03 July, 2018

From the Cutting Room Floor

Grace and peace to the hands and feet of Christ in LaGrange and beyond, from Carly, called to be a servant leader amongst and beside you.

The lectionary texts offer more than can be shared in a 12 minute, 1000 word “moment” on Sunday morning. Each week, I read and study, sift and distill what the scriptures offer and assemble a large amount of verbiage and mental images that are relevant to the text.  Then, when I construct the sermon, most of what I have assembled in preparation lands on the cutting room floor.  

The narrative from Mark this past Sunday was a healing story wrapped inside another healing story.  The sermon focused on having the heart, the faith, the courage to persist in the midst of hopelessness.  But I’d like to share with you snippets of what landed on the cutting room floor.  These are snippets with no context or order.  They are the random thoughts and findings about the passage from Mark 5:21-43.
  • The Synagogue Leader’s name, Jarius, translates “Enlightened One.”  Is this really about the “healing of Jarius’ daughter” or is it about the Enlightening of the Synagogue Leader?  The leader of the synagogue is a man of privilege, but he has to learn to wait for the healing of a nobody, poor woman who has been bleeding for twelve years.  Jarius sees Jesus heal a woman in front of him – a miraculous thing – but that very healing means that his own daughter may well die before Jesus gets to her.  If you want your little daughter (or your spiritual community) to be healed, … then all the daughters have to be healed. Jesus does not give healing on the basis of status and income. Jesus heals the outsiders, too.  Trusting Jesus means living as though all people are equal— because they are.  A good deal of our "wellness" as a faith community comes from our attempts to include all of us— even though we struggle to do that as well as we'd like.
  • Who enlightens. It is the poor, ill woman, the least of the community, who enlightens the leader. It is the woman who has no hope at all, but who still trusts Jesus, who teaches and enlightens the rich man in his time of need.
  • Bearing Life is Polluted. The treatment of a woman’s bleeding – unclean and untouchable while bleeding.  The Talmud says she is “polluted” and everything she touches is polluted.  The bearing of new life causes a woman to be impure.  Angry people use parts of a woman’s reproductive system as swear words…  Why?  It blames the woman for her condition.  Yet all of us bleed.  More than that, we CAUSE people to bleed and then blame them for bleeding.
  • The number 12. The child is 12 years old.  The woman has been bleeding for 12 years.  For as long as this poor nobody has had her life draining from her, the daughter of a privileged one has been growing into life.  Twelve years old is the age of adulthood – BatMizvah. A “sale-able” daughter.
  • Crowds.  Everywhere in this section of Mark, there are crowds with which Jesus and the disciples are having to deal. Crowds are dangerous places. We never quite know when they will turn into a mob. In this story the crowds press in upon him. We are getting close to dangerous ground— to the truth of us— when we are in crowds.  Crowds are lost places; we lose ourselves in a crowd; we are made less of a person. Mark 6:34 says that "As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd…"  And crowds are a good place to be invisible. You don't want to stand out in a crowd, or it may pick on you, and vent all its fear on you.
  • Stepping Out of the Crowd. This un-named woman had to step out of the crowd to confess to Jesus her hopelessness, her unjust journey, her faith in his better way.  Jarius learns he, too, has to step out of the crowd to model for his faith community that all are equal in the eyes of God.  He is to model stepping away from the violence of exclusion, and the violence of labeling people, step away from depending upon his status, and to step into trusting and living the way of Jesus.
  • Feeding. “Give her something to eat.”  The daughter is healed – made well (the difference?); now nourish her, feed her, strengthen her so she will remain well. Connections to communion, community, strength, courage. 

The texts for Sunday, July 8, include a bit about the kid named Jesus who’s not allowed to grow up. Drop into worship this week and see what doesn’t land on the cutting room floor.