The service began with a welcome by Trudy to Jonathan who was to lead today's service and who gave a Call to Worship that it would be a time of blessing, uttering:
"God be with you" to which we answered:
"And also with you"
Jonathan followed with a Prayer, expressing confidence in God's steadfast love, in which we place our hope, knowing that in our deepest despair and with God knowing all our failings, we can ask for forgiveness.
Hymn 519 "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind" A prayer for forgiveness and healing. A plea for help to live Godly lives in praise of Him, through all the ups and downs of life.
Jonathan then pointed out that words were funny things. We can use a little or a lot. We can use a lot and not say anything. We can use words as weapons to hurt, or as tools to help. We can say profound things in just a few words.
I love you
He then referred to "Yes Minister" where Sir Humphrey Appleby would go round the world and back again to say, "No."
Jonathan then pointed out how brief were the Lord's Prayer, The Ten Commandments, and the American Declaration of Independence but how wordy some regulatory documents were which controlled insignificant products.
He then referred to a very academic lecture involving 1000's of words which was given by an eminent theologian. However, when the same theologian was asked to sum up Christianity his answer was:
" Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tell me so"
Jonathan then introduced Hymn 105 with a description of it as the gospel in a nutshell.
Equally, it is a statement of God's great love, revealed in Jesus and the promise of its cleansing work - God's great gift to us.
The Prayer which followed stated that the hands of Jesus Christ heal, lift up and bless, and on our behalf, Jonathan asked for forgiveness when we leave our hands by our sides or use our hands for selfish purposes.
We prayed for forgiveness when we exclude those different from ourselves and prayed that we will love as Jesus loved; care as He cared; and accept others as He does. In Jesus’ name.
Reading Mark 5. This chapter covers 3 healing stories. The demoniac or madman of Gerasa, Jarius's daughter and the woman with a haemorrhage, who touched the hem of Jesus' garment.
Reflection Jonathan introduced his thoughts with a review of Mark's gospel, pointing out that a fifth of Mark is devoted to Jesus' healing ministry and that, in the chapters devoted to Jesus' public ministry, the fraction rises to a third. Clearly, Jesus saw healing as an extremely important aspect of His work and His message.
The main part of the reflection focussed on Mark 5, starting with the healing of the violent, possessed man who lived among the tombs. The story is well known - Jesus sent the demons into a pack of swine, which stampeded over a cliff into the sea. The locals were quite disturbed by this and told Jesus to leave, which he did. Have you noticed when people are confronted with truth they are inclined to act like that?
The man himself wanted to go with Jesus but there were other plans for him. He was to take his story of being healed back to his family - who were Greeks - as Jonathan pointed out - an early instance of Jesus reaching out to the Gentiles.
Jonathan, using William Barclay as a source, gave a summary of how Alexander the Great had led conquests into the area, explaining the Greek presence. (By the way, anyone interested in A the G, might be also interested in the exhibition at The Australian Museum from November 24).
As Jonathan told us, despite being overtaken by Jewish rule, then Roman rule, these people remained Greeks and, it was among them that this story was to be spread. It was to them, in Jonathan's words, that the healed man was "to be a living, walking, vivid, unanswerable demonstration of what Christ, the healer, can do for a person."
Did everyone get that sentence? Did anyone miss it? Go back and read it again: it's important.
Jonathan then moved onto the healing of Jairus's daughter and the healing of the woman with a haemorrhage.
He pointed out that both, as female, were second class citizens. As well, one was "unclean" and one just a child. It's hard to know who would be regarded as worth the least.
But both were healed: one because her father was prepared to humble himself to ask for help from this itinerant preacher.
The other because she demonstrated pure faith - all she had to do was touch the hem of his garment.
But both were healed because of the love of Jesus, which does not discriminate. The possessed man was hardly at the top of the social register, either.
The message is loud and clear.
We cannot earn healing.
So! For those who think they are not good enough for the attention of Jesus.
No one is.
Jonathan made a further, important point.
When Jesus healed the woman, he said, "My daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed of your trouble."
Faith, made well, peace and healing. "Through faith she was restored to health and to God...She only touched the hem of his garment."
That's all it takes.
Hymn 158 The testimony of one who has experienced Jesus’ healing, cleansing power and a testament to His multi-faceted nature that works within us in so many ways.
The notices were given, followed by
The Offering which was taken up and offered for work in the extension of God's Kingdom.
Prayers of Intercession were then offered, asking for blessings on those we know. We were asked to picture the person we knew who needed healing, in the place of the woman in Mark 5, and to pray for that person and for friends and family - overseas, suffering loss, in ill health or needing peace.
For these we asked for healing, comfort, assurance and guidance, shown through God's love.
Jonathan continued to pray that we would be made discontented with the world around us and come to a new understanding of our common humanity with those who appear different from us.
He asked for guidance for our personal needs and for wisdom, that God would shed His light in the darkness and, in the noise, whisper of love and peace.
The Lord's Prayer followed and then Hymn 173, a declaration of our continued praise for God's healing in our lives.
The Blessing May the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and may the blessing of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be amongst you, and remain with you always.
Shalom to you now,
Shalom, my friends.
May God's full mercies
bless you, my friends.
In all your living
And through your loving,
Christ be your shalom,
Christ be your shalom.