|The Epiphany, 2016||January 6, 2016||The Epiphany||Isaiah 60:1-6|
|Second Sunday after Christmas, Year C||January 3, 2016||The Second Sunday after Christmas, Year C||Jeremiah 31:7-14, Psalm 84, Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23|
|Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2015||December 24, 2015||Christmas Eve||Isaiah 9:2-7, Luke 2:1-20|
|Advent 3, Year C||December 13, 2015||Third Sunday of Advent, Year C||Philippians 4:4-7, Luke 3:7-18|
|Advent 2, Year C||December 6, 2015||Second Sunday of Advent, Year C||Malachi 3:1-4|
|Advent 1, Year C||November 29, 2015||First Sunday of Advent||Luke 21:25-36, I Thessalonians 3:9-13|
|Christ the King, Year B||November 22, 2015||Christ the King Sunday, Year B||Revelation 1:4b-8, John 18:33-37|
|Pentecost 25, Year B||November 15, 2015||Proper 28B||Daniel 12:1-3, Hebrews 10:19-25, Mark 13:1-8|
|Pentecost 24, Year B||November 8, 2015||Proper 27, Year B||I Kings 17:8-16, Mark 12:38-44|
|All Saints’ Day||November 1, 2015||All Saints’ Day, Year B||Psalm 137, Psalm 6, Psalm 56, Isaiah 25:6-9, Revelation 21:1-6a, John 11:32-44|
|Pentecost 22, Year B||October 25, 2015||Proper 25, Year B||Jeremiah 31:7-9, Mark 10:46-52|
|Pentecost 21, Year B||October 18, 2015||Proper 24, Year B||Isaiah 53:4-12, Mark 10:35-45|
|The Feast of St Francis||October 4, 2015||The Feast of St Francis||Matthew 11:25-30|
|Pentecost 18, Year B||September 27, 2015||Proper 21, Year B||James 5:13-20|
|Pentecost 17, Year B||September 20, 2015||Proper 20, Year B||Wisdom of Solomon 1:16-2:1, 12-22, Psalm 54, James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a, Mark 9:30-37|
Pentecost 5, Year B
Sermon Date:June 27, 2021
Scripture: Mark 5:21-43
Liturgy Calendar: Proper 8, Year B
“The Daughter of Jairius” – Carl Bloch (1863)
In today’s gospel, Jairus is full of fear that his twelve-year-old daughter is going to die.
As a leader of the synagogue, Jairus has probably already turned to the resources at hand to help his daughter. But nothing he has tried has worked, and so he goes to Jesus.
Jairus begs Jesus repeatedly to come and lay hands on his daughter, so that she may be made well, and live. Anything is worth a try.
As they travel toward the home of Jairus, and the crowd presses in, Jesus is briefly detained by the woman with the hemorrhages, and while Jesus is talking with her, the news comes that the daughter of Jairus has indeed died and so there’s no point in Jairus continuing to bother Jesus. The moment of opportunity is gone. His daughter is dead.
Jairus must have been crushed by this news. His worst fear has been realized, despite all his efforts.
Jesus overhears what the people have said.
So Jesus says to Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe.”
And so they continue toward the house.
And when they get there, so many people are there, weeping and wailing, making a great commotion.
Jesus says to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.” And they laughed at him.
Jesus orders the people outside.
And then he takes the girl’s parents, and his companions, Peter, James and John into the room, takes the little girl by the hand and says, “Little girl, get up!” And the girl gets up. And everyone is filled with amazement.
This timeless story applies to our own lives in several ways, summed up in the three statements that Jesus makes in this story.
First of all, Jesus says to Jairus—“Do not fear, only believe.”
We all know about fear, for we all experience fear in the course of this life.
Fear is a mighty motivator. The anticipation or awareness of a current danger can send us into action to protect ourselves or to act on behalf of others. But because fear is fear, fear can often cause us to overreact or to take unnecessary actions that may create more fear for ourselves and others in the long run.
Fear can lead us to believe that we must take action to remove the fear. And that belief leads to the hamster wheel in the mind—the ruminating on the fear, considering the various solutions, feeling an increasing tension that builds up and up until we rush into action to relieve the fearsome tension pounding away in our minds.
So Jesus tells us, as Jesus told Jairus—”Do not fear, only believe.”
Today’s story about Jairus is only one of many in the Bible that remind us not to fear, because we know who God is and what God is about, that God is active and at work in our lives and in all of the life of creation. God is working on behalf of all life.
Today’s first reading states that “God did not make death, and God does not delight in the death of the living, for God created all things so that they might exist.”
So when we fear, to take a deep breath and to remember to believe that God has got this, whatever it is, and is working within the situation, whatever it is, to bring life rather than death, can help us to put our fears into perspective.
This belief in a living God, a God who brings death out of life, is the belief that enabled an anonymous prisoner in the World War II Ravensbruck concentration camp, where death reigned, to write the following words and to leave them by the body of a dead child.
“O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted on us; remember the fruits we have bought, thanks to this suffering—our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this, and when they come to judgement, let the fruits which we have borne be their forgiveness.”
The person who wrote those lines would have understood the meaning of the statement, “Do not fear, only believe,” because that person could see that even in death, God was giving life, life that could be shared on behalf of others, even with the people of ill will.
Jesus challenges us to believe in God, the giver of life, to believe in God, whose steadfast love never ceases, whose mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, to believe in God, who is always faithful to us, even when we forget to be faithful to God.
The second statement that Jesus makes in this part of the story is to the people in the crowd who are weeping and wailing and creating a commotion at the home of Jairus.
Jesus says, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.”
We are all going to weep and wail in this life. I’ve done plenty of it myself, and I am sure that I will do more. Pain, sickness, death, injustice, and the list could go on, will cause us to weep and to wail.
However, Jesus reminds us that our weeping and wailing is a product of our own limited vision and understanding and that we must not remain stuck in our weeping, wailing, and grief over the various situations in our lives that bring us to our knees in sorrow.
The actions of Jesus here are instructive. He puts all of those who are weeping and wailing and creating the commotion OUTSIDE.
I cannot stress deeply enough the importance of removing our distractions, and making room for God to work in our lives. Even Jesus had to remove the distractions around him before he could help the daughter of Jairus.
We must be intentional about opening up space in our lives for God to work, just as Jesus was intentional and insistent about creating quiet space for God’s life giving energy to move within and around him.
The writer of Lamentations knew what it was to make space and to wait on the Lord.
“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord…to sit in silence.”
We must send our distractions outside, as Jesus sent the weeping and wailing crowd outside.
We may take an action as simple as turning off the television or going without our cell phones for a time.
We may choose a time in the day to wait on the Lord—at 6:30AM every Monday morning, some of us here at St Peter’s gather in twenty minutes of silent prayer and we wait on the Lord.
Take a walk and wait on the Lord. You get the idea. We must be intentional about sending the commotions in our lives away to give God space to work.
After Jesus asks why the crowd is making a commotion and weeping, Jesus says,
“The child is not dead but sleeping.”
This statement is SO powerful!
Because in making this statement, Jesus reminds us that God can see life where we only see death. God gives life in the midst of death.
Our vision is limited. What we can see is only a piece of the whole. Sometimes, we can only see death.
But God sees all, knows all, and redeems all.
The more we wait on the Lord, the more we will want to make the space to let God expand our own limited visions and partial understandings and to help us to see through the eyes of God.
Near the end of the story, Jesus makes his last statement. “Talitha cum. Little girl, get up!”
Jesus gives new life to a child.
A powerless child, a girl at that, who has died is the one that Jesus tells to get up. God values us all, even when we have no value in the eyes of the world, even when we no longer value ourselves.
Young or old, we are all beloved children of God, all worthy of God’s life-giving mercies. God will come to us and raise all of us from death to life, both in this life and at last in the life to come.
Today, when you get up to leave this place, carry these words of Jesus with you, for Jesus has spoken them to each one of us today, to help us through whatever fear that we are facing or will face in our lives.
Do not fear, only believe.
Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.
Talitha cum. Little girl, get up.
God is waiting to raise each one of us up into new life. God’s mercies are new every morning. God is faithful to all that God has made. God is faithful to each one of us.
Therefore, we have hope.
Resource: Appleton, George, ed. The Oxford Book of Prayer, Prayer 367, page 112.