Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Daughter of God

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus has the hem of his cloak touched by a woman as he is en route to the home of a synagogue leader whose daughter is near death. I preached on this passage before in the first person, saying:
Mine was a story destined not to be told. I was the one to die unknown, unremembered, unremarked. Then I got it into my head that all I had to do was reach out and touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. Nothing more, nothing less.

Woman with HemorrageI had heard of Jesus. Everyone had by then. He was the healer from Nazareth that had set tongues wagging from the Decapolis to the Negev. I traveled more than most, and heard of Jesus everywhere I went.

I had begun seeking healing with sacrifices offered at the Temple. But as soon as the priests found out what my problem was, I was declared unclean. I was no longer fit to be in God’s presence. I was no longer welcome in the Court of the Women at the Temple in Jerusalem.

Feeling cast out by my God, I turned to everything anyone ever heard of doing. I sought out healers and magicians. I recited incantations in languages I couldn’t understand, to God’s of whom I had never heard. But mostly I sought out the care of physicians, any physician, all physicians. I ate every conceivable combination of herbs. I applied creams and ointments. I did anything they asked and paid everything I had.

As for me, the hemorrhage continued as did my spiraling descent away from others. They don’t tell you how sickness cuts you off from others. Oh get some quick fever that either kills you or leaves you spent but recovering and the family will rally around, but get some slow wasting disease and watch how others gently pull back all contact. No one wants to speak and certainly now one wants to touch you unless the illness should rub off on them. I don’t think it was conscious, but it was predictable. As soon as anyone found out I had been bleeding for five years, seven years, ten years—whatever it was by that point—he or she would pull back, withdraw.

I didn’t realize that being cut off from others was worse than the hemorrhage. But it didn’t matter anyway, because my health problems and I were one. I let my sickness define me and then so did everyone else.

Of course, I did hear of Jesus—everyone did in those days. There was talk of Jesus’ teaching with great authority. There was talk of how he could be the Messiah. Many hoped he would overthrow the Romans so that Jews could once more rule Israel on their own. But for people like me—the real sufferers—there was only one tidbit about Jesus that mattered. Wherever Jesus went, he healed people. Jesus touched the blind, the deaf, the lame and they could see, hear and walk.

I knew I had to get to him, but even that proved a disaster. First, it was hard to pin down where he was. Jesus was always crossing back and forth around the Sea of Galilee and then he traveled down to Jerusalem for the festivals too. It seemed that he was everywhere at once and never where I was. Then I did find him one day and even get close enough to speak, but I lost heart. I couldn’t dare to speak to him. If the stories were true, then I couldn’t risk speaking with him. After all God his Father’s own priests tossed me out of the Temple as unclean. I couldn’t bare for Jesus to reject me too. Where would I turn then?
The full sermon is online here: Daughter of God

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor

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