A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 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.” So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
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?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 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. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
~ Mark 5:21-43
Folks, I wonder, how many of you feel like have it all together? We usually like to think that we do or at least look like we do, but the truth is, not many of us do have it all together. And unfortunately, to admit something like that, to tell others that we don’t have it all together, can be scary. When we admit that we don’t know it all and we don’t have it all together, we feel vulnerable because we aren’t in charge and in control the way we want to be. After all, society tells us we should always be in control. And our experiences tell us that if we aren’t in control, others can take advantage of us.
The good news, my friends, is that this week’s scripture reading is perfect for those of us who don’t have it all together. You see in our story today, there are three main characters that Jesus reaches out to. Do you remember who they are? Jairus the father of the little girl, the woman who touched Jesus, and the little girl. Jairus was a religious leader. He was a leader in the synagogue. Now the synagogue is not necessarily the important piece here, because Jesus and his early disciples would have all been Jewish and I am sure that some of the Jewish leaders were inspired by Jesus and his message. The important piece is that Jairus was a leader. Leaders were taught back then, just as they often are today, that they are supposed to have it all together, to be competent, to have all the answers, and to be able to handle everything that comes their way. But in our story, Jairus’ daughter becomes sick and he does not know how to fix her or help her. As a parent, Jairus would do just about anything to make her well. So. he puts his pride aside and he runs to Jesus and admits that he needs help. That takes courage, doesn’t it? It is not always easy to ask for help, especially if you think your supposed to have it all together. Actually, Jairus doesn’t just ask Jesus for help, he begs Jesus for help. You see, Jairus’ love for his daughter gave him the courage to be vulnerable and to admit that he couldn’t handle the situation alone.
Now the woman in the story is just the opposite. She knows that she is broken. She knows that she hasn’t had it all together in over twelve years, if then! She is not a leader, like Jairus. Actually, she is an outcast. Because of her illness, she has been deemed unclean and unaccepted by society, and because of all that she has been through, she is desperate! That is why she does whatever she needs to do to get close enough to Jesus to touch him because she knows that he will help her. She knows that if she could just touch him, she would be healed. And if Jesus doesn’t help her, or if she can’t get close enough to touch him, she has nothing to lose.
And then finally there is the little girl. Though the story begins and ends with her, we don’t learn an awful lot about her, because we are more focused on her father. But we know that the girl is twelve years old, almost a teenager, one of the toughest times in life to feel like you have it all under control. She too is extremely vulnerable, and she is given no chance to do anything about it. That is just the way it is. She has to depend on the tenacity of her father and the compassionate love and grace of Jesus.
So each one of the people in today’s story is vulnerable and desperate, and they don’t have it all together. And yet each of them is touched by Jesus and made whole!
Now you may find yourself connecting with one of the characters in this morning’s story, or your story may be different altogether. But the important lesson that these healing stories teach us is that sometimes we need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and even desperate. And we need to understand and accept that we don’t have it all together, because sometimes when we admit our weakness, that’s when we give Jesus a chance to reach into our lives and heal us.
Folks, when we think we have it all together, when we think we can face the world alone, when we think we can handle it on our own and we don’t need help, then we don’t look to our faith and we don’t invite Jesus in.
Think about our Oldtown community for just a minute. Do we have it all together? No, we don’t. I hope this doesn’t surprise anyone. Because sometimes we struggle here in Oldtown. And sometimes we make mistakes. But because of that, we understand that the world is filled with people just like us, who also struggle and make mistakes. That is why all are welcome here. We know that this is not a church of perfect people, but it’s a place where we come to try our best to be faithful followers of Jesus. A place where we can come and be ourselves. A place where we can be vulnerable and unsure, where we can ask questions and even disagree and where we can meet other people who find themselves in the same boat.
Friends, it is when we gather as a community like this that we can share our hopes and fears, our dreams and disappointments, so that together we might hear God’s voice and experience God’s amazing grace, God’s unfailing acceptance, and God’s unrelenting mercy. That is how we become a safe and a caring community where we all can come as we are rather than pretending to be the people we think others want us to be.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: God loves you just the way you are! You don’t have to be perfect by the world’s standards. You don’t have to have all the answers and know all the plans. You just need to be the person that God created you to be, and then you need to go out and do your best to love and serve others.
My friends, as we gather here in this safe place that God has provided for us, we are invited to meet Jesus here. Jesus invites us to come as we are, not as people who have it all together, not as people who have all the answers, but as people who are broken and who question and who are in need of God’s forgiveness and grace and guidance. Through the sacrament of communion today, we are invited to be healed and made whole like the people in today’s story.
Now, you may come to beg Jesus for healing like Jairus, or to touch the robes of Jesus like the woman, or to be given new life like the little girl. Brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter what your situation is, know that you are invited to this table! Jesus calls all of us to come as we are to accept a gift that is given with no strings attached. So, friends, come to be fed and nourished so that you might go out into the week ahead assured that you don’t have to have it all together, you simply need to hold onto your faith, for your faith will make you well.
My friends, may it be so. Thanks be to God! Amen!!