A Healing Touch?
Homily By The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bainbridge, GA, 28 June 2015
Proper 8 Year B: 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27; Psalm 130; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5:21-43
What do driving a truck,
taking communion to shut-ins
& these 3 sport balls have to do with today's scriptures?
We hear commotion in our Gospel as people crowd close to Jesus while the woman with the 12-year-old health problem reaches out for healing. We hear commotion as people crowd Jairus' house to mourn the death of his 12-year-old. What a contrast that noisy crowd is to the quiet dignity David expresses in his dirge, lamenting the deaths of Saul & Jonathan in our lesson from Samuel. That's how David handles his grief.
A friend of mine finds great comfort for grief by visiting a loved one's grave. Another finds comfort wearing her mother's favorite ring. We all grieve. How we handle it differs.
We hear one difference in the country song Lee Brice sings: “I drive your truck” is based on an interview with a father whose son died saving a comrade in Afghanistan.1
“Momma asked me this morning, if I'd been by your grave
But that flag and stone ain't where I feel you anyway
I drive your truck...I burn up every back road in this town... Till all the pain's a cloud of dust...
Yeah, sometimes I drive your truck”
That's a physical way to get in touch with pain, to seek healing. We see two different healings in our Gospel. Healing & new life come to the two individuals in our Gospel. Their health situations are different. God's healing touch reaches them differently.
God meets us where we are.
Look at these sports balls: baseball, golf, tennis. Touch them & feel the difference in each. Each is designed for a distinct purpose.
Each of us has a distinct purpose, a particular gift
that is important for other people, important to
Jesus' healing work in the world.
Notice what Jesus tells the woman who touches his clothes: “Your faith has healed you.” Jesus calls her “Daughter” & tells her to go in Peace/Shalom/wholeness. Notice what he says to the parents when he raises the dead child: “Give her something to eat.”
We come to this holy table to eat. Sometimes we come sick, dying, or “dead” & in need of resurrection. The nourishment we receive here is beyond our understanding. We know it is important to share this bounty with our shut-ins.
A long-time friend serves as a Lay Eucharistic Visitor in another city. Monday she was the shut-in after surgery to remove her diseased kidney. What would you be doing Sunday afternoon before surgery? She handled her usual rounds, taking Communion to shut-ins. It is her gift of healing.
God heals us, God feeds us in many ways. Like these 3 sports balls with special attributes, each of us has a particular touch, a gift to serve God's beloved daughters & sons. We have work to do for God.
Our work is a matter of balance in our lives, as Paul tells us in Corinthians: We are to serve according to what we have, not what we don't have.
A golf ball just won't work on the tennis court.
What we have are gifts God gives us to use, gift for healing work. Our work, our lives, our health issues differ. We are all susceptible to illness, if only the ubiquitous common cold.
In his book, The God Delusion [pp.192-193], scientist & author Richard Dawkins, who is an atheist, sees the common cold virus as a way to explain our human tendency to believe in God. I see the common cold virus as a metaphor for our biggest health issue: sin.
If we don't need Jesus' healing touch for physical health, we know we certainly need it for spiritual health. We have only to hear or see headline news to know this. The headlines can make us sick. Horrific murders, including those by murderers who kill in the name of religion, scream loudly over good news.
Overshadowed by horrific news is the news of the June 25th rescue of plane crash survivors: a mother & her baby found alive after 4 days lost in a dangerous, remote jungle of Colombia.
Think what it felt like to them when strong, helping hands touched them & carried them to safety. The healing grace of good news is vital for our balanced news diet.
Jesus shows us balance in the clamoring needs of the noisy crowds around him. He balances the urgent & the important. It is important to take time in prayer to listen to God.
The word of God came to me: “Shut up & listen!” I never expected God to tell me that! I'd wrestled daily in prayer to discern what God wanted: “What do I do, Lord? I've thought of this, that, the other, talked with So&So & WhatsHisName, &Such&Such,” droning until I caught my breath & God had a split second to “say”: “Shut up & listen!”
I had forgotten that holy encounter until a friend shared with me her recent experience in meditation when God “said”: “Shut up & listen!”
Our noisy prayers are like today's clamoring crowds.
Sometimes the best gift is to sit in silence with someone.
Sometimes it's just time to hush.
Boyce, James. Mark 5:21-43 Commentary. http://www.workingpreacher.org/. Accessed: 23 June 2015.
Cardona, Libardo. “Mother, baby rescued 4 days after Colombia plane crash” Accessed: 25 June 2015. http://news.yahoo.com/mother-baby-rescued-4-days-colombia-plane-crash-124250774.html;
Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. 2006.
Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1988.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
“I Drive Your Truck”. Song Writers: Jimmy Yeary, Connie Harrington, Jessi Alexander. Singer: Lee Brice Accessed: 25 June 2015. http://www.metrolyrics.com/i-drive-your-truck-lyrics-lee-brice.html
Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004.
Lectionary Page. http://www.lectionarypage.net/. Accessed: 3 June 2015.
Lee Brice - I Drive Your Truck Lyrics | MetroLyrics. Accessed: 25 June 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Drive_Your_Truck.
The New American Bible for Catholics. South Bend: Greenlawn Press. 1986.
The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. Expanded Ed. Revised Stantard Version. Eds: Herbert G. May. Bruce M. Metzger. New York: Oxford University Press. 1977.
Whitley, Katerina K. “Living without fear”. Accessed: 23 June 2015. http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/2012/06/10/5-pentecost-proper-8-b-july-1-2012/