Jairus’ Daughter–June 28th

Last Sunday, we heard the miracle
of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee.
The disciples awakened to the awe and wonder
of Jesus as Lord of wind and water.
This week, their eyes and our eyes are opened to Jesus
as the Lord of Life and healing.
Last week, after Jesus calmed the storm,
he asked the disciples, “why are you afraid? Have you still no faith.”
And this week, he consoles a frightened family:
“do not fear, only believe.”
Jesus offers faith as the antidote to fear.

In my work visiting the sick,
healing stories often come deeply alive.
For example, during these last two weeks,
this morning’s Gospel is reenacted every time
I visit the ICU of Children’s Hospital in Boston.
The Natti family, and their friends
are praying for their daughter Lacey,
as Jairus prayed for his daughter.
Jesus’ voice, “Do not fear, only believe,”
becomes a living voice, Jesus, a living presence in their midst.
How impoverished I would be
if I did not know the scripture stories of faith
and pray the comforting words of gospel promise.
Scriptures become lifelines,
thrown out as saving grace to us,
a living bond to a living God.

And for those who are deep in crisis,
wondering whether God hears their prayers,
“Lord do you hear us?,” scriptures
overflow with comfort and courage.
This morning especially,
we hear a faithful witness to a gracious God,
one who comes with kindness and mercy,
a healing God who does not desire our hurt.
In our passage from Lamentations,
the prophet speaks words of comfort in a time of terror:
“the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
the mercies of God never come to an end;
they are new every morning.
Great is thy faithfulness.”
Or this: “The Lord is my portion, says my soul,
therefore in the Lord I will hope.”

Every Sunday we offer healing prayers,
for friends and family,
sometimes for people we don’t even know.
Healing miracles have a certain immediacy for us.
We can easily identify with the people in these stories today.
And we may pray as they do.
Sometimes we ask Jesus directly,
with longing as Jairus does,
sometimes indirectly, as the woman with the hemorrhage does.
We seek glimmers of hope: “if I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.”

We understand the frustration and pain of the woman with a hemorrhage.
We see her exhaustion—we have known people like her,
seeking help and finding none.

What we may not realize because we live in a different time and culture,
is the woman with a hemorrhage in Jesus time,
was a woman who was unclean,
someone whose disease separates her from others.
She lives on the margins of her society.
But we, too, can think of many illnesses that isolate people
from the loving hands and healing presence of others.

AIDS and HIV used to be illnesses that carried great fear with them.
Mental illness, such as depression
or complicated illnesses like addiction can be isolating.
Anyone who is going blind or deaf knows isolation.
Elderly people in nursing homes experience isolation.
The woman with a hemorrhage becomes a metaphor,
the hemorrahage a symbol for any of us,
man or woman, suffering from conditions that drain our life energies.
She could be someone struggling with
memories of violence, or terror,
a returned soldier, a rape victim, a refugee.
She could be someone chronically weakened
by injustice and indignity.

In today’s Gospel,
Jesus himself lays hands on Jairus’ daughter.
And it is Jesus himself the woman touches.
But sometimes Jesus heals in other ways.
Miracles of healing often come to us
through the loving hands and care of those around us.
That’s not hard for us to believe—
Jesus told his disciples they would do even greater
miracles than he.
God has used people in this roo, and beyond these walls,
to touch our lives, strengthen our faith, and heal us.
All of us have experienced God at work
in the healing words and loving actions of others.

When you are walking around an ICU
in a Children’s hospital,
among many families with sick children,
the gospel promise of a loving God
becomes powerfully real.
Prayer takes on a deep intensity—you
pray unceasingly, with every cell of your body.
Some of the children on the ICU are older,
as Lacey Natti is, and some are newborns.
And every one of those children,
and everyone of those families needs a holy touch,
and healing, a divine word of comfort and grace.
On the ICU of Children’s Hospital,
people from all over the world bring their children for healing,
Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus,
all of them joined in a common longing,
all of them like Jairus and his daughter.
For many of them, good health care, and access to it,
becomes the means of God’s healing miracles.

Watching the doctors and nurses care for those children
these last two weeks was like watching Jesus
touch Jairus’ daughter, and the woman with a hemorrahage.
Those caregivers were vessels of the Holy Spirit.
Compassion for the sick and their families is palpable.
Everyone who works on that floor,
from the people cleaning the rooms
to the neurosugeouns, is doing a holy work and they know it.
They are the Lord’s hands.
It is a holy place to be. We are blessed
to have such people in our congregation, nurses, paramedics,
doctors, caregivers, whose hands are healing hands.

Walking around an ICU, or
visiting the sick here in our parish,
I hold the Gospel promise close.
“The Lord will have compassion
out of an abundance of steadfast love,”
says the prophet in Lamentations.
This morning, we hear
the resurrection truth:
for each of us, even in death, we are only sleeping.
Jesus does come and raise us up.
All healing stories are ultimately the resurrection story.
May God’s healing come to you today,
with blessing and grace wherever you need it.
May the Lord call you from sleep,
“little one, get up.” May he take your hand,
and raise you to new life.
His mercies are new every morning.

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