That changes everything… This was the theme of the ELCA Youth Gathering. I was inspired as I read a devotional by a youth on the trip. He wrote that it transformed him. This is and will be our prayer for our youth on their mission trip to Denver. We pray that their experiences of love in action, done in light of the power of the Gospel will transform them and that they will come back as living witnesses of the power of God and empowered to be God’s hands and feet and voice in this community.
There were certainly some transformed people in today’s Gospel. When someone you love is hurting, you will do almost anything to help them be healed. So it is not surprising that Jairus begged Jesus to come to heal his daughter. Jesus was on his way…
But he got interrupted. We don’t know the woman’s name, only that she has a dreadful disease – and that she spent the last twelve years – and all of her money, energy and resources trying to find a cure. Nothing worked. The “doctors” and their “cures” made it worse. Now she has nothing left – and worse yet, she’s an outcast from society, labeled an “unclean” person. No one will touch her or talk to her. It would have been understandable if she had simply given up. But…she heard about Jesus and his miraculous healings – and she believed. But not having anything to offer, she thought …if only I touch him…I will be healed. So she positions herself ahead of him on the narrow street as people are jostling around Jesus. No one notices her as she reaches out her hand and touches the hem of his cloak.
She feels her body healed. It’s a miracle! But immediately - before she can rejoice - Jesus stops and says, “Who touched me?”
His disciples laugh. You’re kidding, right? On this crowded street you wonder who touched you?
But the woman knows – and is full of fear. She – an unclean hemorrhaging woman -- had committed a social taboo, touching a rabbi –stealing her healing. With fear and trembling, she confesses.
But instead of scolding her, Jesus dispels her fear, claims her as a daughter, commends her faith and publicly heals her disease. This changes everything. She moves from faith to fear and back to faith! Jesus did more than heal her – an ostracized woman. Jesus has restored her to the community where she can live out her faith.
This is good news – but the delay came at a cost. Messengers came with the news Jairus feared – “It’s too late. Your daughter is dead.” What grief he must have felt – maybe mixed with a bit of outrage too. For if only this other woman had not budged in and delayed them… Jesus might have healed his daughter.
Because of his position, Jairus was probably used to getting priority treatment. But status doesn’t matter in Jesus. None of the ways that people then and now distinguish themselves – what you do, how much you make, your social status, power, gender, reputation, nationality, education, where you live or where you are from – none of these ways that we sort ourselves out matter.
The messengers told Jairus – “Don’t bother the rabbi. It’s too late.” But Jesus has compassion on Jairus too and says, “Do not be afraid… only believe.” And then…while a crowd of mourners laughs in mockery, Jesus goes into the house, takes this daughter by the hand and raises her up to life. And that changes everything. Not even death can stop Jesus’ love. It’s never too late.
Why does Jesus do this? It isn’t for publicity – in fact he asks the family to keep quiet about it. It isn’t for status. Jesus heals because of his compassion – his love – both then and now. Jesus transforms fear into faith… and there is more than enough for all.
This is why we, like Jairus and Jesus’ newly named daughter, dare to ask for health and healing for ourselves, for those that we love – and for all of God’s people. With faith, we trust in the power of the Holy Spirit. And we rejoice when God’s healing hand comes and restores our loved one to health.
I would not be standing before you today if it had not been for the advocacy and perseverance of my mother & sister. After receiving a severe head injury, the doctors said their was not hope for healing. But they were not willing to accept that diagnosis. I give thanks every day for their determination – and God’s healing.
But healing doesn’t always come… at least not in the way we want it to come. There are times when people that I have loved – and that you have loved -- have not been healed of their disease. There are times when we wonder, why is God silent? My college roommate received the same diagnosis as I did - and she died of blood clot. We mourned and asked why did God not heal her? On a larger scale, we ask, Lord why do you allow hardship, disasters, war or suffering? And sometimes we are afraid. Sometimes we are afraid that God cannot or will not work healing in our time.
I was in a theatre this past week in England and started talking with the British woman next to me. Her first question was “why are there so many shootings in the United States?” I didn’t have an answer. I don’t know about the most recent police shooting– but with the police shooting in my neighborhood, I think the policeman was afraid.
Fear is a powerful force. With fear comes an adrenaline rush and the instinctive response of fight or flight. This is not all bad because if you are facing a tiger…or, unfortunately in today’s times, a shooter… it is smart to be afraid and to run for your life
But fear is not a way to live. It doesn’t bring out our best selves. Living in fear is limited: Fight or flight. Scientists today tell us that when we are afraid, we just react – we don’t think. We don’t pray. We don’t bring our best selves to the problem.
Most of the book of Lamentations is full of laments about the problems of the world by a people full of fear. They lived in a time of uncertainty. Their country was falling apart. Things were changing. People were afraid. Chaos reigned.
And yet… into the midst of this chaos, the prophet writes these powerful words: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
This is the message that Jesus gives Jairus and us: “Do not fear, only believe.” Do not be afraid. Do not act out of fear. Instead, respond in the way of Jesus. Because, when we respond as Jesus does – with love and action -- and not respond out of fear or hatred, then not only can we pray for God’s loving healing, but we can live out the love of Jesus in the way that we treat our neighbor.
Even when all seems lost, as was the case with Jairus’ daughter, it’s not too late for Jesus’ redeeming healing love. For not even death can stand in the way of Jesus’ love. Jesus did not just love people – he acted out of his love – even to dying on the cross. He died that we might live.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us trust in the power of Jesus’ love because that – that love in action -- changes everything. Amen.
Pastor Pam Stalheim Lane - Faith-Lilac Way Lutheran Church - July 8, 2018
1 Gospel lesson from Mark 5: When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and 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.” So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?’ “He looked all around to see who had done it.
But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” 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?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”
He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And 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. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. The Gospel of our Lord.