On Sunday June 28th Rev. Keith Page led worship at Wesley Chapel. He introduced worship by saying, ‘Make open the ways of the Lord,’ before we sang the worshipful song, ‘Be still’. Keith explained that the awkward individual in his family was his elder brother. Keith became a Christian followed by his brother’s son and daughter, but his brother remained unmoved. Then his brother seriously damaged his eye with a branch. He was in despair as he needed to drive for his work, so his wife had to come with him. As he could not see clearly through the eye he stopped to pray in despair, asking God to help him, because he could not see how he could go on. Later his vision cleared and the pain had gone. That day changed him and his eyes were opened to the Christian faith. We need to come as we are to God and be open to him so our lives can be changed by him.
Keith then led the opening prayers and the Lord’s Prayer before we heard the reading from Joel 2v28-32 when God poured out his Spirit. We sang, ‘See how great a flame aspires’ before we had the reading from Mark 5v21-43 before we sang, ‘Have faith in God my heart.’
To start his sermon Keith asked us if we had enjoyed the comedy, ‘Yes minister’ and I certainly loved the way the civil servants and sheer bureaucracy obstructed the minister. In Rotherham those who ran the system chose however not to help children; those who were supposed to protect chose not to see the truth. Keith’s daughter is a minister there. There was a church in a rough area which was always having its windows broken. So they decided to put polycarbonate sheets over the windows to protect them. When the sheets were covered with graffiti by the locals; initially they thought of cleaning the sheets, but a church member told them that the graffiti should remain, as it would remind them of the community in which the church was in.
Jesus always told the truth and we as his disciples need to seek the truth of society and ourselves. Jesus lifted up the poor and vulnerable. Keith wonders what makes people want to change. He thinks that we need to be in a state of desperation or it could be when something happens which brings us to our wits ends, to make us open to God. Now that his brother is a changed man, he can lead people on the streets to Christ.
The gospel shows desperation both for Jairus, whose daughter was dying and the woman’s whose illness made her an outcast. The girl was on the threshold of womanhood, as a girl of 12 + 1 day in Judaism she becomes a woman; a boy becomes a man at the age of 13. Jairus was the most important member of the synagogue as he was the leader. The Rabbi in a synagogue taught scriptures but the leader of synagogue did everything else.
A minister Keith knew was in charge of 7 churches had no time to lead a Bible study as he had so much bureaucracy taking up his time. Leaders like Jairus would normally have nothing to do with Jesus but this time he was desperate because his daughter could die. Jairus, who was an exalted man of dignity, was prepared in desperation to bow before Jesus and ask him to heal his daughter. The people around him told him to stop bothering the healer as his daughter was dead. Jairus did not give up but pleaded with Jesus to help me, as he was desperate.
There was suddenly an interruption on account of the woman with haemorrhage, who could not be touched for 12 years. She had obviously been wealthy because she has used all her money suffering under doctors in search of a cure, and now still ill she had used all her resources. She was desperate and dared to touch Jesus’ tassels, the four hanging tassels when she realised she been healed. Jesus had felt power draining out of him and asked who had touched him. The woman was terrified to admit she had touched him, as she had made Jesus unclean, but the healing had to be broadcast, as the woman needed to be restored to the community. Jairus important though he is, had to wait. The woman in her desperation was open to the power and possibilities of God. We need to nurture that radical openness to God, removing any barriers preventing us from following God. One small light switch can illuminate a building. Just one spark of faith can make us open to God. We are not promised an easy path but are called to walk with faith.
We sang the version of the Lord’s my shepherd with a chorus which I found uplifting.
The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want;
He makes me lie in pastures green,
He leads me by the still, still waters,
His goodness restores my soul.
As I will trust in you alone,
And I will trust in you alone,
For your endless mercy follows me,
Your goodness will lead me home.
Keith led the prayers of intercessions. Our worship concluded when we sang ‘Author of faith, eternal Word.’