The Cry for Healing 062815
Today we begin our summer worship series called “Cries of the Heart”, tho unwittingly our men started us off last week with their theme, “Storms of Life”. Our world, our nation, our local community, our own hearts, have been crying out over the last couple of weeks, from Charleston to Lyons, to Tunisia, because when our hearts cry over one situation, they are more likely to see other situations compassionately.
It may seem negative to say we’re going to spend our summer worship on ‘cries of the heart’. But God’s people need to find godly ways to respond. And it has become clear to me that the place to begin is with myself.
At Baber AME the night after the shooting in Charleston, my heart cried, none of us is free from racism if one (or 9) of us isn’t free from racism. On Thursday night at a panel discussion, my heart cried with the black pastor who said, enough! The place for God’s people to begin is with ourselves, our white privilege, our denial, our pretence.
So if God calls us to look at ourselves, let’s look at the cries of the heart in today’s texts and see what stirs in us….with whom do we identify? We’re going to look at the characters and give ourselves some moments of silence to reflect.
If you’re used to reflecting on your own life, heart, mind or soul, then you’ll hear what you need to hear. You will know the cry of your own heart
If that is new or too threatening for you, then at least listen for what God might be saying to you about what someone else needs….the cry of someone else’s heart.
Today we have two texts and at least four kinds of heart cries for healing. Let’s start with the Jesus story according to Mark’s writing.
Here we have a story within a story. It starts and ends with the story of Jairus seeking help for his 12 year old daughter, and in the middle comes an interruption of a woman seeking help for herself. This is a characteristic of Mark’s literary style; he will bracket a story with another so we might be forced to ask what the connection might be….which I invite you to do this week, we’re not going there right now.
So first, Jairus…his heart cries out for another person he loves. He comes to Jesus, speaks clearly about what he needs, as one might expect for a religious leader (we’re all expected to be articulate!). What’s not so expected, and would have shocked the witnesses, was that he ‘fell at Jesus’ feet and begged repeatedly’. Leaders are also expected to have their act together; they send messengers, or at least greet the other with dignity as to an equal. But Jairus gets off his high horse and gets humble.
Then there is this anonymous woman who interrupts the agenda. Just the opposite of Jairus, she’s a nobody. She has suffered for years and all that’s happened is she has drifted further and further to the margins. She too is desperate, but has no particular right to address this wandering rabbi. She’s already fallen well off any high horse she had; she’s already as low as she can get. And maybe because of this, she’s a risk taker. That happens when you’ve nothing left to lose. She went out where she didn’t belong, not only beyond her own comfort zone but beyond society’s. I thought a lot about those who experience racism because of their skin color—her heart too cried, enough.
In what way are you like her? How many years have you tried to stop the bleeding of hurt? Are you still trying to fix things yourself, or can you risk trying something new and take it to God? ………….
And then there’s the child. She’s utterly vulnerable and has absolutely no ability to do anything about it. She is completely powerless. I think of the first step of the AA twelve steps: admit our powerless. This one is completely countercultural for us; our whole western society says we’re powerful, we’re in charge, we can fix anything. There are people who think the church is simply a crutch and we’re weak for needing to go to church. Well, yes. And once we see our own helplessness, we are more likely to allow others to offer compassion. I am sure that 12 year old girl trusted her dad to find help, deep in the silence of her heart, beyond words, beyond action. Like her father, like the woman, but unconsciously, she had to let go and trust.
How does her heart speak to you?..........
Then there is the psalm. It will be our theme for the summer – out of the depth I cry to you, O God, hear my prayer. For the child, cure came the same day; for the woman it took 12 years. In the psalm here’s the cry of the heart when cure and fixing doesn’t happen. When you reach the end of your rope, you pray, you reach out to Jesus and nothing seems to happen. It’s a huge theological problem for many. And I don’t have an answer. In fact, I don’t need to have an answer to why questions, (unless it’s to see how I contributed to the problem) because I think they’re a distraction…..we can ask them with head and heart till we die, and they will keep us safe from examining what we really believe.
I think that might be what Jesus is saying to Jairus when he says, Do not be afraid, only believe. Whatever happens, who’s your God? If the child dies and doesn’t come back to life, who’s your God? When the cancer metastasizes, who’s your God? When you lose your job and you’re full of fear, who’s your God?
The psalmist says, I wait, and I hope. That’s it. That’s all. It’s about relationship with God, not about outcomes.
Of course we don’t think that’s enough. We want results, OUR results.
Perhaps that’s also why Jesus tells the parents to keep quiet about this miracle…..a common request of Jesus in Mark’s gospel. The sign of the coming kin-dom of God isn’t so much miracles as it is change…..a leader becomes humble, a woman takes risks, a child is valued. Counter cultural.
In the midst of all this, what CAN you believe?.........
Here’s what I am coming to believe this week…..
I believe that healing and cure are not the same thing
Nobody is above the need for healing…not our nation, not our leaders, not ourselves
Nobody is beneath God’s compassion….not those who’ve bled from racism or oppression for many more than twelve years…..not the voiceless children of our world
I believe that trust and hope are ways of life that can help me live with the questions and the lack of results, that God can bring good out of my worst nightmare
I believe in people who bring compassion and act as Jesus, conduits of wholemaking grace.
I believe I need to pray, that we need to pray:
Get me humble God
Get me daring God
Get me trusting.