FAITHING A CHALLENGE Mark 5: 25-34
The teenage son walks up to his dad says, “Well I have good news and bad news. What do you want first?” The dad says “Tell me the good news first”. The son replies “Well the air bags in your car work perfectly”
The scripture today isn’t about air bags (I may be leaving myself open there) but it does have a good news/bad news aspect to it.
Most parables have two sides. There is the obvious story with the easy moral. For example the parable of the Good Samaritan. It contains the blatant message of helping others but there is a far more poignant and powerful point to it that is not obvious except to people who understand the situation. I’ll save that for an extra sermon.
Often through the years only the easy moral has been highlighted. Today’s story has the simple idea but it also includes a challenge for us
This story today is sometimes overlooked because it has the “difficult” issue of the woman with the “flow of blood” or as so many say “she was hemorrhaging”. That may make it more polite but it avoids the true impact of what her life was like. She had a menstrual period for 12 years. That makes the story more powerful. It was important enough to be in three of the gospels.
If we set the scene; Jesus was about 4 months into his ministry. Along comes this woman who was likely about 22 or 24 years of age. She was unclean. Many cultures had menstrual taboos, where the woman was excluded from the daily life while she was having her period. This is no exception. She was unable to serve meals at festivals or at Passover. She could not get married and of course she could not have children. Without children in those days a woman was seen as having no value.
She lived in a small town and therefore everyone would know that she was unclean. No one would touch her and she would have to live I a separate abode. On top of that she had spent all her money on doctors. Two of the gospels include the phrase that she only got worse but the book of Luke excludes that sentence. I assume because he was a doctor and didn’t want doctors to look bad.
The woman then seeks out Jesus as a last resort. She has tried everything else. Nothing has changed in that area to this day. People usually try traditional medicine first; then alternative medicine and finally faith or religion.
Her faith was motivated by desperation. I mentioned last week the idea that crisis causes prayer.
Regardless of her motivation Jesus responds. That of itself is good news.
When you seek help from anywhere and you get a response it makes you feel better. You know the situation, when you have been on hold for a long time and finally the person answers. You really want to yell at them but you are so thankful to be finally heard that you stop your rampage.
For Jesus to react to her made her feel as if she had value. She was afraid after she touched his robe that he would be angry but instead he blessed her.
Usually the sermon ends here. Everyone feels happy; we take up the offering while there is a good feeling and then everyone goes home.
But life doesn’t always work out that way. Jesus isn’t physically around to do the healing. Not everyone gets better. So what is the second message of this story? What is the message that affects us?
Put yourself in Christ’s position.
We are the disciples of Christ. We are the church. What if we are approached by outcasts; both personally and as the church institution. Socially we have been raised to avoid the outcasts. They may have a disease or they may be a burden on you. They may upset the progress of our nation or community.
There is a well-known phrase among social advocates called NIMBYism. It stands for Not In My Back Yard. People will say they are in favour of a shelter or some kind of social housing but NIMBY. Many people really don’t want to get involved. The counter to that is called Yimby – Yes In My Back Yard
Jesus could have easily ignored this woman. He could have gone home knowing that he helped her and felt good about what he did but he stopped to talk to her. That was a big part of her healing. Just being heard.
Who are the outcasts today? Take your pick. The world may be getting better as far as violence awareness goes but the inequality still exists. The gap between rich and poor is growing daily.
There is still prejudice with colour, race, income, gender and religion. There is still people that the world considers “unclean”.
An especially relevant situation is unfolding this week. More and more unmarked graves are being discovered at the residential schools. The last residential school closed in 1996, so most everyone listening to this was alive during the residential school time frame. However the whole issue was largely ignored. Growing up I never even knew there was such a thing. I could say it has nothing to do with me. But that is not true.
Jesus could say that the woman’s flow of blood had nothing to do with him. Again that is not true. Someone was suffering.
The native people have asked for a long time just to be heard. It has happened in part. The United Church, the Anglican Church, the Presbyterian Church and the Federal Government have all issued an apology. The Roman Catholic Church has not apologized. The listening has begun but there is a long way to go.
There may not be much we can do to change the situation but we can listen. Part of the healing for that woman was just being heard by Jesus.
Jesus took a risk! For many at that time he would be seen as unclean but I don’t think many of us today see him that way. By talking to this woman, he identified himself as being in solidarity with an outcast.
That not only healed her, it also healed society.
When we turn toward a so-called outcast we help to heal them, society and ourselves.
The residential schools are not the only issue. Jesus interrupted his travels to listen to this woman. We can do the same.
By the way the definition of an outcast is : anyone you don’t want to spend time with!
These stories and the Christian faith are two fold. There is the comfort of knowing God is there but there is also the challenge of being there for others.
That is the good news and the …..better news!
God Out of the silences of ignorance we listen for your call. Out of the distances of non-involvement we listen for your caring. Out of the barriers of prejudice and fear we listen for your voice. Out of the hidden realities we listen for your truth. Out of the eyes of every human we look for the eyes of Christ. Teach us, Heal us. Love us; that we might be your people.
Now we pray in silence for all those who are suffering or need special prayers;
Now we pray in the way Jesus taught us.
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. lead us not into temptation. but deliver us from evil. for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. forever and ever Amen
SERVICE June 27, 2021
Etransfer info at bottom of page
Thanks to helpers: Cathy, Barb, Dave, Aubrey
Hymn – (explain) O Canada
Scripture Mark 5: 25-34
Lord’s Prayer -Sung
Go now in Peace
Go now in peace, Never be afraid
God will go with you, each hour of every day
Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true
Know God will guide you in all you do,
Go now in love and show you believe
Reach out to others so all the world can see
God will be there, watching from above
Go now in peace, in faith and in love
Amen, Amen, Amen
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