The Rector’s sermon for July 1, 2018   


2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5:21-43)


Today we will look at a couple of dramatic stories that could be blockbuster movies.


The first is our ongoing story of Saul and David.  When last we heard about David, he was filled with the Holy Spirit, he was summoned to the court of King Saul, who was no longer in God’s favor, and as a sideline to playing music for King Saul, David single-handedly killed Goliath.  Saul’s army makes quick work of the Philistines and for a time, there is peace. David meets Saul’s son Jonathan and they become best friends. 


Now David’s fame spreads throughout  the kingdom and the people begin to revere David more than Saul!  Bad idea!   So he decides that he will make sure that David is killed in the next Philistine battle.  He offers his daughters, first one, than the other, to be David’s wife, but first David has to prove he’s worthy by winning a battle against the Philistines.  Both times David says a poor man can’t be the son-in-law of a king!  So Saul’s plan backfires.  So he goes to Plan B:  “David, the reason you should go into battle is for vengeance against the Philistines and the price for my daughter is 100 Philistine foreskins!”   Apparently this is OK with David.  He goes into battle with the Philistines, and since David has exceeded expectations in everything up to this point, instead of David getting killed and making Saul happy, David returns from battle with 200 foreskins!   Now Saul is undone and he begins to encourage his servants and his son, David’s best friend, to assassinate David. 


There are more battles.  David continues to conquer.  And Saul becomes more and more obsessed with killing David.  David escapes and a crazed Saul hunts him down.  By a strange twist of fate, David has the perfect opportunity to kill Saul, but he doesn’t.  Instead, David again vows his allegiance to Saul, and Saul comes to realize that David has paid him good for evil and that he should indeed become the new king.  Saul does a few more crazy things and David wins a few more battles.  Finally, Saul’s son Jonathan is killed in battle and Saul takes his own life so that he won’t be killed by his pagan adversaries.  And today’s reading from Second Samuel is simply a funeral song that David composed for Saul and his friend Jonathan.  And while David now becomes king over Israel, not everybody is happy about it… to be continued…


The second dramatic story for today is made up of miracles inside of miracles.  Jesus is back in his home country.  He has just returned from a missionary journey to the other side of the sea, where he cast out a legion of demons.  Interestingly enough, he was asked to leave that place because his behavior made the people more uneasy than did the demons!  Go figure!  And immediately upon his return, Jesus is met by a hovering crowd and a delegation from the synagogue.


As the first drama begins, a crowd approaches Jesus; they are all over Jesus, pressing all around.  Then comes Jairus, the leader of the synagogue.  He throws himself at Jesus’ feet, begging Jesus to come and heal his daughter.  And interestingly enough, Jesus simply goes with him!  No fanfare, no questions, no guilt trip like “unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe”.   Jesus just goes.  And so does the crowd…a large crowd, pressing upon him so closely that he can hardly walk.


Now the second drama… within the first one…begins.  It’s about…the woman!  (Some of you may remember that was my name for a year or two when I first came to Lake Placid nineteen years ago, but this woman’s situation is much more serious!)  She’s been bleeding for 12 years and neither money nor science could cure her.  And this woman—whose name we don’t even know—dares to become part of this pressing crowd, which is amazing enough, since she is considered unclean by all ritual standards and should never leave her home.  Yet, not only is she out in public among a crowd of people, but she even dares to touchanother person, specifically Jesus.  


So Jesus is on his way to Jairus’ house to heal his daughter.  And breaking in to an already packed situation is…this woman…this unclean woman…this throw-away woman.  Yet, there’s as much written about her as about the original story.  Why?   Because Jesus is always about the business of breaking into people’s lives at any given time.  And interestingly enough, at this moment in time, it’s the woman who breaks into Jesus’ life, into Jesus’ plans…and she touches him.  How dare she!   How dare she, indeed, because her faith is so strong she believes he doesn’t even have to speak to her, that all she has to do is touch him—touch his clothes, to be exact—and she will be healed.  My God, that we all should have such faith!   Truly, at any moment in time, the way Jesus reacted to this unclean woman, Jesus will respond exactly the same way to each one of us, if only we would reach out to him!


Now I want us to look at the crowd for a minute.  This woman, unknowingly, gets exactly what “the crowd” would like to have, but is too afraid to reach for:  Jesus attention!  This crowd could be something like a church congregation:  a group of people, warts and all, curious, questioning, doubting, wondering, coming together hoping, wanting.  This crowd, like some congregations, won’ttouch Jesus; they will just “crowd”.  They will follow along.  They will press in and hem in and hover and look to see what happens next, but will not touch Jesus—unless and until the crowd finds itself in a position like that of this woman.  How many people crowd a church building oblivious of the opportunity before them?  This woman is confronted with a need that can’t be fixed by any earthly means, a need she knows can be met by no one but Jesus, just like those times within a congregation of church-goers when something like that happens—when all else fails—and individuals in that congregation, just like the crowd, will reach out and touch Jesus. 


So what does Jesus do when such a “touch” occurs?  When the woman touches…when any one of you “touches”, He stops.  He drops everything.  Nothing is more important than a sinner who reaches out for healing.  Jairus can wait.  His daughter can wait. “Who touched me,” he says.  “Who?  Show yourself!  Tell me what you need!  Acknowledge that who I am and what I stand for has met your need as no other power on earth could?”   Is that not the awe of God that I talk about all the time!?   The almighty, all-powerful God will always humble himself whenever we reach out to him!  How amazing is that grace!   That brave, needy woman reaches out, barely touches a piece of clothe that happens to be on Jesus’ body, and she is healed by her tremendous faith.  And we never hear of the woman again.  Did the physical healing affect her entire existence?  We can only hope!  Jesus heals, and life goes on…


Meanwhile, back to Jairus—remember him?  Although a member of the religious rite, so to speak, he finds himself and his organization insufficient to cure his child.  She’s at death’s door.  So even organized religion must fall at the feet of Jesus for healing, for forgiveness.  If you remember back in the beginning when Jairus approaches Jesus, you will notice the respect that Jesus has for Jairus, who is a symbol of organized religion.  He is all but indifferent to the crowd.  The crowd is just kind of “there.”  But he goes with Jairus, the leader of the Synagogue, without challenge or qualification.  He enters Jairus’ home with a little group of witnesses, brings the child back from death, and orders them to tell no one.  For some reason, the miracle that takes place in this home was not to be shared with the crowd…perhaps because the crowd already had its need met, too!  What has happened in that home and among the crowd is nothing less than new birth…new life.  And the difference between Jairus and the woman…and the crowd?  Jairus and the woman dared to believe, while the crowd waited for someone else to reach out.


So, who are you in all these stories?  Where do you stand with regard to Jesus, the King, the Healer, the lover of souls?  Perhaps you’ve fallen out of favor with God like Saul and are in need of repentance.    Perhaps you’re like David, riding a high, yet on the verge of forgetting that you didn’t get there alone.   Perhaps you’re like the woman; life is sometimes more than you can bear, but you know that reaching out to Jesus will bring healing and wholeness. Or are you like the crowd, just curious, following along, but not yet ready to really “follow”?


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Jesus is the answer….to everything!  In these times when the world is in such upheaval, when the moral compass of our country has gone haywire, there is still one unchanging fact…one sure answer…one place to turn.  And that is to Jesus.  His healing, his guidance, his wisdom are as close as a prayer.  Invite him in.  Don’t drift with the crowd.  Don’t be taken in by the ways of the world.  He longs to be touched by those he loves.  And that is you!


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