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The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B (Proper 13)

He Touched Me

Readings: 1:1, 117-27; Psalm 130; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5:21-43

Jesus in his earthly ministry touched many lives. He gave hope to the poor. He offered forgiveness to those loaded with the cares of the world. He went about healing the sick. He lived his life following God’s will. In today’s gospel reading we hear about the healing of two people whose lives are intertwined. First a leader of the synagogue named Jairus came and knelt at Jesus’ feet begging him to come and lay hands on his twelve year old daughter who was near death. As he responded to the man’s plea, the crowd followed along. Then there is an interruption. The story of the healing of Jairus’ daughter is put on hold as another story unfolds.

In the crowd was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. Because of the strict purity laws of the Jewish people, such an ailment could force the woman to live in isolation. She could be deemed unclean. Indeed, she had lost her wh…

The Third Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 12), Year B

God’s Grace Amid Life’s Storms

Readings: 1 Samuel 17:32-49; Psalm 9:9-20; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41

We all know and love the story of David and Goliath. I suspect we view it as a kind of fairy tale, but it truly does not have the elements of a fairy tale. It is a far more realistic story than say “Jack in the Beanstalk”. The powerful Philistine army is lined up on the hillside. The militia of Israel stand quivering on the other. They are afraid of the secret weapon of the Philistines, the Mighty Goliath, a strong warrior, a formidable foe. David, the shepherd boy, too young to be in the army, is acting as gopher. He is delivering provisions to his brothers. He sees the situation.

“I’ll go and fight the Philistine,” he offers. What a ludicrous thought! This small boy against all that might! But no one else is willing to go, so they deck him out in armour; it just weighs him down. But he has a few secret weapons of his own, amongst them a sling, a few smooth stones fr…

The Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year B (Proper 11)

The Kingdom of Heaven is as if ...

Readings: 1 Samuel 15:43-16:13; Psalm 20; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 14-17; Mark 4:26-34

The kingdom of Heaven is as if ... Jesus begins many of the parables in just that way. And then he goes on in very human terms about the unknowable. He gives us a glimpse of the glory of God.

For Jesus the glimpses of the kingdom often came through nature. “The kingdom of Heaven is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground.” It may not mean a great deal to us in modern world, but it certainly got the attention of everyone in that agricultural society in which Jesus lived. They knew what he meant. They knew that once the preparatory work had been completed, the ground prepared, the seeds planted, their part was finished. All that remained for them was to wait patiently for the seed to grow. The growth, they knew, came from inside the seed. They created the conditions and let God do the rest.

The parable helped them to understand a great truth about the ki…

The Feast of the Holy Trinity, Year B

Eyes To See God

Readings: Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 29; Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17

The early church leader Augustine was once accosted by a heathen who showed him his idol and said, "Here is my god; where is thine?" Augustine replied, "I cannot show you my God; not because there is no God to show but because you have no eyes to see Him."

That is strongly the message of the Gospel on this Sunday as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity. The gospel tells the story of Nicodemus, a seeker, one who wanted eyes to see God, coming to Jesus. Nicodemus holds a high position in the synagogue. He is intensely religious in his own way. He is open to new possibilities, at least on the surface. Yet he comes to Jesus in the darkness of the night. It is the only way he feels free to come and find out about him. He senses the aura of godliness around this man. He is curious about him.

And what he finds out is more than he bargained for. “No one can see the kingdom of God wit…