Pentecost 6 – July 1, 2018  

Rev. Lyle McKenzie     Lutheran Church of the Cross of Victoria
2 Samuel 1:1,17-27 / Psalm 130 / 2 Corinthians 8:7-15 / Mark 5:21-43

It has to be one of the most compelling Gospel stories about Jesus – actually two of the most compelling, as a story within a story. A healing within a resurrection – a woman healed from bleeding to death and a little girl raised from death. We learn some of the woman’s story and we learn something about the little girl’s father and community. They are touching stories, both of them in both senses of the word. And they are boundary breaking stories where compassion and healing are greater than religious and social barriers. These are stories I wish the whole world could hear, now. This is the healing, resurrecting touch, I wish everyone and the whole world could receive and feel, now.

Don’t we wonder these days if the world has simply gone mad? Families of asylum seekers separated at the Mexico United States border until, because of mass protests the President signs an executive order to stop the activity his administration enacted. But families remain separated and the “zero tolerance” policy contravening United Nations conventions continues. Ned and Laurie Pedersen so touched by this appalling tragedy travelled to Texas to join the protests along the border. We have asked them to share their story with us and we will hold them in our prayers.

And we know these separations of children and parents are happening in other places in our world because of war and violence, as refugees, some of them on humanitarian ships that are refused landing, like boatloads of Jewish migrants were refused during the Second World War. Have we learned nothing as humanity? What will touch us, touch all people, to bring healing and new life to a world bleeding to death like this?

And these separations happen in our own nation, children and parents separated in disproportionate numbers among indigenous families because of poverty and brokenness and systems of prejudice. On this Canada Day we celebrate a nation of abundance and freedom and diversity, and we must remember our history and failings, and the continuing separations that divide us, that divide families and are killing youth and children. What will touch this country and all of us together that leads to greater reconciliation for all people? God touch us, heal and save us and this world and the earth from bleeding to death.

This is the pleading to God we must always be doing. This is the risky reaching out to touch and trust in God’s power to heal and save that we must always be following, beyond any and all human made barriers, knowing we are all part of the body of Jesus, the body of God to heal and give new life to the world.

This incarnation, this embodiment of God’s love and healing and life is what is so compelling about these stories. The pleading of Jairus for his sick daughter is that Jesus would lay his hands on her, touch her, so that she would be made well and live. This leader of the synagogue community desperately trusts in the healing touch of Jesus and Jesus doesn’t hesitate to go with him.

The woman is unnamed but we learn significant details about her life, and her physical illness of hemorrhaging for twelve years, and the failed treatments and costs and her deteriorating condition. She believes if she but touches Jesus’ clothes she will be healed. And she does and she is healed, and feels it in her body we are told.

And immediately aware of power going from him, Jesus asks who touched him. The disciples suggest the question is absurd, the crowds are pressing in on Jesus from every side. As Jesus looks for who touched him, the woman trembling and afraid, falls down before Jesus and tells him everything. A woman considered unclean, by gender and her hemorrhaging condition, touched Jesus. And Jesus calls her “daughter” and blesses her faith, and blesses her with peace and healing.

It is touching to witness her faith and courage, beyond all barriers, and Jesus’ compassion and blessing her beyond those barriers, all of it held in her touching Jesus’ clothes and Jesus’ response in love, blessing her with peace and healing.

The news about Jairus’ daughter is that she has died. With three of Jesus’ disciples and her parents as witnesses, Jesus takes the little dead girl by the hand and speaks to her in Aramaic, “little girl get up,” and she does, and she begins to walk again, and we learn her age, and Jesus’ concern that they give her something to eat. Jesus touches a little dead girl’s unclean body and speaks to her to raise her to life again.

A little girl from our neighbourhood, who was tragically hit by a car six months ago, has just returned home in the past month. Severely affected by the accident, she needs constant care. As we walked by the intersection where she was hit on her way to school, as we often do, my spouse said simply, “Her family are loving her back to life.” The picture in the Times Colonist on Saturday showed her younger sister snuggled up and sleeping beside her, loving her back to life. Her mother said the best nights are when the four siblings snuggle together on their parent’s king-size bed and watch a movie. We join with others in praying and pleading for this little girl’s healing and recovery, and the constant touch of God for her and her family, and the many others on our prayer list, in our families and neighbourhoods and in this world in desperate need of healing and new life.

We have worked as a community, prayed as a community and celebrated as a community the arrival of a father and mother, their three children and his mother, from Syria to Turkey to Canada. We have worked, prayed and celebrated as a community the arrival of a young woman from Burundi to Ruanda to Canada. And we have worked, prayed and are just now celebrating as a community the arrival of a young woman from Eritrea to Ethiopia to Canada. For all of them to be with family, to have a new beginning, security and safety and wellbeing in this country, and to reach out and shake their hands, to embrace one another, this is new life, and wholeness and healing that God desires for every person in this beautiful, broken and bleeding world. We continue to pray for a father and son to join family here from Eritrea to Canada, soon. And we continue to work and pray for others, those we can consider sponsoring, and the millions of others, little children and families, individuals and elders, in desperate need of hope and new life as God desires for all.

This is the pleading to God we must always be doing. This is the risky reaching out to touch and trust in God’s power to heal and save that we must always be following, beyond any and all human made barriers, knowing we are all part of the body of Jesus, the body of God to heal and give new life to the world.

Today we offer prayers and the touch of caring hands and anointing with oil in the Spirit of Jesus for healing. It can seem a strange and mere ritual act, and we may question of what earthly good. But this ancient way of touching and anointing and praying for one another and this world, holds the faith, the believing, that Jairus and the woman who touched Jesus, held. And it holds the tangible, embodied, incarnational hope and gospel promise of God in Jesus to heal and give new life to each one and all this bleeding, desperate and dying, beautiful, hopeful, life giving world; in the Spirit of Jesus we pray. Amen.