June 27, 2021

Prayer of the Day

Almighty and merciful God, we implore you to hear the prayers of your people. Be our strong defense against all harm and danger, that we may live and grow in faith and hope, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.Amen.

2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27

1After the death of Saul, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag.
  17David intoned this lamentation over Saul and his son Jonathan. 18(He ordered that The Song of the Bow be taught to the people of Judah; it is written in the Book of Jashar.) He said:
19Your glory, O Israel, lies slain upon your high places!
  How the mighty have fallen!
20Tell it not in Gath,
  proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon;
 or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,
  the daughters of the uncircumcised will exult.

21You mountains of Gilboa,
  let there be no dew or rain upon you,
  nor bounteous fields!
 For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
  the shield of Saul, anointed with oil no more.

22From the blood of the slain,
  from the fat of the mighty,
 the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
  nor the sword of Saul return empty.

23Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!
  In life and in death they were not divided;
 they were swifter than eagles,
  they were stronger than lions.

24O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
  who clothed you with crimson, in luxury,
  who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.

25How the mighty have fallen
  in the midst of the battle!

 Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.
  26I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
 greatly beloved were you to me;
  your love to me was wonderful,
  passing the love of women.

27How the mighty have fallen,
  and the weapons of war perished!

Psalm 130

1Out | of the depths
  I cry to | you, O Lord;
2O Lord, | hear my voice!
  Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my | supplication.
3If you were to keep watch | over sins,
  O Lord, | who could stand?
4Yet with you | is forgiveness,
  in order that you | may be feared. 
5I wait for you, O Lord; | my soul waits;
  in your word | is my hope.
6My soul waits for the Lord more than those who keep watch | for the morning,
  more than those who keep watch | for the morning.
7O Israel, wait for the Lord, for with the Lord there is | steadfast love;
  with the Lord there is plen- | teous redemption.
8For the Lord shall | redeem Israel
  from | all their sins. 

2 Corinthians 8:7-15

7Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.
  8I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. 9For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something—11now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. 12For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. 13I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between 14your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. 15As it is written, 
 “The one who had much did not have too much,
  and the one who had little did not have too little.”

Mark 5:21-43

21When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23and 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.” 24So he went with him. 
  And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ” 32He looked all around to see who had done it. 33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
  35While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40And 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. 41He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Healing of the Daughter of Jairus – Jesus Mafa

Sermon – Pr Meggan Manlove

This week we return to the themes of dislocation and relocation. In her article, “Religion after Pandemic” Diana Butler Bass proposes that we are experiencing four different kinds of dislocation: temporal, historical, physical, and relational. She suggests that religious communities need to be about the work of relocation. What does she mean? Finding what has been lost, repairing what has been broken, and re-grounding people into their own lives and communities.

This week we are focusing specifically on relational dislocation. What amazing scripture passages we have: Jesus in a crowd of people but also curing and healing people through human touch, David lamenting the loss of relationship after the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, and the church at Corinth hearing that they are not alone but in relationship with many other Christian communities. 

For the sake of focus, I am not going to preach on the story in Mark, but I do commend the other texts to you today, especially David’s lament and Psalm 130. If we ever needed permission from scripture to cry out to God for the deaths of loved ones, for broken relationships, for a year with limited relationships because of the pandemic, these texts give that permission for lament.  

Before diving into the gospel, let’s look at what Diana Butler Bass means precisely when referring to relational dislocation. She proposes, “We’ve lost our daily habits of interactions with other humans, the expression of emotions together in community. Have you worried you won’t know how to respond when you can be with your friends without distance, with no masks? How it will feel to be in large groups again? How will work or school feel back in person, with others at the next desk or waiting on customers face-to-face, or in the first in-person meeting? What happens when plexiglass comes down, the mask is off? That’s relational dislocation.”

I will admit that I thought I had a pretty good handle on relational dislocation, until Tuesday evening. Some friends and I went to an open house in Boise for a new nonprofit organization we all support. The venue was The Bishops’ House, now near the old penitentiary. It’s a big old house with a large wrap around porch. 

Two experiences stood out. Inside the house the conversation was lively, so lively that we had to stand close to one another to hear. You know that buzz in a loud, indoor, crowded setting? I could not remember the last time I had experienced it and finally I had to excuse myself and go out onto the porch. That’s where I ran into my second experience. 

I ended up in a fun conversation with people from two other nonprofits I like: the literary organization The Cabin and the Idaho Community Foundation. Suddenly I was not just citizen Meggan, also child of God, I was Pastor Meggan who serves the church with the affordable housing and the garden. Did I have a business card? I could not just put my contact information in the chat. I suddenly realized how out of practice I am networking.

It was an energizing evening but when the three of us got in the car to drive back to Nampa we confessed being exhausted. That was the evening of the big windstorm, which seemed to represent what was going on in my insides after such a social few hours. And it’s not that I will now avoid such events; I simply need a bit of practice. Many of us are relationally dislocated. Some practice and intentional reflection will help us get relational relocated.

Our stories today from Mark’s gospel are all about relationships. We might say that these two incidents together help us understand each of them. They both involve women in crisis—in fact we do not know them by their names but by their needs. They were not outsiders to begin with but both are now subject to the taboos around the mysterious power of life (blood) and the even more mysterious (and seemingly unconquerable) power of death. Neither the bleeding woman nor the dead girl should be touched, at the risk of conveying their uncleanness to others.

I think a good word to describe the woman is “tired.” A flow of blood for twelve years would exhaust a person, as if her life force were draining away. On top of that would be the discomfort and, worst of all, the feeling of isolation, or relational dislocation, that comes with uncleanness and the taboos around it. And yet Jesus ignores the taboo for the sake of relationship. 

He doesn’t permit this touch to stay anonymous, a passive healing on his part. He lets himself be sidetracked from hurrying to Jairus’ home long enough to find the person who has reached out to him with a touch that is more specific, more intentional, than merely jostling him in the crowd. Perhaps the crowd wanted to get near a celebrity, but this woman was reaching for her life. Jesus felt both her weariness and her deep hope. How could he simply walk away?

The other nameless and needy woman is barely a woman, just twelve years old and ready to begin her adult life. However, an unknown illness has struck her down, driving her father to extremes in his desperate search for help.  He was a leader, a religious leader in the synagogue, and yet this precious child’s illness has reduced him, weakened him, lowered him to the ground in front of a traveling folk healer in a last-ditch effort to prevent the worst from happening.

It seems that desperation, drives Jairus, the synagogue leader to Jesus. Jairus’ moment of faith comes a little while later, when the news arrives of his daughter’s death. Jesus then preaches briefly: “Do not fear,” he says to the grief-besotted man, “only believe.” Fear not; only believe. Jesus’ sermon was for all of us who suffer from the human condition. 

Into the midst of this comes the silent woman with the hemorrhage, without the boldness of the leader, simply hoping for one healing touch. And for Jesus, the most important thing in that moment is to face the person who has touched him, to encounter her has human being and not just as an anonymous touch. Another translation might read: “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”

During the delay, the synagogue leader gets the bad news that his daughter is already dead, and Jesus is no longer needed.  “Don’t bother,” the messengers say, “it’s too late.” Jesus speaks quietly, personally to Jairus right then, reassuring him: “Don’t listen to them; just trust me.”  When they arrive at Jairus’ home they make their way through the hired mourners. Jesus addressed them as he did the frightened, faithless disciples back in the boat, during the storm.  Where is their trust?

It must have been a tender scene, in the quiet that surrounds the sorrow for a dead child, yet Jesus is once again calm and confident. He reaches down to invite the little girl to rise up and live. And the little girl gets up immediately and walks around to the amazement of all. Jesus has to be the one to remember that she might be hungry after her ordeal and tells them to feed her.  He doesn’t miss the most ordinary and compassionate details.

Why does Jesus perform such miracles? The purpose is to establish Jesus’ identity: They are not stories about how to get God to do what we want, which is just another way of trying to stay in control.  Instead, they are stories about who God is and how God acts, and what God is like.  This is no ordinary man. This man is the son of God. Trust him. Holding on to that knowledge would sustain the early Christian community and the church today, all of us, and give us strength to meet the days to come and not lose heart.

Frederick Buchner puts us in the place of the little girl, with Jesus speaks to us, taking our hand and telling us to rise up and live: “You who believe, and you who sometimes believe and sometimes don’t believe much of anything, and you who would give almost anything to believe if only you could…’Get up,’ he says, all of you—all of you.”  Jesus gives life not only to the dead, but to those of us who are “only partly alive…who much of the time live with our lives closed to the wild beauty and the miracles of things, including the wild beauty and miracle of every day we live and even of ourselves.” 

Partly alive seems like an odd descriptor for life now, and yet it resonates. There are parts of me that have been dormant, out of practice, seemingly asleep. Those parts include the one accustomed to lots of hugs with friends and parishioners, the part that finds a connection point with most people I meet, the part who can handle a noisy crowd, the part who listens as someone bears their soul, and yes, the part that carries around business cards. 

Reflecting on her first airplane trip since the pandemic, pastor and writer Nadia Bolz-Weber wrote, “We just haven’t had much practice yet being the us we are after having stayed home for a year. So I want to join my voice with others who are saying: gentle. Let’s be gentle with ourselves right now. But let’s also be brave….

I almost cancelled my trip, but I’m so glad I didn’t. The thing about not having much practice yet being the me I am now, is that I didn’t realize how amazing it would be to feel so open-hearted. My “bodyguard” wasn’t needed. I had lovely conversations with people I didn’t know, and enjoyed just walking around feeling grateful to be there. But I did need a lot of breaks. More time alone in a quiet room than I needed before. And that’s ok. 

Nadia is right. We can be both gentle and brave as we live into relationships, old and new, today. Jesus bids, “Get up.” And at the altar he gives us something to eat, something extraordinary—his own body and blood, simply bread and wine, mercy and new life.

Prayers of Intercession (Sundays and Seasons)

Let us come before the triune God in prayer.

God of hope, the ministry of your church extends across borders, from nearby neighbors to far and distant countries. Accompany all those who labor eagerly in service of the gospel, that through your good news all might experience transformation. Lord, in your mercy,hear our prayer.

Almighty God, we give you thanks for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land that provides our food. Guard all species of plants and animals from harsh changes in climate and empower us to protect all you have made. Lord, in your mercy,hear our prayer.

Righteous God, we pray for nations and their leaders. Give them a spirit of compassion and steer them towards a fair distribution of resources; that none among us would have too much or too little. Lord, in your mercy,hear our prayer.

God of healing, your touch has the power to make us whole. We pray for those suffering from physical or mental illness. Embrace those who are sick (especially). Surround them with your unwavering presence. Lord, in your mercy,hear our prayer.

We pray for this assembly and all those gathered together in worship. Revive our spirits, renew our relationships, and rekindle our faith, that we might experience resurrection in this community. Lord, in your mercy,hear our prayer.

Here other intercessions may be offered.We give thanks for the faithful ancestors in every age whose lives have pointed us towards you (especially). Envelop them in your love, that (with Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, and all your saints) we may be reunited with one another in the last days. Lord, in your mercy,hear our prayer.

We lift our prayers to you, O God, trusting in your abiding grace.Amen.

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