Won't You Help Me With This?

CALL TO WORSHIP: Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the earth from one end to the other. This is the God we worship; this is the God we meet with today.

Almighty God, we read in Your word that all kinds of people came to Jesus. Sick people came, and were healed. Hungry people were fed, people who wanted to learn were taught. People with troubled minds were given peace; whole families found that His presence made a difference.

We login today from a variety of situations, as individuals, as families and other groups. Like those of long ago, we come to Jesus. May His Spirit move among us today, inspiring our worship, and opening our minds and hearts.

Help us to remember as we offer our praise that His love and His power can still make a difference, as we put our trust in Him. Amen

HYMN 17: WITH GLADNESS WE WORSHIP…SING -StF.

PRAYER OF ADORATION: Loving Lord, we praise You because You concern Yourself with both the great and the small. Your power is enormous and Your wisdom deeper than we can possibly imagine. You number the stars; to You the heavens are like an outstretched curtain. Yet You feed all the creatures, and hear their cries.

How good it is to sing praises to our God. For God is gracious, and deserves all our praise.

The people of the earth are like tiny insects to You; even great princes and kings are nothing compared to You. You never tire or grow weary; but You care about the poor and the down-trodden, and You heal the grief of the broken hearted.

How good it is to sing praises to our God. For God is gracious, and deserves all our praise.

There is no end to Your kingdom. Human rulers pass away and are gone; but You are God forever and ever. Time is Your creation, and You hold it in Your hand. But our lives matter to You, and You help those who trust in You.

How good it is to sing praises to our God. For God is gracious, and deserves all our praise.

You sent Jesus to live among us as one of us. He came as Saviour of the whole world, He died because You love the world You made; but You know each of us by name, and want us to know You and to love You.

How good it is to sing praises to our God. For God is gracious, and deserves all our praise. Amen

TALK FOR ALL: FINDING A QUIET PLACE (MARK 1: 29-39)

Parties are fun. There is usually a lot of talking and laughing. There may be good food and games. Perhaps the house is decorated with balloons and special lights. When you go to a party it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of all that is going on around you.

There are other times when you must find a quiet place to be by yourself. Working on something that requires your attention, such as reading a book or working on homework, is best done where it is quiet. It is difficult to concentrate on other work while someone is trying to talk to you.

Jesus needed quiet times too. During his ministry he went to the house of two of his disciples, Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in the house and she was sick with a fever. Jesus “took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she served them” (1:31).

The story goes on to tell us that, “they brought to him all who were sick…” (1:32) and “all the city was gathered together at the door” (1:33). When the people who had been sick were cured and others saw what had happened, there must have been much excitement. It may have felt like a celebration, a party.

“Early in the morning, while it was still dark, he (Jesus) rose up and went out, and departed into a deserted place, and prayed there” (1:35).

What we can learn from this story is that all of us need to have quiet times. Even Jesus needed to get away from the crowds, the noise, and the excitement so he could concentrate. He needed a very quiet place where he could pray.

Do you have a quiet place to go when you want to talk to God?

HYMN 393: JESUS HANDS WERE KIND HANDS – HP

PRAYER OF CONFESSION AND THANKSGIVING: Hear what the Bible says: Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. Let us remember these words, as we think about Jesus.

In the Gospel story today, we will hear how Jesus heals many, and preaches throughout Galilee; but in the middle of the story, we will hear these words: “In the morning, while it was still very dark, He went out to a deserted place and there he prayed”.

Let us pray.

Gracious God, when we look at the life of Jesus, and think of all that He did, we know that this could only happen because He was obedient to You and kept coming back to You in prayer.

Forgive us Lord, when we do not follow His example. For thinking that we are too busy to pray, Lord forgive us.

For thinking in our pride that we don’t need to pray, Lord forgive us.

For thinking that our needs are too little for you to bother about, Lord forgive us.

For putting prayer off until a more convenient time, Lord forgive us.

The Lord Jesus lived and died so that we might be forgiven. Thank you, Lord, for that forgiveness given to all who are truly sorry. Help us to keep returning to You, as Jesus did, so that we may listen for Your word and be strengthened for daily living. In His precious name we pray. Amen

READINGS: MARK 1: 28-39

HYMN 161- SPEAK, O LORD, AS WE COME TO YOU- StF

SERMON: WON’T YOU HELP ME WITH THIS? (MARK 1: 29-39)

Back when I lived in Yorkshire, I once went to a neighbouring parish to participate in a healing service led by an Ecumenical colleague. She was an Evangelical Anglican who for many years exercised an extraordinary ministry of healing. Near the end of her long life, she helped establish the Healing Ministry Foundation, which is based in Steeton, Yorkshire.

At the service I attended, she invited people to come forward so that she could lay hands on them and pray with them. This is a typical part of healing in that church, and the response that day was enormous. After ministering in this way to a large number of people, she grew weary. Many others were still waiting to come forward. With a trace of impatience in her voice, she addressed those of us clergy who were present. “Aren’t there some clergy here who can HELP me with this?”

I, for one, was startled by this request. She was the one conducting the service, the one who had come a long distance to do so, the one with thirty years’ experience in this ministry. And she wanted help! I felt that I had been impolite without meaning to be. I had left this elderly woman to do all the work, while I remained in the background, looking pious. Apparently several of us clergy reached the same conclusion. In a flash we were at the altar rail, assisting her in the ministry of healing.

Today’s Gospel asks this question: “Won’t you help me with this?” Jesus is concerned for our health, our complete health. He wants us to experience healing, first, to the degree it is possible for us to do so in this life; then, completely in the life still to come. And he wants us to become his agents in the healing of our neighbours, a healing that can happen when we serve one another.

Consider today’s Gospel. It is thought to represent the reminiscences of Simon Peter. It opens with the two brothers, Simon and Andrew, welcoming Jesus into their home, along with other disciples. The brothers tell Jesus that Simon’s mother-in-law is sick with a high fever.

Without a word, he takes her by the hand, helps her up from her sickbed, and her fever disappears. The woman is healthy again! She asks no questions, engages in no speculations. She expresses her gratitude through service. She puts lunch on the table for her family and her guests.

This story is remarkable in several respects. Certainly it’s remarkable that Jesus cures this woman, and does so in a way that allows her to return to normal immediately. But it is also

remarkable that Jesus touches this woman. He is, after all, a rabbi, and rabbis in that time and place simply do not do that. Finally, the woman’s response is remarkable. Rabbis are not allowed to be served at table by women. But Simon’s mother-in-law — we never learn her name — goes ahead and violates this rule. Jesus has set her free, not only from physical illness, but also from social constraint.

The news of her recovery spreads like wildfire. As soon as they can, people from all over town bring their sick relatives to be healed. The house is now surrounded by a surging, moving mass of humanity. Jesus goes out and heals each sick person. In Luke’s version of the story, we hear that he lays hands on them. But in time, Jesus becomes weary. Once the crowd disperses, he goes off and sleeps for several hours. He’s up again before dawn, however, and goes off to spend time in solitary prayer.

This interlude is soon interrupted by the arrival of Simon and those with him. Here Mark’s Gospel does not call these men disciples for the simple reason that they are not behaving as disciples. They act simply as spokesmen for the townsfolk. Indeed, Luke’s version of this story reports that it is the townsfolk themselves who interrupt Jesus.

And what do they want? They want him to remain. There are still many in their town who need healing. These people who confront Jesus sound desperate. According to Luke’s account, the multitudes “came to him, and held on to him, so that he wouldn’t go away from them.” (Luke 4:42) But who can blame them? They are pleading on behalf of their sick relatives. Would we not do the same?

If we listen carefully to Jesus’ response, it may surprise us. “I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to the other cities also. For this reason I have been sent.” (Luke 4:43). Jesus is saying that he must leave this town. He will perform no further healings here. He will go to some other town instead, and start the process over again.

This decision is in line with what Jesus has come to do. It is not his aim simply to cure people of their diseases, wonderful though that is. He honours physical health as God’s gift, but recognizes that God gives even greater gifts.

Jesus wants to heal not just the body, but the whole person. He wants not only to help individuals, but to transform the world.

Jesus does not want patients who become well and then return to business as usual. He wants disciples who accept a new life and extend his ministry out through space and time.

He wants people he heals to go forth and heal others, disrupting in every corner the forces of destruction, and establishing that reality he calls the reign of God.

With one exception, we don’t know what happens to the people Jesus heals that day. The one exception is Peter’s mother-in-law. She learns from her encounter with Jesus that God does not will suffering, but wants suffering to come to an end. She learns also that she can serve as an instrument of God’s purpose. From Jesus she gains a new power in her life. That power makes her bold enough to overcome constraints. It makes her willing to meet the needs of others.

When he heals her, Jesus says nothing to Simon’s mother-in-law. Yet somehow she hears his question, “Won’t you help me with this?” And so she begins a new life, marked not by

conventional servitude, but by transforming freedom, the true liberty of God’s children which empowers her to help others because Christ has helped her. She dies to her old, constricted self, and is born again to an abundant life. She becomes a blessing to those around her.

Christ still heals as he did on that day. He not only heals our bodies, but our souls, our minds, our hearts, our memories, our relationships, our families, our social structures. Christ still heals. He does so through physicians, nurses, counsellors, clergy, teachers, parents, friends who meet for a cup of coffee, and governments that struggle to make peace.

All true healing is the work of Christ. It is for each of us to ask ourselves now, “Where is Christ healing me?” “In what aspect of my life do I feel his touch, do I see his light? How is Christ now at work in my life to change me so that I become the person God wills for me to be?”

Each of us would do well to spend some time with this question both today and in days to come: “Where is Christ healing me?”

As an answer to that question comes into focus, an answer unique to each of us, then we may hear still another question: “Won’t you help me with this?”

“Won’t you help me,” asks Christ, “by becoming more cooperative as I heal you, and by offering yourself as a more conscious instrument for the healing of your neighbour?”

It’s as though Christ tells us, “Get up from where you lie sick with fever, and express your gratitude by responding to the needs of the people around you. Let the reality of my compassion extend ever outward, like a stone dropped in still water.

HYMN 608: ALL PRAISE TO OUR REDEEMING LORD– StF

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION: Today in the Gospel passage, we see Jesus in several different places, attending to a number of different needs. We will think of His journey as we bring prayers for others and ourselves. Let us pray.

Lord, in all that we say and do, Help us to be more like Jesus.

First of all, we hear that Jesus came from the synagogue. Lord, we pray for our church, and all that is done there; for other churches that we may attend elsewhere, and for those in our local area. We pray too for churches that are going through difficult times, through persecution or other problems. May Your church always be a place where people may meet with Jesus.

Lord, in all that we say and do, Help us to be more like Jesus.

Then, we hear that Jesus went to Simon Peter’s house, healed a family member, and shared a meal. We pray for our homes and our families today. We thank You that we have warm homes to go to and enough food to eat. We pray for families who do not have all they need; we remember too families who live in danger and fear. Help us to pray for them, and show us what we can do to help them.

Lord, in all that we say and do, Help us to be more like Jesus.

Later, great crowds came to find Jesus. Lord, we pray for our towns and cities, where many people are gathered together. We remember that many people came to Jesus for healing, and so we pray too for our busy hospitals and medical centres, often struggling to cope with the demand placed upon them. In all these busy places, help people to see that every single person matters to You. Show us how we may be able to help someone who may feel as if they are lost in the crowd.

Lord, in all that we say and do, Help us to be more like Jesus.

The next day, Jesus got up early so that He could spend time in prayer. Lord, we know that often we neglect our quiet times. We tell ourselves that we are very busy, but no one could have been busier than Jesus in the passage that we read today. Show us how to make time in our busy lives for prayer and for reading the Bible.

Lord, in all that we say and do, Help us to be more like Jesus.

At the end of the passage, Jesus told His disciples that they must go and give His message to people in the surrounding area. We take a moment to think about some of the places where we might go this week. We might be the only Christian person to be in that place at that time. Show us how we can share the message of Jesus with those we meet.

Lord, in all that we say and do, Help us to be more like Jesus. Amen

HYMN 645: WILL YOUR ANCHOR HOLDS IN THE STORMS OF LIFE -StF

BLESSINGS: Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Lord, as we go from here, help us all to wait upon You, and give us strength and courage as we seek to serve You in Your world. And may the Blessings of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be upon us and remain with you always. Amen.