Soulistic Health by Rev. Lynda Ellis

The past three Sundays Pastor Leah has focused on the Book of Ruth which is a lovely story of the relationship between two women – one old and one young – both childless & vulnerable,

Both marginal to the systems around them who find themselves with limited resources…….

A deep pain, a hostile world & great concern for one another and how together they survived some of life’s worst tragedies at a time in history and in a culture where women didn’t have many options.

Today, generations later, our reading from Mark’s gospel brings us to Jesus’ central message of the kingdom of God by offering a travel narrative that takes us, the reader or listener, between the Jewish and Gentile sides of the lake.

And oddly enough, it’s another story of two females - a young woman on her death bed & an older woman, one who has suffered for twelve years…….with a hemorrhage

And the common denominator between these women Naomi & Ruth and the 2 who are unnamed in today’s reading is fear……fear for their lives. …….

We know something about fear…….ours is a culture of fear……

Fear of judgment of others

Fear our own weaknesses

Fear of comparison…..

Fear dominates our movie screens

Fear dominates our politics….

Fear dominates our need for security…..

We fear those who are different from us……..those who look different, those who have a different lifestyle,

And the reading from Mark addresses this notion of fear……

In a way…….. the stories in Mark’s gospel could be our story Jairus’ petition to Jesus is urgent and direct…….

Who wouldn’t plead for their child, ill or otherwise……

My little girl is at the point of death…..come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live…….

And while Jesus is on his way to respond to Jairus’ pleading, there is an interruption……..

there often is an interruption wherever Jesus goes……..

the woman “who had been suffering from hemorrhages for 12 years” is a pitiful character…..

she’s endured much under many physicians, and has spent all that she has…and she’s no better……..

nothing has the power to humble us more than a serious illness…..

and so here’s this woman…….filled with fear……and she pushes her way through the crowd…….

Hoping and praying to reach this miracle worker who is her last, desperate hope……

Jairus, confident in his position as a leader in the synagogue, comes to Jesus directly and publicly……

But this woman……..she can’t take that risk……she is already too spiritually broken, too unclean, to even look Jesus in the face…..

She can’t face one more rejection…….

But as Jesus rushes by, she reaches out and her fingers brush the fringes of his garment……..

…….feeling her touch……Jesus calls the woman to him……

And gently, he says to her……..daughter…….your faith has made you well……

It’s interesting to note that the Greek word which is translated “made well” here is usually translated “save” in the New Testament……………….

Not just saved from disease but saved in the sense of receiving eternal life….

…..and so………here we find ourselves in the middle of a story that is both about physical and spiritual healing…….soul healing…….

And I believe that it is not the physical healing that is so important for Mark

Mark wants us to see that Jesus is more than a healer of the physical body….

The woman was looking for physical healing which she did receive….. But she received so much more….

at the end of the passage, Jesus calls her “daughter”………her faith has made her one of the family of God……

Then Jesus says to her “your faith has given you eternal life……..go in peace and be whole, be free, from your suffering”

Jairus and the unnamed woman come to Jesus at a point of great fear……at a time of great need……

Certainly they both knew what it was like to “cry out from the depths”

And the “depths” are not unfamiliar to us either……..

Illness, death, depression, financial needs, grief, family burdens & disagreements, hurts and resentments, responsibilities that all together create mountains which block out the sun…….

And we all find ourselves there……….

And perhaps we’re like the disciples or the crowds & we think we have it all together and that we can make it on our own……

And we find it difficult to see beyond our own boundaries…

And then Jesus comes to us…… as he came to a blind beggar sitting by the side of the road…..

…….as he came to the woman at the well……..

……..as he became flesh and lived among us…..

And as he came to Jairus and his daughter, and the woman who was healed and countless others who had desperate, real needs and fears……….

And just as the story this morning shows us people who cried out and were heard……

Stories of people who experienced God’s grace……and God’s goodness as cures for fear, uncertainty, doubt and despair…….

That same grace and goodness and mercy is available to us……

Thanks be to God!