The LORD will give strength to his people;
the LORD will bless his people with peace.Psalm 29: 11
Watch this week’s service on YouTube:
Click below for links to the hymns, or scroll down to watch on this page:
- Hymn 173 Sing to God new songs of worship https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xp2qNGx2tlE
- Hymn 718 We Cannot Measure How You Heal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exr0oxZwZKA
- Hymn 153 Great is thy faithfulness https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTKIqmdfHSk&list=PL6M8stFRZ2JTLskAbIz381tnIozxSi2IR&index=2
Hymn 173 Sing to God new songs of worship
Lord, you are our God
Help us to recognise how much we depend on you
you have given us life
you have made us able to think about its meaning and purpose
you have given us the ability to choose to do what is good
what is positive, what is constructive
and you have given us the power to turn from what is harmful and negative
In a world where there are many temptations to follow other ways
you have given us your word to guide us
we have the life and teaching of your Son
the example of many faithful Christians
and we have the constant presence of your Spirit
Yet we confess: there are times we have gone astray
when we have heeded voices other than yours
when we have followed ways that are not your ways
and we are sorry
Your presence transforms us and our lives
with you we need never be afraid
Nothing can separate us from your love
We have known your hand holding us fast
your steps marking out a way for us
and we long to keep knowing you
knowing you more and more
Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen
All age time
At some time or other we have all had to cope with a washing machine, kettle, iron or vacuum cleaner that has stopped working. Assuming that it is no longer in guarantee we are then faced with a dilemma about what to do next:
- Some may like ‘tinkering’ with electrical equipment, but can you a) get into the works of the machine, b) get a new part for it? Even if you can get a part, does it cost nearly as much as a new machine?
- Do we call in someone to look at it? There will probably be a call-out charge before charges for time spent on the repair and for parts (again, if they are available) – and how long might it take for the parts to come from abroad?
- Or do we send the old equipment to the tip/ civic amenity site, and buy a new one?
Fortunately people are different from washing machines, kettles, irons and vacuum cleaners. If we have faulty ‘parts’ there are people who will use their expert knowledge to try to fix the cause of the problem (doctors, nurses, opticians, dentists etc).We don’t throw people away just because they have faulty parts. Why not? Because we are all people, we value each other, we all matter, we care about each other, and we want everyone to have lives that are as full and independent as possible, for as long as is possible.
As followers of Jesus we have an added dimension to our concern for the well-being for others: each one is special to God, and is called to be part of his family. He cares about everyone, and he wants us to care too. He fully endorses that earlier statement about people having fulfilled and meaningful lives, but he adds that to really be fulfilled he would like them to have a full and meaningful relationship with him too.
Reading: Mark 1: 29-39
Hymn 718 We Cannot Measure How You Heal
‘You’re healing nicely.’ Some of us may have had that said to us by a doctor or nurse after an operation or procedure. The wound is clean, the skin is joining together well, and the original problem seems to have been dealt with. But for the rest of our lives we carry the physical scar, and we may always have some memory of the pain or anxiety that we endured.
‘Healing’ does not involve pressing a ‘reset’ button on life, with everything going back to how things were before the problem appeared. For some (who maybe had a gall bladder removed or a colonostomy) there may have to be changes in lifestyle and diet. Others, who may have had to have an amputation or mastectomy have to adjust to a changed body image.
Whether ‘treatment’ involves medication or surgery, the aim is to deal with a problem that causes pain or could lead to serious consequences if left unattended. Hopefully, as a result of the treatment, the person will have a better quality of life, and have as much independence and dignity as possible. What they will not have is a ‘perfect’ body.
Even if we are not on medication, nor needing surgery, not in pain nor having life-changing nor life-threatening issues, many of us have body bits that don’t work perfectly: we can’t see properly, we can’t hear properly, our teeth are not in brilliant condition etc. For us the answers may be spectacles/ contact lenses, hearing aids, and fillings or false teeth. Less invasive than surgery, but still a form of ‘healing’ that gives us the ability to get on with our lives.
There are many stories in the Gospels about Jesus ‘healing’. In most cases we don’t hear the nature of the illness, but there are some where we get a bit more information:
- some people suffered from leprosy – which is not only a debilitating disease that can cause progressive damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes. In Jesus’ contemporary society (and still in some places today) people with the disease were ostracised by their family and community. Jesus’ healing was not just from the physical illness, but enabled them to reconnect with family and community, and earn a living
- some were paralysed or bed bound. They were dependent on others for everything – personal care, food etc. They could not earn a living, and there was a certain social stigma went with illness – some regarded it as a punishment sent by God. Jesus’ healing gave them the ability to look after themselves and not be dependent on others
- one lady had severe bleeding (perhaps linked to menopausal problems). It not only weakened her physically, and limited her movement, but in a society where ritual purity was important it excluded her from going to certain places and meeting with other people. Jesus’ healing enabled her to re-engage with people and the life of her community
- there were also many others where the problem was not physical, but to do with relationships, self-image or self-confidence. Effectively he was acting as a counsellor, listening, asking open questions, and enabling them to find the way forward
Unlike many contemporary ‘healers’ Jesus did not charge money for his services.
In none of these cases was he striving to create a ‘perfect’ body. Nor did he reset lives so that those who had experienced long years of restriction could go back and have their childhood/ adolescence etc with a fully healthy body. Rather he enabled them to pick up the threads of their life, at whatever age they were, and build a new future from that point. Their past experience was an integral part of who they were.
Jesus sent out first his disciples, then the Apostles, to take his healing to the world. As the heirs of the Apostles that involves us. We now have experts in areas like physical and mental health, and we understand better the link between the two. So we don’t need to try to set ourselves up as amateur medical experts – and indeed it would be very dangerous if we did. But there is still a lot that we can do to bring ‘healing’ to people:
- as individuals we can work at our listening skills, perhaps sometimes gently encouraging someone to seek professional help (maybe we need to brush up on what help is available)
- together as a church, maybe in partnership with other groups, we could offer assistance or space to help people cope with issues like loneliness, living with dementia or other conditions; maybe we could support a Children’s Contact Centre or Family Mediation Centre; maybe we could help people to eat healthily on a limited budget, or promote exercise, with its known benefits for physical and mental health
In all of this we need to remember that we are not simply a healthcare or well-being charity. Behind all that we do is the belief that we act in the name of God, and seek to build his Kingdom; that in addition to physical and mental well-being there is also spiritual well-being, and that life is not simply to be seen as running from birth to death – but that it goes on to the life beyond. That doesn’t mean preaching at everyone we meet, but letting Jesus’ promise and hope inspire all that we do, and being ready to share it with others should the occasion arise.
Prayer for others and Lord’s Prayer
We pray for all who are ill,
whether from corona-virus or some other illness
those who look after them
and those who worry about them
for those responsible for public health policy and decisions
those living with disabilities
those working on research into new treatments
those who cannot access affordable healthcare
those waiting for or receiving treatment
and those for whom there is no treatment
those who are lonely, feeling down, or grieving a friend or loved one
those who are worried about home, work or money
a friend or a relative
those who are living with the after-effects of natural disasters
those who do not have enough to eat, or somewhere to call home
those who long to live in peace and safety
those who have fled from their homes seeking safety
We pray for the Queen, the Government
all in positions of leadership in this and every land
We pray for you church
the worldwide church
the wider church in Dumbarton
our own congregation
help us always to be faithful to Jesus our Lord
We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us
And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us
Hymn 153 Great is thy faithfulness
May the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ
shine in your hearts,
transform your lives,
and brighten the world
and the blessing of God Almighty
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
rest and remain with you
today and every day and forever. Amen