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Worship, Prayer, Bible Study

Ordinary 13 - Year B

Liturgical Colour - Green


woman healed by JesusIntroduction

At the time of Jesus people were considered dirty or 'unclean' if they had contact with certain foods, diseases, body fluids, or dead things. Being unclean was the opposite of being holy, and therefore you couldn't come to the holy temple to worship the holy God. Unclean people were cut off from God and other people and so in our story today we see a little girl who is dead and a woman who is like the living dead! They have things in common, both utterly desperate, they both come to Jesus as their last and only hope. 

When Jesus calls the woman who touched him "daughter," he established a relationship with one with whom he should not have a relationship. Her illness made her unclean; he should not allow her to touch him. Jesus would have made himself unclean by the contact with the woman and the little girl, but instead Jesus mixes everything up. Jesus doesn't become unclean by contact with the unclean people. They don't bring him down to their level, instead Jesus' holiness transforms their uncleanness and makes them well. The flow of blood is stopped, the woman is healed. The corpse comes back to life. The young girl gets out of bed. Jesus has a healing touch, his holiness transforms the people's uncleanness. Jesus raises them up to his level. Jesus makes them worthy to be in the presence of God. Sometimes our lives may seem bad and we may think that we are terrible, rotten, unclean people. Jesus doesn't think so and he can make us well inside and out.

 


Opening Verses of Scripture   2 Corinthians 8

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.


Collect Prayer for the Day

Lord of heaven and earth, you sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and power of your Church. Sow in our hearts the seeds of your grace, that we may bear the fruit of the Spirit, in love and joy and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Merciful God, out of the depths we cry to you and you hear our prayer. Make us attentive to the voice of your Son that we may rise from the death of sin and take our place in the new creation. We make our prayers through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.  Amen

First Bible Reading    2 Samuel 1: 1, 17 - 27

After the death of Saul, David returned from defeating the Amalekites and stayed in Ziklag two days.

David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, and ordered that the men of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar): "Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen! "Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice. "O mountains of Gilboa, may you have neither dew nor rain, nor fields that yield offerings of grain. For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul--no longer rubbed with oil. From the blood of the slain, from the flesh of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan did not turn back, the sword of Saul did not return unsatisfied. "Saul and Jonathan-- in life they were loved and gracious, and in death they were not parted. They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.
 "O daughters of Israel, weep for Saul, who clothed you in scarlet and finery, who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold. "How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights. I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women. "How the mighty have fallen! The weapons of war have perished!"

Second Reading   2 Corinthians 8:7-15

But just as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little." 

Gospel Reading    Mark 5:21-43

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live." So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?"

"You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?'" But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.

He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," they said. "Why bother the teacher any more?" Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe." He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James.

When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, "Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!"). Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Post Communion Sentence

O God, whose beauty is beyond our imagining and whose power we cannot comprehend: show us your glory as far as we can grasp it, and shield us from knowing more than we can bear until we may look upon you without fear; through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen
 

Commentary

Two stories or one?
At first reading it looks like Mark has interspersed one story with another. As the reading opens we hear about a Synagogue ruler called Jairus (probably the President of the Synagogue), coming to Jesus with a request. Just as this story begins to unfold another story seems to break into the narrative, that of a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. Is it two stories or is it just one? There are certainly common elements. Both Jairus and the woman with bleeding, who interestingly remains anonymous throughout the story, come to Jesus driven by a fear that overcomes all of their other fears. Albeit for different reasons, they are both at their wits end and utterly desperate. No matter what else they may fear as a result of coming to Jesus, it palls into insignificance if there is even the slightest hope that in coming to Jesus things might change.

Jairus was an important man in the hierarchy of the Synagogue, probably one of the most important and influential members of those in authority. It was those associated with the Synagogue and the Jewish ruling party which had been so questioning of Jesus and everything He did. Now here was one of their elders coming to Jesus, falling at His feet and pleading with Him to save his daughter. Jairus risks the disapproval of his community, almost certain questioning and disapproval from his colleagues, friends and family to fall before Jesus. Jairus himself probably still had doubts and uncertainties about who Jesus was and what He was doing. But he is prepared to risk everything to save his daughter.
For the woman who had been bleeding for so long, her fears were probably less about status but about never being well again and always being tired and an outcast, seen as unclean by the people she lived with. She fears embarrassment of being found out and discovery and rejection by the crowd. She is even too frightened to ask Jesus for anything but merely hopes by touching Him something might happen to change her life. She too is desperate.

Probably coming from different directions both Jairus and the woman push and elbow their way to the place in the crowd where they can encounter Jesus. Jesus agrees to go with Jairus and they set off towards his house, with the crowds in tow, all looking to be in on the action. It’s whilst they are on their way that the woman touches Jesus and the entourage comes to a halt. You can imagine the crowds almost willing Jesus on to Jairus’ house, they don’t want to get distracted by a woman who has just touched his clothes. You can imagine Jairus thinking, ‘Come on Jesus, we’re losing time here, what’s going on, don’t allow yourself to get distracted. If you get distracted now we’ll never get there and it will all be too late’.

For neither Jairus nor the woman there seems to be no great statement of faith, it might seem as if they are reaching out to Jesus as a last resort, thinking ‘I’ve tried everything else so I might as well see if this works.’ But it is more than that. Whilst there is no great expression of faith there is for both of them a profound belief that Jesus could heal. They seemed to have heard what was possible, and whilst perhaps not understanding it, they believed that meeting Jesus and asking him to intervene would make a difference to their circumstances. They knew it was possible, and that Jesus could make a difference, He could heal and perform many other wonders, the doubt in their minds was would He for them. We see from Jesus’ responses that He did. Even though He was held up going to meet Jairus’ daughter He had time for both and restored both to healing and health.
Underlying the story there is also great symbolism, linking back as far as Genesis. A symbolism we might more often associate with the Gospel of John. But we should not confuse this symbolism with the compassionate act of Jesus. Jesus may have wanted to make a point in the timing and manner in which these people were healed. Mark, the Gospel writer may have wanted to make a point in the way in which he retells the story and where he places it in His gospel. But central to the story are the compassionate acts of Jesus as He goes about His way, restoring creation to the way in which it was intended to be. This too is central to the theme of Mark. Mark shows Jesus in action, using the deeds of Jesus to emphasise who He is and why He has come into the world. He shows through these actions of Jesus that He is indeed God’s Son.

The two stories in today’s reading come immediately after Jesus has calmed the storm and the casting out of demons from the Gerasene man. Jesus has shown His power of over the forces of nature. Jesus has shown His power over dark and demonic forces. Jesus now shows His power over sickness and death, seen by some as the ultimate sickness. In so doing we see the two stories become one. Underpinning all of the stories is the sense of hopelessness. The disciples thought they were beyond hope and about to die in the boat, the demoniac was beyond hope, Jairus felt he was in a hopeless situation and the woman with bleeding felt she too was beyond all hope. Yet is all of these hopeless situations Jesus acts and brings peace and hope and restores creation to its rightful state. He still does. Sometimes though, we too like Jairus, have to wait until God’s good time. Sometimes we wonder why God does not appear to act in the way in which we would like or with the speed we would like. Sometimes it feels like we’re just left tapping our feet and God does not care.

Just after these stories Jesus goes to His home town of Nazareth where He is rejected and the people question where His wisdom and power came from. Jesus is amazed at their lack of faith and He appears to say and do little while He is there. For both Jairus and the woman, their faith and belief in Jesus appear to be probably very fragile and uncertain. But in contrast to the people of Nazareth both Jairus and the woman understand that Jesus is more than just a miracle worker. Both show a faith which understands that in some way God Himself was at work in and through Jesus. Sometimes are we more like the people of Nazareth, just wanting Jesus (or God) to perform miracles, rather than like Jairus or the woman with bleeding who saw Jesus as able to offer hope and healing to broken lives and a fallen creation because of who He was, not just because of what He did? Jesus shows in healing both the woman and Jairus’ daughter that He has healing power enough for all. His resources never run dry and He continues to want us to reach out to him in our need, even if we feel we only have the faintest glimmer of faith in Him and who He is. Sam Cappleman


 

Meditation

Jairus was a powerful man, the ruler of the synagogue. He was the one who made sure rules were kept, rules which said that people like the woman in the story today could not come to church. She has been bleeding for years, and rather than make her a person worthy of special care and attention, she was rather treated as unclean. She was somebody who would contaminate others because of her condition and so as a awoman and as a woman with bleeding she was not welcome.

In the local community in which the gospel reading takes place there could not have been a bigger difference in status between the two key people in the story. Jairus was the synagogue ruler, the lay person in charge of the local synagogue. In current parlance, the senior steward, the church warden, the senior leadership team member. He would be a devout Jew who would probably be a strict adherent to the Torah and its commands. It is interesting to see Jesus keep Jairus waiting, he would not have been a man who was used to that.

The woman on the other hand, would be very much a second class citizen, a female, permanently ritually unclean according to the law of Leviticus and isolated from the community because of this, virtually an outcast. Both come to Jesus and are transformed by coming into contact with Him. Jesus loves them the way he finds them, but loves them enough not to leave them the way he has found them. Jesus does not care what our background is, or has been, but is constantly waiting for us to reach out and touch Him so that we too can be transformed. Sam Cappleman
 

Hymns

 

  1. Praise to the Lord
  2. When I feel the touch
  3. Jubilate everybody
  4. O for a thousand tongues
  5. Christ, whose glory fills the skies
  6. Praise my soul the King of Heaven
  7. We praise, we worship thee, O God (Tune: Church triumphant,
  8. Come on and celebrate
  9. Safe in the shadow of the Lord
  10. There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
  11. Forth in thy name (Tune: Angel’s Song)

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

 

  • Prayer encouragement in the Christian life

    Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian
    if it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die

     

    Kindle in our hearts, O God,
    The flame of that love
    which never ceases, that it
    may burn in us, giving light
    to others.

    May we shine forever in
    Thy holy temple. Set on fire
    with Thy eternal light, Even
    Thy son, Jesus Christ,
    Our Savior and Redeemer.

    God the Father, your will for all people is health and salvation. God the Son, you came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly. God the Holy Spirit, you make our bodies the temple of your presence. Holy Trinity, one God, in you we live and move and have our being. Lord, grant your healing grace to all who are sick, injured or disabled, that they may be made whole. Grant to all who are lonely, anxious or depressed a knowledge of your will and an awareness of your presence. Grant to all who minister to those who are suffering wisdom and skill, sympathy and patience. Mend broken relationships, and restore to those in distress soundness of mind and serenity of spirit.

    Sustain and support those who seek your guidance and lift up all who are brought low by the trials of this life. Grant to the dying peace and a holy death, and uphold by the grace and consolation of your Holy Spirit those who are bereaved. Restore to wholeness whatever is broken by human sin, in our lives, in our nation, and in the world.

    Blessed are you, sovereign God, gentle and merciful, creator of heaven and earth. Your Word brought light out of darkness, and daily your Spirit renews the face of the earth. When we turned away from you in sin, your anointed Son took our nature and entered our suffering to bring your healing to those in weakness and distress. He broke the power of evil and set us free from sin and death that we might become partakers of his glory. The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, make you perfect in every good work to do His will; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always. Amen

    Additional Material

    Verse from scripture

    'Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:4-5

    Collect Prayer

    Lord, you have taught us, that all our doings without love are nothing worth: send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love, the true bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whoever lives is counted dead before you. Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ's sake, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

    Commentary

    The ancient Hebrews felt certain animals, foods, diseases, body fluids, and dead things made people dirty, and so they were afraid to touch them. Such things were ‘unclean’ or ‘impure’ and if you touched them you too became unclean. If you had certain diseases, you were unclean and anything or anyone that you touched became unclean. Being unclean was the opposite of being holy, and therefore you couldn't come to the holy temple to worship the holy God. Anything unclean was unfit or unworthy to be in the presence of the holy God. If you were unclean, you had to go through a rite of purification or cleansing in order to be welcomed back into society and into the presence of God. Unclean things and people were estranged from God and each other and they weren't supposed to touch each other. Uncleanness, especially the three big ones -- leprosy, bodily discharge, or corpse touching -- were about relationships. They put people outside of the community.   (Lev. 5:3; Num. 5:2-4). And these rules were enforced with discipline. A whole religious culture was built up which tried to keep everything in its place, maintaining the old prejudices and exclusive systems. And so in our story today we see a little girl who is dead and a woman who is like the living dead! They have things in common, both utterly desperate, they both come to Jesus as their last and only hope. 
     
    When Jesus calls the woman who touched him "daughter," he established a relationship with one with whom he should not have a relationship. Her illness made her unclean; he should not allow her to touch him. In some ways their view of unclean things is like our saying, "One bad apple spoils the whole bunch." Contact with one of these unclean things made you an unclean person. Jesus should have made himself unclean by the contact with the woman and the little girl, but instead Jesus mixes everything up. Jesus doesn't become unclean by contact with the unclean people. They don't bring him down to their level. Jesus' holiness transforms their uncleanness. The flow of blood is stopped. The woman is healed. The corpse comes back to life. The young girl gets out of bed.

    Jesus has a healing touch, his holiness transforms the people's uncleanness. Jesus raises them up to his level. Jesus makes them worthy to be in the presence of God. Jesus, as the one good, holy apple, can make all the bad apples become good. Sometimes our lives may seem bad and we may think that we are terrible, rotten, unclean people. Jesus doesn't think so. To him, there are no such things as unclean people, just people who need his healing touch. Whoever he touches becomes clean and holy and beautiful. The woman's faith in Jesus' ability to heal her is so great that she is convinced she need only reach out and touch the hem of his garment in order to experience his healing power. The story tells us that this is true, with faith in Jesus, even death's grip is broken.

    The important thing about this woman was that she did not ‘just’ have faith, she had the courage to act on it. She believed it so strongly that she risked breaking all the ritual and societal rules about cleanness to follow what she believed to be true. She had a belief that Jesus would accept her and even though she was afraid and trembling, she came to him. She told him the whole truth -- thus incriminating herself. Then as a result of her faith in action, she was accepted as a daughter. She was praised for her faith. The woman believed, but more importantly her belief prompted her to do something. We must all ask ourselves how things around us become different because we believe. Charles Royden

    Commentary

    The gospel reading ends with the words, ‘…He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this…’. Well somebody obviously disobeyed orders or we wouldn’t know about the story today. We’re not sure why Jesus asked that people kept the story quiet. Perhaps it was to avoid getting caught up in hoards of people who just wanted Him to heal them and would therefore deflect Jesus from His overall mission and work, of which healing was just a part; perhaps it was to avoid difficulties for Jairus or his daughter; perhaps it was to avoid direct confrontation with the authorities, we don’t know. The story also appears in Matthew and Luke, although Luke, the doctor, not surprisingly misses out the phrase about the woman ‘having suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and spent all she had’ and Matthew, the good Jew, refers to the tassels on Jesus’ garment.

    In whichever gospel it appears, the story certainly could have been difficult and embarrassing for Jairus. The Jewish authorities were already beginning to have doubts about Jesus and His mission. It was far from clear to them who He was or what the impact of His presence and teaching would be. The safe option for Jairus would have been to steer well clear of Jesus, keep his nose clean and let Jesus pass by at a safe distance, hopefully without Him creating too much fuss in Jairus’ back yard. But no, rather then giving Jesus a wide berth, He seeks Him out, falls at Jesus’ feet and begs Him to come to Him to come and touch His daughter to heal her so that she will live. Jairus is desperate and desperate times call for desperate measures. Jairus comes to Jesus. And, probably expecting a something spectacular to happen whether the trip was a success or not, a large crowd follow Jesus when He agrees to go with Jairus. Will He be able to pull this one off, no doubt they wonder.
     

    On His way there He is approached from behind by a woman who has suffered constant bleeding for many years. In normal circumstances this would have caused Jairus great consternation. The woman is ritually unclean and therefore makes Jesus ritually unclean for the rest of the day by her touch. How can he now be in contact with Jesus? Interestingly Jairus doesn’t even appear to notice, he is focused on more important things, like his daughters life. And through the sick woman who touched Jesus, Jairus was to see that there is no need to move God to another place, take him on a journey, or attract him by a physical presence. He is present in the whole of His being, always and everywhere, and that He can do all things effortlessly by a simple command.
     

    And He heals the woman who has merely touched the fringes of His garment, believing that is she did so she would be healed. And indeed, Jesus restores her to health and frees her from her suffering. Shortly after doing so the news comes to Jairus’ that his daughter has died and that there is no need to bother Jesus anymore. In the first century, 60% of live births usually died by their mid-teens so the scene presented here of a parent being presented with the death of a child would be a very common one. Unperturbed Jesus presses on to take control of the situation and encourages Jairus to maintain his belief. He takes the girl by the hand and gently speaks to her in Aramaic, inviting her to get up. With Jesus, as the world was to discover, the normal rules don’t apply.
     

    Why are the two stories appear together? Perhaps it’s to show how Jesus saves not just from physical death but also spiritual death. The woman is delivered from her illness and from the permanent state of impurity caused by her flow of blood: she can now rejoin society and the worshiping community. She is saved from Spiritual death. Jairus is delivered from fear and loss, and his daughter is saved from physical death. Both needed belief in Jesus and His ability to transform seemingly hopeless situations into situations of life and peace.
     

    In the one story it is the woman who reaches out to Jesus, in the other it is Jesus Himself who reaches out. Both demonstrated faith in action. Whether we reach out to Jesus or He reaches out to us, He is ready to respond to our every need. Sometimes in ways we don’t expect, or even when it looks like He’s showing up too late, His healing presence is with us always. So tangible, by faith, it can be touched. Sam Cappleman

    Lamentations - ‘Poems of heartbreak’

    Lamentations 3:23-33

    Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

    It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust-- there may yet be hope. Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.

    Sandwiched between Jeremiah and Ezekiel in the Old Testament of your Bible you will find Lamentations. It has traditionally been attributed to the prophet Jeremiah but we do not really know who wrote it. What we do know is that it was written after 587/596 BC and expresses tremendous grief at the destruction of Jerusalem. The writer pours out the feelings of his heart, the people have been vanquished and taken into captivity; the city has been set on fire and totally destroyed. Reading Lamentations we can sense the impact of the national disaster of the destruction of Jerusalem. It is a study in sorrow, poems of heartbreak. As the writer was looking out over Jerusalem, he saw its desolation and he remembered the terrible, bloody battle in which Nebuchadnezzar had taken the city and sacked it, destroying the temple and killing the inhabitants. As we read through we begin to understand how miserable things became as the writer speaks from the heart and vents deep emotion. It might be a good idea not to let the children read it, they might not be able to sleep well at night if they do! For example take Chapter 4 verses 4-10 - a horrible climax is reached here when the writer speaks of mothers preparing their own children as food!

    It is written in a very clever way with some of the chapters (1,2, and 4) having 22 verses and beginning each verse with a different consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Chapter 5 doesn’t have this ‘alphabetic acrostic’ but it too has 22 verses. Chapter three is interesting in that it consists of sixty-six verses in triads, or triplets, in which every verse making up each triad begins with the same letter of the alphabet, so that there are twenty-two groups of three altogether, one for each letter of the alphabet. Don’t try too hard to understand this but it is impressive! Each chapter stresses and develops a particular aspect of sorrow and there is a view of the utter depths of sorrow, the desolation of spirit that can come upon the human heart, the sense of abandonment, of complete loneliness.

    So what does Lamentations have to say to us today? Well, this is the kind of book you might read when sorrow strikes your own heart, and sorrow comes to all of us at times. Death and disaster can meet us all in different ways, when a doctor gives us the results of a test we have been worrying about and advises us of the onset of some dreaded illness. It is a form of bereavement too when we are confronted by a manager who tells us that we are not needed anymore at our job and we become yet another redundant worker. Part of us dies when a partner walks out of a marriage and leaves us feeling even worse than if they had died, because we have not even the happy memories to hold onto. We live with a form death when a friend turns their back upon us or a family member refuses to forgive. Lamentations does not try to be logical and clever in such times of grief, it just expresses the pain and heartache. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her book ‘On death and Dying’ identified five stages connected with the experience of both grieving and death. These stages of loss and grieving can be identified in the Book of Lamentations and they help us to understand the outcry of the writer. Each of the five poems has a distinctive message usually expressed in the first line

    The first poem surveys the ‘lonely city’ Jerusalem in ruin, that is left without comforter (Stage one Isolation)

    The second poem speaks of the destruction by an angry God and a bitter response 2:18-20. (Stage 2 Anger)

    The third poem attempts to provide hope for the destitute, to get God back on their side, ‘The Lord is good to those who wait for him, ‘let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord 3:25, 40. (Stage 3 Bargaining)

    The fourth poem sinks back into despair, comparing how good things were with how horrible they have become. It is the only poem in the book which lacks prayer (Stage 4 Depression).

    The fifth poem break with Ross’ pattern, her fifth stage is acceptance and a gradual coming to terms with our loss. In Lamentations the writer reaches a final crescendo of complaint, urging God to restore the relationship and life itself. (5:1, 21) There is no acceptance, only the desolation of a people abandoned by God.

    The poet writing Lamentations has not moved on from his grief and torment, but of course for us we must. We should draw strength from the words of loss and suffering expressed in Lamentation, for they reassure us that it is normal sometimes to feel that life is no longer worth living. Only as we move through the stages of grief and suffering, at times painfully, do we discover that this is the pathway to healing. No matter what we face God intends to bring us good even in the face of suffering and pain.

    Prayers for Sunday

    Almighty God, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge: open our eyes to your presence, and make us more responsive to your call, that we may grow in the wisdom and grace you offer us in Christ Jesus our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

    We acknowledge, O God, the ease with we can be so overwhelmed by life that your presence becomes difficult to discern.  So many voices bombard our  lives that we fail to recognise your voice amongst them.  But when we remember your past dealings with people, we recover our confidence to trust you in the present and the future.  Your steadfast love resonates through the witness of lives touched by grace.  Love and grace experienced by hearing your word clearly spoken by Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.  We pray that our lives may be lived in worship which reflects our praise and thanksgiving for your blessings.  In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen

    Meditation

    "I have a mission... "I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. God has not created me for naught... Therefore I will trust him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. God does nothing in vain. "He knows what he is about." J. H. Newman

    Today is new unlike any other day, for God makes each day different. Today God's everyday grace falls on my soul like abundant seed, though I may hardly see it. Today is one of those days Jesus promised to be with me, a companion on my journey, And my life today, if I trust him, has consequences unseen. My life has a purpose.

    Hymns for this Sunday

    1. New every morning is the love

    2. Let us sing to the God of our salvation (Tune : Sing Hosanna)

    3. I want to walk with Jesus Christ

    4. Lord of creation to you be all praise

    5. Praise ye the Lord (Truro)

    6. This is the God

    7. God in his love for us

    8. Here Lord we take the broken bread (Dominus Regit)

    9. We pray for peace

    10. Go tell everyone

    11. Here Lord we take the broken bread (Dominus Regit )

    12. Jesus the very thought of thee (Metzler’s)
       

    The answer to the riddle from last week

    What is greater than God,
    More evil than the devil,
    The poor have it,
    The rich need it,
    And if you eat it, you'll die

    Sermon: The daughter of Jairus and the bleeding woman