28 June 2009

"The Worst of the Lord"

"God did not make death, nor does God rejoice in the destruction of the living." Wisdom 1:13

What a great line, and a prelude to the gospel story that tells of not one, but two women healed by Jesus. It's not often I can make a room full of men blush, so I love the story of the woman who suffers for twelve years with her hemmorhages. "Where do you think she was bleeding from? Her nose?" I can hear the unspoken comments, "Man, PMS for 12 years???"

Set apart from the regular life of the community, dependent on others for necessities, her bank account exhausted and no medical help that she hadn't tried. Had she lived in the 21st century, she would have been up at three in the morning, ordering from another infomercial. But she didn't. One day, she decided enough was enough. She got out of bed, ignored all the people who might be hissing at her that she should go home, paid no attention to the commotion around Jesus. She had only one thought: "If I just touch his clothes, I'll be cured." That's what she aims for.

When she lays claim to her intention, Jesus asks, "Who touched me?" His disciples point to the crowd. They don't see a woman filled with faith, full of the knowledge that she has been healed. "Look at all these people," they whine. "How can you ask who touched you?"

But Jesus knows the look on her face and finds her immediately.

He has his moment with her and sends her back, this time to her community. How does she feel? Three different times today, I looked across a roomful of men and wondered, "How would they ever get what it feels like to have the period from hell that just will not quit?" Instead I asked them, "Imagine that you spend twelve years in prison. Twelve years of someone else telling you what you can wear and what you'll eat, who can visit you, and what music you can listen to. Imagine after twelve years, you get out. You can choose your own clothes and your own schedule. You can drive a car and go where you want. You can go to the store where a whole aisle is devoted to breakfast cereal. Imagine how free you might feel." There were some nods. This they could understand.

But there's this other story, the first claimant to Jesus' healing touch, a 12-year-old girl. No matter that people have arrived saying she's dead. No matter that the professional mourners and musicians are already planning the funeral. No matter the commotion at the house, like the woman who'd touched him earlier, Jesus fixes his eyes on the present need and goes in to the young girl. Again, healing happens with a touch.

I like the similarity between the woman and Jesus, so focused on what was necessary, both intent on life and healing. Isn't that what the line from Wisdom was all about?

You're probably wondering about the title for this post. Twice today, after the reading from Wisdom, the lector said, "The Worst of the Lord." Hey, if this is the worst, how great is the best?


MikeF said...

Wonderful - I just love your closing sentence!

Just as an aside, since women became active in ministry, how many more good sermons must have been preached on that story of the woman in the crowd...

You never did tell us - how did the new haircut go down?

Peace & all blessings


Shannon said...

The new haircut...still growing out, but still very short. The guys love it--and on Sundays when I pass a group of them waiting for haircuts, there's always someone who can be teased into asking for "the chaplain's cut." And I love the lack of hassle, not that there ever was much anyway!