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Reach Out

Fourth Sunday after Trinity

Reaching out copy

Fourth Sunday after Trinity                                                                              Mark 5: 21 – end

 

‘Reach Out’

 

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered round him; and he was by the lake.  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 haemorrhages 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 haemorrhage 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 round 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.

 

 

May these spoken/written words lead us to the living word                        

  Jesus Christ. Amen

 

Sickness could be called ‘the great Interrupter’ of life. It enters without knocking, upsetting our plans, mocking the idea of certainty, and diminishing hope for the future. It intrudes like a burglar in our home, touching every part of life.

Such an interruption occurred to a woman in our reading today.

 

The incident takes place on a city street packed with a crowd of excited people trying to catch a glimpse of Jesus.

 

At the request of Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, Jesus is on His way to restore to health his dying daughter and the crowd is following Him in order to see Him perform this miracle. Suddenly His walk is interrupted by a very sick woman. We do not know who she was, not even her name. We know that she was a woman in pain and that for twelve years she had suffered.  Twelve years is a very long time. We know she wants relief, restoration, health and life. Above all she hopes that Jesus can heal her.

 

In prolonged sickness there is always loss.      Loss of control. Suddenly the body, rather than obeying you, has its own agenda and behaves any way it pleases.

This was the embarrassing condition of the woman. She "had been subject to bleeding for twelve years" Her body was out of control.

 

There is loss of identity.   Sick people become defined by their illness. Isn't it interesting that the lady in the story is not called by name. Simply, "A woman was there who had been subject to bleeding." The same is true today.   We speak of the woman who has cancer, or the man with Parkinson’s.  There is the loss of place in society. Prolonged illness often puts a strain on relationships, on jobs, and on families. The sick person often feels more at home in hospital with other sick people that they do with healthy people. There is definitely a loss of resources. The woman in the story "had spent all she had." She was financially bankrupt, emotionally spent, and physically weak. Perhaps the most chilling aspect of this lady's life was that she had tried everything "yet instead of getting better she grew worse," she had lost of hope.  She was at her wit's end.

 

As a last resort, she comes to Jesus hoping against hope that He could heal her. She was desperate enough to try anything.

 

Maybe she thought. "If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed" This woman believes in Jesus' power. Or, at least, she is desperate enough to give it a try. While others bump into Jesus, she reaches out and touches Him.

 

As the women touched Jesus, He sensed that healing power had gone out of Him. No one noticed her.  No one but Jesus. He turned around to see who had touched Him, He looked for her, then she comes forward and Jesus says to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering" Jesus calls her daughter, what a wonderful intimate moment for her.  In an instant, she is granted a new identity, she now has a certain future, she regains her place in society, she is restored to wholeness, and she discovers hope. In an instant, Jesus heals her sickness, eases her suffering, grants her freedom, and saves her soul.

 

It was a miracle and the only miracle recorded in scripture where no word was spoken.

But there is another miracle lurking here?

 

Notice, she did not meet Jesus in the temple. She met Him on the street. She had no private audience with Jesus, she touched Him in a crowd.

She touched Him in faith, in desperate believing faith and He stopped. That is the miracle. The touch of one anonymous woman in a crowd halted the Lord of glory. She touched Him. And so can we.

 

It is easy to crowd God and never touch Him. A great many people in the church, and perhaps a great many outside the church, are doing just that.   We come with our shopping list of prayers and requests but never actually touch Him. It is like missing a train. You may miss it by an hour or by just one minute and that's pretty close but you have still missed the train.

 

The question for us this morning is how can we touch Jesus? It is one thing for that woman long ago, but how can I touch Him today.  We come back time and time again to the same word, FAITH, and you know by now how to spell it, RISK.

To dare to give God a chance. By all means take your problem, whatever it may be, to Him in prayer. Tell Him about it, just as if He did not know a thing. Hold nothing back. Dare to be honest.

Believe that God will hear you and that He cares what happens to you.  Be willing to wait, be willing to be silent be ready to listen for still small voice.

 

Touch him in the Eucharist when you come to the table, hold the bread lightly, it is a sacrament of faith, and as you eat, receive God into your life afresh.  At present we are not able to partake of the wine, but when we can, drink with reverence and awe, for it is by faith that his life flows into us. The message of this miracle is that one woman, at the end of her rope, had the courage to step outside of normal procedures to find healing and hope. She touched the Lord of the Universe. And He stopped for her. He will stop for us as well. His presence is no longer visible but He is none the less powerful.  He has promised to be with us in every circumstance of our lives.

 

The words healing and wholeness stem from the same word in Old English, and are closely related. None of us is whole.  None of us is what we could be, or should be, or indeed want to be, on our better days.   All of us suffer from dis-ease at some point in our lives and all of us are in need of healing.

 

When we have the courage to see ourselves as we are, to acknowledge our shortcomings and our need of forgiveness and acceptance, we open ourselves to the healing touch of Christ.

 

We might not all get such a miraculous healing as the woman in our reading but we will all get the spiritual miracle of forgiveness, and the presence of the healing balm of the Holy Spirit. We just have to acknowledge our need and reach out to Him in faith.

 

Amen.