the one about risk...
July 2, 2018, 8:00 AM

Sermon from July 1, 2018

Text: Mark 5:21-43

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen.

So, as I read and thought about this text over the week (not an easy task when you’re on vacation), I kept thinking about what lengths we’re willing to go to ‘save ourselves’ or to save someone we love, especially a child. I have read and heard countless stories of those parents who have sacrificed for themselves in order for their children to live the life that they never had.

The stories of those parents who don’t feed themselves so that they can feed their children. The folks who come to our church office every once in awhile and tell stories about how they have to choose between paying a light bill or filling their babies’ tummies. Perhaps even putting your children through an arduous journey of immense distances so that they might live. Removing them from the hardship and tragedy of home to find a new and renewed life somewhere else.

I thought about those stories as I read our gospel this week as we are introduced to two individuals who sacrificed a lot in order to hopefully receive healing by this man named Jesus. Both put themselves at cultural risk in order to be with Jesus. To bring new life to themselves or to bring new life to their child.

We are introduced to a woman who has been afflicted with a bleeding disorder for over twelve years. Anything with ‘blood’ was considered unclean and that others would become ‘unclean’ as well if they touched those who were bleeding. I’d imagine that there were not many people who would associate with her in fear that they too would become ritually unclean.

Yet, she heard this story about the man named Jesus. The one who had healed so many. Perhaps, maybe, possibly he could heal her too. She had faith, she trusted what Jesus could do for her. So, in that trust and faith, she pushed through the crowds to get his attention and perhaps just touching his clothes would be enough to heal her (and it was).

An important part of this text – and I can only imagine the fear that pressed in on that newly healed woman – was the fact that after she touched Jesus’ clothes, he immediately stopped for he knew someone had been healed. He stops and looks around, searching for the one who touched him.

This is a woman who – apart from those who have tried to help her medically – has more than likely been in fear of those who she is around. How they would treat her, interact with her, what would they say to her because of her condition? Those words to her that made her feel so ‘outside’ the group and culture; the family of God. When Jesus stops and searches for her, I imagine all those same and familiar fears came rushing back. She’s about to get ‘laid into’ and reprimanded for stepping into where she shouldn’t be.

Yet, when he finally searches her out from the large crowd pressing in on him, he locks eyes with her and calls her daughter. The one rumored to be of God, to be God, the messiah, has not chastised her for inappropriateness, but has claimed her as his own. She is a daughter of God, she is claimed, she is loved. Her faith, her trust in who Jesus has made her well.

She risked so much, yet she trusted in what God could do through Jesus, and she has finally been given new life.

Of course, that is the story within the story. For the ‘main’ story of our gospel this morning surrounds another individual who risks so much in order to save the life of his beloved daughter. Jairus is an honorable and upstanding man. He is looked up to in the life of the Jewish culture. He is one of the leaders of the synagogue. He is a faithful man. He is one who is not supposed to be seeking Jesus out for help.

In fact, the last time we were introduced to leaders within the synagogue – they were saying that the only reason that Jesus was able to do all this healing, was because he was possessed by a demon; the demon. Jairus is supposed to be the one pushes people away from Jesus, he isn’t supposed to be the one running towards him.

Yet, that’s what he does as Jesus approaches. He runs to him and falls at his feet. He risks his status, his power, his influence, his leadership role in the synagogue. People are supposed to come to him, yet he is the one who falls to Jesus’ feet.

He risks it all because of his love for his daughter and his trust and faith that Jesus can and will help her.

As they get closer, it appears all hope is lost. They are too late, Jairus’ daughter has died. Turn back, nothing to do anymore.

Yet, they laugh when Jesus says that this isn’t the end. And, I don’t think this is a laugh to deride Jesus or inflict further pain upon Jairus. I think this community’s laugh is similar to the laugh that Sarah gave when she was told that she would bear a child. A laugh out of utter and sad disbelief. Not to be mean, but because when all hope seems to be gone, we can’t help, but laugh at the ‘luck’ we’ve drawn.

In the trust that Jairus has in Jesus, the faith he exhibits as he comes to meet him, to be with him, to fall at his feet, to risk it all through that trust – Jairus’ daughter gets up. She is given new and renewed life. Hope is there and it comes bursting forth from Jesus’ words and actions.

As I hear these stories and so much more that we read of in our Gospels – here in Mark and throughout the other three, I cannot help but think how so many are willing to risk because of their faith and trust in this man named Jesus. It makes me think – what are we as modern-day followers willing to risk because of our faith and trust in Jesus?

Are we willing to risk following and trusting our Lord? What are we willing to risk as we fall at the feet of the cross? What are we willing to risk as we seek out Jesus in our life?

Are we willing to risk our livelihood? Are we willing to risk our status and power? Are we willing to risk our affluence and our influence? What are we willing to risk as we fall at Jesus’ feet?

Are we willing to risk the stares and the murmurs of others as we care and help someone from ‘over there?’ Are we willing to risk our friendships to confront in love when words of hurt and indecency are flung at someone on the ‘outside’ what many call the ‘norm’? Are we willing to risk our positions to speak God’s word of love and welcome to all – and to live into that love for others?

Last Sunday we had the opportunity to live that out – and I feel we as a community rose to the occasion. During our second service a young family entered our community in need of help – food, clothes, and gas as they traveled from Washington, DC to Miami for an immigration hearing. They came into our community during worship, spoke very little English, and the husband and father walked in with a GPS tracker on his leg. They were in the country illegally and were going through the process to be ‘right’ within our immigration process – as convoluted and difficult as it can be.

I was proud – deeply proud – that this family was welcomed and cared for. I didn’t really have doubts about that. But, how many in other communities we are a part of where someone speaking little English and wearing an ankle bracelet would be turned away?

This family risked a lot to come to our community, to speak and ask for help from people they didn’t know. How would they be treated? Would they be sent away? Would they be ‘reprimanded’ for their actions, would the authorities be alerted?

And we as a community took on risk as well as we listened to their story and provided care the best way we knew how. The more we listened to their story, it may not have been as truthful as they made it out to be. But, that is a risk that we take as well. We risk that in our service and love people might take advantage of that. Yet, we help as we are able. We care, we love, we live into the faith that God has poured into us in our baptisms. We live into this love that God has first given us.

We risk that we err on God’s grace and love. We risk a lot as we care and serve.

But, we risk in hope, trust, and faith that God is at work in this. That Jesus is leading us in this. That the Holy Spirit is guiding us into this life of faith.

We risk. We love. We trust. We live in faith.

What are we willing to risk as we follow, cling to, touch, and fall at Jesus’ feet? What are you willing to risk as you live into God’s love for others? Amen.

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