On Sunday I'll be in the Cathedral, as my soon-to-be Curate is ordained Deacon - but my associate has been unwell, so I'm aiming to produce a sermon just in case, to ease his burden a little, as I don't really think he should be working this weekend...
It's a good week for preachers, I think - though I'm willing to bet that the preacher in the Cathedral (who will have led the 3 day ordination retreat) will probably not look at any of the themes lectionary...If he does, I'll let you know!
Meanwhile, I don't expect I'm the only one to have trouble with today's gospel.Texts for the week are here
When I was a child I loved it, because it was the only story in which Jesus had dealings with a little girl. The illustration in my Bible (very much like this one) finally dropped out, because I wanted to look at it again and again. Jesus with a little girl. Wow!
When I was a bit older, I hated it because I saw it as part of a world view in which children came second...Jesus stopped to talk to an adult and as he delayed the child died.
Older still, I picked up the themes of uncleanness and exclusion, rejoiced that the haemorrhaging woman had the courage to seek her own healing (even if it was as a last resort) and that for her, community was restored.
Today I'm wondering about her exchange with Jesus
"The woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth."
I wonder what the whole truth was?
And I might dare to ask the congregation how truthful they are as they present themselves to God....and how truthful they are with themselves.
Or I might go wandering into the realms of WHY.
When Jesus says, with such clarity
"Your faith has healed you" - why does God not heal all who believe and trust that God will?
I'd fight to the death (verbally at least) anyone who claimed that when healing doesn't happen, it represents a failure of faith...and I know that there are many who would benefit from taking the lid of these almost unanswerable questions.
Exploring some of the links from The Text this Week I found these questions, which might also be helpful
Look around! Are there miracles happening that we do not notice because of the crush of so many who press upon us?
Look ahead! Are we so sure of what we think are the facts that we laugh off the possibility of what God might actually be able to do?
And all that, just from the gospel!
David's lament for Jonathan is one of the most powerful expressions of grief that I know...and a good launch pad for exploration of love and bereavement.
Here David was certainly telling the whole truth about his relationship and making no attempt to conceal the intensity of his grief. Being real about what we feel is not something that happens enough in my churches...How about yours?
But maybe what I should really preach is the epistle. Both my churches AND my church school are engaged in major fundraising, for essential work - and in the current climate that's certainly not easy. But I'd sooner try to explore once again the whole basis of our giving...
Do we give from excess (so that our giving dries up when we find ourselves short of cash) or from the heart...I fear we are, for the most part, a long long way away from giving with eagerness, because we desire to give - and there could be a fruitful sermon to be drawn from that.
At a recent clergy gathering our Social Responsibility Office was asked how the churches should respond to the current economic crisis...He was admirably direct (Paul would have been proud of him)
"Give more" he said.
I wonder if I would dare to challenge my congregations with that...
So many fruitful possibilities...Looking forward to hearing where you are off to this week.