Sermon for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost

HOPE FOR HEALING (Mark 5:21-43)

The woman had no hope for healing. She could not approach Jesus. She was unclean, because of her hemorrhage. She probably smelled. She was probably dirty. People probably tried to keep her away. That’s why she snuck up behind Jesus and was only able to touch the hem of his garment before she was swept away by the crowd. But that was enough. She felt power come into her body. She felt the blood stop flowing. She felt herself start healing – because she had had the power of desperation, the power of desire. She hadn’t given up. Her faith had made her well because by her faith she hadn’t given up after 12 long years of disappointments when anyone else might have given up.

Who knows why Jesus hadn’t healed her before? Never mind. Here he was now, in her presence, ready to heal her. And here she was, ready to be healed, ready to break all the religious rules that said women during their menstrual cycle, particularly an uncontrollable menstrual cycle, were unclean and should stay away from holy people like Jesus.

No, says Jesus. ‘Come to me all ye that are heavy-laden and I will refresh you’ he says in another place. All ye, not just the good, not just perfect, not just the acceptable.

Are you less than perfect? Are you unclean in some way? Is there something about you that gets you rejected by society? Have you been rejected by society?

Never mind. There is one who accepts you. There is one who comes to you, starting in that manger in the dirty stable in Bethlehem, who came to all those people who needed healing, to all those people who needed clothing, to all those people who lacked – something.

Do you lack something in your life? Are you imperfect in some way, unclean in some way, at fault in some way? Congratulations. That is where Jesus fits in your life. That is what gives you the energy to reach out to him, because nothing else will do. Thank God for imperfection. Thank God for uncleanness. Thank God for rejection. It is the only thing that gets us to reach out to Jesus. The pure, the strong, the holy have no reason to reach out to Jesus, no holes to fill in their lives, no uncleanness to cleanse, no despised personal aspects to clean up. They do not need him.

We need him. So we reach out to him. So before you come to church, think of all the aspects of your life that you are ashamed of. Think of all the things you need help with. Offer those up, give those to him, push your way through the crowd as if they were purest gold and offer them to Jesus and let him cleanse, deliver, heal you. And feel his full, healing grace.

And go away again, with a better understanding of God’s healing love that reaches out and touches and loves all those who come near him, no matter who they are.

“Daughter. “Son.” That’s who we are primarily to Jesus, his beloved child, the one whom he cares about, not the sick, the unclean, the sinner. That person is just one step away from healing, from love, from the reason he came to us to be with us.

Once we come to him, once we burst in on him with full knowledge of our uncleanness and sin, without trying to clean it up by ourselves any more, without trying to act better than we are, then he can heal us, as who we are, without cutting through the hypocrisy.

So welcome to despair, if it comes with truth. It will give you energy to come to him, and he can heal you, and will.

We all fit in the family of God. Some of us are farther away than others. Some of us have given up more than others. Jesus hasn’t given up. That’s why he came. “Daughter,” “Son,” he says. You’re mine and I love you. That is what is primary. Not your sin. Not your inadequacy. Not your imperfection. Not the fact that you perform less well than anyone else.

But “Daughter.” “Son.” “My child.” “The one who needs healing.” “The one who needs restoration to new life.”

That’s why he came: to bring us all closer to him, closer to heaven on earth, one happy crowd surging forward in joy and learning about God.

Heaven has come to earth and here it stays. All it needs to come into your life is to be openly received, eagerly received with open arms, desperately received with bowed heads – like the thief who repents on the cross who knows he’s not worthy, like the tax collector in the temple who, unlike the Pharisee who is also there, says he is not worthy that the Lord should come under his roof, like the Canaanite woman who knows Jesus has really come to more than just the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

No. Jesus has come to all of us, all of us. All we have to do is come to him, and let nothing in the world hold us back – not the disapproval of friends, not religious convention, not performance reviews that find us wanting.

Nothing shall separate us from the love of God, as Paul says.

Oh yes, one thing can, now that Jesus has come. One thing can, now that Jesus has jumped the walls of the church. One thing can, now that Jesus has walked among us, and stayed with us, and died for us, and rose with us. One thing can separate us from his love.

We can. We can. We can think we’re not worthy. We can think we’re too desperate. We can think he’s not capable of helping, or not interested.

None of this is true. He came. He saw. He helped – everybody. Even you. Daughter. Son. Your faith has made you well. Just come unto him.