To steal a miracle

Worship on the Lord’s Day
Second Sunday of Pentecost     10:00 am     11 June 2023
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering  as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev Brad Childs
Music director: Binu Kapadia
Elder: Heather Tansem

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
P: and also with you.

Lighting of the Christ candle
Welcome and announcements
Silent preparation for worship

Call to Worship
L: Rejoice in the Lord, you people of God!
P: We will sing songs old and new to praise our God.
L: God loves righteousness and justice;
P: We will do our best to serve God faithfully.
L: The earth is full of God’s steadfast love.
P: We come to worship with glad hearts, to offer our love and loyalty.

Opening praise: Everlasting God

Prayers of approach and confession

You, O God, are overflowing with love, infinite in kindness, incomparable in glory.

You are the source of all good things.

In you, all things work together for good.

Your presence breaks into our lives in many ways and you touch us with wonder.

In this time of worship, we offer you thanks with our prayers, praise with our hearts, and honor with our lives, this day and every day, now and always.

God of all our journeys, you lead us day by day.

Sometimes the going is smooth and we follow gladly.

But sometimes the going gets tough.

We face obstacles and choices.

We’re unsure which way to turn.

Forgive us when we hesitate, and give us the courage to take a step into your future.

Gradual: I waited, I waited on you, Lord

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Know that you are forgiven and be at peace with God, with yourself and with one another.

We listen for the voice of God

Children’s time

Gradual: Jesus, we are gathered (514)


Do you guys know what Australian rules football is? It’s kind of like football, just more violent. They don’t stop the play. So if you get crushed you have to crawl off the field. It’s pretty harsh.

Well, a long time ago there was this Australian team called the Sydney Swans, and they were sort of the joke of Australian football. They had the worst record and they had some of the worst players. They also had an angry coach, and they had no fans, and for most of their home games, they had nobody in the stands.

But then a strange thing happened. The team got a brand new coach, and two new players, and then they started winning. And before long the team that had been the laughingstock became the powerhouse, and since everybody likes a winning team, you can imagine what happened next.

They get fans, the stadium fills, and downtown Sydney is awash with the team colours. There are people wearing Sydney Swan merchandise all around the city.

One Sunday afternoon the Swans were playing their rival team, and the TV cameras zoomed around, and then it focused on one person who had a giant smile on his face and a homemade sign that looked like this.

I was here when nobody was.

Sometimes, in life, people come and go. You have good times and bad times, but no matter what, there’s always this one person who’s been there all along, winning or losing, no matter what.


Our God. We can never be alone. We know that you are with us, and even when the stadiums seem like they’re empty, you’re the crowd cheering us, on our God. We thank you. And now we pray the prayer that your son taught us to pray …

The Lord’s Prayer (535)

Transition music

Song: Creating God, your fingers trace (288)

Today’s Message

Scripture readings: Matthew 9: 9-13, 18-26

Response: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet

Message: “To steal a miracle”

On April 14th 1984 (my 5th birthday) in Greensborough Kansas an electrical fire broke out on the Raines farm. In the unusually dry weather, the fire spread very quickly up to the second floor of the old dull blue house. Young 11 year old Daniel Raines tried to race down the stairs to safety but found only a wall of fire and smoke where the stairs used to stand. One hundred year old wood, it seems, is eaten away in mere seconds.

Thinking quickly, the boy ran to the upstairs bathroom and squeezed his way through the small 6 inch open window. Outside Daniel’s father had seen the smoke from the pens and ran as fast as he could to the house. The shingles were hot beneath Daniel’s feet. Alone on the roof and crying, little Daniel paced back and forth in fear as his father approached the house.

The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, “Jump! I’ll catch you.” He knew the boy had to jump to save his life. But all the boy could see was smoke and blackness. He couldn’t see ground beneath him, let alone make out his dad. In tears Daniel cried out “I can’t” but his father kept yelling: “Jump! I can save you. But Daniel wouldn’t jump and yelled at the top of his lungs, “Daddy, I can’t see you.”  And in a strange small and calming voice Daniel’s father collected himself and as calmly as he could muster shouted back these words, “But I can see you and that’s all that matters.”

In first century Judaism purity was a major issue. The law told you who you could sit next to, speak with, eat with, how to wash your hands and where to go to the bathroom. In the purity code of Leviticus there are even instruction on how far from camp one must go to relieve themselves. Sometimes when modern readers come across these things it’s easy to find the humor in it all and at times it just seems so legalistic.

But truth be told the purity laws made the Jews stand out. It made them different. In fact, it was that system (and that very same attention to detail we sometimes find confusing) that helped to ensure good health and long life for the ancient Hebrews. But it was a difficult system, and it came complete with castes and social classes.

If you were a woman for instance you could not be seen speaking to a man in public. It sounds so anti-feminist and insulting to the female gender, but things are rarely so black and white. For a Hebrew woman in the first century, to be seen approaching a man in public was to present yourself as a “women of the night” so to speak. Because of this, many laws that appear sexist to modern readers actually served to protect women from abuse.

In similar fashion, if you were ill in the first century, you were generally considered to be unclean. Again, it sounds harsh today, but at the time people had no real understanding of what was contagious and what was not. Segregation saved lives. But that doesn’t make loneliness any easier to take.

For many who were ill, you would be temporarily banned from the synagogues and from worship. You would be banned from social gatherings, from seeing your friends and from crowds, and in some cases even from town and from seeing your own family.

Most likely that is the case with the woman in our story who interrupts the story of Jarius’ daughter. The bible tells us that this woman had been ill for 12 years and had been an outcast of society. The kind of person that the world just seemed like it wanted to forget. “Out of sight – Out of mind” I suppose. She had been born into a world where Jewish boys prayed a daily prayer thanking God that they had not been born a girl and more than that she had been discarded even by her own family for fear that they might all catch her sin and become unclean as well.

In Luke (who is a doctor himself) we are told that she had gone to several doctors seeking relief but that they had relieved her only of her money and nothing else. In Luke’s opinion it was a waste of time. He himself was a physician and in his Gospel, he calls her “incurable”.

She is, to all intents and purposes, an outcast. She has no money, is not allowed to be in contact with others, cannot work and earn money, is not allowed to live in town and cannot see her family. Where does she live? The answer… she lives where all the ill live… in the lepers village far from the rest of society.

But knowing that Jesus would be coming through town, this young outcast hatched a clever scheme. She would hide her illness and sneak back into town. And as the crowd surrounded this miracle worker (Jesus) that she had heard of, she would casually brush up against one of the four Tsitsith or tassles on Jesus’ Shimla cloak in order to steal some of his magic for herself.

It was a common belief at the time that people transferred their power to their clothes, and we see this as the woman hides in the crowd and curiously enough we are told, talks to herself. It is a strange scene, like something out of Shakespeare. The woman hiding in the crowd, eyes fixed on Jesus, delivers a line. She says, “If I can touch only his clothes, I will be healed.”

In doing so, this outcast of society would be breaking several laws. After bleeding for twelve years and finding no relief, she is not to be in town, she is not to be in contact with others, she is not to be in contact with men, she is not to be this close to the temple, she is not to meet anyone without announcing her illness, she is not to be there at all. And yet she somehow knows in her heart that this Jesus can heal her. And as he walks by surrounded by a sea of followers the bible says she sneaks up behind him and reaches out to touch the corner of his robe.

Immediately Jesus knows that something has happened. He stops and looks around and says, “Who touched my robe?”

Understandably the disciples are confused. In Luke 8:45 (Luke’s telling of this same story) it says, “When all denied it, Peter[f] said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!”” This translation lacks some of the force of the original. In Koine Greek it says, Master the συνέχω syn-echō  (a word used for an approaching army) surrounds you and they ἀποθλίβω a-poth-libō  (press in or “suffocate”) you. Peter and the disciples have no idea what Jesus is talking about, there are people all around. People are everywhere and no doubt many people have touched his robe.

But something is different here. Something more has happened. The woman’s scheme was successful. Her plan to steal a healing and sneak away has worked – or has it. She has been healed but she didn’t get to sneak away. On the contrary… she’s been caught. No doubt at this point, her mind was reeling. Surrounded by a sea of men and she has been caught. Now the law says that she could actually be stoned just for being in the crowd. And on top of that this woman has stolen from the man this giant crowd of people are following.

But instead of more suffering, instead of more loneliness, she would be set free.

Jesus turns to her (and I imagine he smiles). And he says, “My daughter, your faith has made you well.”

What is interesting about this story is that this woman comes to God as a desperate person and from time to time, we can all understand what it’s like to be on the outside of society, what it’s like to be looked down on or cast aside or lonely. But even though in her desperation, she came to take something from God…. what she came to steal and sneak away with could not be stolen. Because he already had give her what she needed.

It wasn’t the clothes that healed her (some tassel on the edge of a robe), it wasn’t the scheme she concocted… it was something she had all along. It was her faith that healed her. And though from this story we can tell that she didn’t really know who Jesus was; she didn’t really fully understand him; what she did know is that he had the power to save her and all she had to do was believe (all she had to do, like Daniel Raines, was jump).

When we read a story like this one, sometimes it’s easy to read into it more than it actually says. This story never says that people of faith won’t get sick. It doesn’t say that our prayers will heal our every illness or that ill people who don’t get better lack faith. But what it does is tell us in whom we should put our faith.

Like Daniel Raines on the roof of a burning house this woman just had to have faith that her father would catch her.

May you come to Christ in faith. May you know that while illness and suffering exist in this world, that you can still put your faith in Him. And may you know that when the smoke billows out and blocks your view; when God seem far away and all seems doomed, He is still there. Because even when you can’t see him. He can see you, and that’s all that matters.

Song: Guide me, O thou great Redeemer (651)

We respond to serve God

Reflection on giving: We have been giving faithfully since the beginning of the pandemic and we are committed to continuing the ministry and mission that define Dayspring – using the ways described below. Thank you all for your support of our shared vision and mission.

Prayer of gratitude and for others and ourselves

God of healing and hope, you offer us what we need in Christ Jesus, not always what we want. Bless our gifts and use them to meet needs in lives touched by the outreach of our church. Give each of us courage to reach out in Jesus’ name whenever you call.

Lord we thank you for all the faithful people who give and pray and water the plants and volunteer and serve on committees and come for worship, bible study, fellowship, and friends. We are a blessed people. Father, continue these blessings and help us to serve you as your will moves within us.

God of our past and our future,

We come before you with grateful hearts, trusting that you walk with us through all the times of our lives.

You create a future for us, calling each of us to use our individual abilities and opportunities to make a difference.

Thank you that we all have a place and a purpose in your world.

Guide all who are graduating this year to listen for your call and find their true path.

Hear us now as we pray for the world in its deep and diverse needs:

We pray today for those who face danger and despair in these times:

We remember before you those living with hunger, and all those caught up in unrest and violence beyond their control.

We pray for all those working to relieve suffering in these lives.

We pray for all those facing fear or frustration, wrestling with sorrow or discouragement in any area of their lives:

For those who live with illness or pain….

For those bearing up with chronic conditions or disability….

For those who know the grief and change of bereavement….

And we pray for all those who work to bring healing and comfort and agencies that offer support and care to those who suffer.

We pray for all who feel helpless or hopeless in this present time:

For those around us facing unemployment, struggling to make ends meet…

For those caught up in the pain of misunderstanding or broken relationships…

And for those working through situations of conflict at home or at work…

We pray for all who offer guidance and support in the midst of such difficulties and for those who have skills in reconciliation or mediation.

God of healing and hope,

Guide our congregation to engage each day with faithfulness.

Where we need correction, show us a new way; where we need love and encouragement, inspire to us.

Triune One, move our leaders, governments, policy makers, journalists, legal system, medical care system, leaders of social programs, supporters of freedom and more. Take the silly views we have and rid us of them. Help us to reason. Spark our interest. Empower us with the necessary resilience to do what we are called to do and make us strong enough to do what is required of us and more. Amen.

Song: Will you come and follow me (634)

Sending out with God’s blessing

God to enfold you, Christ to uphold you, Spirit to keep you in heaven’s sight. So may God grace you, heal and embrace you. Lead you through darkness into the light.

Response: God to enfold you

Music postlude


Numbers in brackets after a song/hymn indicate that it is from the 1997 Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Those and other songs are being used in accordance with the specifications of Dayspring’s licensing with One Licence (3095377) and CLC (A735555).

The Rev. Brad Childs retains the copyright (© 2023) on all original material in this service. As far as Brad Childs is aware, all of the material that has not been attributed to others is his own creation or is in the public domain. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.

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