A reflection for the 27th June 2021
Fourth Sunday after Trinity 2021
Offered for Sunday 27th June 2021
'Fourth Sunday after Trinity 2021'
Compiled 25th June 2021
Among my many copies of round robin emails
I have one entitled 'Five lessons about the way we treat people',
written in the 'First Person'.
The first of these five serve as a backdrop to our reading from
Mark 5:21 to 43 as we read about the even handed response
from Jesus to two people from opposite ends of the social divide!
First Important Lesson; 'The Cleaning Lady'.
During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz.
I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions
until I read the last one:
"What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"
Surely this was some kind of a joke. I had seen the cleaning woman
several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50's,
but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the
last question blank.
Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question
would count toward our quiz grade.
"Absolutely," said the professor...
"In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant;
they deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile
and say "hello."
I've never forgotten that lesson.
I also learned her name was Dorothy.
Let us Pray
Holy Spirit of God,
invisible like the wind,
we do not see you moving among us,
but the effect we see - come to our hearts:
that we may be renewed and reborn.
Open our minds:
that we may perceive your kingdom.
Lift up our eyes to where
the cross of Christ stands:
so may we believe, and in believing not die
but have eternal life;
through him who in your love for us
you sent into the world,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Back in November 1995 with prayers seemingly
answered our then fifteen year old daughter, against the odds
was pointing in the right direction after her
Bone Marrow Transplant a few months earlier!
But in a dramatic turn of events Katie's health took a turn
for the worse and she was back in
'Birmingham Children's Hospital' with her condition being a
complete mystery to the Consultants and Doctors!
As Chris and I sat either side of her bed two weeks into
her stay in hospital and drinking a glass of wine disguised as
a cup of tea!
Katie turned to her Mum and said 'Will you get into bed with me!'
Katie did'nt want food, drink, medication or soothing words
all she wanted was the warmth, touch and love of her Mum!
In retrospect it was a rather amusing sight!
A grown woman and a teenager trying to get comfortable in a
single bed but the touch and warmth went beyond what
the medical profession could offer.
It's a sharp and personal reminder God made us all more complex
creatures needing more than food and shelter;
we need touch and interaction to reach our full potential
as human beings and so by flourish a need that has been put under
the microscope during the present pandemic!
We need to be able to draw upon the full range of our emotions
which includes touch and interaction! To be able to grieve or
rejoice or wonder is not something that just happens in a vacuum,
we need to learn from others and be encouraged to take the time
to sit with these deeper feelings and not brush them off
which at a basic level may simply be acknowledged
by a hand shake or a high five!.
The two women in need in Mark 5: 21 to 43 are linked in their
need for healing and in the need for something that can't have
a price put on it human contact!
The girl, who is nameless, is on the cusp of puberty at twelve
years old. The woman, also without name, has had a menstrual flow
for twelve years. One is the daughter of Jairus, the other is
called "daughter" by Jesus.
One is touched by Jesus, the other touches him.
These parallels are important to notice if we want to go deeper
and simply hear about Jesus the healer, Jesus the miracle maker.
This is a story of women in a world where judgment can be harsh,
where women's voices are not generally heard and their actions
are not often noticed.
This is a story of God's engagement, through the touch of Jesus,
with what the world calls unclean or considers unimportant.
Jesus doesn't shirk from the task. It's also a story of the
tenderness of touch and it invites our wonder at Jesus'
willingness to be with the dying, to speak with tenderness
to the unknown woman.
Perhaps most of all this is not "business as usual"
for a miracle-working hero, because he is changed by the
encounters. He is rendered impure as they are returned to their
normal lives. That is the cost of intimacy here.
Much of our world is concerned with safety,
and probably rightly so, but it can lead us to miss the moment
that is in front of us, to lose out on our deeper emotions.
We can diminish our capacity for wonder, compassion and openness
if we also diminish the need for human touch.
As people of Jesus, in whom we see the fullness of God's
generosity, we have to go beyond saying a polite word to
someone who is worried, smiling a kindly smile to someone
who is lonely, saying a small prayer for someone who is dying,
or a cheery "call me any time" message to someone grieving.
It's too little, sometimes too late, and it doesn't really
engage with the other person.
In 2 Corinthians 8: 7 to 15, Paul tells the Corinthian Christians
costly activity is needed if their faith is to be complete.
They have to share what they have equally;
not just give a bit away here and there, but find a proper
balance between people. We are invited by the example of Jesus
to enter into a deeper relationship rather than
keeping a polite distance.
In recent years physical touch has sometimes been difficult,
even prohibited. However, finding ways of being present for those
who are grieving, dying, sick, unheard and seemingly valueless,
is necessary for human growth.
Contact, whether physical or virtual, speech, blessing, silence,
wonder and taking risks, remember Princess Diana kissing a patient
with full blown AID's back in the 80's!
Are all ways in which we can grow in Christ.
Loving human contact is essential for all
human beings, as important as food and shelter.
Jesus was not afraid of human contact, even though it led to
ritual impurity for him, nor was he, as a man of his time,
afraid to engage with women.
We need to be open to the deeper emotions and
actions in order to live out what it means to be in Christ.
May the God of contact
and wholeness, of joy and despair,
hold you in peace and fullness of life.
And the blessing of God almighty.....