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"From the Pulpit" - June 29, 2024

"From the Pulpit" - reflections on the weekly texts, from Pastor Greg at Living Lord Lutheran Church Vero Beach, FL


When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23and 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.” 24So he went with him.

  And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ” 32He looked all around to see who had done it. 33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

35While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40And 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. 41He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.


Dry Shampoo

Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the LORD Jesus Christ.

When my father was in the hospital after a broken hip in October of 2016, he often would ask me to give him a shampoo, since he couldn't easily make it to the shower.  He was always very fastidious about his appearance, from his spit shined shoes (Marine Corps training!) to neatly pressed pants, to his personal hygiene.  We both know what it's like when your hair is untidy, and in need of a shampoo.  As an aside, I think today of the hundreds of thousands of people on the run all over the world who have put aside all thoughts of personal hygiene and cleanliness to just survive.


In any event, hospitals give out little kits to patients, that include things like little peds with rubber nubs on the bottoms, toothbrushes and toothpaste, deodorant, and other hygiene items, right?  One of the things that came in dad's packet was dry shampoo (how do they do that!?)  It comes in a little packet that you put into a sort of shower cap, put it over your head, and rub it into your hair. And voila, after a few minutes, clean (or cleaner) hair.  So I would often do this for dad, when I would visit him. I have a picture somewhere of us doing this, and dad's eyes are closed as he was thoroughly enjoying the treatment.  I often get that way at the barber shop when the barber is messing with my hair.  It's great.


And as I dry shampooed his hair, I could see that he really enjoyed it. His eyes would close, and it was therapeutic to him in some way. But what struck me later, was the intimacy that was involved in the whole thing.  Never in my entire life had I touched his hair, or his head even, that I can remember.  And for that three minutes or so, we weren't father and son, but caregiver and patient, or needful one.  It was usually him that was the caregiver in our relationship over the years. 


The whole thing of touching someone else, especially their head and hair, is a very close, intimate thing. We normally don't let someone else touch our heads unless it's a spouse, or we're wrestling or something.  It involves going into someone else's space, and that's something that we're normally very protective of. But in this case, the barrier between dad and son broke down, and it was a sort of healing process for him, and in some way for me as well. It's one of the few times in my life when I thought I had an upper hand over my dad, in a good way. 


It reminds me of our gospel for this Sunday, when Jesus "crosses over" or goes into a hostile territory, as he so often does. You may remember last week's gospel, when Jesus got into the boat and directed the disciples to go "to the other side", as he slept in the stern.  Well, this is the other side today. Gentile territory. Territory generally hostile to Jesus and his Jewish followers at the time.  


So often in Jesus' life and ministry, Jesus crosses over, or goes into foreign territory. Breaks down barriers between people.  Does things that no one else - especially a good Jew, would ever think of doing. Eating with sinners. Touching women who had been giving off bloody discharges.  Healing people with leprosy. Touching people who were unclean according to Jewish law.  Going into the households of strangers.  I think of the blind man whom Jesus encounters.  He picks up some dirt, spits on it, and rubs it into the blind man's eyes, sight restored. Who else would do that in his day!?  


In the gospel for this Sunday, Jairus' daughter is thought to be dead, or dying.  Instead of turning away, Jesus engages the young girl, and saves her life.  A woman having had a discharge of some sort for a dozen years, whose community had rejected her, touches the very robe of Jesus, and in that act, Jesus both felt a drain of his energy, but the woman had begun her healing, and was restored to her community. Imagine what that must have been like for her and her family.


The point of all of this is that touch, a simple touch, whether it is from Jesus in the gospels, or between a father and son in a 21st century hospital room, can bring healing and restoration. Yes, it can also be inappropriate and harmful, and often interpreted as something other than a healing gesture.  But in our gospel today, Mark, I think, uses these two examples of Jesus' touch to show not only the healing that he can bring, but more, what that connection with him means for us regular folks.


I think one of the takeaways from our gospel for Sunday is that Jesus will cross any boundary, break any tradition, ignore any taboo, in order to heal us. To restore us. To make us whole. This boundary breaking Son of God comes among us to show us that his ministry is one of healing, and that no one...no one, is too far gone, too sick, too unlike us all, too different from us all, that he won't move heaven and earth to restore us.  The image of the one lost sheep and the shepherd leaving behind the 99 comes to my mind today.  No one is beyond the reach of Jesus' ministry, through the power of the Holy Spirit.


So, for those of us who may be hurting today, for those of us who may be estranged from another, for those of us who are seeking healing and wholeness again, after 12 days or 12 years, Jesus came to bring you healing and restoration.  Jesus breaks down the barrier between heaven and earth even, to find you and bring you back to wholeness.  Community. Dignity and a sense of pride and decency, just like that dry shampoo I gave my dad in that hospital room.


May you know the power of the healing Jesus today. May you find a blessing in his touch, whatever that may look like for you. May you feel his presence in your life again, or maybe for the first time, and may that presence bring you back from the death that you may be feeling. Amen? Amen.




Announcements

Weekly online bible study - I've begun a weekly bible study of sorts.  I call it Getting to Know Your Bible. It's meant to be a beginner's guide to reading Scripture.  It's not meant, at this point, to dig deep into a book or books of the bible, although we may do that later. I'm trying to generate some interest in cracking open our bibles again, using techniques that I use, to make our time with Scripture more fun and meaningful.  I normally post these on Wednesdays, and now, you can see them anytime at our website - https://www.livinglordlutheran.com/bible-study



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