Prayer is like sunbathing

Holy Trinity Church Huddersfield
Sunday 18th October 2020

Copyright problems this week

The picture above is one I took of the window next to the organ on the north side of Holy Trinity, the only full length window in the building.

This week this blog had a big problem with a picture I had used back in 2018 and copyright. I either use my own photographs or check the internet for image which have been shared under a Creative Commons licence as free to use. Unfortunately just because Creative Commons says it is free to use does not

This week I had a comment on the old post, which is usually fine, but it had credited me with an image. To make matters worse when I checked on the post itself the image was missing. There are a number of reasons why a picture can be removed or disappear, copyright infringement is only one of them, but I have to be careful, a copyright infringement could cost a lot of money I do not have. So I have informed the other site that the image is not mine and removed it.

Church: Mainly about prayer

Vicar Mike started our YouTube service by quoting from the Book of Hebrews: Jesus is our high priest superior to the Old Testament priesthood.

We have heard about how Jesus burst onto the scene saying repent, Mike reminded us, leading us into confession. If you have anything to confess you can do it now.

The intercessory prayers showed one of the problems with the way we make our virtual services: we are unable to react in the service to recent events. Firtunately email fills the gap

We were emailed urgently pray for Ruth, our mission partner in Mozambique.  Mendes, one of Ruth’s boys, had a motorbike accident on Monday – he suffered a badly broken leg and some serious internal injuries.  After making some good initial progress Mendes’s condition has deteriorated, he is in a critical condition, and is now fighting for his life.

Ruth has asked us to pray that Mendes will survive the weekend, so that he can be flown to Maputo on Monday to a much better hospital which should be able to care for him better than the one he is in at Pemba. As this post should go up on Monday morning can you please pray for Mendes too,

There was another Fair trade interlude, this time about chocolate. Divine chocolate is the only chocolate that is not only Fair trade but also owned by the farmers It can be found in supermarkets or through the Traidcraft website.

A change of scene, Mike was back at home, showing the Chronicles of Narnia books which he reads with his family. Aslan the lion is the Christ like character in these fantasies, so when the children, Digory and Polly and the talking horse Fledge are alone with the children hungry and Fledge eating grass in the book The Magician’s Nephew. The children ask Fledge, “Doesn’t Aslan know we’r hungry?” Fledge’s answer is that he knows but he likes to be asked. God knows what we need, but likes to be asked, the best way is to be like Jesus and find a quiet place to pray. God knows about you but longs to hear from you.

The sermon

We are continuing the series working through Mark’s Gospel, the third week and still in Chapter one, it could take some time. The reading is Mark 1:35-45

Jesus prays in a solitary place

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’

38 Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so that I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’ 39 So he travelled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

Jesus heals a man with leprosy

40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’

41 Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 ‘See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.’ 45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

A reading in two parts: Jesus has had a busy day. Starting off preaching in the synagogue healing a man there, healing Peter’s Mother-in-law then into the evening Jesus was followed by many people from the town. Jesus reacted to people and ministered to them. If he had said, “I’ll have a lie in,” the next day noon could have blamed him. There is nothing wrong with rest, Jesus could have stayed there and had a great healing ministry, but that is not what Jesus came to do, he left there and went on to other things*.

Mike then spoke about the time he had taken off, not because of any great spiritual problems, but because he had simply got too tired. Life had got too much and time with God was was squeezed.

Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury said most of his prayer time was spent in silence. “Prayer is like sunbathing,” he said.

In the secong half of the reading and sermon a lepers comes to Jesus. Lepers were considered spiritually unclean and would contaminate the community if allowed to mix. They were cut of from society and God. The leper who came to Jesus broke all the rules by coming into the town. ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’ he said.

“I am willing, be clean,” said Jesus and stretched out his hand and touched this man. Jesus was not infected but the man was infected by the grace of God. Jesus was filled with compassion.

People need a touch from Jesus and the church is the means by which he does it. There is a subtle message we need to clean ourselves first like a person who has a cleaner but tidies the room first. But Jesus does the opposite here, coming to an unclean man.

Maybe you need the kingdom to break in as this man did. Jesus said, ‘I am willing.’ Let him touch you today.

*I have heard this interpretation before and I don’t think it fully satisfies the events. Put yourself in the shoes of the people of Capernaum, You have heard about what Jesus has done and you have come out, with sick friends and relatives to hear Jesus and have then heals, but Jesus does not show up. This interpretation does not work for me, but neither does any other I’ve heard. I have no answer either.

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