Pentecost B-6, Lectionary 13, ‘18
Trinity Lutheran Congregation
I always like a two-for-one deal. BOGO as it is known in some places – buy one get one. But you can’t go into the store and ask for the second one – for free – without getting the first one first. You have to get them both.
That is what we have in today’s gospel reading from Mark. A two-for-one-deal. Mark does that a lot. And when he does he is always trying to make a point.
In today’s reading Mark describes Jesus healing two daughter of Israel. In the verses just before these Jesus had performed an exorcism on a non-Jewish person. Here Jesus returns to the other side, the Jewish side of things and heals two daughters of Israel.
Not only is it a two-for-one deal, it’s like a sandwich. Mark begins with Jairus coming to Jesus and asking him to heal his daughter. The lesson then moves into the healing of the woman with the flow of blood for twelve years. It all comes to a close with Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter, whom many agree just happens to be around twelve years old. Like any good sandwich you can’t have one without the other. Peanut butter and jelly. Ham and cheese. Or an Oreo sandwich cookie – crunchy chocolate cookie with creamy filling inside.
The two are meant to be looked at together. There are differences between the stories. There is the socially and religiously well-known Jairus in contrast with the unnamed woman and unnamed daughter. And while Jairus makes a formal request for the healing of his daughter, the unnamed woman sneaks a touch of Jesus’ robe. The similarities include: the crowd and the disciples, the issues of fear and faith, and a twelve-year illness and twelve year-old girl.
One thing that ties these two healing stories together, and ties together other stories in Mark is that Jesus always chooses to alter the conditions of the people he is meeting. He feeds them, he forgives them, he heals them. That is certainly true in today’s stories and is true throughout Mark.
We don’t have to look very far to see that the conditions of the world need changing. We all have a litany of conditions in the world that need to be changed, need to be healed – and needs it all right now. The news is filled with evidence of the need for change. Not only are there barriers at our border there are barriers between us. Not only are walls going up, there are more coming. We are worried about children and families and basic human rights. The climate, Supreme Court. Line 3. One issue after another. All within our own country. We have taken sides an distance between us is getting greater by the day.
How many conversations have you been a part of during this past week, or in the last 18 months where everyone agrees something needs to be done about “them” or “him” and what they’re doing. Can’t they see that what is happening is all wrong? That they are destroying everything America actually stands for. On Facebook I see comparisons between these days and the days of the Nazi Germany.
I also see posts from people at the other end of the spectrum from where I sit. Those who are pleased with all that has been happening and look forward to more and similar changes.
And I ask myself – what are they so afraid of? Why did my Facebook friend Paul post a picture of several guns conveniently attached to the underside of a coffee table in a living room, suggesting we all do the same, just to be safe? And I think, where does he live, for crying out loud? And I ask myself, I want to ask Paul and all the others – what are they so afraid of? What are they so afraid of?
And I see posts where people on both ends of the spectrum are saying the exact same things about the people on the other end of the spectrum. The same exact things, with equal certainty.
They are mad/ crazy.
They want to destroy everything our country stands for.
They are blind to the truth.
They only see what they want to see.
the thing I can’t get past is that As much as I believe that the values I am attached to are the better values, as much as I never want to waver on them – the thing I can’t get past is what am I so afraid of. What are we on my favorite end of the spectrum so afraid of?
I can’t get past that. And while I do not doubt my values, the values at my preferred end of the spectrum, while I believe they are what Jesus lived for and how God’s creation is to be, I am finding myself as tired of our insights, and preferences and complaining as I am of theirs. I’m tired of the late night humor. And I’m tired of the deepening differences between the two ends and I’m tired of the way I enjoy chiming in on the moaning and groaning we are all taking part in, including me.
So, I ask myself – what am I so afraid of? And I can conjure up all kinds of depressing images of possibilities. And then I go deeper and realize that they come from my own experiences of being the one left out, being the one who was hurt, being the one not listened to, being the one discriminated against for who I am. And everything gets clouded and ratcheted up because of those realities of life, those wounds that remain open, and un-healed.
We all have had those experiences, no matter how aware of them we are. We all have those hurts and pains. To be human guarantees it.
Those hurts and painful experiences can lead to growth and strength, but if they’re not tended to they can get in the way of even our best intentions.
And then we have these two stories of healing. Jairus’ daughter and the bleeding woman. And we see Jesus healing the daughter of a prominent man of means and an unclean woman with no name. We see Jesus healing one who politely asked and one who snuck in and took it. We see Jesus touching and healing when it made him unclean in the eyes of the law.
All of which means Jesus can heal our brokenness, too. Whether requested in a well-mannered way or stolen on the sly, Jesus can heal even us.
The bleeding woman told Jesus the whole truth, which was in itself a part of her healing process. We can tell God the whole truth as well. All the pain and sorrow. Even though God already knows it all there is something therapeutic about getting it out. But whether we tell or not Jesus is all about changing the conditions of the people he meets. Including us.
Which, also is our calling as well. We see our world in need. We hear the cries of those kept out, those who are hungry, those who are separated from loved ones, those who have no home. Those seeking justice and welcome and receive the exact opposite.
We are connected to their pain. We are fellow humans. We also know a thing or two about the way God intended this world to be – a place of welcome and justice and abundance. A world where life wins over death time and time again, if we just let it.
The world needs God’s reign and the world needs all that we can do to make it real. Now. Here. And the place to start is with us. Letting God’s love and healing work in us. Then we can better work to break down the barriers, to heal those around us in need. Then we can continue to write letters, call, feed, march, serve coffee and tea and stand up for what we know Jesus lived and died for, what we know God desires for all of creation.
The end of the story about Jairus’ daughter is simple. Jesus strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. No trumpets blaring. No fireworks. The simple giving of food.
Well, we have this meal set before us – a reminder of the healing that has happened already.. Healing for you and for me and the world. Food for the journey.
We also have words of healing here today. Healing with oil. So that we can go out into the world again to share the healing in word and deed.
And, you are invited to both.
Come and fed and healed again here, now.