Mark 5:21-43 (Esp 25-34)
Last week in we started a series about God’s healing, and we started not with Jesus but in the old testament, the passage from Isaiah that interrupts all of the descriptions of evil and sin and punishment, with a vision of the tender care God wants to provide all people, and the revelation that one day God will end all death and all sadness and suffering. If you missed it, look up Isaiah 25 later and you can watch the sermon on our church’s facebook page.
I began by explaining something I’ve read about and think is true, as we start to come out of the pandemic, the survival instinct of keeping it all together will fade for many and as it does, other issues will bubble up, a complex mix of mental health, physical health, emotional and spiritual health issues, from this long term trauma we have all be suffering from.
Except now it seems like we’re not even coming out of it anymore- while we have seen the delta variant rise in other countries, now in a week cases have risen dramatically in the past week and safety measures are being reinstated in some places.
However I still think this sermon series is relevant. It is always going to be applicable, because there is so much suffering in our world, so many ways we need God’s healing in our bodies minds spirits and relationship. If we are on our way to another spike, if it’s just a bump and things get better again- it is always good to consider how we need to be healed and how God does that.
Jesus is on his way to heal one person and gets interrupted by someone else who needs healing. This passage of Mark is like a little healing sandwich- today we are going to start in the middle, with the meat.
I don’t know if the woman knew where Jesus was going, that he had been called to save a little girl from dying. But there was a large crowd and it would be hard to get to Jesus. Maybe people had even told the woman she wasn’t worth Jesus’ time.
This ailment has bothered here for twelve long years. To get it to stop she has gone to doctors and spent all her money. So her physical ailment has impacted her finances, which would have affected her social standing at least a little, maybe a lot. Probably 12 years of suffering physically has taken a toll on her emotions and her mental state.
But somehow she has faith, as was common at the time really, faith that just touching the clothes of a holy person had some healing power. She had enough faith at least to try it. she heard about Jesus, and one little reach for his cloak she figures must be worth a shot.
But Jesus is not too busy for her. Jesus does not feel the power go out of him and simply continue on his way. Jesus stops, and turns around. Who touched my clothes? He looks around to see who it was…
The woman then tells the whole story.
He calls her daughter. My bible commentary says, as he says this, he adopts her into a family like relationship. She does not need to fear him or worry about bothering him.
And like I told the kids, he gives her a sort of blessing. Go in peace. Your faith has healed you. Or saved you. Or made you well, these are the same word in Greek, sozo. It refers to the complete well-being God wants for all of us, wellness in body, mind, spirit and relationship.
Jesus does not want her only to be well in her body. He wants her to have the sense of relationship with him, the sense of freedom to ask for what she needs, to not feel she has to hide.
This is a story about healing of the body. And yes we often need that kind of healing and bring the requests for healing of our bodies to God.
But when it comes to our mental health, our emotional and spiritual health, sometimes those things are harder to ask for. Sometimes we are afraid to say those kinds of requests for healing out loud. Because there is stigma around mental health issues. But if ever there is a time to say to one another and ourselves, mental health issues are real, and there’s nothing wrong with owning that, now is the time. Because just about all of us have had to deal with something over this long time of pandemic, and now sorta kinda coming out of pandemic. On Wednesday we came together to pass out flyers to invite people to our ice cream social, and Katherine asked me to take the posters around to businesses, and I had to say, I’m not up for that today. I get a tad bit of social anxiety sometimes anyway, usually I can kinda psych myself up and get through it, but I was not ready for that. Over the time of pandemic, It has been a long season of dealing with people in a really limited way, and while I am ok with a lot, going up to complete strangers and asking them for a favor was just not something I was ready for on Wednesday. I was ready to pass out flyers but that next level I just wasn’t there. Thankfully Katherine could take that task so it got done.
And that was a bit of healing balm for me, just acknowledging and having someone help me.
Mental heal struggles can carry this kinds of stigma- just like when you are ill you go to a doctor, if you have those kinds of struggles you should see a counselor, a therapist, whatever is right for you.
And sometimes sharing with a group helps, like the Griefshare ministry we will be starting in August.
But the first part is to just realize, be real with ourselves, of what is going on. So, this is what we are here for today, church. To just admit it to God if no one else, how you might be struggling. and if you’re feeling brave enough to admit to someone else, also wonderful!
Now you may have not even noticed yet what kind of effects from this pandemic you are dealing with- and maybe you need to think more about it- that’s ok. My thinking is that this series will go on a bit longer, we will not be in the sanctuary next week but we will be the week after that, so if you want to take it home and work on it, then bring it back great. But the task is for each of us to consider- what do you want to reach out to Jesus for healing today?
Is it a deep grief from the loss of a loved one? Is it grief of losing other things, like graduation celebration or a milestone birthday? Has it been just too long since you’ve seen people you love- or maybe you have seen them but the time apart makes you feel less close?
Maybe you have been struggling with depression, maybe God has seemed just too far away. Maybe like me you have a bit of social anxiety. Maybe it is just the long sense of fearing being around people too much.
Maybe you think you are fine and dandy- and maybe you have already kind of worked through some of these things, maybe you have already experienced God’s healing of you- that is wonderful. You might take a heart shape and describe or draw that experience. The tear is supposed to be perhaps sadness, the circle maybe fear, the heart an experience of God or love through someone else. If you want to include your name, wonderful. If not, that is fine. There will be a place to leave your symbolic reaching out as you leave today on the back table, and we will be working on a way to display them for the next time we gather. But- this is the good news today. Jesus always has time to receive our request for healing. And Jesus wants us to know that we are part of God’s family, and wants us to have this healing, just like the woman who had been bleeding for so long, and reached out to Jesus. The reaching out can be the first step. And just like Jesus looked at her and called her daughter, just like Isaiah says God prepares the feast and tends to the people, our God is always wanting us to experience healing.
Reach out today, we will take some time now for you to ponder this question, what are you reaching out to Jesus for today?