2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27: In spite of Saul’s persecution of him, David sings a song of grief for Saul’s death, and that of Jonathan. David’s respect and praise for Saul, and his love for Jonathan, are expressed in the beauty of the poetry, and no anger or hatred of Saul is present in David’s grief at all.
Psalm 130: A cry to God for redemption and rescue, in which hope in God’s faithful love is expressed.
2 Corinthians 8:7-15: Paul encourages the Corinthian Christians to share their abundance with others who are less fortunate. He explains that he doesn’t want them to go without for the sake of others, but rather that their surplus can help others who have lack. In time the situation may be reversed and this ensures that all have enough and are equal.
Mark 5:21-43: Jesus is asked by a synagogue leader, Jairus, to go with him to heal his daughter. On his way, a woman who has been bleeding for twelve years touches him and is healed. After insisting that she make herself known, and speaking words of grace to her, he goes on to Jairus’ house, where his daughter has now died. Then Jesus raises her from the dead to the amazement of all.
(Summary of Bible readings by John van de Laar, Sacredise)
Opening prayer (based on Psalm 130)
Healing God, we come together in our brokenness,
to call to you in your mercy, to make us whole again.
Wholeness–giving God, listen to our prayers, we pray.
Restoring God, we gather to worship you, even as
we hopefully seek to be renewed and restored again.
God, our Quiet-Centre, listen to our prayers this day.
Foundational God, we come to praise and thank you!
In the depths of your Holy Being we find peace and rest.
God – our Beginning and our End, we hope always in you. Amen.
(Source: Rev Joan Stott. Please provide an acknowledgement: © 2012 Joan Stott – “The Timeless Psalms” RCL Psalm Year B, used with permission).
Call to Worship
Come among us, Healing God; we wait for you.
We come, hungry for your Word to bless us.
Come among us, Compassionate Christ; we hope in you.
We come, hungry to be filled with the Bread of Heaven.
Come among us, Restoring Spirit; we wait and hope in you.
We come, eager to rest in your peace.
(Source: Thom Shuman, Lectionary Liturgies)
Opening Prayer (inspired by Psalm 130)
O Lord our God, we come to you, seeking to
rise up from the depths and agony of despair.
Please listen, our Saving God –
we need your help and blessing.
Lord, through the tenderness
of your mercy towards us
we have learned to worship you –
and to revere your Holy Name;
therefore, we place our entire trust
and hope in you, our Trustworthy God.
We gather to offer you our thanks,
for we know that you offer us
your unfailing love and mercy
that is beyond our understanding.
You know our longing for forgiveness,
and you offer us your presence – which
blesses us from God’s overflowing store
of mercy, hope, freedom and joy. Amen.
(Source: Rev Joan Stott, Timeless Psalms). Please acknowledgement: © 2011 Joan Stott – ‘The Timeless Psalms’ RCL Psalms Year A. Used with permission.
Prayer of approach and confession
Lord God of a new morning, and of all our days and nights,
we gather here to praise you in sound and silence,
in story and song
with voices and hearts
eager to know you and to move a little closer to you.
Life giving God,
You have called us from many places, along many roads
and through many histories
to this moment and place,
that we might be reminded
of your faithfulness.
You have heard the song of our souls,
mingled with tears and laughter,
burning with anger and shouting with joy
as we navigate life’s pathways
with you as our constant companion.
You have shared flesh with us,
known blood pulsing through your veins
and flowing from your wounds;
experienced death and isolation
so that you might know for yourself
our struggles and our sorrows.
You came back to us;
threw off the weight of dirt and stone,
to unearth a promise made before time,
and hand it to us, fresh and clean,
and full of life.
And you have stayed with us, Lord,
even as our song has fallen silent,
our minds have become closed and our words have become sharp,
like a sword in your side.
How can we help but seek forgiveness
when we have failed to recognise you?
How can we begin to understand grace
when it comes into even the hardest of hearts?
How can we not go from here,
amazed all over again,
at the mystery of a God
who sees potential in our reluctance and has the patience to pursue it?
Lord God, you have blessed us and freed us from all our failures.
You have put your trust in us
that we might bring blessing and freedom to others
through your word.
May our voices always be praising you,
may our actions always be sharing you,
may our hearts always be open to you,
and may our lives be a living sacrifice to you
so that all may see and hear your glory.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Source: Tina Kemp, Church of Scotland)
Prayer of Confession (inspired by Psalm 130, Ephesians 4)
O God of compassion,
if you kept a record of our sins,
who could stand?
We come before you with our brokenness
and our wounds for all to see.
We bring our anger, our bitterness,
our unwholesome talk,
and our deceitfulness.
We try to do good,
but sometimes fail.
We choose to do evil,
and sometimes succeed.
Keep your promise to forgive us
when we confess to you completely.
Without you, we have no hope.
A silence is kept
Words of Assurance
If we confess our sins, God is faithful and will forgive us.
God provides freely, in the bread of heaven,
all the mercy we need for life everlasting.
The good news is forgiveness in the name of Christ Jesus.
(Source: adapted, Abingdon Worship Annual 2009, © 2008 Abingdon Press. Posted on the Ministry Matters website)
Prayer of Confession (inspired by Psalm 130)
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleading!
If you, O Lord, if you took our faults and wrong actions into account,
Lord, who could stand before you?
But in you there is a deep well of forgiveness,
so that you may be held in holy awe.
I wait for you, O Lord, I wait with deep longing,
and in your word I stand, waiting in hope.
My deep longing for the Lord
is more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who wait for an end to the night.
Assurance of Pardon (from Psalm 130)
Our hope is in you, O Lord!
For with you there is steadfast love,
and great power to save.
It is the Lord God who will save us from all our wrongdoing.
Thanks be to God.
(Source: Jeff Shrowder, The Billabong)
Prayer of Confession (inspired by Mark 5: 21-43)
Call to Confession
God calls us in our lives to take a risk,
to be like the woman in the gospel
who reaches out to Jesus for healing for herself;
or the father who risks the scorn of others
to bring Jesus to his dying daughter.
Let us ponder for a moment the places in our lives
where we may resist turning to God for healing and change. (silence)
Litany of Confession
When we resist your call to open our hearts to allow
the freshness of your grace to enter: God have mercy.
When we close our eyes to your new and unexpected possibilities
of healing and reconciliation: Christ have mercy.
When we let fear overwhelm us,
and cling to the security of what we know instead of
risking new steps toward your freedom and justice: God have mercy.
Assurance of Grace
God’s mercies are fresh every morning.
In Christ God offers forgiving grace
and welcome into a community of trust, abundance, and hope.
Let us give thanks for the mercy of God,
and pass the peace of Christ in community among us.
(Source: Rev. Susan A. Blain, Worship Ways website).
Prayer of confession/prayers of who we are and Words of Assurance
Prayer of Petition (based closely on Psalm 130)
Out of the depths, LORD, I call to you;
let me feel you even in this darkness.
Take away my hardship
or give me the strength to endure.
If all our mistakes were permanent,
without hope for repair,
which of us could survive?
But you have forgiven us,
even when we cannot forgive ourselves.
I listen for you;
my soul listens like a deer in the forest.
My soul waits more intently
than a soldier watching for the dawn.
Answer me; open my heart
so that I can wholly receive you.
Teach me, remind me, that you are my hope.
You are the steadfast love in my life, like no other.
(Source: Rachel Hackenberg website)
Readings and reflections
In 2018 the exclusion of the woman in the Gospel passage as a ‘non-person’ because of her bleeding invites the denigration and assignment of ‘non-person’ to people in our time in our global village. Should we discuss ‘politics’ in the pulpit. Absolutely, if it’s about the dignity and value of human persons, if it’s about systems that denigrate and keep people impoverished, if it’s about speaking ‘truth to power’. For such are the values of the Kingdom of God and the example of Jesus. These words from Elie Wiesel seem appropriate too: ‘Always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented’.
Often one hears ‘either-or’ arguments eg we need to look after our own people before looking after refugees, as if it needs to be one or the other, rather than both/and. Could be something worthwhile pursuing in a sermon/reflection. Jeff Shrowder’s reflection below picks up this both/and idea as well.
Compassion is life-giving (Mark 5:21-43)
aching to save his daughter
pleaded with Jesus.
physicked by many, touched him:
faith seeking healing.
Jesus treats these two
with an equal compassion,
present to each need.
(Source: Jeff Shrowder, 2018, The Billabong)
Reflection on the Gospel Reading: Mark 5:21-43
In this passage we find a woman who has been subject to bleeding for 12 years (the age of Jairus’ daughter). For her, this is not merely a physical impairment – she is also a social outcast. Apparently God’s commands to protect the disabled (Lev 19.14) have been completely abandoned by the time of Jesus. That this woman has accepted the definition of social pariah, placed on her by others, is demonstrated by her fear of facing Jesus when he calls her from the crowd in verse 8:47. She is ‘the other’. What must life have been like for this woman? Why did she touch Jesus’ hem (as opposed to a direct request?). What does it say about how she saw herself? Why is her self-image a problem? Who today might be like this woman?
What is striking is Jesus’ way of addressing the situation. Knowing that she was socially outcast because of her ailment, Jesus calls her out of the crowd. He allows her to tell her story publicly, and in that act her reinstates her into the social sphere. For Jesus, social inclusion is equally as important as physical healing. In the reign of God, inclusion is the right of all people regardless of who they are or what ailment they might have. This is what is might mean to destroy the ‘tyranny of normality’ as defined by Stanley Hauerwas in Suffering Presence, the idea that normality is dangerous for people with disabilities because the most stringent power we have over another is not physical coercion but the ability to have another accept our definition of them.
(Source: Matt Anslow in TEAR Magazine, Issue 1, 2011)
Gospel reflection (Mark 5:25-34)
it was only
people averting their eyes,
gossip trickling out
the sides of their mouths
about her ‘problem’;
then came the years
laughter, ridicule, rebuke.
telling stories to his friends,
trading jokes with lawyers,
asking riddles of preachers:
she heard the
of his robe’s hem
as it brushed
the streets of the kingdom.
if i could only touch it, she
in the silence,
no one heard the
flowing through her soul,
making her whole.
in the silence,
Jesus tenderly lifted her
to her feet;
‘you are well,
daughter of faith,
go in peace’
was the benediction
(Source: Thom Shuman, Prayers4Today)
“Risks in hope of wholeness” “And there was a woman … who had suffered much …”
The story of the woman haemorrhaging is more than a nice episode of an easy display of faith. This is about return to life from death. The haemorrhaging woman has been more thank sick: she is socially dead, “unclean” and unable to go to synagogue because she is not allowed contact with men. The irony of it is that those men she’s been forced into contact with, the doctors, have bled her purse dry and left the flood flowing from her stronger than ever. She’s a woman, she’s poor, and she’s constantly impure. So what is someone like that risking when she pushes her way into the crowd waiting for Jesus? She must have feared this would be just one more experience of rejection and disappointment. She
knows the risk she has taken. But it is worth it. By her faith, the woman has been healed, the bleeding dries up and her life is restored.
Gracious God, even when we are broken and sacred,
we can come to you. Even when we are rejected
and oppressed, you can make us whole. Even when
everything seems hopeless, life can be
restored. And for the broken and rejected ones,
the scared and oppressed who have risked all to
come to you, we offer our thanks. Their hopes
help us to risk, to keep believing in
wholeness. Through the love of Jesus we pray. AMEN.
(Source: John Maynard worship resources)
Prayer for Others (inspired by Psalm 130)
Breath of life,
We think of those who cry out to you today,
of those who long for the morning,
of those who are waiting for the long Lent to end.
(Prayers are offered….)
We pray that our ears will be attentive
to the cry of those we have prayed for,
that we will stand with them,
steadfast together in your love,
bringing life before death. Amen.
(Source: adapted, Monthly Prayers page of the Christian Aid website)
Prayers of thanksgiving and intercession
We will never know, Lord God,
what makes us so worthy of Your attention.
Whether we are like Jairus
who threw himself at your feet
in full view of the crowd;
or whether we are like the woman
who dared to brush against you
only because she was hidden from view, you notice us.
You see our need.
You acknowledge our hope.
You glimpse the little bit of faith
that keeps us hanging on
in the hope of a miracle.
Thank You, Lord,
for recognising us in the noisiness of life and the confusion of our souls.
As we pray now for our world,
as we pray now for your people
in all their needfulness and searching,
notice us, Lord.
See our need for ourselves and for others,
recognise the hope we have for creation and accept our faith,
whether it is rich in its abundance
or modest in its poverty.
We lay the world at your feet now, Lord God,
the many places and situations
which seek your loving influence
and liberating intervention;
the many people who yearn for the certainty of your presence.
Turn to face them, Lord,
That they might recognise you
and know comfort and consolation.
All this we ask in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Source: Tina Kemp, Church of Scotland)
A focus for prayers for others – and women suffering with fistula
Today’s Gospel might offer an opportunity to reflect on a modern day equivalent of the woman’s predicament, and perhaps be a subject of prayers for others. Fistula is a huge issue in many countries, and particularly on the continent of Africa (with an estimated 2 million women affected by fistula). Women in childbirth sometimes suffer an obstetric fistula, an internal injury caused by an obstructed childbirth, which leaves them incontinent, humiliated and cut off from their communities. These women are marginalised in their communities. Organisations like the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation do a wonderful job for these women. Founded almost 60 years ago by pioneering Australian surgeons Catherine and Reg Hamlin, their extraordinary journey started with an initial three year posting to Ethiopia. The aim is to eradicate fistula entirely with the proper health care and medical intervention. Dr Andrew Browning is a hero to many African women for his corrective work on fistula. He is an Australian trained obstetrician and gynaecologist who has worked in Ethiopia and Tanzania for more than 13 years as a senior fistula surgeon, now based with the Barbara Browning Foundation. Perhaps you and/or your congregation might consider donating to an organisation that supports the women with fistula (standard fistula surgery is $AU600 – click on the links for more information).
PRAY For restoration of dignity for these women who have suffered with obstetric fistula. Pray for healthy deliveries of babies. Pray for compassion within families and communities. Pray for the nurses and surgeons who serve these women.
Singing from the Lectionary blog
All are welcome by Marty Haugen
Could consider singing the Gospel reading with this hymn by Carolyn Gillette Winfrey that tells the story well.
She Suffered Twelve Long Years
LEONI 18.104.22.168 (“The God of Abraham Praise”)
She’d suffered twelve long years! She longed to be made whole.
The pain to body, mind and spirit tore her soul.
She felt the weight of shame, the lonely days of doubt.
Till one day she heard Jesus’ name and she reached out.
As Jesus walked along, a crowd was gathering fast.
The people jostled close to him as he walked past.
She would not call his name; perhaps a touch would do.
She brushed against his clothing’s hem as he passed through.
As soon as she reached out, she felt her body healed.
She knew the kingdom blessing of God’s love revealed.
And Jesus sensed it, too. “Who touched me?” Jesus said.
The woman came and told the truth with fear and dread.
Yet Jesus’ words were kind: “Now daughter, go in peace.
Your faith has made you well and healed you from disease.”
He sent her on her way, her health and hope restored.
Her life was changed from her encounter with the Lord.
We’ve suffered many years from things that should not be;
We’re ill in our own lives and in society.
Lord Jesus, now we pray that you will heal us, too.
Give us the faith to reach out, fully trusting you.
O God, We Rage at Hurtful Things
ST. ANNE 22.214.171.124 (“Our God, Our Help in Ages Past”)
O God, we rage at hurtful things
Beyond our own control,
Like all the pain that illness brings
To body, mind and soul.
There’s much we cannot understand;
O Lord, we ask you, “Why?”
And yet in Christ you know firsthand
The tears your people cry.
O Christ, your loving, saving touch
Heals children, women, men.
We pray for ones we love so much;
Lord, make them whole again.
Now work through those your Spirit sends
To heal, restore and care.
May doctors, nurses, neighbors, friends
Be answers to our prayer.
And when the journey seems too rough
And you seem far away,
Remind us, Lord: You are enough
To bring us through each day.
(Words: Carolyn Gillette Winfrey on her hymn website)
O God of Life, Your Healing Touch
ST. COLUMBA 126.96.36.199 (“The King of Love My Shepherd Is”)
O God of life, your healing touch brings wholeness and salvation!
In you, this world you love so much becomes a new creation.
Through Jesus Christ you blessed the poor, unleashed your gifts of healing.
You gave new sight, new strength, new life — to all, your love revealing.
O Christ, the loving healer still, you gather us for mission
To serve your people who are ill, whatever their condition.
You send us to the suffering with medicine and caring;
Now make our lives an offering to those who are despairing.
Lord, by your Spirit, may we hear the truth of others’ stories.
May we respect their doubts and fears, their hopes and dreams, their worries.
And when their ways are not our own, Lord, give us understanding:
Our faith cannot be fully grown when we are too unbending.
How long, Lord, shall we serve the poor — a week, a month, a season?
We ask the question, hoping for a limit to our mission.
But open wide our hearts anew and show us, as we’re giving,
Your life-long call to serving you in daily, generous living.
(Words: Carolyn Gillette Winfrey on her hymn website)