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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, July 28, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Mark 5:21–43

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 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 hemorrhages 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 hemorrhage 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 around 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. (NRSV)

Reflection
This text from Mark was the very first text on which I preached in seminary. I remember so clearly because my preaching professor, Lucy Rose, was in the chapel when I preached. There is no way I can forget her presence, because at that time Dr. Rose was living through the last stages of a cancer that would not let go. And there she sat out in the small congregation made up of my peers, her thin frame wrapped in a blanket and a woolen cap on her bald head keeping her warm. I remember what she wore so vividly because I looked at her often during the sermon, especially at the moment when Jesus healed the hemorrhaging woman, telling her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

My voice choked on those words from Jesus when I looked at Lucy, because I could only imagine how she might have given anything to hear those words spoken to her, to have her disease healed right then and there, in this life, allowing her to continue to parent her eight-year-old daughter and to love her long-beloved husband for many more years. “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” I could barely get those words out and she graciously smiled at me in response.

I wish I actually remembered what I preached that day, but I don’t. I simply remember Lucy in the congregation and my own fear and grief getting mixed up in the proclamation. Well, I do remember one more thing. I remember her graciousness and kindness in her evaluation of that sermon. She said words that gave me courage, words that demonstrated for me the myriad of ways God does heal all of us, even scared and self-conscious seminarians who don’t want to mess up and who are having trouble with emotional boundaries.

And then, a few months later, Lucy herself found her healing as she breathed her last here with us, surrounded by family and friends singing the Doxology. I trust with my whole being that the first thing she heard from God was something like, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Welcome into your peace, fully healed and whole. Welcome home.”

Prayer
Holy God, I often wish you would do things my way. I do not always understand the ways you go about being God, bringing healing and justice in your time. Yet I trust that is indeed what you are doing. So please open my eyes to see your work that I might have more courage and grow deeper in trust and faithfulness. Amen.

Written by Shannon J. Kershner, Pastor


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