In the 5th chapter of Mark’s gospel Jairus, the leader of a synagogue, falls at Jesus’ feet and begs him to come and lay his hands on his daughter who “is at the point of death.” A large crowd then follows Jesus, pressing upon him, slowing his progress to aid the little girl. Heightening the urgency of the situation by Jesus’ further delay, the writer inserts the story of a woman who for twelve years has been suffering from hemorrhages.
On his way to heal Jairus’s daughter, this woman touches Jesus. The fact she was considered ritually impure and was forbidden from contact with others did not keep her from seeking Jesus’ help. According to the beliefs of the day, however, when she touched Jesus he was considered impure as well. Even so, Jesus blesses her and continues on his way to the home of Jairus. Upon his arrival, when Jesus learns the girl has died, he goes to her, lays his hands upon her and raises her to life. In so doing Jesus lowered his status in the eyes of many to untouchable.
I love this story and its literary complexity because it reminds me that our own experiences of healing and wholeness are always taking place within the larger context of the story of God’s love for us and the communities it creates. I am also reminded that fear and prejudice are often what keeps us from the wholeness and healing God offers to us.
Whether it’s a body that needs mending or relationships in need of restoration; whether it’s a troubled or grieving spirit, a mind out of balance or a community torn by conflict, no significant healing can take place by individual effort alone. It takes others offering support and nurture, willing to take the risks necessary to confront long-held prejudice and economic injustice. It takes folks courageous enough to live through their fears and touch the people living on the other side. It takes a community recognizing its limitations and yet acting in the confidence of God’s love and forgiveness. Some would say it takes a church.
At First Church Woodbridge we desire to be such a place. We’re not perfect. We have a lot to learn. But in our openness to God’s saving grace and despite our imperfection, we are experiencing healing and wholeness creeping into our lives . . . and our church . . . and the world.
In the hopeful expectation of the coming realm of Jesus Christ,