O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
send down upon your Church
the riches of your Spirit,
and kindle in all who minister the gospel
your countless gifts of grace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
and abides under the shadow of the Almighty,
Shall say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my stronghold,
my God, in whom I put my trust.’
For he shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He shall cover you with his wings
and you shall be safe under his feathers;
his faithfulness shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of any terror by night,
nor of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor of the sickness that destroys at noonday.
Though a thousand fall at your side
and ten thousand at your right hand,
yet it shall not come near you.
Your eyes have only to behold
to see the reward of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your refuge
and the Most High your stronghold,
There shall no evil happen to you,
neither shall any plague come near your tent.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
While Jesus was speaking, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, ‘My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.’ And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples.
Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.’ Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well.
When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute-players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, ‘Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. And the report of this spread throughout that district.
A leader of the synagogue said: Come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.
The human condition means that we have a fragile existence which is going to be confronted with moments of challenge and tragedy. Human beings are not immortal. Our bodies break down, wear out and, ultimately, stop working. It has often been said that this is the one thing we all have in common. This issue so often causes us to be overwhelmed with feelings of anger and confusion. It is also that which causes us to separate ourselves from God in a spirit of accusation, bewilderment and rage. As the human capacity to comprehend medical and physical science has grown, there has been an exponential rise in our certainty that nothing damaging or tragic should ever befall us. Our limitless capacity for self-deception damages our faith, driving a wedge between us and God.
In today’s reading we meet someone whose life has been changed by great tragedy: the death of his daughter. As a leader of the synagogue he would probably not have been in sympathy with Jesus’ teaching, but he did know of his ability to heal and to restore. Rather than wallowing in anger and self-pity, the leader of the synagogue took a desperate chance. Instead of being loyal to the mistaken ‘certainties’ of his profession he stepped out in faith. The leader of the synagogue knelt before Jesus and demonstrated great faith in the one he would previously have described as a false Messiah and a blasphemer.
It is easy for our cynical minds to say that the leader of the synagogue was so desperate and grief-stricken that he would have grasped at any straw. But, that is not what Jesus saw. Jesus saw faith, the faith of one who sought life for his daughter, and for himself.
As we read of the two miracles contained within our reading of the day, we need to observe, and to emulate, the faith of the leader of the synagogue and the unclean woman. Faced with great tragedy neither of them resorted to anger and blame; instead they turned to Jesus in faith and hope.
As we face the challenges of this mortal life, let us pray that our hope might lie in God alone. Let us pray for the strength and the courage to cast aside worldly ‘wisdom’, take all our woes and our joys to God, our creator and our healer.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to the Lord who gives life to the Church and to the world.
Confirm the Church as the true heir of the promise. Empower your people to declare in their time your everlasting love.
Look with pity on a world that is often sick and does not know its need of healing. Lift the crushing weight of fear from those who live by law without mercy.
Bless the parents in this community and bless us in our own families. As we care for our children, give us trust in the love of God whose care is greater than any parent. Guide the medical practitioners who work among us.
Have pity on those who feel that society has despised and rejected them. Come with your healing power to the chronically sick who despair of health. Make them know that they are not forsaken in their suffering.
Raise up to eternal life the souls of the departed. Have mercy on all who mourn, especially for the death of a child.
May Christ, the good physician, heal our weakness and accept our prayers.
Prayer for the week
grant us anew your grace,
that we may love as you love us,
without selfishness, without ulterior motive
and without desire for gain,
that our worship may be pure,
our prayers honest
and our lives upright in your sight,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.