• Content

  • Pages

  • Upcoming Events

    • Sunday service - Holy Communion February 5, 2023 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion February 12, 2023 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion February 19, 2023 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…

Pentecost 10 Proper 12B RCL July 29, 2018

2 Samuel 11:1-15
Psalm 14
Ephesians 3:14-21
John 6:1-21

In our opening reading, we are given the opportunity to witness a low point in the journey of King David. The first clue is that David has sent out Joab, his chief military officer, to lead the troops into battle while David relaxes at him. He is not doing his job.

The next step on this downward path is that David uses his power as king to command Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of his most faithful soldiers, to come to his home, where he seduces her.

The next step on this downward moral spiral occurs when Bathsheba finds out that she is pregnant and David tries to get Uriah to go down to his house so that all will think the baby is his, but Uriah refuses to go and enjoy the comforts of home when Joab and all the other soldiers are on duty.

Finally, David sinks to the lowest point when he instructs Joab to put Uriah into the front lines and then withdraw in order to allow Uriah to be killed by the enemy.

Uriah’s loyalty, integrity, and sense of duty stand in stark contrast to the behavior of the king. At every step, David is using his power to get whatever he wants with no concern for the dignity of others. He is also using his power to protect himself and his position as king.

In today’s gospel, we move from Mark’s gospel to the gospel of John.

Once again, throngs of people are following Jesus and the disciples because they see how Jesus is healing the sick.

These people are also going to need to be fed, and Jesus asks Philip where they can buy food, Philip points out that they do not have nearly enough money to do that. Andrew has found a boy who has five barley loaves and two fish, not nearly enough to feed this huge crowd. But Jesus is never willing to let anyone go hungry. He invites this crowd of five thousand to sit down on the grass. Jesus takes the food, gives thanks, and the disciples distribute the food among the people. When they gather the leftovers, they fill twelve baskets. There is great abundance. There is enough to feed everyone who is hungry.

The people begin to say that Jesus is the great prophet who is to come into the world. They are beginning to sense who he is. They want to seize him and make him king. He goes to the mountain again, He does not want worldly power. He goes to be apart with God.

The disciples decide to cross the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum. A strong wind comes up and the waves get bigger. They are rowing with all their might but not making much progress. When they see Jesus walking on the water, they become terrified. In Mark’s account, they think Jesus is a ghost. He speaks to them: “It is I; do not be afraid.” They recognize him and want to take him into the boat, and immediately, they reach their destination.

Jesus did not want earthly power. He constantly tells us that his power is from another realm. No matter how big the crowds are, he always feeds them, physically and spiritually. He goes apart to be with God. Then, when he is ready to rejoin his disciples, he simply walks on the water, even in a high wind. He tells us not to be afraid. When we are in the grip of fear, it is almost impossible for us to get on the beam, to get on track and hear God’s voice calling us.

David committed adultery. Then, because of his fear that this infringement of the law would be discovered, he had a good and loyal soldier murdered.

In our epistle for today, Paul prays that we “may be strengthened in [our] inner being with power through [the] Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith as [we] are being rooted and grounded in love.” He also prays that we “may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints,”—that is, with all our fellow Christians, “what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of God which surpasses knowledge.” In other words, Paul is praying that we will be able to sense and understand the breadth and length and the height and depth of God’s love. That is the journey of a lifetime, to even begin to understand the infinite extent of God’s love for us. And Paul says that he wants us to understand just how much God loves us so that we “may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Clearly, if David had kept his eye and mind on God, he would not have embarked on the tragic and destructive course of action he took. In trying to cover his tracks, he sank even lower. The way of faith is so different from the way of fear. Now, as always, Jesus calls to us, saying, “It is I; do not be afraid.”

God’s love for us is infinite. We will never be able to fully understand it. But Saint Paul wisely calls us to try to plumb that mystery. He knows that, as we allow ourselves to know and accept the depth of God’s love for us, we will be filled with God’s presence more and more.

As that happens, fear will wane, and faith will grow., Christ will dwell in our hearts, and we will be rooted and grounded in love.  Amen.

Pentecost 9 Proper 11B RCL July 22, 2019

2 Samuel 7:1-14a
Psalm 89:20-37
Ephesians 2:11-22
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

In our opening reading, King David is now settled in his house, and the land is at peace. David wants to build a house for the Lord, a place for the ark of the covenant. He consults the prophet Nathan, and Nathan thinks this is a good idea. After all, isn’t it a wonderful thing to design and construct a beautiful building to be a special place where God is present, a place where we can pray and give praise to God?

But God speaks to Nathan and says that it is not the time for David to do this. Indeed, King Solomon, David’s wise son, will build the great temple in Jerusalem.

Sometimes we want to do a good and wonderful thing, but it is not God’s will for us to do this. We consult trusted advisors, as David did. But then God lets us know that this simply is not the time, or this particular thing is not something God has called us to do.

As we think about our epistle for today, we remember that Paul, or his disciple, is writing to Gentile Christians in Asia Minor, what we now call Turkey. In the early Church, perhaps the greatest controversy was the debate concerning the issue of Gentiles coming into the new faith.

In the beginning, Peter felt that Gentiles must be circumcised and follow the Jewish law, including the dietary laws. Then he had his vision of all the foods coming down from heaven, including food forbidden by the law, and God telling him to eat these foods. He then realized that all people, including Gentiles, were called to full membership in the Church. This issue was finally resolved at the Council of Jerusalem.

Paul became the apostle to the Gentiles. Although he was a devout Pharisee, he quickly realized that Christ had fulfilled and transcended the law. Gentiles joining the new faith did not need to be circumcised or follow the law to the letter, but we are all called to follow the spirit of the law.

Paul realized that, while this controversy was going on, Gentiles coming into the Church felt like second-class citizens. Now he is making it abundantly clear that Christ has made all of us one in him. Paul says, “Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near….” Paul tells us that Christ has dissolved all barriers between us.

We are still working out the implications of this. Although our Lord has broken through all barriers, it is taking us much time and struggle to realize that all human beings are full members of the Body of Christ.

In our gospel for today, the apostles return from their missionary journey and tell Jesus about all the wonderful things that have happened. They go off to a quiet place to be with God and each other in prayer and peace. Then they get back into the boat, cross the Sea of Galilee, and go ashore only to find a huge crowd waiting for them. The designers of the lectionary want to emphasize the huge need the people had for healing and hope.

Verses 35 through 52 are omitted from this reading. They tell us about the feeding of the five thousand.

Then Jesus and his disciples cross the Lake again and go ashore only to find that people are rushing to bring their loved ones on mats so that Jesus can heal them. This gospel reading eloquently describes the hunger people had for Jesus and the deep need they felt for his healing. Today, people still need Jesus’ healing.

As Jesus goes ashore for the first time in our gospel for today, the text says “   He had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”

We do not have Jesus present with us in person to teach us many things. In fact, we are his risen body called to teach and heal on his behalf. Sometimes we may wish he were here so that we could turn to him and ask him questions. Indeed, he is here among us now.

People in our world and in our neighborhood may well feel like sheep without a shepherd, and our Lord is calling us to minister to these people. Even we may feel like sheep without a shepherd. On an ecclesiastical, earthly level, we do have a shepherd, and that is our Bishop. Our ultimate shepherd is Jesus.

This past Tuesday, Bishop Tom and I visited Nat and Nini. We were discussing what we can do to make the world a better place. Bishop Tom remarked that we live in a world where many people do not have enough to eat, and that, until everyone does have enough food, feeding people is a very high priority. He commended the ministry of the Sheldon Food Shelf. Thank you all for your support of the food shelf, and many other ministries, and for all the ways in which you share Christ’s love and care with others every day of your lives.

As we discussed the challenges that face the Church, Bishop Tom said that here in Vermont, and this is a paraphrase, there are two things that stand out to him. Vermont is a place where the Church has great vitality, and he pointed to Grace as an example of that. At the same time, here in the Church in Vermont, there is a certain fragility, and  he said that we need to be careful not to let the sense of fragility divert us from the vitality.

One of my spiritual guides, Sister Claire Boissy of the Sisters of Mercy, would often say, “Go where the life is.” A young leader in our Church recently said, “We don’t have to invent the wheel; we have the wheel.” The scriptures, sacraments, and teaching of the Church are the wheel. Christ is alive among us and in us. Grace is a place of life.

Let us focus on the vitality and where that leads us with the help of the Spirit. Let us also keep a careful eye on the fragility. We can be grateful that Grace has been a good steward of its building and financial gifts. And then again, let us focus on the vitality. That is where the life is, and Christ is in our midst.  Amen.

 

David Sears, Permelia Sears, and Rebecca Sears on August 3

Summer Music at Grace is hosting a performance featuring David Sears, Permelia Sears, and Rebecca Sears on August 3, 2018, at 7 p.m.
The concert will feature works by Pachelbel, Heinichen, Flor Peters, and others, with David Sears at the 1833 Erben organ.
Biographies of the performers:

David Sears holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Peabody Conservatory and a Doctor of Musical Arts from Boston University. He is Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts at Merrimack College and is also a composer. With his wife, Permelia, he was Co-Chairman of the Extant Organs Committee of the Organ Historical Society. Dr. Sears has appeared in concert throughout New England as a soloist, with his wife in piano four-hand recitals, and with his wife and daughter in family concerts. He may be reached at: searsd@merrimack.edu

Permelia Sears is a graduate of Smith College and the Yale University School of Music with a Master of Music in Pipe Organ Performance. She is a past Dean of the Merrimack Valley MA Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and has taught organ and piano through the Indian Hill Music Center in Littleton, MA. Mrs.Sears has performed solo organ recitals across New England, played at several Organ Historical Society Conventions as well as in family concerts with her husband and daughter.

Rebecca Sears graduated from Bowdoin College with a double major in Music and Classics. In August 2012 she received her Doctorate in Classical Languages from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and is a Lecturer in the Department of Classics at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Dr. Sears has played violin with the Lowell Philharmonic and Arlington Philharmonic in Massachusetts, the Mid-Coast Orchestra in Maine, the Wake Forest Univ. Orchestra, and the New Orleans Civic Symphony, as well as in family concerts.

The 1833 Erben, originally installed at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and housed at Grace Church since 1869, was presented Historic Pipe Organ Award number 411 on 2013-06-26 and received the designation Landmark of American Organbuilding. It was

Admission is by donation. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Sheldon Foodshelf.

Village Harmony returns July 23

Village Harmony brings its singing teens to Grace on Monday, July 23. This session group is led by Will and Lynn Rowan and special guest Artūras Sinkevičius from Lithuania. The dozen teen singers include two girls from Lithuania as well as talented teens from Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Pennsylvania and Illinois. The eclectic concert program will include music from three continents and several centuries. Artūras will present ancient ritualistic Sutartines chants and lively Lithuanian folk songs accompanied by bagpipes, drums, and zither. These will be contrasted with music and dance from English visiting customs. The concert program will also feature upbeat Bulgarian dance-songs, 17th century American ballads and shape-note-tunes, lilting Medieval folk songs, and original compositions by Lynn and Will.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Arrive at 6 with a dish to share at our potluck dinner! Questions? Please call 326-4603.  A suggested donation includes a $5-$15 sliding scale. Proceeds support the Village Harmony teen camp program.

 

Poster N VT color

Pentecost 8 Proper 10 B RCL     July 15, 2018

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19
Psalm 24
Ephesians 1:3-14
Mark 6:14-29

Our first reading is full of joy at the gifts of God. David has defeated the Philistines, something that King Saul was never able to do. God’s people are now united under one king. David is going to move the ark to Jerusalem, which he has just conquered. Jerusalem will now be the civil and religious capital of the new kingdom. David and an army of thirty thousand men are going to get the ark of God, which had led the people out of slavery in Egypt, had resided at the temple in Shiloh, and then had been placed at the home of Abinadab, a short distance from Jerusalem.

Scholars tell us that we have no way of knowing what the ark had looked like or exactly what was inside the ark. But for God’s people, it symbolized the presence and power of God. Clearly, it was large and heavy enough to require a cart. David and all the people dance with joy at this celebration of the presence of God.

David wears the ephod, a priestly garment. He makes a sacrifice to the Lord. The people place the ark inside the tent which David has made. All of this is a solemn liturgical action. David then blesses the people and distributes the food of the offering to all the people. All of this reminds us of the Eucharist and the feeding of the huge crowds by our Lord.

The rule of David, the shepherd-king, will be rooted and grounded in God, and this is something to be celebrated by all the people.

Our first reading reminds us that there is great joy in our faith in God, and our epistle builds upon that thought. The Letter to the Ephesians was probably written by a disciple of Paul, and it was a kind of newsletter addressed to the many Gentile congregations in Asia Minor.

This inspiring letter tells us that, before time began, God chose us to be God’s children. God has poured out grace upon us and has given us the gift of forgiveness and newness of life in Christ. We have been made part of the living body of Christ on the earth, and we are working with our Lord, in the power of the Spirit, to build his kingdom. These are gifts we have received from our loving and generous God, and we could spend the rest of our lives dancing with joy in gratitude for God’s many gifts to us.

Our first two readings are filled with joy, but our gospel for today seems full of darkness. Jesus and his disciples have been going around the countryside healing people and teaching about the love of God.  Jesus has just sent the disciples out to teach and preach and heal people. King Herod Antipas thinks that Jesus is John the Baptist resurrected.

It is a grisly story, and we actually have a flashback here.  Herod married his brother Philip’s wife, which was against the law. He was able to do such an awful thing because he was the ruler and no one would dare to try to stop him or even confront him.

Herod Antipas, like his father before him and descendants after him, had no respect for the law and used his power to do whatever he felt was necessary to preserve his position. Very few people would have the courage to challenge such a ruthless leader. But John the Baptist told him that what he had done was wrong. Herod had John thrown in prison, but there was something about John that drew Herod to him. Herod would talk with John from time to time. He respected John. Deep down, he knew John the Baptist was right.

We all know the story. Contrary to what Hollywood has told us, there is no Salome in this story. There is a Salome in some accounts of the resurrection, but that’s a different person.

Herodias comes in and dances. Herod is probably quite drunk, so his judgment is impaired, but he promises her anything she wants. She consults her mother, who hates John the Baptist for telling the truth, and the next scene in this horrific tragedy is the gruesome appearance of John the Baptist’s head on a platter.  Herod does not feel good about this but he gave his word, and, probably more importantly, what would all these guests think if he goes back on his ill-advised promise? John’s disciples come and give him a decent burial.

If we look at the actual text, there is a pause of several lines. We come back to the present after that flashback to the death of John the Baptist.  We remember that Jesus has sent his disciples out to share God’s love forgiveness, and healing. The disciples return from their mission trip and tell Jesus about all the healings they have done and all the wonderful gifts God has given people. Then they are surrounded by a huge crowd of people hungry to hear Jesus’ message. Night is coming, and you know this story, too. More than five thousand people are fed, and there are plenty of leftovers.

Then and now, it is a dangerous thing to speak truth to power. John the Baptist and Jesus paid the ultimate price. Many others, following in their footsteps, have also paid that price. But make no mistake: God’s love, as shown forth on the Cross, is the most powerful force in the world. Love is stronger than hate. Love is stronger than fear. God’s kingdom is growing, and God is calling us to help to build it. Now, as always, the followers of Jesus have, as our baptismal covenant says, “the gift of joy and wonder in all [God’s] works,” just as David and the people of God had great joy in God’s presence so many years ago, just as Paul and his followers had deep joy in God’s grace as the followers of Jesus were building new communities of faith.

I close with a prayer which was given to me by my sister in Christ, Sara. It is by William Sloane Coffin. “May God give us grace never to sell ourselves short, grace to risk something big for something good, and grace to remember that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love.  Amen.”

Pentecost 7 Proper 9B RCL July 8, 2018

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10
Psalm 48
2 Corinthians 12:2-10
Mark 6:1-13

In our first reading today. all the tribes of Israel gather and call David to be their king. This coronation not only makes David their king officially. It also renews the covenant between God and the people. David had many flaws, but he also had a very deep faith in God, and this was the source of his greatness as a leader.

In our epistle for today, we have a passage that is full of meaning. Paul founded the congregation in Corinth. Other teachers and leaders have followed him, and they are saying all kinds of negative things about him, including that he does not have enough mystical experiences.

So Paul tells a story. I know this man, he says, who had a profound mystical experience. He was taken up to the seventh heaven, the highest heaven, and he heard things that humans could never even think to express or repeat. The story is about himself, but he is too humble to say that.

And then, he tells this congregation that has been so difficult and so  critical of him that he has a thorn in the flesh. We have no idea what this could be. Many people have written about their theories about this, but responsible scholars make it clear that we have no way of knowing what this weakness is.

Paul makes himself vulnerable to these highly gifted and extraordinarily finicky Corinthians by sharing his greatest weakness! He tells them and us that he prayed three times for God to take this thing away, but that miracle did not happen. Instead, God told Paul something that is at the core of our faith and the center of our life in Christ, and I’m using the Revised Standard translation because  I think it makes the point even more clearly: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

What a paradox and what a mystery! We can have a weakness, a disease or a flaw or whatever it is, and through that flaw, God can show God’s power. We have this thing, whatever it is, and we pray and pray, and we do have sincere faith, and the day comes when we realize that God is showing God’s power through helping us to cope with this thorn in our flesh, and through that coping, with God’s grace, our faith deepens and our love of Christ grows stronger and our compassion for others increases.

We can only imagine how many people have read this passage and had their lives changed by it.

In our gospel for today, Jesus returns to his home town of Nazareth. They marvel at his wisdom. but they cannot see who he truly is because he is the son of Jospeh and Mary. He is someone they know. He is the son of the carpenter and why is he not working in the carpenter shop? This may be a possible source of that observation that “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Their preconceptions prevent them from realizing they are meeting their Savior.

Jesus makes a comment that holds a great deal of truth: “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” Isn’t it interesting how we hire consultants from outside to give us guidance on what to do? Sometimes that is a good idea, but we also need to realize that we who are living in a community and are members of a parish, have much more knowledge than an outsider can possibly have.

The text tells us that Jesus “Could do no deed of power there.” He had just healed the daughter of Jairus and the woman who had a hemorrhage and many other people, but he couldn’t heal anyone in Nazareth. We have to be open to the power and love and healing of our Lord in order for him to help us.

Let us note that the rejection does not stop him from doing his ministry. He goes around the villages teaching, and he sends the disciples out do their ministry of healing and forgiveness. Many people turn their lives around, and many are healed.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” This is at the heart of our faith. Jesus died on a cross. That is a position of complete and utter weakness in the world’s eyes. He did not muster an army. He did kill those who opposed him. He could have. He had all the power in the world. He took all that hatred and contempt and, as Barbara Brown Taylor says, he “took all the man-made wreckage of the world inside himself and labored with it for almost three days—and he did not let go of it until he could transform it and return it to us as life.” (Taylor, Teaching Sermons on Suffering: God in Pain, p. 118.)

And that is what he can do with our weaknesses and our defeats. He can take the things that make us feel ashamed and discouraged and unworthy and transform them into sources of a faith deeper than we could have imagined. He can turn those weaknesses into strengths that help us to carry out our ministries to others and spread his love.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Loving and gracious Lord, thank you for your grace. Thank you for your power, the power to make us and the creation whole. May we use the gift of your grace to help you build your kingdom.  Amen.

Pentecost 6 Proper 8B RCL July 1, 2018

2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27
Psalm 130
2 Corinthians 8:7-15
Mark 5: 21-43

In our opening reading, Saul and his son Jonathan have been killed in battle. During the reign of Saul, David had spent a great deal of time at the court. As Saul became more and more ill and had trouble sleeping, David used to play the harp and sing to the king. David and  Jonathan were close friends.

As time went on, Saul became more and more afraid of losing power as king. He thought David was plotting to take the throne and tried to kill David. David had at least one opportunity that we know of to kill Saul, but he spared Saul’s life. When David had to escape out into the wilderness to hide from Saul, Jonathan continued to remain a loyal friend, bringing David food and warning him when Saul was searching for him. Even though Jonathan was Saul’s heir, he remained a good friend to David. He put friendship ahead of his own place as the one next in line to be king.

Of course, we know that God had sent Samuel to anoint David as king. David had many flaws. He gave orders that Uriah be sent to the front lines to die in battle so that he could marry Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. At the same time, David had qualities that endeared him to his people. His poem of praise to both Saul and Jonathan is a beautiful elegy for these two men, and it is also a lament on the waste of war. “How the mighty have fallen” is a phrase that has come into our language. David praises both Saul, who tried to kill him and Jonathan, his loyal friend, calling them “beloved and lovely!” David was able to look beyond the complex and tragic personal aspects of the situation and to pay tribute to Saul, who helped Israel begin the transition from a collection of tribes into a nation-state.

Psalm 130 is a powerful song of faith and hope with which all of us can identify. How many times have we been awake in the night watches agonizing over a situation and praying for God’s help for ourselves and others.

This assurance of God’s love and power is what enables two people to reach out to Jesus for help in our gospel for today.

Jesus is back on the busy side of the Sea of Galilee. The crowds are around him. Jairus, one of the leaders of the synagogue, is so desperate that he comes to this teacher whom the authorities are watching closely. “My daughter is at the point of death, Come lay your hands on her and heal her.” Immediately Jesus follows him to his house.

Things are so hectic and needs are so great that a woman, someone on the other end of the social spectrum, is able to come up and touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, certain that just the power from that contact will heal her of hemorrhages that she has had for twelve years. She has gone to doctors but they have not been able to help. Because of this illness, she is marked by the law as unclean, She is supposed to stay away from people, No rabbi is supposed to be near to or touch someone who is unclean. But somehow she knows that Jesus will not be angry at her. She knows that he will care as much for her as he does for an official of the synagogue. So she reaches out over the abyss of social standing and religious laws and touches his cloak.

Jesus feels energy leaving his body. Herbert O’Driscoll says something very important about this, He notes that healing work has a cost. Every one in this congregation does healing work of one kind or another, and it does have a cost. I want to thank you for carrying out these ministries and for paying the emotional and physical price  for your healing work.

Jesus asks, “Who touched me?” We will never know how much that woman might have been tempted to run away, or to melt into the crowd and hide. She had just broken the religious law. But there was something about Jesus. His love and his caring had given her the courage to reach out and touch his garment in the first place, and now she falls on her knees before him just as Jairus had done earlier. Knowing that she had been healed, she told him everything. That’s how Jesus is: we can tell him everything. And he says, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” He has just made her a part of his big family.

As he is still speaking, people come from Jairus’ house and tell him, “Your daughter is dead. Don’t bother the rabbi any more.” And Jesus says, “Do not fear, only believe.”  He takes with him only Peter, James. and John. He firmly escorts all the weeping and wailing people out of the house and takes the girl’s mother and father into her room.

Jesus knows the difference between life and death, between despair and hope. He takes the girl by the hand and says, “Little girl, get up!” As she walks around the room, he tells them to get her something to eat.

“Do not fear, only believe.” There are things happening in our own lives and in the world which can make us worried and afraid.  Our Lord is speaking to us and to our fears and worries today when he says, “Do not fear, only believe.” He is calling us to do what he did with these two people. He was not afraid when a religious authority asked his help even when other authorities were watching his every move. He was not afraid when a woman labeled unclean touched his cloak. He was always looking beyond these rules and labels and always moving in faith to bring healing, love and wholeness into the lives of people.

That is what we are called to do—to move beyond the fear and believe that, with God’s help and grace, we can bring love and healing into the world.    And that is what you are doing every day. Amen.