Weekly Bible Notes, 29th June 2003
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary (Second Sunday after Trinity)
Year B, Green
|First Reading:||Lamentations 3:23-33|
|Second Reading:||2 Corinthians 8:7-15|
|Commentary:||Faith in Action|
|Prayers:||Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead|
Opening Verse 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—Before we read we pray
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 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. (This is the word of the Lord. All: Thanks be to God)
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." (This is the word of the Lord. All: Thanks be to God)
Gospel Reading Mark 5:21-43
(Please stand for the Gospel, When announced ’Glory to Christ our
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. (This is the Gospel of Christ -
Praise to Christ our Lord)
Commentary: Faith in Action
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
Hymns (Hymns & Psalms)
|St. Mark’s Church||Putnoe Heights Church|
Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead
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
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.
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
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.
Lamentations - ‘Poems of heartbreak’
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
"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 (Hymns for Today Church)
- New every morning is the love
- Let us sing to the God of our salvation (Tune : Sing Hosanna)
- I want to walk with Jesus Christ
- Lord of creation to you be all praise (Mission Praise 440)
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
Answer - Nothing