These might have seemed strange readings for a baptism. Baptisms are wonderfully happy occasions: we are celebrating Joseph & Eloise’s life & the love God has for them.
But the very eventful reading from Mark’s gospel seems to be full of illness and death and worry. We needn’t worry too much, though, as the turning points in this story comes with the healing Jesus offers first to the older woman and then to the young girl.
The story is rich with similarities and differences.
There is a young girl/ an old woman
A request for healing from an important man / an attempt to gain healing without being noticed from a very unimportant woman
Someone who has suffered 12 years of bleeding and therefore of being considered untouchable & unclean/ 12 years of a privileged life as the daughter of the leader of the synagogue.
This is a very complex and beautiful story of healing.
And the story is amazingly told – with the tension of one story interrupting the other – you can sense the impatience of the disciples when Jesus stops and asks ‘who touched me?’…we almost want to shout at Jesus to get on with hurrying to Jairus’ daughter before it’s too late.
The question ‘is it too late??’ is a big question for both the young girl and the older woman. Remember it says that the woman had tried many forms of healing before – she has spent all her money seeking a cure. Is it too late? And if Jesus faffs about with her will it be too late for the daughter of Jairus?
But it’s all OK – because the answer is that with Jesus, it's never too late.
So it turns out this is a good reading for a baptism – because it reminds us that God’s love shown in Jesus is there for us right at the start of life.. and throughout our lives – it is never too late to respond to God’s love – it will always be there for us.
And our other reading reminds us of who is included in this love of God. Paul, in his letter, tells us that Jesus Christ became poor so that we may become rich. This means that the barriers between God and humanity and the barriers we humans set up between ourselves, are all broken down, or perhaps it would be better to say are all healed, in Jesus Christ.
This baptism service is about God’s love for Joseph & Eloise, but in it we are reminded that we are all loved and precious children of God - whatever our age, our condition, our status.
The healing love of Jesus is there for us throughout our lives – and is present in a visible way in this bread and wine.
When we eat and drink in communion we are accepting the place that God’s love has in our lives – a love that in Jesus heals and touched and then dies and lives again.
Whether you want to come and receive communion or a blessing, or whether you prefer to sit quietly and reflect, God’s love is here for you – whoever you are.
Thanks be to God.