Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”
Five years ago today I was diagnosed with Stage 3 squamous cell carcinoma, a type of throat cancer that grew just above my voice box and moved to my neck. After the initial shock wore off, I immediately sought out the best physicians and took advantage of every conceivable medical treatment out there.
Step one was to get a radical neck dissection – to get sliced ear to ear, and gutted like a fish to remove the tumors. This required a weeklong hospital stay to make sure the 84 staples in my neck were holding my head in place.
One night a woman came into my hospital room and began a healing prayer over me. She told me my healing was based on my ability to forgive the people who God would reveal to me. As the faces began to appear, I faithfully did what I was told to do. When all of a sudden a rush of energy surged through my body. At that moment I knew I was healed. It sounds a bit naïve, doesn’t it?
My proof came the next morning when a fine oily power began to seep out of my pours. The doctors and nurses had no idea what it was. But I did…I knew it was the power of God at work in my life. Even though I went through with the other steps of chemo and radiation, I knew in my heart the cancer had left my body. As they say in the Bible, “My faith had made we well!”
The story is found in the fifth chapter of Mark’s gospel.
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and
Mark takes us to a seaside town, a place where Jesus has been before. At the docks, a crowd gathers, pressing in on him, hoping to see if the rumors about this man are true. Jairus, an important man in the community, is there to meet him. Faithfully believing in what is being said about Jesus, he humbles himself and begs for help.
While they make their way to Jairus’ home, Jesus has an encounter with a woman who would have seemed destined to die alone and unknown. She too showed her great faith - trusting that all she needed to do was reach out and touch the hem of Jesus’ garment and she would be healed and restored.
Her faith, like many of us today, seems to come from out of desperation and fear. But for twelve years, “She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had.” This tells me that she was once a woman of means but whonow had been reduced to poverty. Jesus would be her last investment.
With nothing left to lose, she pushed her way into Jesus. Mind you, she was considered unclean by Jewish law. Anyone she touched would also be considered unclean. Yet when she grabbed hold of Jesus’ cloak, “Immediately, her bleeding stopped.” Without fully understanding, she knew in her heart “she was freed from her suffering.”
Here's the good news...Jesus doesn’t see an unclean woman. He doesn’t see her by her social status. Nor judge her by her wealth or sin. He simply sees a child of God, like you and me. Instead of shaming her for what she did, Jesus praises her for what she has… faith.
Looking into her eyes with love, he says the words that make her healing complete: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.”
After so many people had cast her down, it is Jesus who lifts her up. And after being defined by her brokenness, it is Jesus who redefines her. And with one word, “Daughter,” this unnamed woman sees her worth in God's heart and her salvation is complete.
Whether you’ve had faith all your life like Jairus, or you are only finding it now like this unnamed woman, the same truth applies: the second you reach out to God, God immediately draws you into his heart and makes you a beloved child.
This is what Jesus so often does with his healing. More than just curing a disease, Jesus restores us to our rightful place: at home in God’s eternal love. And it all begins with faith. Faith is best defined as Trusting in God’s faithfulness and promise to us.
There is also a sense of immediacy with faith. Immediately the blood dries up. Immediately Jesus is aware. Immediately the house is filled with joy again. Immediately my cancer was gone. Immediately our sins are forgiven.
The second we say yes to God, we immediately become God's beloved. Our brokenness restored, our life renewed. God’s healing hands – Our forgiven hearts. Restoration. Salvation. This is the power of God’s grace that flows to us through Jesus Christ.
This week as will celebrate our nations’ independence, it’s hard to imagine the division and brokenness that plagues our communities is what are founding fathers and mothers had in mind. But here we are, a broken country in dire need of healing and restoration.
Inside and outside our borders, the beloved children of God are judged unfairly and pushed away from being a part of society. They are named in various ways as outcasts and treated as less than human. Families are divided over pettiness and politics.
Until all of God’s children are welcome into our hearts – as God has welcomed each one of us – we will continue to fall short of the kingdom of God. Our faith will be incomplete. And our bleeding will continue. Thus we must always pray for God’s healing hand, and the strength to love and forgive and accept one another no matter what.
If you are struggling with a long-term problem in your life that does not seem to be getting any better, or if you have recently received news that knocks your faith, turn to Jesus…whose faithfulness to God has a profound impact on us and the world.
If you believe you are unworthy or that you are someone who has been judged as less than, know that God loves you as you are and wants better for you as well.
God sent Jesus to take your hurt and brokenness, and give you shalom—the health, healing, and wholeness—he gave to a woman not named in scripture, but whose faith is unforgettable.
You don’t have to even touch the hem of his garment. You only have to reach out your heart in prayer and offer Jesus your pain and suffering. And immediately you will be made new again.
I am grateful to the wisdom and insight of Rev. Cannon Frank Logue whose sermon “A Beloved Child Of God” inspired this sermon. http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/2018/06/11/a-beloved-child-of-god-pentecost-6-b-july-1-2018/