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Preaching Mission for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost (June 30, 2024)

(Water filters being distributed in Honduras are providing healing from intestinal diseases by providing clean drinking water.)

All Will Be Well
by Bishop Chris Giesler

Preaching Text: Mark 5:21-43

In today’s text from Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is in full healing mode. Here, we find the story of two healings beautifully woven together. They tell us much about who Jesus is and how much we need Jesus in our lives.

Jesus and his disciples are traveling again, this time crossing the Sea of Galilee back to the Jewish side of the lake. As they step off the boat, a huge crowd is waiting for Jesus. Out of this crowd comes Jairus, one of the religious leaders from the community.  As he approaches Jesus, he falls to the ground and pleads for the healing of his daughter, who is more than just sick; she is at death’s door.  Jesus simply turns and accompanies Jairus back to his home without any questions.  The writer of Mark’s Gospel again notes the large crowd that has begun to follow Jesus. It is so crowded that people are pressing in upon Jesus, making it difficult for him to proceed without some pushing and shoving.

In the middle of this chaos, the story pivots away from this life-or-death situation to a poor and unfortunate woman who has been suffering from hemorrhages for years. Look at the verbs that Mark’s Gospel uses in describing this woman’s condition: She has “suffered” for 12 years.  She has “endured” uncaring doctors. She has “expended” all of her financial resources trying to find a cure, but she only “grew worse.”

Because the woman was bleeding, she would have been labeled as permanently “unclean.”  By law, she would have been unable to have physical contact with anyone and would have been excluded from the synagogue or any public gathering.  Her condition would have also rendered her childless, which was a curse and legal grounds for divorce. Simply put, her life was miserable from a physical, emotional, and spiritual point of view.

But the text says that she had heard about Jesus and had complete confidence that she would be healed by simply touching his garment. Which she was, and both she and Jesus knew it. When Jesus inquires as to who touched him, the woman steps forward and acknowledges that it was her. His response to her might have been condemnation, but instead, he calls her “daughter.”  What must it have felt like for this woman, who has suffered from disease and social and religious rejection, to be called a daughter?  Jesus further affirms her faith as the source of her healing and wishes her peace on her journey forward.  This interaction will have long-lasting effects.

Meanwhile, there has been a development on the sick child, who has now been pronounced dead. Has this interruption with the woman who has been sick for 12 cost the life of a 12-year-old girl?  A screenwriter could not have done better than Mark when working out this plot twist.

Jesus arrives at the house to see a grief-filled commotion, and Jesus boldly announces that the child is only sleeping.  This comment is met with doubt that will only turn to celebration when Jesus extends resurrection healing to her.  Mark provides us with the translation of the words Jesus uses to wake the child, “Talitha Cum” meaning, “Little Girl, get up.”  Words any parent would use to get their child out of bed in the morning.

So, how does all of this speak to you and your congregation?  Where does healing come from, and how does it happen?   Mark is clear that for this woman, it was her faith that made her well. But, in the healing of the young girl, she was already dead, making it impossible for her to have the faith necessary for healing.  Was she healed by her father’s faith or by the power of Jesus’ name?  Perhaps there is a mixture of both.

Does healing happen today?  A quick perusal of the TV evangelists would suggest that healing is only for those willing to pay for a ticket to see one of these healers at a local hotel ballroom. Or perhaps healing can come by sending in a $50-dollar donation to their ministry along with your request for healing.

Our congregational prayer times are filled with requests for healing.  If those folks did not survive, was God not listening?  Or is there something going on here that only God can see in this moment?  With our limited view of time and the circumstances in which we live, we can’t begin to understand God’s movement in healing.  Why are some prayer requests answered while others seemingly are not?

From what do we need healing today?  The most profound healing I see necessary for our world today is discovering who we are as children of God.  We generally judge our value by appearance, jobs, family name, or even by church affiliation.  In this busy and fast-paced world, fixed on financial success, we can easily forget that we are a daughter or son of God.  Our biggest distraction is the constant bombardment of media that floods almost all of our waking moments, telling us how we should think, look, smell, and what we should eat.  These ads follow us around on bus billboards, radio, TV, magazines, and whenever we open a web page.

Our physical, emotional, and spiritual healings are all wrapped together, beginning and ending with our relationship with God.  Do you have faith that all will be well when we place all that we are and love in God’s hands?  A thought worth pondering.