On Sunday 19th June, Sr Amy preached at Evensong at St Mary’s Priory Church, Abergavenny. The passages for the service were Genesis 24:1-27 and Mark 5:21-43
Here are her words:
May I speak in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen.
Our Gospel reading, the second lesson, this evening of the healing of Jairus’ daughter is ofter overshadowed by the healing of the haemorrhaged woman. A lady who, in her society, was an outcast, disregarded and looked down upon. This passage of scripture is about pain, loneliness, despair and great sadness.
This past week has been one of terrible sadness for our world. It began on Friday evening with the shooting of Christian Grimme, a 22 year old musician from America. She was signing autographs after a concert in Orlando, Florida when a man shot her for no apparent reason and then he killed himself. Then last Sunday we saw the unfolding of the events at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, where Omar Mateen entered the gay nightclub and started shooting, killing 49 LGBT people and injuring another 53, he too was then killed in an altercation with the police. And then later in the week week Jo Cox, MP of Batley & Spen, was shot and killed on the streets of her constituency. Just like tonights Gospel reading we have a world in pain, who is lonely, despairing and feels great sadness.
‘The woman suffering from haemorrhage is the centre of a minor miracle of love and mercy in the context of the healing of Jairus’ daughter, but it, too, makes plain in the bluntest language that earthly doctors and treatment were powerless to aid her.’1 Sometimes as people we are unable to help, treat or heal others, but with Christ we can do much more than we would be able to on our own. Both Jarius and the haemorrhaging woman acknowledged they needed Christ’s help and his healing – they did all they could to reach him and get his help.
Jesus entrusted his disciples with the power to heal in his name, he has entrusted that to us too – Christ works in and through us by the power of the Holy Spirit. You are I are Christ’s hands and feet on this earth. We are called to be imitators of him, proclaiming his Gospel and truth to all whom we meet, and helping them to engage with Christ in new and deeper ways. It is not just the job of someone in Holy Orders to do this – we are all called.
We have communities in our world today who are hurting. Those who are hurting because of the acts of violence this past week: the Muslim community, the LGBT community, the families of Christina Grimme and Jo Cox and the families of the perpetrators. Those who are hurting because of events which we don’t hear or read about in the news. Those who are hurting in our own towns, those who are hurting in our congregations. Everywhere we look and everywhere we go there are those who are hurting, those who are in pain and those who are in need of Gods love. Those in need of his mercy. Those in need of his healing. Jesus said; “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
How can people come to Jesus if they don’t know who he is? It is our job to show him to those around us, though our words and actions. St Paul said to share Christ with everyone who will listen wherever we go, and Jesus commissioned us to make disciples of all nations. Our words and our actions, or our lack of them, speak volumes – we’ve seen this this week. The actions of a few have marred communities and this world, and the words and actions of others have reminded us that love is greater than fear. Love is quieter than gunshots, but there is more of it in this world.
Mark 5:36 says; ‘Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”’ (v.36) We have to believe that love is greater than hate, that our God is greater than any evil force and that we have the ability, through the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome all we face.
Today is also Fathers day, a joy for many and a sadness for others. We are honoured to have not only our biological fathers to guide and shape us as we grow up, but we have our Father in heaven and our spiritual fathers here on earth. Father Mark is a blessing to all in the Holywell Community, and as a community we are very much a family, sharing in all of life’s highs and lows. When my dad died in 2015 I was blessed and overwhelmed by the love and support of Fr Mark, Deacon Sarah, Sam and Bishop Richard – reminding me that even though my biological dad was no longer here I have a family supporting me in all times – the good and the bad. And that is who we are called to be as Christians and Christ’s church here on earth. To be a family with one another and also with those who do not yet know Christ.
Todays Gospel reading is about being with one another in all seasons of life, and being with those who society sees as an outcast. We are called to love as Christ loves, not to show favouritism or partiality, not to judge but to love and support all who are hurting in this world.
‘The professed love of Christians to each other should be sincere, free from deceit, and unmeaning and deceitful compliments… All our duty towards one another is summed up in one word, love. This denotes the love of parents to their children; which is more tender and natural than any other; unforced, unconstrained.’2 And so I leave you with the words of our spiritual father, St Paul, in his letter to the Romans:
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
1) A. Cole, Mark: An Introduction and Commentary (London: IVP, 1961), p. 101.