Lectio Devina
2009-06-23 by Laurie Clark

Sometimes when I’m trying to hear a sermon, I practice lectio devina. Usually this is on Tues or Wed, when I’ve read the text, read about the text, scribbled a few ideas or a rough outline and I find myself asking, “What is it, God, that you are saying to St. Luke’s in this time and in this place?” And the prayer takes me, sometimes, back into the scripture and I watch to see where our congregation is.


Are we Jarius, a leader, but willing to risk on behalf of a child (or someone) we love? Are we willing to reach out, even if our friends might not understand or tell us, “Don’t go talk with that Jesus person.” What will our congregations risk, to be made whole? To be healed? What will we, as preachers, risk to speak the truth we feels God gives us?


Are we the bleeding woman, outcast, spent, without a name? Where do we get the strength to try again to be healed?


Are we the crowd, pressing in on Jesus, possibly keeping others from touching him, or possibly reaching for him ourselves?


Are we the crowd, wondering why some are healed and others are not? Or are we the one person who is beginning to understand – this healing is about more than a couple of people made well. This is about the kingdom of God, here, in our midst.


Are we the little girl, so sick, and then fine, up and walking around, getting something to eat?


Are we the mourners whose tears turn to laughter? Are we the church that gathers, too late, for the child has already died? Do we dismiss Jesus as just another wacky guy who can’t possibly wake up a dead child? Are we overcome in amazement, still able to believe again in the power and presence of God?


Where are we, where is our congregation in this scripture?


And what is it that God is calling us to proclaim to a world so in need of healing, wholeness, and salvation? Is there a balm to make the wounded whole?


The Whole Truth
2009-06-23 by Laurie Clark

In verse 33, the no longer bleeding woman fell down before Jesus and told him “the whole truth.” I’ve been wondering for days, “What is the whole truth that she told him?” There is a lot of healing going on here, and it isn’t just physical. The bleeding woman is an outcast and an outsider. She is unclean. She has spent all her money, trying to get well. Jesus is her last chance and she just knows that if she can just touch him, she will be healed. Physically well. For the first time in 12 years. And it works! She touches his robe, maybe the fringe of his shawl, and she feels it – physically healing. Her faith seems to connect her to Jesus’ power, and she is made well.


But there is more. Because when she shows herself to Jesus, she tells him, “the whole truth.” Healing, it seems is more than the body. To have peace, to have shalom, healing requires the whole truth.


The nuances here are around the Greek verb sozo. Translated as Made well, it’s usually translated as “saved.” (Lamar Williamson, p. 110, Interpretation commentary on Mark) Saved. Salvation. Salve. A balm to make the wounded whole.


Is this whole truth a kind of confession? Does speaking the truth heal our hearts and minds, bringing us to God’s peace, even if our bodies still suffer?


What is the whole truth our churches need to tell Jesus?


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?


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