She would not wait; she would not hold back.
Jesus was on his way, to heal someone else – an urgent message, a plea from a desperate father – Come: save my daughter – she’s dying!
And yet the woman pressed forward, touched his cloak, the hem of his garment.
The bleeding she had suffered under for a dozen years had made her ritually unclean;
at this point she should not be touching anybody—
But there she is, defiling him, making him unclean, just as she was—
If only, if only—
She thought only of this: that his touch would heal her, however unworthy, however unwell, however unclean she was.
And so it was – he felt the power go out of him – the power to heal.
Her faith had opened a channel, a way, for his healing power to move to her and do its work.
‘Who touched me?’ he exclaimed.
C’mon, Rabbi, everybody touched you.
But it was something more, not a jostle in the crowd, a deliberate reaching out, in faith, that she might be well, whole, saved… in secret—
But the secret was out: and in fear and trembling she confessed. It was I.
For twelve years she had suffered – as many years as the number of the tribes of Israel, as many years as the number of the Apostles –
She was unclean, maybe unwelcome—even cast out; but now she was restored: to health, to wholeness— completed in the love of Christ.
But what had saved her?
He said: your faith has made you well.
It wasn’t magic. It wasn’t power. It was trust, trust in God— so that God could work, in her, a miracle: a renewal of life.
So Jesus paused: and moved on, to the home of Jairus, a leader of the synagogue, where his daughter lay—
Don’t bother him now. It’s too late; she’s gone.
CLEAR THE ROOM
They left him, with the girl, her father and mother, and his friends: the only witnesses, to what was about to occur.
This girl— all of twelve— again, that number, as if she were Israel, sickened unto death— lay there, apparently dead, as dead as dry bones in a riverbed—
And he said, she’s sleeping
And they laughed.
And he said, 'Little girl, WAKE UP!'
And she did.
As Israel would, as we will, —as people of God, his people— WAKE UP
We wake up— to new life, given us in Christ, as we follow him, trusting him on the way, trusting him to BE the way, and the truth, and the life.
God’s life-giving power, as Tom Wright points out, comes to us when we open the channel of faith. Through that opening God’s kingdom bursts in, to our world, bringing life, abundant and eternal, working through the everyday things of life, redeeming them, turning them to a new depth of purpose.
Bread and wine, body and blood; water and oil, baptism and unction; everyday things turned to a new depth of purpose work in us a world of wonders: God’s world –
God’s world at last is here, among us, working already, if we are open to it.
If we watch for it, waiting with hope and expectation, we will see that new day dawning; as we wait for the Lord, more than they that watch for the morning; as we call to the Lord, out of the deep places of the soul; more than prisoners in a dungeon led into the light, we will be free.
There is more to come. Being the people of his redemption we are set free not for ourselves alone but set free to be in the world the sign of hope, to open the channel for redemption: to allow faith to enter into other lives.
As Rita Bennett will tell you, we are now ‘the hem of his garment’. We are the visible presence of God’s graceful power in the world, the agents of love’s redeeming work. As faith begins to flower, we testify to the work of love in our own lives; as we carry on, bearing forth his gospel, we bring the good news of Christ to the world.
What we do, what you and I do, individually, collectively – a bunch of us going in together on some common project, or communally – as a work of we the people of God as a whole congregation; as we do God’s work in the world, and come together as his people, we witness to his power at work among us, making us the people who show his faithfulness, his truthfulness, his lack of guile or subterfuge, his kindness, his steadfast love— keeping faith with us.
May he revive us, restore us, to fullness of life. May we witness to the power of his redeeming love. May we follow him, in the way of justice and peace. Amen.
Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (The Third Sunday after Trinity)
Proper 8: Year B, RCL
2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27
2 Corinthians 8:7-15