The Sixth Sunday of Pentecost – Sunday, July 1, 2018

July 1, 2018  

Mark 5:21-43

A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed

21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat* to the other side, a great crowd gathered round him; and he was by the lake. 22Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23and 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.’ 24So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ 29Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ 31And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?” ’ 32He looked all round to see who had done it. 33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’

35 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?’ 36But overhearing* what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’ 37He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39When he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.’ 40And 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. 41He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha cum’, which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’ 42And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

 

Their faith was full.
She, an un-named woman. He, named Jairus, one of the leaders of the synagogue.
Each of them faithful.
Examine the contrast:

  • The woman was un-named and had been bleeding for 12 years (making her ritually unclean). She had spent all she had to try to find a cure and yet was getting worse. She did not present herself to Jesus, she reached out to touch his cloak from behind. When he realized he had been touched and asked who touched him, she fell down before him in fear and trembling. Jesus said to her “Your faith has made you well” (Mark 5:34).
  • The man, whose name we know (Jairus), was a synagogue leader. He, too, fell at Jesus feet. There was no anonymity in what he did. He fell to his feet in front of Jesus and begged Jesus to come to his home to heal his daughter, who was close to death. Jairus KNEW Jesus had the power to heal.

A power-full man. A power-less woman.
Both believed in the power of Jesus Christ. Both, in their time of great distress, in their time of great need, knew Jesus would recognize their need and give them new life.

 

A year ago I began to serve this congregation as senior pastor. It was a year ago this week.
A year ago I was recovering from major surgery and anticipating 6 weeks of radiation treatments.

Those radiation treatments were one of the worst things that has ever happened to me, mostly because of the preparations I needed to do each day in order to receive them, the details of which of you really don’t want or need to know…

When I was receiving treatments I came to church every day to work for an hour or so, then I drove down the road to the cancer center at Gundersen. I sat in the waiting room, waiting for one of the technicians to come get me. They would ask how I was doing. I would answer. They would ask if I was ready and prepared for my treatment. The first week or so I was confident: yes, I’m ready. I’m prepared. Later on my confidence waned; “I think so” I would say. I’d get my gown on. They would ask me my name and birthdate. We’d all walk in the treatment room. I’d lay on my back on the metal table. They would adjust the machinery, using a laser beam to target the radiation. Then they would leave, walking through a thick metal door, closing the door, leaving me alone in the room with the machine that was designed to kill cells, any cells within the targeted area. Good and bad.

The plan was, the bad cells would die and be gone. The good cells would die and then, over time there would be re-growth and healing…

You might expect a pastor to pray while lying on a metal table receiving radiation. Sometimes I did have conversations with God as I laid there. More often my prayers were hymns I sang to myself, in my mind. Hymns I had selected for us to sing in worship or old favorites that just came to me, or parts of the liturgy.

Again, when the un-named woman told Jesus she had touched him Jesus said to her “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease” (Mark 5:34).

Her faith made her well. Jairus’ faith took him to fall at the feet of Jesus, who then walked home with Jairus and raised his daughter from the dead.
The two of them, such different people, were faith-full.

Not every faithful person who has been diagnosed with a disease and/or receives treatments survives their diagnosis and/or treatment. We know this.
That’s my struggle with this story. As faith-full as I am, I could have died last year.
I don’t believe my death would have meant my faith was less than full.
Nor do I believe God has a plan for me that brought me through my illness.

I believe genetics has an imprint on our health and well-being. I believe the way we live affects the way we die. I believe in science and am profoundly grateful for the knowledge my medical providers had and have that they share with me and with others as they care for us.

And I believe in God, the maker of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus, God’s Son, who came to the world to save us all from sin and death. I believe in the Holy Spirit, who is present right now, in this moment, giving us each strength and hope and new life.

Because I believe in God, Creator, Savior, and Spirit—I believe, as St. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, that

Death has been swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54).

I believe God

Will swallow up death forever, and that God will wipe away the tears from    all faces (Isaiah 25:7-8)

Because I believe in God, Creator, Savior, and Spirit—I give thanks to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. When we die we are the Lord’s. We are the Lord’s. In this moment we are the Lord’s. When we receive bad news or good news from our health care providers, we are the Lord’s. Whether our faith feels full to us or our faith feels weak, feels empty, we are the Lord’s.

As followers of Jesus Christ, as children of God we are claimed. As followers of Jesus Christ, as children of God we are loved. As followers of Jesus Christ, as children of God we are sustained. As followers of Jesus Christ, as children of God we are strengthened. As followers of Jesus Christ, as children of God we are given hope. The hope we have is for this life and for the next.

This I believe.

Amen.