February 4, 2018: Sometimes it Takes Having Faith in Yourself

Posted on : Feb 1st, 2018 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

The Gospel for this Sunday is a strange story.  It is a story that is found in each of the three common-sourced gospels, “Matthew, Mark and Luke,” which means it was both an important story and an often-told story among the first generation of Christians.  But it also is a very strange story because the second story interrupts the first.  Not only is it strange, it is almost disrespectful.

The first story is often referred to as “the raising of Jarius’ daughter.”  Jarius was a leader of the synagogue.  That means he was observant of Jewish law and a person of strong faith.  He led the people of God, much like an apostle.  Jesus was teaching, as a Rabbi would do, when Jarius bolted in and interrupted Jesus.  Passionately he shouts: “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.”  Jesus stops teaching, gets up and follows Jarius to his home, with the disciples close behind.

Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages (menstrual bleeding) for twelve years came up behind Jesus and touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.

Jesus then continued to Jarius home, told the mourners and crowds that the girl was not dead but only sleeping.  He then went into Jarius house and took the girl by the hand and the girl got up.

Why do you suppose these two stories are told together and why does one interrupt the other?  One could easily follow the other.

They are two stories about profound faith.  Jesus was not well-liked by the temple authorities of whom Jarius is one.  Notice Jarius doesn’t go to any of the other temple authorities to save his daughter.  He goes straight to Jesus!  That’s strange – and certainly controversial.  The woman with the flow of blood, an unnamed woman whom some of our early Christian feminists loving named “Flo,” was certainly prohibited from touching a Rabbi, such as Jesus.  Leviticus 15:25 prohibited that.  But she didn’t care what the religious law said, she believed deep in her heart, “If I only touch Jesus’ garment, I will be made well.”

The one thing these stories have in common, and the theme we will explore this Sunday, is the relationship between having faith in yourself and having faith in God.

Religion has a nasty way of disempowering people and discrediting the sacred value of some people’s lives, especially people who do not fit the cultural context of a majority.  We went through that for years over the issue of LGBT persons’ worth and value.  Most Christian institutions condemned LGBT persons – many today continue to do so – but what changed the entire social and religious acceptance of LGBT folks, is when LGBT people had enough faith in themselves to tell the authorities they were wrong.

Rev. Freda Smith, an early lesbian/feminist/activist in the Metropolitan Community Church boldly proclaims these words of truth which were said by Dag Hammarskjöld: “Never, never for the sake of tranquility deny the validly of your own experience.”

In order to have faith in God, we also need to have faith in ourselves.  Both Jarius and “Flo” offer us great spiritual insight both in their actions and in their teaching.  And yes, sometimes you must interrupt the status quo to be seen and heard.

Blessings,

Dan

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Matthew 9:18-26

While Jesus was teaching the crowds of people, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples.

Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.

When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. And the report of this spread throughout that district.

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