THE VICAR PROVIDES FOOD FOR OUR SOULS As we are not able to meet together on Sundays to praise God and hear his Word due to the coronavirus pandemic, I am providing weekly sermons on line as food for our souls. Please read them and meditate upon them. If you know of anyone who would appreciate a paper copy as they are not online, please inform me and I will arrange for it to be delivered to their home. JUNE 27 - FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY Collect for the week O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that with you as our ruler and guide we may so pass through things temporal that we finally lose not the things eternal; grant this, heavenly Father, for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. Readings: Lamentations 3.23-33; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8.7-15; Mark 5. 21-43. MARK 5. 21-43. When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered round him; and he was by the lake. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and 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.’ So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?”’ He looked all round to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’ While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?’ But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’ He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.’ And 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. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha cum’, which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. SERMON MEDITATION: THINKING OUTSIDE OF THE BOX! MARK 5, VERSE 43. And he told them to give her something to eat. The Raising of Jairus's daughter. In Mark's gospel we have a very moving account of the raising of a little 12 year old girl, Jairus's daughter. After the miracle Jesus gives the instructions, "Give her something to eat." These words of Jesus keep on bugging me. After performing such a mighty miracle why does he bother giving such a mundane, common place command? Indeed, if I had just been raised from the dead the last thing on my mind would be to sit down and have a plate of food. The command seems completely pointless, an irrelevant request that's got nothing to do with what has just gone on before. And yet, Mark, who always concentrates on brevity, thought that this apparently incidental detail was important enough to include it in his account. Bearing in mind that most scholars believe that Mark got his information from Peter, and that Peter was present himself in Jairus's house, there is little doubt that Jesus actually uttered these words. Understanding the miracle: Why did Jesus ask them to give her something to eat? 1. We could argue that Jesus wanted the little girl to eat something to prove to everybody that she really was alive and no longer dead. That is one possibility that we should not dismiss.The act of eating, in and of itself, serves as proof that the girl is alive and able to function. 2. However, there is also another possible more unconventional explanation that is wholly consistent with the Biblical evidence, but interprets the event rather differently from what we have been traditionally accustomed to. Maybe the little child wasn't really dead in the technical sense of the word, but was actually in a deep sleep, in a diabetic coma. A condition now known to the medical profession as hypoglycaemia; a condition caused in some forms of diabetes by a dangerously low blood glucose level. Jesus in fact never said she was dead but sleeping. We assume he used the word sleeping in a poetic way of saying that she was dead. We believe he was speaking metaphorically. But was he? Maybe he was speaking literally. When he said she was sleeping he meant just that; nothing more, nothing less. If she was in a diabetic coma as Jesus revived her it would make sense to tell her parents to give her something to eat as she would urgently require food to restore the blood glucose level in her body. Indeed, anyone with diabetes will tell you of the importance of eating meals regularly, and the first thing they need if they feel they are going into a deep slumber is something sweet to eat. Surely, this interpretation, though unconventional, is wholly consistent with the Biblical evidence, and is an equally valid interpretation of the girl's condition. It also makes sense of Jesus's apparently irrelevant command to give her something to eat. Some would argue that this interpretation destroys the miraculous element of the story and undermines our belief in the divinity of Jesus rather than enhances it. I would say, quite the reverse: it deepens our theological understanding of the uniqueness of Jesus. It enhances both his humanity and divinity. He was a man in advance of his time; a man of superior knowledge because he had the mind of God. He could understand and see things, such as medical science, which others could not – a timeless, eternal man. The miracle was that he was able to see what others could not because he was God. Everyone else assumed the girl was dead. Being as Jesus was God, he had a deeper insight into the true reality of the situation. He saw that she was in fact in a coma. The meaning of the miracle for us today. Moreover, this interpretation reminds us that the one who revived a child, who was in diabetic coma, is the same Jesus who, through his spirit, is able to revive and reawaken those who have fallen asleep. Many years ago I remember a member of church saying to me: "We've been asleep in this church for years, but now we are waking up." Who was awakening them? Not a vicar or a curate, but the Spirit of Jesus reviving and reawakening a church that to all intents and purposes was dead. This is what happened at Pip and Jays Church, Bristol, St. Michael Le Belfry, York, during the ministry and the late David Watson, and, to a lesser extent, at St. Michael's Church, Aberystwyth. During the great revivals it occurs on a massive scale across nations and continents. During my ministry I have seen several non churchgoers starting to come along to church and becoming active and committed church members. What had happened to them? I would say it was the spirit of Jesus wakening them up from a spiritual sleep and opening their eyes to a spiritual dimension beyond themselves. In every age the one who awoke and revived Jairus's daughter is able to awaken and revive those who have fallen asleep spiritually. Our constant prayer must be that he will continue this mighty work in our midst, awakening those who are spiritually asleep and bringing them new life which death itself, cannot destroy. INTERCESSIONS Heavenly Father we praise you and bless your Holy name for your faithfulness to us all the days of our life. In you we live and move and have our being, and without you we cannot but all. Give us always grateful hearts for your blessings and help us to be faithful to you all the days of our life. Faithful God: Graciously hear us. Sovereign Lord, we pray for all those in positions of leadership at every level of government. Give them wisdom, love and compassion and use them as channels to improve the quality of life for all people everywhere. Sovereign God: Graciously hear us. Look in your mercy upon your Church as it struggles to bear witness to your son, Jesus, during difficult and challenging times. Give to your priests and ministers courage to witness in word and deed, and fill your people with the power of your Spirit to equip them for the tasks of mission. Lord of the Church: Graciously hear us. Father, as we remember that we have been made members of your family by adoption, so too we seek your blessing on our human families. Enfold all our family members with your love and draw them all into a living relationship with your Son, Jesus. Father God: Graciously hear us. We remember before you all who are in need – the oppressed, the aged, victims of violence, the poor and the sick…. In your compassion be close to them in their suffering and grant them relief. God the healer: Graciously hear us. Lord we pray for those who mourn the loss of a loved one, especially the loss of a child. Comfort them in their sorrow and may the resurrection faith sustain them in their grief. God of comfort: Graciously hear us. As our prayers draw to a close we ask you to enable us to be aware of your presence with us. Keep us close to you and keep our eyes firmly fixed on your Son, Jesus, in whose name we offer up all our prayers to you. Amen. Adrian Teale, June 2021.
JUNE 20 - THIRD SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY Collect for the week Almighty God, you have broken the tyranny of sin and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts whereby we call you Father: give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service, that we and all creation may be brought to the glorious liberty of the children of God; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. Readings:Job 38. 1-11; Psalm 107. [1-3,] 23-32;2 Corinthians 6. 1-13; Mark 4. 35-41. MARK 4. 35-41. On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? MARK 4.36 Other boats were with him. Jesus on the stormy waters of Galilee. When Jesus set sail with his disciples on the Sea of Galilee we are told that there were other boats with him. I wonder what type of boats were these others and who was on board. We don’t know. Suddenly a storm arises and the disciples are safe because Jesus was on board. We too are safe when we have Jesus on board ship with us. Have you ever wondered what happened to those other boats and the people on board? Did they get to shore safely or did they sink taking some of the crew with them? We don’t know. However, what we do know is that it's not just us but people who are in other boats too who have to face the storms of life. Do we try to help them? Churches are like ships and boats. Today there are as many types of churches as there are ships on the sea. All are sailing on choppy waters, but some are faring better than others. Let’s have a look at them. Rowing boats. Some churches are like rowing boats. It’s hard going getting these to sail along. Why? Two or three seem to do all the rowing, all the work, whilst most sit back lazily doing nothing but grumbling about how slow the old boat is moving. They never think that if they too took a pair of oars far more progress would be made. Luxury liners. Other churches are like luxury liners. Most of the passengers on board are there for entertainment and to have a good time. They don't care that the boat is going nowhere in particular or doing nothing of value except sailing leisurely on the high seas. Yachts. Others churches are like yachts. Instead of having the wind of the spirit in their sails, they sail in the direction of the prevailing winds of the times. They do not try to change society, but simply reflect its beliefs, values and attitudes. Battle ships. Again some churches are like battle ships. Those on board are at war. With whom? Other ships on the high seas; ships that are different to them; other denominations whom are looked upon as the enemy. Sometimes, even the crew can be at war with each other. Rudderless boats. Some churches are like ships without a rudder. They've got no long term aims, ambitions or objectives. They are just content with keeping on sailing without bothering to ask in which direction is the old ship going. Sinking ships. Ships sometimes sink due to rough seas and inclement weather. Others hit the rocks and go down. There are churches like sinking ships. They've hit hard times. They find the going difficult. What do the crew do? Some jump overboard and abandon ship. Others stay on board quite oblivious to the fact that the boat is gradually going down. They don't try to find out the reason why the boat is sinking and how they can do something about it. They don't listen to the captain about how to save the ship. Some churches are better than others. On occasion you will see churches like ships sailing on the religious high seas in better condition than the rest. Speed boats. A few churches are like speed boats powered by powerful engines. They sail fast on the high seas in the right direction. The secret of their success is prayer. You will see the members on their knees praying and receiving power from on high. Pilot boats. As a boy sometimes from my bedroom overlooking the breakwater in Mostyn I would often see a small pilot boat guiding the ships safely along a narrow channel in and out of the port. Large ships never became grounded due to the expertise of the pilots. Some churches are like pilot boats: they give guidance to society on a wide range of social and moral and spiritual issues and show the way to heaven. They always guide people in the right direction and at the same time show care and compassion to those who are at risk of losing their way. Fishing boats. Other churches put mission at the heart of church life and are like fishing boats fishing for Jesus. These are growing, lively churches. Lifeboats. Where would seafarers be without them? Lifeboat men answer the call and go out to save those in distress. A few churches are like those lifeboats, saving those who are sinking in life. Saving men and women from sin and sorrow for Jesus. Conclusion. Which category or categories of ship best describes our church? These are the types of questions we should be asking ourselves as we prepare for reopening. We must have a vision of the future. We should be looking at where we are at present and where we should be going. We should endeavour to make our church become like a speed boat powered by prayer; a pilot boat, giving guidance; a fishing boat fishing for Jesus and a lifeboat saving life's shipwrecks. Above all else it must be a boat that has the captain on board or else it will sink. Prayer Lord God, as we sail on the high seas of life help us to be aware of the comforting, tranquil presence of your Son Jesus with us. Help us as a church to be a Spirit filled community of believers who seek your guidance through prayer and enthusiastically share our faith with others; though Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Adrian Teale, June 2021.
Reverend Adrian Teale, The Vicarage, 10 Bryn Road, Upper Brynamman, Ammanford, Carms. SA18 1AU (01269) 822275