2009-06-23 by Laurie Clark
Several commentaries point out the technique Mark uses in telling these two healing stories. It is a “Story within a story.” (It happens again in Mark 11) The stories work together to help us understand Mark’s larger message. The first story: Jairus interrupts Jesus, asking him to come heal his daughter. Then, the tension and suspense builds. The crowd presses in on Jesus. The second story: Someone else touches him. He finds the bleeding and healed woman and speaks to her. Back to the first story: All the while, Jairus is anxious, waiting, worried about his daughter. Will Jesus arrive on time? Is Jesus always this unaware of time? Does Jesus not understand the urgency? Then, it’s as if someone pops a balloon and the air spills out. The messengers come and tell Jairus that his daughter has died. Then, resurrection, again. It’s a story within a story, both stories pulling and pushing at the other.
Is this really about two healings? Yes, but. These healings point to something more – that God’s kingdom is here, that Jesus is God, with God’s power and authority and that Jesus will one day confront death and overcome it that God’s “Peace” Shalom healing and wholeness will come again to God’s creation.
Can we preach in a way that puts the story of our personal faith lives in the story of our congregations into the God’s story of resurrection and new life?
2009-06-23 by Laurie Clark
Nt Wright says that “Often in the ancient world, sleep was used as a metaphor for death, and sometimes (John 11) when Jesus says “asleep” he means “dead”. This word connection seems intentional. Mark often uses the words for “rise up”. This isn’t death that is forever. This is resurrection talk.
People today often avoid saying the words “he died.” Instead, people say they “lost” someone or that someone “passed”. My grandmother used to explain a person’s death by saying, “She’s gone away.” How many young children have tried to figure out where their great aunt went to, only to discover she died?
The problem with these modern metaphors is they miss the resurrection. Lost, passed, and gone away means just that – someone isn’t here anymore. But this isn’t what Jesus was saying when he used the word asleep to describe someone that died. When we sleep, we wake up. Just like the little girl. Just like Lazarus. Just like the seeds in the earlier parables. All asleep – but going to wake up. Jesus is setting up more signs directing us to his death and resurrection which will defeat evil for all time.
2009-06-23 by Laurie Clark
Touch matters. Look at how many times in this scripture there is touch.
5v23 Come and lay your hands on her, Jairus asks Jesus.
5v 27 Touched his cloak
5v28 If I but touch his clothes…
5v30 Who touched my clothes?
5v31 How can you say, “Who touched me?”
5v41 He took her by the hand…
In addition to these actual moments of touching, there are also many inferences of touch.
Jairus fell to Jesus’ feet. Did his forehead touch his feet? Did his hair brush Jesus’ toes? Even if they didn’t touch, their bodies were close together. The crowds pressed in on Jesus. Can you feel this? The crowds so big, pushing against him, moving him along with the strength of their collective body. People weeping and wailing outside Jairus’ home, their sounds of mourning touching the ears of people all around.
Touch matters. Being present in our physical bodies matters. In a book entitled Touch, Rudy Rasmus writes passionately about the healing power of touching people.
What does this focus on physical touch mean for followers of Christ today, in a church that has often ignored touch that harms instead of heals? As followers of Christ follow the rules of Safe Sanctuaries, promising to keep everyone safe from physical harm in the church, can scriptures of healing touch still reach us, shape and form us to reach out to those among us who are most in need of healing? When does fear of harmful touch isolate God’s people from the healing that comes with faithful touch?
NT Wright points out that much of this passage is a movement from fear to faith. Can this passage lead followers of Christ to also move from fear to faith, to both receive and offer healing touch while recognizing, naming, and ending touches that are harmful?
2009-06-22 by Laurie Clark
I've been thinking about the mourners who were outside Jarius' house. When Jesus said that the 12 year old daughter wasn't dead, but asleep, they laughed.
Why did they laugh? Were they not so serious in their mourning? NT Wright says they were probably professionals - people who were there to help the family in grief let it all go. Did they think Jesus was ridiculous? Callous? Were they laughing like Abram and Sarai, in disbelief? or chuckling, hoping that just maybe this new guy on the scene was onto something?
Sometimes, when I'm preaching, I'm hoping for laughter. it helps the sermon, engages the listen. But sometimes the laughter catches me off guard. i didn't think people would laugh and they did, or maybe it's some nervous twitter. or maybe I've just really embarrassed myself by tripping over my words or missing (another) pop cultural reference. Did the laughter bug Jesus? Or did he just keep on, focused on the next steps, pressing on to the healing that was about to take place.
Or were they laughing because Jesus was too late. She was dead already. Ha. In your face, Mr. Jesus Christ.
Sometimes that happens in the church. we're too late, and the laughter is convicting and condemning and it hurts. A friend told me a story recently of her mother. Her family founded a church, a big, downtown, neighborhood church. A high steeple. her father was the treasurer for years (the good kind). She grew up in the church, raised her kids in the church. Then, she came down with Alzherimers and Parkinson's and all the forgetfulness adn tremors these illnesses bring. Her husband faithfully stayed with her, and no one came. no one called. no one visited. Finally, seasons into her illness, some people from the church called and said, "We'd like to come and sit with Merle. we want to give you a break. you can go out for a few hours." And his father said, "You're too late." "you're too late. It's past the time she'll know you. It's pat the time she would be comfortable with people that will be strangers to her. I'm sorry, but don't come. you're too late." Ha, ha, ha. Ouch.
But that is the grace and gift (one of many) in this story. Jesus isn't too late. And he knows it. He calls to this 12 year old, in his language and she wakes up. God's kingdom is here, now. It's another sign that death is not forever, and life is given to us to be lived. It's also another sign Mark gives us to point us to the cross - where Jesus will meet evil and death face to face, and ha, ha, ha, win.
May the church follow Jesus, and not be late again.
2009-06-21 by Laurie Clark
O Israel, Hope in the Lord.
What does it mean to "hope in the Lord?" In the Mark 5:21-43 reading, the bleeding woman is looking for a solution to her physical pain. That's understandable. No one wants chronic suffering, especially the kind of physical illness that isolates us from our family, friends, and faith community. In his commentary Mark for Everyone, NT Wright points out that these two healing stories are about "Fear and Faith" (p. 58-61)
When are we able to push through our fear and reach out to Jesus? Do our fears hold us back, the way a crowd might physically push against us? Is it the hope in the Lord that gives us the strength to even just sneak up behind and brush our fingers along the hem of his cloak? Is there any guarantee that our faith will heal us?
Today, I have more questions on this scripture than answers. But I am hoping in the Lord, and trusting that insights will come.
What are your questions when you read this text?
Peace of the Healing Christ to you -
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