BIBLE READINGS:   2 Corinthians 8:7-15    Mark 5:21-43  

 

SERMON

Winter is COLD!

 

I like it! but is does wear us down somewhat. This is the season when  the natural world seems in retreat. Bees hibernate, and my cat drapes herself over the oil-heater. Darkness and gloom seem more the scheme of things than light and warmth. Our lectionary texts this week remind us that there is a balance to life. Things must die to make room for what needs to be born. In the course of life we have reason time and again to mourn and lament losses. As we move honestly through the grief we find renewal as new growth appears in our lives. The wisdom writers of the scripture, King David, and the psalmists remind us that God’s faithfulness is great. God is present in the midst of loss and renewal, in the midst of sin and separation, in the midst of death bringing new life.

Paul’s message to the Corinthian church urges them to generosity as they take an offering for the church in need in Jerusalem. He wants to help them understand their connection to that church so far away and its connection to them. Yet his words can have meaning in the bigger picture of life as he speaks of “fair balance.” We see it in our church here in Rockdale. There have been seasons of growth and shrinkage,seasons of programming and leadership which have experienced cycles of growth and fallowness. As the Body of Christ we celebrate the birth of new babies, even as we mourn the loss of elders and of friends who move away. Some of us are mourning and some of us are rejoicing at all times in the Body. Some are in need and some are in abundance. God’s presence is in fair balance with all.

In the gospel passage Jesus is the pivotal point of the balance. He moves the people through death to life quite literally in the stories of Jairus’ daughter and the woman with the flow of blood. As he was in touch with the calming power of God in midst of the storm last week he is in touch in the chaos of the crowd this week. He demonstrates the ability to be in touch with himself and the power of God within him even as he is ministering to people in a crowd. There is a “fair balance” that brings life into death.

Here is a story about balance. We struggle so much to keep things the way they have always been, but is that balanced? What do we need for our church to grow?…

 

While his mother lies dying, Jack meets Death heading for their cottage. He grabs Death’s scythe and uses it to beat him over the head until he is small enough to be stuffed into a walnut shell. Jack throws the shell out to sea.

 

He comes home to find his mother well. While she lights the stove he heads off to town to buy some bacon for a celebration breakfast. But the butcher is unable to slaughter any animals. He fears his business is ruined. Jack has to go home without the bacon. On the way he tries to pull a cauliflower from a field to be some sort of breakfast. But none of the crop can be taken out of the soil.

 

Returning home he finds his mother ankle deep in matches: she hasn’t been able to light the stove. Jack tells his mother about his meeting with Death. She tells him that everyone has a time to be born and a time to die, that he has deprived her of that moment. That without death in the world nothing can change, nothing can be born. She says she has taught him all her stories and wise things, and it’s time for him to make his own way.

 

Jack retrieves the shell and releases Death. He returns to find his mother dead. He fetches their friends and neighbours and they have a meal at which they tell stories of all the happy and some of the sadder times they had with Jack’s mother. Then they bury her in the earth.

 

Acknowledgement: Jane Anne