|Pentecost 15, Year B||September 6, 2015||Proper 18, Year B||Isaiah 35:4-7a, Ps 146, James 2:1-17, Mark 7:24-37|
|Pentecost 12, Year B, Jonathan Myrick Daniels Commemoration||August 16, 2015||Pentecost 12, Proper 15||Proverbs 4:20-27, Psalm 85:7-13, Galatians 3:22-28, Luke 1:46-55|
|Pentecost 11, Year B||August 9, 2015||Proper 14, Year B||Ephesians 4:25-5:2|
|Pentecost 10, Year B||August 2, 2015||Proper 13, Year B||Ephesians 4:-16, John 6:24-35|
|Pentecost 8, Year B||July 19, 2015||Proper 11, Year B||Psalm 23, Mark 6:30-34, 53-56|
|Pentecost 7, Year B||July 12, 2015||Pentecost 7, Year B||Ephesians 1:3-14|
|Pentecost 6, Year B||July 5, 2015||Proper 9, Year B||Ezekiel 2:1-5, 2 Corinthians 13:3-10, Mark 6:1-13|
|➤Pentecost 5, Year B||June 28, 2015||Proper 8, Year B||Mark 5:21-43, Psalm 30|
|Pentecost 4, Year B||June 21, 2015||Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 7, Year B||2 Corinthians 6:1-13, Mark 4:35-41|
|Pentecost 3, Year B||June 14, 2015||The Third Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 6||2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 14-17; Mark 4:26-34|
|Pentecost 2, Year B||June 7, 2015||The Second Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 5||Genesis 3:8-15, Ps 130, 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1, Mark 3:20-35|
|Pentecost 1, Year B -Trinity Sunday||May 31, 2015||Pentecost 1, Year B, Trinity Sunday||Isaiah 6:1-8,Psalm 29,Romans 8:12-17,John 3:1-17|
|Easter 7, Year B||May 17, 2015||Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B||John 17:6-19|
|Easter 6, Rogation Sunday, Year B||May 10, 2015||Sixth Sunday of Easter, Rogation Sunday||Deuteronomy 11:10-15, Mark 4:26-32|
|Easter 4, Year B||April 26, 2015||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B||I John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18|
Pentecost 5, Year B
Sermon Date:June 28, 2015
Scripture: Mark 5:21-43, Psalm 30
Liturgy Calendar: Proper 8, Year B
" Jairus’ Daughter"- Daniel Bonnell
Today is a leave taking day, a day of transition for those of us at St Peter’s.
Marion, who has been one of us for a long time, is moving to Maryland, and although she’ll be back to visit, I’m sure, she’s making a transition into a new house, and a new neighborhood, and she’ll find new friends.
So today we’re blessed to have the opportunity to say goodbye and to thank Marion for being part of our lives, part of what’s comfortable and familiar to us.
We want our lives to be familiar, predictable and expected. Even when our lives aren’t perfect, familiarity is comforting.
And even if we don’t like them, we can, although grudgingly, accept the inevitable transitions that we face in life, and ultimately, we can accept even death itself as part of what is familiar, predictable and expected, especially if a person dies after having lived a long and fruitful life.
But when unexpected transitions happen—and these can be all sorts of transitions, good or bad—and here are some of the bad ones–an unexpected divorce, a miscarriage, the death of a child, a sudden illness, a job loss which might lead to financial disaster, the news that someone has terminal cancer with only a few weeks to live—these unexpected transitions can fill us with fear and doubt.
Fear and doubt are like stale, heavy air that can quickly contaminate the good, clean pure air of faith and trust that God’s grace gives us to breathe. When we live in a state of fear and doubt, and negativity is a sign of fear and doubt, that stale and stifling air begins to seem entirely normal, and we don’t even realize that we can’t breathe and that we are suffocating to death.
Several things in today’s gospel reading from Mark can serve as vaccines against the fear, doubt and the negativity that can unexpectedly take over and suffocate us as we try to get through the unexpected, tough transitions in our lives.
Several things in these two stories, one about the healing of a hopeful bleeding woman, and one about the insistent faith of a father, will help us to see for ourselves the miracles that God is constantly working all around us as we experience both the wanted and the unwanted transitions and the leave takings that come our way as we go through life.
First of all, Jairus and the bleeding woman both seek out Jesus. They know that they need help and so they ask for it.
Mark, in his terse and concise way, simply says that Jesus went with Jairus when Jairus asked for help.
Second, both Jairus and the woman know the power of touch. Jairus asks Jesus to come lay his hands on his little daughter who is at the point of death, so that she may be made well and live. And the bleeding woman believes that if she simply touches Jesus she will be made well.
Third, Jesus makes space for God’s healing power to work in all its richness and fullness. He calls the woman out of the crowd after she touches him, and in the space in which she meets him face to face, this open, non judgmental space between the two of them, he gives her ongoing healing and on top of that, the greatest of all gifts, God’s peace. “Go in peace,” Jesus tells her. “Your faith has made you well.”
And then Jesus, on his way to raise the little daughter of Jairus from death, keeps making space for those who want to believe.
He doesn’t allow the crowd to follow him after everyone receives the news of the little girl’s death.
When Jesus, Jairus and the three disciples arrive at the house and the mourners inside laugh at Jesus, he puts them out—again, clearing out the doubt and negativity and making space for those who have faith and those who desperately want to have faith, to catch their breaths and breathe in his love and healing power rather than to be suffocated by the doubt and the derision of the others around them.
The child’s parents and the three disciples are the only ones who witness this miracle of God’s living and breathing and restoring love with their own eyes when Jesus takes the little girl’s hand and says to her, “Little girl, get up.”
Everyone else will see the results when they see the little girl eating and playing about as only children can do—a little girl who has made a transition from life to death and back into life again—and whether or not the people will realize that they are seeing the results of a miracle will depend on whether or not they choose to believe in God’s power over death.
Fourth, and here’s the bottom line, Jesus says, “Do not fear, but only believe.”
Here I’d like to say that we must remember as we hear all of these miracle stories in the Bible that yes, Jesus heals the woman; yes, Jesus brought the young girl back to life, but all of these people still will eventually die, just as we will.
All of us know that the desperate prayers we pray in the transition times in our lives are not always answered in the ways that we wish they would be, even though we may be the most faithful people in the world. Bad and unfair things happen, people suffer horribly, and people, even children, die. Plus, we have no control over many of the transitions that are forced upon us due to the actions of other people.
But we do have control over how we deal with and pass through the transitions in our lives. We can ask Jesus to go with us. We can ask for God’s healing touch. We can ask God to make the space in our lives to be faithful and hopeful and forgiving, rather than to be full of fear, negativity, bitterness and doubt. With God’s grace, we can remind ourselves, over and over, not to fear, but only to believe.
And we can faithfully look for and long for those miracles that God has waiting for us even in the worst of transitions—healing, new life, a deeper sense of who God is and how deeply God loves us and how deeply God loves those people we cannot bring ourselves to love.
The shooting at Emmanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina, shook my faith as nothing else ever has. And the response of the people left behind, who had to pass through this awful tragic transition into a place of the unexpected loss of loved ones due to the violent, crazed acts of a broken young man—their response to him, full of forgiveness, full of faith, full of trust in God’s love and protection even though their loved ones had died so violently and unexpectedly—their faithful response to this tragedy has restored my faith in God’s love for us, because I can see with my own eyes a miracle—the living, breathing miracle of God’s healing and forgiving love living in these faithful and forgiving people, who do not fear, but only believe.
On this past Friday, President Obama opened his eulogy for the Reverend Clementa Pinckney with the following words.
“The Bible calls us to hope, to persevere and have faith in things not seen.”
President Obama went on to refer to the New Testament book of Hebrews, a book written for a discouraged and downhearted congregation.
The writer of Hebrews reminds us that even people of faith die without having received all of the promises of God in this life. And yet from a distance, these people of faith, like Abraham and others the writer of Hebrews talks about—these people saw the promises and greeted them. They did not receive the things promised. They only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
President Obama said that Clementa Pinckney was a man of God who lived by faith, a man who believed in things not seen, a man who believed that there were better days ahead off in the distance, a man of service, who persevered knowing full-well he would not receive all those things he was promised.”
My guess is that the nameless woman in Mark, and that Jairus, the synagogue leader, lived out their lives in faith, that they continued to believe in what they were blessed enough to see and experience, and that they both persevered in faith and service as they went through the inevitable transitions that life continued to bring them.
Now it’s our turn to ask Jesus to go with us, to seek God’s healing touch, to ask God to heal us and to clear a space in our lives for God’s grace to work, to do what Jesus says and to lay down our fear and only believe, expecting that God, our faithful and merciful God, our good God, has better days ahead for us, even if they are off in the distance.
And maybe, if we’re blessed with God’s grace to do this, we can be living breathing miracles of God’s love in this world, and with the psalmist, our hearts can sing to God without ceasing and we can praise God forever as we go forth today filled with the peace that God longs to give us in both the wanted and in the unwanted, the expected and the unexpected transitions in our lives.
Resource: President Obama’s Eulogy for Clementa Pinckney, The Washington Post.