|Rev. Charles Wildman, Interim Conference Minister|
This week's author is the Rev. Charles L. Wildman, Interim Conference Minister for the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live."
So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, "If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well." Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my clothes?" And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, 'Who touched me?'" He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."
While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader's house to say, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?" But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe." He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha cum," which means, "Little girl, get up!" And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
His mother elbowed her way forward for "just a word" with me. She was a member of a former congregation and we were standing in the midst of several hundred people at the church's anniversary reception. "My son and his wife have divorced. He has the two children and has lost his job. When he learned you would be here, he said he would try to get here just to have a brief conversation." I agreed to try to make a moment to visit.
But the implied request was strange. In the twenty years I had been pastor of that church, the young man and I had only minimal contact. In fact, as a teen, this boy made an effort to be absent from church! So why now, did he want to attempt a moment's contact?
"If I could just touch even his garments, I shall be made well," laments a chronically ill woman from the back of the room (Mark 5:28). Then, with great effort, the sick woman pushes forward in the crowd, finally reaching Jesus. Distracted by the pleas for healing from those surrounding him, Jesus seems unaware of the woman's anxious effort -- until she touches his robe -- and is made well! Then, Jesus seeks her out to be certain she knows that it is her faith, not Jesus the man, who has healed her. God did the healing; Jesus was the conduit.
I clearly am not Jesus nor do I claim special powers to cure illness or remove all obstacles from troubled lives. But the young father's anxious desire to just see me for a moments reminds me of how, for him, I may represent a power and a hope far beyond my human frailty. I am humbled at the thought.
We never visited. The young man either never made it to the reception or he never made his way through the crowds to where I was greeting others. In fact, I only realized this when I was on the plane returning home from the event. Saddened by the thought, I wonder if even the idea of having a visit might have given this struggling father a reason to hope.
There are many ways God can use us to touch and heal others. Jesus' people have healing power beyond their realization.
Compassionate and powerful God, humbly we ask that you open us to be used by you to touch others with your new life, in Jesus' name. Amen.
the family and friends of Arthur Thomas Douglas, Sr., grandfather of the Rev. Mia Douglas, associate pastor at Faith Congregational Church UCC in Hartford, who died on June 22;
the family and friends of Alan E. Green, former chair of the Connecticut Conference Board of Directors and former executive director of the New Samaritan Corporation, who died on June 21;
with thanksgiving the birth on June 15 of Jana Renee Grant-Eckhart, daughter of the Rev. M. Ashley Grant and the Rev. Adam E. Eckhart, minister of Christian Education and associate pastor respectively at the First United Church of Christ Congregational of Milford; and
the family and friends of Danice Smith, stepmother of the Rev. Samuel Dexter, pastor of the First Congregational Church UCC of Watertown, who died on June 14.
the family and friends of Thomas J. "T. J." Zappulla, brother of the Rev. Jack Zappulla, pastor of the Bunker Hill Congregational Church UCC in Waterbury, who died on June 15;
the family and friends of Mercia Wilkins, mother of the Rev. Nancy Strickland, an ordained minister in this conference, who died on June 1;
pastors recovering from surgery;
Gail Joslin, former staff member of the Connecticut Conference, being treated for advanced liver cancer;
US Army Staff Sergeant Jeffrey Carroll, son of the Rev. Carla Dietz Carroll, associate pastor at the United Church of Rowayton, UCC, and her husband John Carroll, who is stationed in Afghanistan; Sgt. Carroll and his wife have a young son Charlie;
the Rev. Dr. Barry Cass, the staff, members, and friends of the Somers Congregational United Church of Christ, which lost its 170-year-old meetinghouse to a devastating fire the night of January 1-2;
the Rev. Alison Buttrick-Patton, the lay leadership, staff, members, friends, and community of the Saugatuck Congregational Church UCC, which suffered severe damage from a substantial fire on the night of November 20;
the Conference's partners in the Kyung-Ki Presbytery and their communities on the Korean peninsula;
the Conference's partners working for peace in Colombia amidst violence;
the people of Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Djibouti, Jordan, Kuwait, Tunisia, Egypt, and the Palestinian Territories: may they have justice and peace;
the leaders of this nation, that they may meet the challenges of the day with insight, wisdom, and compassion;
this nation, that it may continue its difficult work to end the practices of racism;
those suffering due to the ongoing financial woes of the nation, be they struggling to meet an unaffordable mortgage, confronting the loss of a job, or working to find just resolutions to the crisis; and
those serving or living in war or conflict zones around the world, or where terrorists have struck, particularly in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, and Colombia.
To be added to the prayer list, please send an email to Rev. Eric Anderson at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Olivet Cong'l Church
P The Rev. Cynthia Stasko
United Cong'l Church of Bridgeport
P The Rev. Sara D. Smith
MM J. T. Michniewicz
Bridgewater Cong'l Church, Inc.
P The Rev. Peter M. Hammond
MM Mr. Christopher K. Shay
CE Ms. Candy Smith
First Cong'l Church
P The Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
PE The Rev. Aubrey L. Murphy
Broad Brook Cong'l Church, Inc.
IN The Rev. Michael J. Ader
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The Spirit Calendar: June 25, 2012 by Rev. Charles Wildman, Interim Conference Minister