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The Touch of Jesus

Reverend Philip Stringer

Lamentations 3:22-33

2 Corinthians 8:7-15

Mark 5:21-43

LET US PRAY: Gracious Lord, Bread of Life, feed us with your Word, and speak to our hearts, that we may love and serve only you, now and forever. AMEN


Story about an unexpected outcome-- Krehl dropping wine cruet. The deer ate Patty’s zucchini, pumpkin, cantaloupe, tomatoes and cucumbers— and even the geraniums (which were supposed to keep them away!) We hadn’t expected that. The deer got something unexpected yester-evening as they approached the garden (bark bark bark) from me! They hadn’t expected that!!


Our gospel text today tells two stories filled with the unexpected -- or perhaps one story interrupted by an unexpected story. And the good news proclaimed to us through them is that the touch of Jesus gives life. No matter what the future brings -- be it good or bad -- the touch of Jesus will give it new life.


As Jesus was walking along, a leader of the synagogue -- a person of high station and importance -- fell at the feet of Jesus, the wandering rabbi, to beg. That was a surprise.


The man came to beg because of his great love for his daughter -- which was also a surprise since girls were of little social value.


He came because of the unexpected illness of his daughter. Each passing year of her life added to her growth into womanhood. She was growing -- increasing in life.


Certainly, she dreamed about her future more and more, as did her parents. She would likely marry and have children and a wonderful life.


And then she was twelve. Twelve -- the symbol for the fullness of time. -- the age of “coming to age.” She will be given in marriage soon. She is on the threshold of acquiring her dreams. Her full life is about to begin . . .


But the unexpected happened. She fell gravely ill -- and then, the worst that a parent can imagine -- she died.


Before we hear of that, however, something else unexpected happened -- the story is interrupted by the unexpected touch of a woman. The woman is ritualistically unclean — as all women were considered to be once a month — except for her it never ended. She is bleeding and she is supposed to be in isolation. For her to touch anyone is strictly forbidden because in doing so she will make the other person unclean also. Consider that; forbidden to have human contact . . . forever. No marriage. No children. No hugs from a friend. No hand on hers for comfort. No. Contact. Ever.

She was driven to do the unexpected because of her illness. She is a grown woman -- she should have every happiness. But because of her illness, each passing year added to her sadness. Surrounded by people, but totally alone. She has done everything humanly possible to find healing. But there is less and less hope, and her fate is becoming clear. She will only get worse. Her isolation and sadness will only continue. Her life is slipping away -- until 12 years have passed. Twelve -- the symbol for the fullness of time. There was nothing left for her but to know she is totally cut off -- no hope. She might as well be dead. She is on the threshold of death.

But then, the unexpected . . .


Our gospel text tells us two stories in one that are filled with the unexpected. The girl, and her father, and the woman -- and Jesus.


Our lives are filled with the unexpected, too, and that can be frightening. And the future will meet us with much that we do not expect. But today the gospel tells us that there is one thing of which we can be sure: The touch of Jesus gives life.


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story of unexpected religious hope— Grandpa Conn— children were afraid.

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Rarely does anything happen exactly as we expect.


The girl’s life was on the increase.


The woman’s life was in decline.


You never know what life is going to hand you. But we do know this: The touch of Jesus gives life. Not just “second” life -- but NEW life. DIFFERENT life.


As Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, he was keenly aware that they were in a crisis. False teachers had come telling the people that faith is a private matter and is centered on one’s own salvation. Paul wrote telling them that true faith is actually the opposite of this. It is believing that your salvation is secure because of what Jesus has done.


So the focus of one’s faith-life is not on one’s own salvation, but on leading others to see that THEIR salvation is safe in Jesus, too.


Paul speaks to us, too. The Christian faith is not about believing in Jesus. The Christian faith is about believing that BECAUSE of Jesus you live a new life. Of purpose and meaning.


The touch of Jesus gives life.


And Jesus does, indeed, touch you.


In the waters of your baptism, he comes and washes you clean -- drowning your sinfulness and raising you to a new life.


And in this meal, he comes -- in this bread and wine that are the body and blood of Jesus, he comes to touch you with new life. The touch of Jesus gives life. And YOUR life is filled with meaning and purpose through him. Jesus is touching the world through you and me.


We live a new life, so that the world also may be touched by Jesus and have life.


Today, our country needs that touch as much as ever.


Jairus believed in who Jesus was. He believed that Jesus could put things back the way Jairus expected them to be -- He believed that the touch of Jesus was a blessing and brought healing.


But when he was given the news that his daughter had died, everyone knew what that meant. The people said to Jairus, “it’s too late. Don’t trouble the teacher now.” It was the ultimate, terrible reality.


But Jesus . . . said the unexpected.


“Do not be afraid. Only believe.”


Your life is filled with the unexpected -- we will have happy surprises, and the terrible realities of life and death will come upon us all. When you see no joy, no hope and no future, remember the touch of Jesus.


The hand of Jesus is upon YOUR life. You are safe, and through you -- through us, Jesus is touching the world.


Do not fear. Only believe.


The touch of Jesus gives life.

AMEN

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