Sunday, 28 June 2015

A touching place

I guess there are many ways of talking about a church and maybe the poetry of John Bell from the Iona community is as good as it gets – the church should be, can be, must be a touching place where Christ shows his face and gives his embrace.

We give thanks for our churches, St John is celebrating its feast of Dedication this morning,  which stands as a sign to those whose faith and love of God led them to this place and here to create a touching place with God.

St John's and St Matthias are truly places where people come and touch:
Lovers old and young told hands and make vows
Bishops have come and with gentle hands  baptized and confirmed, the faith of God’s children and the life Jesus calls us into and ordained those willing to serve as priests.
Those who have shed the shackles of this life have been brought into this church, often carried by their loved ones at the end of their life’s journey

Here Heaven and earth touch and Gods life is released in to the world and
all of us can open our hands and touch the living God in the sacrament of his body and blood.

Yes the Church is truly a touching place
A place of memory and love : a place for forgiveness and peace.

And how appropriate to have for our thoughts and inspiration this morning a story of touch and encounter in our gospel reading

In this story, two people come to Jesus with their needs.  They are very different people.  Jairus is an important man.  Mark 5v22 says ‘a synagogue ruler’.  He’s a man, he’s a ruler, he has a family, he’s religious and very respectable in the community.

The woman is not even named.  Jesus calls her ‘Daughter’ in v34, which is even better than telling us her name.  But as the story begins she is an unnamed and unclean woman.  She has an unstoppable flow of blood which made her perpetually, ceremonially unclean, untouchable even in her home for 12 long years.  This woman is unnamed, unclean, sick and now in despair.

 So this woman has had 12 years of great suffering. 

She is very different to Jairus.  Jairus, we can imagine, has had 12 years of joy with his 12 year old daughter.  But now with his daughter on death’s door, Jairus and the women are driven by the same need to touch God.  They are both needy beggars coming to Jesus. Both take a journey to reach out and touch the only one who can give them their hearts desire.

In verse 22 this respectable man falls at Jesus’ feet in a public place and pleads earnestly with Him.  This was very dangerous for Jairus to do.  We know from chapter 3 verse 6 that the religious authorities have been plotting to kill Jesus.  So for this synagogue ruler to fall at Jesus’ feet could well have cost him his job and his reputation.  But what’s that compared to your 12 year old girl?

So Jairus and the woman are very different, both come to Jesus in their need.
 And both of them think they know how Jesus is going to help them.  They both have very particular expectations of Jesus – one's he will not meet but change!

Jairus thinks Jesus ought to come and lay hands on his sick daughter, he practically tells Jesus what to do and expects him to act immediately. He probably does this because Jesus had performed other healings where that’s what He did – He laid hands on people. 

The woman also thinks she knows how to get a healing.  She thinks if she just touches Jesus’ clothes she’ll be healed. 

But for both of them Jesus frustrates their plans and responds in ways that they were not expecting.

For Jarius –It is now too late, there was too much delay the girl is now dead. There is no point. He has made the journey for nothing, he has risked everything only to fail – or so it would seem when Jesus finally enters the house

For the nameless woman she is not allowed to get away with the  anonymity  she desires, touching Jesus means that she is now in a very public place, a central place within the crowd in which she hoped to remain hidden, a skill she had no doubt developed over the last 12 years.

Jairus’s story is our story. 
The Nameless womans experience is ours

Every one of us either has had or will have moments like this in our Christian lives.  We have come to Jesus.  We have real needs.  We are sure we know the best way He can help us.  But Jesus doesn’t always  do what we’d thought would happen or planed to occur.

As we saw in the calming of the storm last week – Jesus does not always act or react in a way that we expect, or to a timetable we determine. We will go through storms and Jesus won’t calm them right away.  It will get to the point where we say “I’m dying here and you don’t care do you?”. . 

And as we see when a women reaches out to touch Jesus and when He reaches out to touch a small child something miraculous does occur – life is given, is strengthened, is healed, is renewed.

And at the end of the story Jesus has saved both daughters. Everyone thought the bleeding woman could wait while Jesus healed the dying girl.  But no – Jesus  saved the woman with the flow of blood and He’s saved the dying girl.  He calls the one ‘daughter’, He calls the other ‘Talitha’ – both terms of great affection.  He does care, He is powerful and He does know how to bring things to a happily ever after that far outstrips anything we expected. 

So as we give thanks for those who first build and dedicated St John's church to the glory of God, As we give thanks and work to preserve the vision and mission of those who went before us in every church, let us also continue to care for this touching place and never limit the love and power of God by closing its doors to those who would seek refuge 


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