Sunday  27 June – 4th Sunday after Trinity 


The service is now live-streamed and can be found on the church Facebook page.

Collect

Gracious Father,
by the obedience of Jesus
you brought salvation to our wayward world:
draw us into harmony with your will,
that we may find all things restored in him,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.

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First Reading

Wisdom of Solomon 1.13-15; 2.23-24

God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living.  For he created all things so that they might exist; the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them, and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.  For righteousness is immortal.  For God created us for incorruption, and made us in the image of his own eternity, but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it.

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 Gospel

Mark 5.21-43

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the lake.  Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death.  Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.’  So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him.  Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years.  She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse.  She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’  Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.

Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’  And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?”’  He looked all around to see who had done it.  But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.  He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead.  Why trouble the teacher any further?’  But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’  He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.  When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.  When he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep?  The child is not dead but sleeping.’  And they laughed at him.

Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was.  He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha cum, ’ which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’  And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age).  At this they were overcome with amazement.  He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

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 Post Communion Prayer

Eternal God,
comfort of the afflicted and healer of the broken,
you have fed us at the table of life and hope:
teach us the ways of gentleness and peace,
that all the world may acknowledge
the kingdom of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Sermon

The woman in our gospel story had been shedding tears of blood for twelve years.  Her community marginalised her, excluded her and she was seen as ritually impure. She was a nameless person to be steered clear of. Yet she bled and recognising her need; she reached out and touched Jesus. The woman was healed and brought back into her community. Sometimes it is only when we recognise our need, when we acknowledge that we are wounded – that we turn to Christ for healing and for life and surrender to his touch. Only then do we recognise that we belong and are part of the community of God’s beloved.

The woman touched the hem of Jesus’ garment – such a simple step and was healed. We only need to reach out to Christ, to surrender in faith to God’s love for us, in order to discover life and healing. But we find that so hard. Instead we rely on ourselves. We are independent. We are human.  But if we stretch out our hand and touch then we can receive healing from Christ.

I realise the physical touch is difficult with the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, but

We touch the healing hem of Jesus’ garment when we work for peace and arbitrate within our families, or reconcile people within our churches

We touch the healing hem of Jesus’ garment when we serve the community around us, recognising where they are wounded and what their needs are.

We touch the healing hem of Jesus’ garment when we seek trade justice and buy fairly traded goods, allowing people in the developing world to earn a living wage and so have a sustainable lifestyle.

We touch the healing hem of Jesus’ garment when we give generously and regularly to support others in their needs and in working for a better world.

This is all well and good but there is danger of romanticising the poor. The gospel stops us doing this entirely for this story of the healing of the woman struggling with bleeding for twelve years is sandwiched within another healing story. A twelve year old girl, the daughter of Jairus, is sick. God is not only at the margins, open to being touched by those who recognise their need, he is also there for the Jairus’s of this world.

The upright citizens, the leaders of the synagogue, organised and efficient, can also meet Jesus. Jairus’ daughter was sick. Jairus knew what he wanted; his daughter’s healing. So he went to persuade Jesus to come to the house and to heal her. He expected Jesus to come and to respond.

Jairus wanted his daughter healed. He believed Jesus could do that. But by the time they had got there, having been distracted by the woman who was bleeding, his daughter was dead. So instead of Christ healing the young girl he raised her from the dead. Sometimes the way we encounter Christ and receive healing is not what we expect.

Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead. Again touch was significant. He took her hand and said ‘Talitha cum – Little girl get up’ and she did.  Touch is still how healing is offered. Whether that is the cool cloth on a fevered brow, the tender replacement of dressings on a wound or the comforting hug in grief and how that has been difficult to administer in the last eighteen months. In the ministry of healing, which the Church is beginning to recover, prayer for healing is accompanied by the laying on of hands.

And it is my hope and prayer that the ministry of healing will develop and flourish and become very much part of our life here in the emerging Ministry Hub.  As important as physical touch is, there is another kind of touch that is also important. It is spiritual touch. This is that special touch that influences and impacts the lives of people. A telephone company some years ago had a slogan: “Reach out and touch someone.” They were, of course, referring to a meaningful relationship.

This spiritual touch is two way. We need to reach out and touch Christ, offering ourselves to live for God who is love and recognising our human weakness. God is always available, even if not recognized by us and even if that availability is not always in the ways we would anticipate. Then empowered by Christ and being filled with the Holy Spirit we are to reach out and touch the world as Christ’s body. This will enable healing and wholeness to be experienced and life to be lived fully.

Amen