Sermon for SMHP, Year B, Proper 7, July 1, 2018
21When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 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 around 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.”
35While 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.
All over the country, people are rallying to defend immigrants. And others are rallying to defend the anti-immigrant policies being handed down by our current administration.
Sometimes they are rallying in the same place. A few days ago, at a rally in support of immigrants, a woman wearing a red baseball cap placed her face about six inches away from a fourteen year old boy. She said to the child “You are going to be the first one deported…you dirty Mexican.”
Now, I’ve seen the picture, and I’m pretty sure the kid is Salvadorian, but whatever. This is the way we talk to each other and to children whom we can vilify these days.
And its not just the right. As she was overheard, another woman approached, called the first woman a vulgar name, and pushed her.
There is an epidemic of hate in this country. It flares up out of the current political scene, but it started before Trump took office. You see it on billboards and in social media posts and well, pretty much everywhere.
Last week I was driving behind a semi truck with a sign that said “Don’t like trucks? Quit buying stuff!”
That’s the way we speak to each other these days, and it’s not just a crisis of manners. It’s a moral crisis. It’s a crisis of demonization and hate.
Scientists who study the brain say that the problem is in our amygdala. When the level of general discourse lowers to the point at which we find it today, it creates a snowball effect. Being exposed to rudeness and anger causes adrenaline to rise, and we respond with rudeness and anger. We’ve seen it, right? In fact, if we’re really being honest, and we are, we’ve done it.
And we seem to be powerless to stop it—the hate, the incivility, the willingness to dehumanize children and immigrants and persons of other races and political persuasions. It’s like a steamroller, flattening the better angels of our nature into paper dolls. It plagues us on all sides.
So what do we do? Where do we go? We can’t seem to solve this on our own.
What do we do when confronted with problems beyond our capacity?
This morning we are presented with two stories about people who have problems they can’t solve on their own.
What do they do?
They go to Jesus. They fall down at his feet.
Jairus falls at the feet of Jesus to ask Jesus to heal his daughter. He can’t find the healing he needs for her on his own. So he falls down at the feet of Jesus and begs for help.
And as Jesus makes his way to the leader’s house, a woman comes. A desperately ill woman who had been bleeding on and off for twelve years. Confined away from her people until the blood had stopped for days.
She had tried other means. Physicians. Painful and expensive treatments. She had spent all of her money and was probably about ready to give up.
She couldn’t save herself, so she sought the healing that she had heard Jesus could offer. She grasped at him, hoping for exactly what happened: for power to confer from his body, through his clothing and into her body. And in a split second, it happened. The Power of Jesus healed her body. She knew it. She felt it.
And so did Jesus. He realized that there had been a transactional shift in power and he asked his disciples about it.
And they were…get this…perplexed.
“What do you mean, Jesus? There’s all these people here! How can you say someone touched you? They’re all touching you!”
They were all touching him, but only only was trying to such power out of his body.
Know she was found out, the woman came to Jesus. Here’s how Mark describes 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.”
And Jesus looked at her and said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
Your faith has made you well.
The woman was healed. Jairus’s daughter was healed.
The power of Jesus was conferred to two people who had nowhere else to turn, because they threw themselves at the feet of Jesus and put all of their faith in him. Put all of their trust in him.
What would it take for us to do that?
What would it take for us to take all of our pain, our suffering, our frustration, and kneel down at the feet of Jesus?
Imagine what it took for Jairus to do it. A leader of the synagogue. In front of his people, falls at the feet of Jesus.
Doesn’t get much more vulnerable than that.
And vulnerability is in short supply these days, isn’t it?
Lots of people are vulnerable to forces beyond their control. I don’t mean that.
But how many of us live in fear of the people near us figuring out that we don’t always have the answers.
I know I fall squarely in that category. I’m supposed to have answers. Not questions!
But I don’t have the answers for this time in our lives. I don’t know what to do. I don’t think any of us know what to do.
So we really have no choice. We need Jesus. We need to throw ourselves at his feet and admit what we know—healing this pain is beyond us…and we need help.
So we’re going to ask for it today. We’re going to sing hymn #752, and we’re going to pause between each time through and pray to Jesus.
For our country.
For those things we need that we can’t seem to do on our own.
Jesus, we give you our faith. Heal us.