we have been quick to judge those we don’t easily identify with, and ignored those whose plight we have not taken to heart.
Raise us up to love and serve you.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Assurance of forgiveness
Lord Jesus,
you restored the woman with haemorrhages to her community and the stricken child to her parents.
We thank you for restoring our relationship with you and one another through your forgiveness and grace.
As we step out in thankfulness,
may we also reach out across barriers
to give and receive,
to restore and to heal,
in your name. Amen.
Reading Mark Chapter 5 verses 21-43
Sermon by Rev Peter Lyth
How many times has one been confronted with a situation that can be described as hopeless. A friend of ours recently took her car for its MOT. Cue much scratching of chins and shaking of heads before the car’s plight was declared hopeless. Arguably, on a more serious note, one of the consequences of the Covid pandemic is that some businesses have been forced to close, their financial situation being hopeless. Sometimes the situation is medical. I was talking to someone a few days ago who was given the prognosis that his medical condition was hopeless. He thought that he had, at most two years remaining. That was in 2007 and he was still standing and looking quite fit some 14 years later.
The reading from Mark’s Gospel describes two medical situations that seem quite hopeless. One is the daughter of Jairus, one of the leaders of the synagogue. She has been declared to be on the point of death. However, like many a parent before or since, faced with the loss of his daughter, Jairus refuses to give up. He clearly has exhausted all other avenues and so he comes to Jesus, despite the antipathy that many of the religious leaders have towards him. Indeed, he falls at Jesus’ feet as he acknowledges Jesus’ status. “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come lay your hands on her so that she may be made well and live”. He has, no doubt heard the stories of others who have gained healing at the hands of Jesus. There is no doubt in his mind that this man can do what the experts have dismissed – restore his daughter to life. Later, the crowds of nay-sayers grow louder as his daughter is pronounced dead.
Jesus responds by hurrying to Jairus’ house. Along the way, he is surrounded by crowds, including a certain woman who touches his cloak.
One of the recurring plot lines in American crime dramas is the person who turns to crime because they, or a close relative have exhausted their medical insurance and they have run out of money to pay for ongoing care.
Often, in desperation, people pay money to charlatans in the last desperate hope of a cure. In the 1890’s Clark Stanley sold a product called “Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil Liniment”. Apparently Chinese workers that came to America had brought with them oil from the water snake which had some healing properties, helping inflammation of joints. Stanley saw an opportunity to make money and claimed to use rattlesnake oil for his liniment. Later examination found that his liniment contained no snake oil at all and was completely ineffective, despite claims that, in common with other patent medicines, it could be used for, amongst other things, chronic pain, headaches, "female complaints" and kidney trouble.
The woman who touched Jesus’ cloak had tried all sorts of cures for her recurring illness, to the extent that she too had run out of money whilst her condition actually deteriorated. one that rendered her ritually unclean and therefore placed her on the margins of society. But, in common with Jairus, she saw in Jesus one last hope. In those days, it was considered sufficient to touch a healer’s clothing in order to receive his power and so it proved.
There is a caveat that I need to make here. It could be interpreted that one just to have enough faith and any cure can be effected. In fact that claim has been exploited by many charlatans through the ages. I would strongly dispute that. However, I don’t think that was the purpose of the passage. There are a number of things that we do get from it.
Had Jairus listened to the self-proclaimed experts and the woman put her faith purely in the physicians, then there would have ben no opportunity for Jesus to show his power. As it was, both were examples of great faith. Rather than placing their faith in worldly powers, they placed their faith in Christ. This is an example to us too. Rather than give in to the impossibility of situations, we place things in God’s hands.
The second thing is that despite the difference in status between the two people, Jesus has time for both. There is a contrast between Jairus, the religious leader who makes his plea in a very public fashion and the woman who touches Jesus’ cloak under the cover of the crowds. She probably has had long experience of rejection as both her gender and, particularly her medical condition invalidate her. She was ritually unclean, anyone in physical contact with her would be unable to take part in temple worship and she was prohibited from marriage according to the law of Leviticus. Yet, once Jesus became aware of her presence, he stopped and addressed her. “Daughter (a term of familial affection in this case), your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease”. When Jesus arrives at Jairus’ house, he raises his daughter. It is a restoration to life as the daughter is later brought food. She is definitely alive. But the thing that is important is that both the religious leader and the outcast woman were treated with equal importance by Jesus. It underlines the fact that all people matter to God.
Finally, the miracles remind us that faith in Jesus is about restoration. For that woman, the healing meant that she could, once more be acceptable in society. She got her life back. In a literal sense, that is also what happened to Jairus’ daughter. We are also offered restoration by Jesus, albeit often of a different kind. We are offered the chance to be fully human as we follow his teachings and enter the Kingdom of God. For those imprisoned by guilt, they are brought freedom through forgiveness. Likewise, people who struggle to forgive can be freed from the cycle of vengeance. Jesus brings life in all its fullness.
For a young girl and for an outcast woman, life was restored. For a religious leader, his life could start again. Jesus is all about life. It is good news for us and for the world.
Prayers of intercession
Lord God,
you became poor so that we might become rich.
In our world of inequality, we pray that you would show us how to share our riches with those who are in need.
Lord, pour out your blessings.

We pray for people who seek asylum in our land.
We cannot begin to understand the things they have been through.
We pray for a deep sense of your understanding, and for practical ways to show your love.
Lord, pour out your blessings.

We pray for those who work long hours for very little money.
For those who have no security, no comfortable home to go back to.
Lord, pour out your blessings.

We pray for those who give their time and resources, working through food banks, outreach centres, charities.
Lord, pour out your blessings.

We pray for ourselves, that as you bless us, we will bless others.
Lord, pour out your blessings.
Prayers are © ROOTS for Churches Ltd 2002-2021. Reproduced with permission. www.rootsontheweb.com

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