Reflection: "A Healing Community"
When I read through the newspapers and listen to the radio and television, I get a bit upset at what I see and read.
There are so many troubles throughout the world and also here at home.
And the scariest thing is that I’m usually not all that surprised about what I see and hear.
How easy it is for us to become immune to the news regarding the atrocities that are besetting our world.
Stories like tsunamis, earthquakes and famine – all killing thousands of people, of wars and conflicts like those in the middle-east and Africa and many other stories of terrorism, or gun violence.
And they usually impact on the lives of so many innocent people.
I guess one of the hottest local topics at the moment is that of the asylum-seeking Tamil family, who have lived in the Queensland town of Biloela for many years, yet have been repeatedly refused residency by the government.Their fate seems to be in the hands of the politicians.
Can we assume that all parliamentary representatives are caring people, who are looking to heal the past hurts and problems that beset those who seek asylum?
Do they give the people who are scared and alone, new hope in a new country, or are those who are in power more like selfish people who are looking to score political points and get themselves re-elected for another term in office.
Maybe some of them are keener not to be seen doing a political backflip from some position that they may no longer believe, rather than being the best, or most humanitarian, that they can be?
In the past, Australia had a reputation for being a Christian-based nation, running on biblical principles, but is that still the case, or have we become a nation of people who are better at looking after ourselves, than our fellow man?
Are we a healing community, or one which just wants to keep improving the standard of living for the wealthy, in a world that constantly cries out for help?
Paul, when writing to the fledgling church in Corinth, tells them how God, who had everything, came to earth in the form of Jesus and became poor, because he cared so much for us and wanted us to have more.
But Paul also cautions them to use their gifts wisely, in caring for others and sharing their wealth with others.
If others are broken, Paul urges the Corinthian Christians to heal them with the gifts that God has given them.
That advice is still relevant to us today, in the 21st century.
The Home Group that Lynne & I belong to, recently studied the books of 1 & 2 Timothy.
In these, Paul urges Timothy to deal with the false teachings that abounded in Ephesus at that time.
The church groups in Ephesus were in real need of healing, as they existed in a mixture of Greek and Roman culture, where sexual deviancy was at its height.
Here was a community desperately in need of healing, so Paul and Timothy made it their mission to try to reform them by preaching about the love of Jesus for all people, not just the Jews, and encouraging the Ephesians to abandon their wicked ways and show care and respect for their fellow men and women.
It was by showing the love that God has for all his creations, that they hoped to heal the community’s brokenness.
But what do we do today, if we don’t have men like these to help us, when we see a community that needs healing?
Luckily, we have an instruction manual that we can refer to – we call it the bible – and we can use it as a reference guide on what we should be doing and on just how Jesus did things when he was among us.
We also have the faith that God will be with us at all times and that he’ll look after us.
Our stories from Mark’s gospel today, were of people who had faith that resulted in healing.
In this instance, maybe not so much of a whole community, but more a healing of individuals.
This is a story within a story (a technique called “a sandwich”, which is favoured by Mark to create dramatic tension).
The “bread” in this passage, or the story at the beginning and end, is about the daughter of Jairus, who was sick and then died whilst Jesus was busy with the crowds and healing the bleeding woman.
When told of the demise of the young girl, Jesus said to Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe.”
Jesus always focussed on people’s fears and their love of God and didn’t do things just to impress the crowds. Faith can achieve a lot more than we often give it credit for.
Jesus shows that he is willing to help both people - an important man - Jairus - and a nobody - the bleeding woman.
Their rank, or importance in the community, made no difference to our Lord – he was willing to help them both - because of their need and their faith.
The woman who touched one of the tassels of Jesus’s shawl believed that he was such a great healer that he didn’t need to actually “do” anything to cure her of her ailment.
Just soaking up his goodness, through touching his garment, was enough for her.
It had a dramatic effect on Jesus, whereas if someone touched the hem of your scarf when you were walking through a crowd, do you think that you’d even notice?
Power had flowed out from Jesus to the woman, and he felt it.
He stopped and sought her out, to assure her that it was her faith that had healed her.
He was even willing to publicly bring her into the family of God by referring to her as “daughter”, even though she was considered “unclean” under Jewish law and had been banished from the synagogues and other religious activities for the past 12 years.
This woman had also exhausted all medical avenues and spent all her money on treatments, but because she thought of herself as a nobody – someone who was ritually unclean, she would have struggled with the idea that she could even approach Jesus.
And with that important man Jairus present, she hoped to become anonymous in the crowd.
She must have decided that she shouldn’t bother Jesus in person, believing that just by touching him, that she could be cured.
Who had the greater faith?
I guess we can accept that each of us has a different degree of faith and so it was with these two.
Jairus, being a leader in the synagogue, would probably have had a lot of biblical training and a long-held belief in the power of God.
The fact that he transferred that faith to Jesus is interesting, but it may have been a last resort, as his daughter had probably been sick for some time and had not been healed by the local physicians, or the religious people.
Despite the opposition to Jesus by the Jewish religious leaders, Jairus must have heard the reports of the miracles that Jesus had been performing and so it was that he came to the master to ask for healing for his daughter.
He humbled himself in front of the crowd. It’s also interesting to note that Jesus publicly cured the woman in front of a large crowd, but he chose to heal the little girl in private and even told the parents not to tell anyone about it.Why do you think he did that?
It isn’t explained in the passage, but I urge you to give it some thought and discuss it with those you meet.
Try to relate it to some modern-day healing that you might know about.
Some of you may remember the time before sale of our old Finlayson St church and how the changes that ensued, affected this church community.
Change is always a challenging time, but, when it’s handled with care and concern, it can lead to exciting times and opportunities – ones that that we hadn’t previously believed were possible.
Just like we have with this new community in this beautiful space at St Columba.
Because of the release of funds from the sale of the old building, we have been able to employ Karen as the Community Chaplain in Lane Cove and we can see that changes have taken place in the community.
We can be proud of what she has been able to achieve, with the backing of this congregation.
We’ve also been able to assist others, such as Saltbush (ministry in the outback), Grace church in Goulburn, the One Heart congregation, graduates from Margaret Jurd College and the Getting Ahead team at Bidwill Uniting Church.
Let us trust that future decisions of support will be possible, in prayerful consideration by the Church Council and in conjunction with the wishes of this congregation and that they will lead this church to be a relevant and driving force in the spiritual and moral wellbeing of the people of New South Wales, Australia and the rest of the world.
I certainly look forward with interest to seeing how that challenge develops and know that I will share in the joy of it with you over the coming years.
May God bless you all and keep you safe.