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Pentecost 5 June 28, 2015 - The Rev. Canon Janet Campbell
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PENTECOST 5  Proper 8  Year B
Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15; 2:23-24; Psalm 30; 2 Corin. 8:7-15;
Mark 5:21-43
 
Christ Episcopal Church
Tacoma, Washington
Sunday June 28, 2015
The Rev. Canon Janet Campbell
 
 
 
Jairus, an important man,
a leader of the synagogue,
man of position and privilege,
and almost certainly wealth . . .
whose 12 year old daughter was dying.
 
And in the face of death,
position and privilege and wealth
revealed to be meaningless.
 
 
A woman not named,
a 2nd class citizen because she was a woman.
 
For 12 long years,
she had been ritually unclean
          due to constant menstrual bleeding,
          and so, in the midst of her community
                   she lived in exile . . .
          an untouchable . . .
                   alone and destitute.
 

Two very different people
from very different places in society and in life,
equally in need,
converging,
in their desperation,
          on Jesus.
 
Jairus,
a public figure
          of a certain social stature,
in the midst of the crowd
          throwing dignity to the winds,
falling to his knees
in front of Jesus,
          begging him
                   for help.
 
The woman,
an insignificant outcast
          of no stature at all,
who should not even have been
          mixing with the crowd
ritually unclean as she was . . .
         
“If I can just touch his clothing,”
          she thought . . .
 
 

Jesus was already on the way
          to Jairus’ daughter
when the woman reached out
          and touched his cloak.
 
Immediately, says Mark,
“she felt in her body
that she was healed . . .”
 
Jesus felt it, too,
in his body,
felt power go out from him,
and called out to the crowd,
“Who touched my clothes?”
 
In that pressing crowd,
many must have brushed against him,
but one only had touched him on purpose,
with need,
with expectation.
 
He wanted to know who it was.
 
She fell to the ground at his feet,
fearful, trembling,
for she had transgressed the barrier
between clean and unclean.
 
But that wasn’t why
Jesus wanted to know
who it was.
 

He was never one
to put religious law or custom
          above love . . .
 
Nor was he one
to put the needs of the important
before the needs of the not-so-important.
 
He stopped,
turned to the woman,
looked at her . . .
          (when others had so often looked away),
called her “daughter,”
          daughter,
          a term of familial inclusion,
and
broke through her isolation . . .
 
broke through the barrier
of social and religious ostracism . . .
 
restoring her to community,
healed both in body and in spirit.
 
On an urgent errand,
he stopped
to respond to the urgent need
          that met him on the way.
 
“Daughter, your faith has made you well;
go in peace and be healed of your disease.”
 
What is meant by that faith?
 
Her conviction,
her trust,
that the answer to her suffering 
could be found in Jesus . . .
 
that Jesus somehow
could and would
bring her
to a new well-being,
could and would
          make her whole.
 
 
And now,
while they were all still standing there,
bad news came
          to Jairus . . .
his daughter was dead.
 
What point now . . .
taking Jesus to his home?
 
“Do not fear, only believe,”
Jesus said.
 
Believe what?
 

Believe that the answer
to this death,
to its terrible finality
and the awful grief
          it brought,
could be found in Jesus,
 
that Jesus somehow
could and would
transform even this,
the worst that could happen.
 
 
A great commotion
of  weeping and wailing
awaited them at Jairus’ house.
 
Undaunted by
the mourners’ mocking laughter
when he said the child was only sleeping,
Jesus went in.
 
This time
he was the one to
reach across the divide
          between clean and unclean,
(for a corpse was ritually unclean,
          and so, the one who touched it).
 
He took the dead girl’s hand,
told her to get up,
and restored her
to her parents and her community.
 
And there was amazement and rejoicing.
 
These stories
for the communities of the early church,
for the communities of Jesus’ followers ever since,
reveal
the breadth and depth of Jesus’ compassion,
the impartiality of his love,
his defiance
          of social and religious constructs
          that divide human beings one from another,
his ability to bring healing and wholeness
          to the sick, wounded, heartbroken, outcast,
his power over death itself,
          finally made fully manifest
                   in his resurrection
                             from the dead.
 
These stories
for the communities of the early church,
for the communities of followers of Jesus ever since,
reveal the ministry of healing
now entrusted to us, his Body the Church.
 
 
Jairus’ daughter, raised from death,
would die again,
          we can hope it was at a ripe old age . . .
the woman healed of her bleeding,
          would also die . . .
          we can hope it was also at a ripe old age  . . .
and we will die,
          each one of us,
          and may it be at a ripe old age . . .
Dying is part of our living . . .
 
But in Jesus,
God’s power for life
has put death in its place . . .
 
made of what seems to be an end
a new beginning . . .
for,
says the author of the Wisdom of Solomon:
 
“God created us for incorruption,
and made us in the image of [God’s] own eternity . . .”
 
. . . in the image
of God’s own eternity.
 
I sometimes think I can see that
in the eyes of a newborn –
 
and in the eyes
of someone in the last moments of life –
 
God’s eternity . . .
 
from which we have come
and to which we will return.
 
Because of God’s power for life
          working through Jesus,
our physical death is only a form of sleep,
sleep from which we will
one day wake.
 
God’s power for life
          working through Jesus,
raising us from the deaths
          we die everyday,
raising us at the last
          from the final death
                   we’ll die.
 
God’s power for life . . .
we come to know it,
to experience it,
here,
in our Sunday assembly,
 
encountering the risen and living Christ
in the Word proclaimed,
in the Bread and Wine,
in one another.
 
Today we have met
the healing Christ
in the stories
of Jairus and his daughter
and the woman with the hemorrhage.
 

How many such stories
are unfolding right now
just a few hundred yards
from our doors,
at neighboring places of healing:
at Group Health, Multicare,
Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital,
Tacoma General,
at the Three Cedars Residence for people with HIV/AIDS,
at halfway houses for people with mental illness
          or addiction,
and on the streets leading to and from them . . .
 
There Jairus anxiously awaits
          the outcome of his daughter’s surgery;
a woman undergoes yet another treatment
          for a chronic condition
          that just won’t yield to her doctors’ best efforts;
a man lives with HIV/AIDS;
a boy mourns the death of his mother;
a woman tries to break free
          of addiction’s hold;
and the healers themselves
          struggle with exhaustion
          and the grief of their own lives.
 
Many members of our congregation
are or have been
engaged in the healing arts.
 
But proclaiming and sharing
the healing to be found in Jesus
is the vocation of all the baptized . . .
 
to respond with Jesus’
compassion and love
to need and heartbreak
wherever we find it,
or it finds us.
 
Christ Church has a history
of cooperation and collaboration
with the healing institutions
around us . . .
 
Giving to Three Cedars
the house and land
on which it stands.
 
Housing the Bridges program
for grieving children
for over 20 years.
 
Ministering as chaplains
to hospital patients.
 
What opportunities
might there be now
to join our healing ministries
with theirs?
 
 

Our liturgy,
this work of worship we do
on Sundays
 
begins with a gathering
and ends with a sending . . .
 
[there is the way station
of coffee hour . . .
 
and perhaps there should be a sending,
a dismissal from there
as well . . . ]
 
for from there
we do actually go into the world,
          in the name of Christ,
          in the power of the Spirit,
to be messengers of
          healing and hope:
 
to go where the stories are,
          where the hurting is,
to break through barriers
          of race, religion, class, economic servitude,
          gender, sexuality, illness, disability, death . . .
 
to proclaim that the healing
of all these
is to be found,
simply, and for all time,
in Jesus
and through the Body of Christ
          ministering in his Name.
This has been the proclamation
of the people of
Emanuel African Methodist Church
in Charleston,
who have shown the world
their faith,
their confidence and trust,
          that healing 
          for the violence done to them,
          for the losses they suffered,
                   is to be found in
                             God’s power for life in Jesus.
 
This is the proclamation
of the Episcopal Church
in General convention . . .
yesterday electing the first
African American Presiding Bishop . . .
Michael Curry . . .
 
to oversee a church
where African Americans
once had to sit in the balcony
while the people who thought they owned them
worshipped
in the pews below.
 

This one act will not root out racism
from our nation,
any more than the election
          of the first African American President has,
but it is a witness
that transformation
can and will come
through God’s power for life in Jesus.
 
And today,
God’s power for life in Jesus,
for healing and transformation,
is the proclamation
of the Diocese of Olympia,
of our contingent of walkers
in the Seattle Pride Parade,
with particular joy this year
as the Church celebrates
the Supreme Court’s
decision on Gay Marriage.
 
 
 
“In the midst of life we are in death,”                         [Burial II BCP p. 492 ]
says one of the anthems
in the Church’s funeral liturgy.
 
But it is also true
that,
in the midst of death,
we are in life.
 
 Amen.