Monthly Archives: June 2024

Open Up To Jesus

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ According to Mark.

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse.

She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.

Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.

When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him.

Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.  ( Mark 5:21-43 )

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At the time when getting pregnant before being married was seen as such a sin, a young woman gave birth to a baby boy. She was in a maternity home for unmarried mothers and her boy was taken away from her and given to a couple who had said they wanted to adopt a boy.

Some years later, this young woman met a young man and they fell in love and were married. In due course, they had a baby, a son, and loved him and cherished him, but all the time, the young woman thought about the son she had taken from her.

Some time went by and her son became of an age where she felt that she could tell him about his older brother. He listened to the story intently, and resolved to try and find his brother.

Unknown to his mother he began to research hospital records, and records of adoption, in the institutions that had dealt with such matters, and after many years he had a clue as to where he might find his brother.

He arranged to meet this person who might be his brother.

He had been very successful in life, had a high position in business and drove to their rendezvous in his expensive car.

They had arranged to meet outside a well known restaurant, and when he arrived, he saw a man standing there.

This man was older looking. He also was not dressed very expensively. He wasn’t as well groomed as he might have been,

As was learned later, this man had suffered an injury at work and was unemployed.

Two men with vastly different circumstances, but the moment they came close to each other they knew – just looking at each other they knew.

They were brothers!

Two people with different histories, different upbringing but with something intangible, something inherent in them, that was the same.

We have a similar circumstance presented to us in today’s Gospel.

One person Jairus, is a rich man, He held a high position in the council of the temple.

He was accustomed to being deferred to. He was an important and powerful man. He wants his daughter to be made well.

The second person is a woman, perhaps in her forties, who has an incurable illness, a persistent bleeding.

She is penniless, having spent all her money on doctors.

She is considered to be unclean because of her condition.

Women who were menstruating were considered unclean, can you believe it?

Women who had given birth were considered unclean, can you believe it?

But these two people, as different as they were had something in common.

They weren’t related as the two brothers in our earlier story  were. 

But there was something common to them both.

As a man with a seat of power in the Council, a body of men  which was in opposition to Jesus; a body of men which saw Jesus as a disturber, as someone the ordinary people were drawn to, and who could be considered a danger to the established order.

Jairus would find it difficult to come to this man Jesus in front of all the people milling around him, and humble himself to ask for healing for his daughter.

This woman, unnamed, had a condition which, because of the culture  at the time, had resulted in her being ostracized, had been impoverished, and who had to find the courage to approach Jesus in front of so many people and ask for healing.

Even then, because of the nature of her illness, she couldn’t bring herself to tell him her problem, but merely touched the hem of his robe.

Two people who could hardly be more different, but with a similar need, and a similar reticence at coming forward.

Most of us of a certain age,  here have been brought up in the church.  We are comfortable there.

But think how hard it must be for someone who feels the need to come to Christ, to come in to a church and kneel in supplication, in prayer, and in humility and approach him.

And we don’t make it easy do we?

We start filling up seats from the back row, and leave the front rows empty.

Someone new has to walk down the aisle – run the gauntlet as it were – and find a seat near the front.

That can’t be easy.

Although it is easier in a small church where the centre aisle is not too long, and because in my church you had to pass Jean, who would make you feel welcome.

That’s the practical aspect, but what about the spiritual aspect?

How does someone who has led a life that has not been good- a life that one is ashamed of, and wishes to change – how does that person come forward to meet their God?

I mentioned the way a woman who was menstruating was considered unclean.

That was in ancient times, but in fairly recent times because of the attitude of the church, women could similarly be made to feel unclean, or at least not worthy.

A woman who had given birth to a child needed to be “churched “, or “cleansed” before she could feel good enough to mix with others in worship.

Why do things have to put in the way of people wishing to be accepted?

Why do obstacles have to be put in the way of someone wanting to change their life?

And are those obstacles real or are they the obstacles we ourselves use to avoid making drastic change?

Walking down a long aisle, and perhaps going to coffee afterward, and having to meet with people, and talk to them, and explain why you are here, and who you are?

Some years ago, I was visiting in man in hospital, who was terminally ill. He literally had a few days to live, and he told me of his life, and his unhappiness, and his regrets. . And I asked him if he wished me to pray with him. He shook his head. “ Don’t pray with me, but you can pray for me if you wish “ And he meant somewhere else.

On the brink of eternity and he just could not find it in him to  reach out to Jesus.

And it’s especially tragic when as in the Gospel  story today, it doesn’t matter who you are, or what you have done, or what is wrong with you, he wants you back.

It is all the same to Him.

And aren’t we all glad about that?

He healed the daughter of a man who might be one of those who would condemn him to death.

He healed the woman who was too timid to name her condition.

Asking for help sometimes calls for bravery.

It calls for a real need to overcome any reason, no matter how big or small, and to come forward humbly and ask.

Ask.

That is all.

Ask.

You know, I went through a hard time when I came to this country. I had a wife and a daughter to support, and my first job only  paid a hundred dollars a week, and I had to buy a car if I wanted to keep the job.

The rent for our apartment was $139.00 dollars a month, plus five dollars for parking.  My take home pay was about $89.00.

I used to sweat when it came to paying  our bills. .

I used to think I would never make it .

I could have reached out to my father, back there in the UK. He wasn’t a rich man, but he could have helped me, and he would have, had I asked.

But, you see, he had warned me about coming to Canada.

So,  I wouldn’t ask.  He might think he had been right to warn me.

Too proud to ask.

Too proud to admit I needed help to make it in this new world.

I think that’s the problem of many – too proud to admit we need Christ in our lives, and too afraid to ask.

Or don’t know how.

A faithful member of a church I was serving for a short while, was the secretary of the church, a past warden, a server, and a chalice bearer.

One day she asked me, “ How do you pray?”

I asked her, “ How do you pray? “

She said, “ I just say the Lord’s Prayer.”

“ Is that all. “  I asked?

“Yes. .”

“ Come here,” I said, holding her hand, and I said, “This is how you pray.”

‘ Loving Lord Jesus, I am just a simple child of yours. I am afraid to look up to you. Fill my heart with the words I need to talk to you, to tell how I love you, and to thank you for my life, and my family. Amen.’

She said, eyes wide, ‘ Is that all?”

I wonder if we make it too difficult in  the church for people to have the courage to reach out to Jesus? 

That maybe something bad will happen to us,.

There is a story of a young Russian called Boris, who arrived at the Pearly Gates, and was welcomed by St. Peter.

Showing him around, St. Peter said, “ You can go anywhere you want with one exception. You cannot go on the pink clouds.”

“ Why not?” asked Boris.

“ Because,” answered St. Peter, “ The pink clouds are reserved for people who have done something great.”

“But I have done something great,”  said Boris. I made a speech at the Kremlin against the party officials. Then I urged people to revolt.”

“ Just when did this happen?”  asked St. Peter.

Boris looked at his watch and said,” About two minutes ago.”   

Open up to Jesus, and I guarantee you will not go wrong. 

Amen.