Mark 5: 21-43, July 1st, 2018
Sermon by pastor Tim Woodard
“Hear now these words from the gospel according to Mark, chapter five, verses twenty-one thru forty-three.”
21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23 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.”
24 So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26 She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29 Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 He looked all around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
35 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?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 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. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
“Having listened to our lesson for today, let us now open our hearts to the healing power of God!”
The woman had determination! Against all odds she pressed forward through the crowd, but still she could not get to Jesus. Yet, she was persistent, and she believed that if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ robe she would be healed. With renewed hope she pushed forward and this time she was able to touch the edges of his robe, as the crowd pressed upon her. She was healed! If only we could ‘all’ have faith ‘as strong’ as this woman! Have you, have I, have we ever been so compelled to seek out Jesus, seeking out the Living Spirit of God that we simply would not stop ‘reaching out’ to God for the help we need! Have we reached out until we received that renewed hope, that healing which we so desperately needed?! Pastor Alyce M. McKenzie tells us “… we are called to (reach out) seek(ing) Jesus’ touch.” By reaching out, in faith, we our opening ourselves to the will of God. God’s grace and mercy shall set us free from all that torments us!
There are miracles happening all around us. Why do we not see them? Possibly, because the person whom experiences the miracle sees no reason to bring it to everyone’s attention. Miracles are often very personal, and do not seek attention. Take for instance the miracle of an alcoholic, whom has been granted a second chance at life through the grace of God. For a true alcoholic to be free from the crushing addiction of alcoholism, is nothing short of a miracle. Yet, humbled by their past, a great number of recovered alcoholics live out their lives in humility, while striving to help others find their way out of the darkness of their addiction. Or consider the person who has had a prayer answered. In their hearts it is a miracle. They had prayed for it for a long time. Then, mystically, the day, the moment arrives. In their heart they believe, they know this is an answer to prayer. Yet, they do not feel compelled to tell others about it. It is interesting to learn, in private conversations, that many folks never share about their belief in a miraculous moment, simply because they don’t feel the need to do so. Pure and simple humility.
We see this same phenomenon in our modern heroes. You know what a hero is right? Someone, whom sets aside their own needs, to help another. A hero can be the gal or guy that gets up in the middle of the night to go and help a friend deal with a sick child or loved one. A hero is the person who stops to offer assistance when you are stranded in a broken-down car out in the middle of nowhere. A hero is the firefighter who reaches into your burning vehicle and pulls your young daughter to safety. A hero is a basketball couch who steps in front of a student ‘taking a bullet’ to save the life of an innocent student, giving his for theirs! Heroes are born every day, they just don’t know it until that moment comes when their inner character, their faith in what’s right causes them to make a split-second decision for the good of another – above their personal instincts to preserve their own safety and needs. When a hero acts, a miracle is performed!
God knows us thru and thru. God knows our thoughts, as-well-as our actions. Whether we like it or not, God knows who we truly are; and loves us despite our blemishes! God has made an investment in us and like any investor, does not want us to fail, rather God is cheering for us every step of the way! Yet, despite this truth, many allow their secrets, their dark secrets to shut them off from the light of God’s love, God’s grace and mercy. Once isolated, so many believe the voices who continue to push them deeper and deeper into their isolation and the pit of despair awaits them. It is when we pull away from all that God offers, this is when the miracle which awaits us… is pushed aside. As individuals, it is up to us to avail ourselves to the loving care of God. It is up to each one of us to carry that love to another when the opportunity presents itself. Only God knows if you are meant to be a hero or conversely, God will send someone to be your hero, in your time of need!
Consider the following description of what may be, or could be, an average day in the life of any one of us. You are having a really bad day, you are feeling depressed about your financial situation, or you are simply having a bad hair day and you are in a slump. Then, someone you respect comes and talks with you. While this individual is with you, a sudden desire to ‘open up’ and talk comes over you, thus you begin to share about your problem. The person responds and shares about how they have felt this way but have learned how to move beyond this type of problem or trouble. They tell you about their faith and how they ask God to lift the burden of the day from their shoulders. It is suggested to you that it would be good if you took time to pray about your situation, your concerns. Your visitor leaves and now you ponder their suggestion. Then, miraculously, you decide to do as suggested. Believing your friend was sincerely sharing with you, about their experiences with prayer and how it helped them; thus, you consider their suggestion. As your ‘difficult’ day continues, and your depressive feelings continue, you finally decide to go ahead and take time to pray. You ask God for guidance and direction about the financial issues at hand, or was it a bad hair day, either way, you even ask for a bit of relief from it all. As the day wears on you find you are feeling better. The weight of the financial problems, the bad hair day, seems to have been lifted. You are healed, and throughout the rest of your day… you feel ‘up-lifted’ and burden less. Your time of prayer healed you!
Is there a difference between being ‘healed’ verses cured? One can be healed of a stressful situation, yet not be cured from a chronic heart condition. Many would say this is semantics, which it is. Words, even in our English language have various meanings. Take for example the word ‘cool.’ “It was a ‘cool’ day outside.” For us Floridians, that might be a day when the temperatures were in the seventies. A younger person might say to their mom, “Wow mom, that is a really ‘cool’ looking outfit you are wearing!” Meaning, perhaps that outfit really looks good on her! Being healed of the ‘emotional burden’ of cancer or heart disease, may not be the same as being ‘fully cured’ and having the condition ‘fully eradicated’ from our bodies. Yet, your ‘healing’ gives you your sense of ‘well-being’ and the assurance of God’s eternal love, which allows you to fully live into your life!
Semantics, perhaps, yet, a great many of our problems are created by the way we humans view what is going on in our lives. If a prayer can change how you see or feel about something, then there is healing going on! If you are still questioning this thought, consider how many people get ‘hooked’ and become dependent and addicted to drugs or alcohol as they try to change how they are feeling! There are a great many other things which we humans get addicted to as well. Computer games, gambling, texting, social media, shopping, caffeine, nicotine, and a whole bunch of other things or activities are used to alter how we are feeling or help us escape from our daily lives. So, if a little prayer can offer some relief, some level of personal healing, why not give it a try; isn’t this better than isolating with our negative feelings or getting addicted to yet another unhealthy activity?
Rev. Dr. Alan Brehm, author of the “Waking Dreamer”, speaks a lot about hope in his writings, pushing us to awaken from our dreams and embrace life, embrace the love of God! “There are times in our lives when things happen that press us to our limits and beyond. When that happens, we can pull the covers over our heads, isolate ourselves, and try to escape from it all. Or we can embrace what we’re feeling and move forward in faith that God has a future for us.” /Alan Brehm/ I pray, I fervently pray, that you and I, that we can find the courage, the willingness, and the trust, to come out from the shadows of our existence, and face the fullness of our journeys throughout the life we are given. Hiding under the covers will not solve anything. I pray we each find the tenacity to seek out and to touch God, just as the woman in our scripture did. I pray that we each shall be willing to push through all that block us from reaching out to the healing love of God. Let us each push through our isolation and risk that our faith will overcome the shadows of anxiety and dread, which surround us.