First Congregational Church
July 1, 2018
6th Sunday after Pentecost
“While Jesus was….”
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
Truth is sometimes a hard thing and sometimes a confounding thing. Did you know there are more airplanes in the oceans, then submarines in the sky?
People say love is the best feeling. But I think finding a toilet when you really gotta go just may be better.
It’s okay if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right.
Yes officer, I did see the “speed limit” sign. I just didn’t see you.
Did you know there is a species of antelope capable of jumping higher than the average house? This is due to its powerful hind legs and the fact that the average house cannot jump.
It would be interesting to know why the people who work on lectionaries make the decisions they do. Last week, that prescribed list of scripture passages had us at the Sea of Galilee, with Jesus sleeping in the boat and the disciples nervous about a storm. The lectionary people skipped a rather large section about Jesus healing a demon-possessed man - sending the demons into a herd of pigs and then drowned in the lake. The lectionary folks instead, chose the passage we are about to hear, one that is rather unique in its own way. As the ladies make their way up here, the scene is still around the Sea of Galilee, surrounded by hills and mountains.
Mark 5:21-43 New International Version (NIV) (Mary)
Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman
21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him.
Carolyn: A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
Mary: 35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”
36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him.
After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Thank you, Carolyn and Mary. There’s enough material for exploration in these verses that we could spend a month of Sundays looking into them. Like hands: Jairus asking Jesus to come and lay hands on his daughter, the afflicted woman reaching out her hand to touch Jesus, and Jesus taking the daughter’s hand to stand. Even in our day, despite our precaution with germs, Jesus is someone people want to touch and is someone more than a famous personality with whom they can shake hands.
Then there’s the taboo issue. The afflicted woman wasn’t even supposed to be in that crowd. According to Jewish law, every person who came into contact with this woman had been made ceremonially unclean, which would have meant having to do ritual washing and all the hassle that required, including not being able to go to the temple for a week. No doubt, the woman knew she was wrong in going into such a crowd, and that in doing so, she risked being stoned to death. But she’d been socially dead for a dozen years, and although people might feel bad about that, there wasn’t anything they could do about it.
Take the scenario of that woman, and change the circumstances a bit, and it all comes much closer to home. One of the people on our prayer list is Carolyn Lalas’ daughter-in-law, who has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. It is a series of connective tissue disorders that affect the skin, joints, and blood vessels. With six bulging discs in her back, scoliosis, and nerve damage, - and that’s not even when she’s got dislocated joints and/or battling through mind-numbing pain, one can imagine this person wanting to reach out or be touched into healing.
There’s another person on our list that has a closed-head injury she received four years ago in a car accident at the age of 19. The former fire-fighter is relearning to identify words and is working on getting the knack for driving her computer-controlled wheelchair. I’m guessing that she wouldn’t mind a little high-fiving or even and outright poke from Jesus, either.
We could be here until the cows come home, and then some, sharing stories of individuals who would most likely welcome a touch from Jesus, even if that touch had to come by irregular means. But since there are some here in need of healing from the heat….
Calvin Seminary Theologian, Scott Hoezee, had a great statement about this scenario. He said, “But before the imminent panic got rolling, (that of a contaminated, afflicted woman in a crowd) Jesus did an amazing thing: he called this woman “Daughter” and sent her away with a benediction. Jesus restored her to the community and so conveyed to everyone that the contagion of holiness that Jesus bore was now more powerful and more important than any potential contagion of unholiness that anyone else could possibly bear. And apparently it was enough to cleanse the whole crowd of people who had, technically, been ceremonially contaminated by her, too.” “the contagion of holiness that Jesus bore was now more powerful and more important than any potential contagion of unholiness”.
A famous evangelist was coming to stay at a pastor’s house for the night. The pastor’s eight year old son, who was excited about the important guest, asked his father if he could take the evangelist his coffee in the morning. The pastor agreed but told his son that he must knock on the door and say, “It’s the boy, my lord. It is time to get up.”
On his way upstairs the nervous boy was clutching the cup and saucer and practicing his words. He knocked on the door and the evangelist asked, “Who is it?” The boy replied at the top of his voice, “It’s the Lord, my boy. Your time is up!”
Like I said before, there are enough subjects in this scripture passage to keep us on our toes until the Viking win a Super Bowl. But, for this week, for now, see what your heart says about this idea - of unknowingly multi-tasking love.
It’s a take off of the third section from our passage - the one that started Mary’s second part of the scripture; “While Jesus was….” While Jesus was healing a woman who had butted to the head of line, another younger, innocent child died. It seemed like Jesus was indifferent to the family, allowing his attention to be taken up with a full-fledged adult.
I wonder if that sort of scenario bothers us more so at one time than another. It seems like God is healing some folks while others are ignored. I want God to heal this person because of this reason and this reason and this reason. And when God doesn’t do that healing, and instead heals other people in similar situations, well, that just doesn’t seem fair at all.
Except that God is far bigger than any one of us, than any one of our singular situations. And although God loves all God’s children, there’s no place in the Bible that says that any of us should get special dispensations over others. God can heal one at a time and God can heal a bunch of people at a time, and even more than that, none of us gets out of this life alive. God is God and try as hard as we can to think otherwise, all of us are merely spiritual beings having a human experience.
What if, instead of putting so much effort into our physical woes, we put our spiritual, psychological and woes of the heart into the front of the line? Because here’s the thing: we’ve all been healed. Christ’s death and resurrection was undertaken willingly on our behalves. We are no longer a people broken apart from God, but put back together by God’s grace and mercy. Christ was free in the giving of that grace, so that it becomes ours to pass on to those around us. There is no limit to this holy grace and divine mercy, so we don’t have to be careful in doling it out. And we can do that as we encourage people, support people, pray for people and even just acknowledge their presence.
There are a lot of folks that sit on different places of the political platform than you do, and that’s not a bad thing. There are a lot of people that have varying needs and desires for their futures, and that’s not a bad thing, either. While Jesus was healing, there were others dying and needing help, and that will always be the case - at least until he returns. So may we allow the grace and mercy bestowed on us overflow on to others, that we may all be filled with the divine holiness that God has always seen for God’s people. And let us start now.
Gracious, Merciful God, while Jesus was on earth, healing and saving humanity, he was apart from you, so you understand how it is when separation happens. Even though in the scheme of eternity, that time was a blip, but it gave you a window into the lives of your beloved ones. Help each of us this week to appreciate the separation that happens in peoples’ lives; for those who serve us and are separated from their families, for those who have lost loved ones before they were ready to let go, for those who are separated from the people they love by their address, from nursing homes to prisons and even schools. There are so many people around us that can use a little more compassion, a little more understanding, and we lose so little in giving those things. So send your Holy Spirit to each of us this week, to guide us into the paths that offer healing and restoration and wholeness, as partners with you in the upkeep of this world. For all the healing you have done for each of us, for that which is happening and for that which will be done - all in your name - all your people say, Amen.
Just the messenger. And the collector and arranger of that which has been received. References available upon request.