It is not about a shed, and other interruptions along the way.

July 1, 2018 (13th Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 8)

Service for the Lord’s Day

Indian Hill Church

Cincinnati, OH

2 Samuel 1:1, 17–27

Psalm 130

Mark 5:21–43

Reverend Dr. Stephen Caine

 

5:21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23 and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” 24 So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26 She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29 Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?'” 32 He looked all around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” 35 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. (Mark 5:21–43, NRSV)

 

Let us pray: Let us pray: God of hope, you are ruler of night as well as day, guardian of those who wander in the shadows. Be new light and life for those who live in the darkness of despair, for prisoners of guilt and grief, for victims of fantasy and depression, that even where death’s cold grip tightens, we may know the power of the one who conquered fear and death. Amen.

 

Our week at Mountain Top was a great one.  It was amazing to watch total strangers meet on Sunday evening and become friends over the week by Saturday morning crying and hugging each other as they said goodbye.  This year we stayed at Camp Baker Mountain which is located outside of Spencer, Tennessee, which is a distant suburb to McMinnville, Tennessee.  The 3 adults and 4 boys and 7 girls from our church joined churches from Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis, Franklin, TN, Lewisburg, TN, and Springville, Alabama.  The youth and adults from these churches are then broken up into smaller work groups and we are sent out into the neighboring counties on the Cumberland Plateau to serve those in need.

 

The foundation of the ministry of Mountain Top is to serve the physical, social, spiritual, and emotional needs of the people that we partner with to do repairs on their home or property.   My work group started the week at Susan’s home.   Susan is an 82-year-old widow who lives in home that she can no longer maintain with an overgrown property.  It was our job to clean up her property, so she could prepare to sell her house and move into her son’s home a few hours away.  Our work was not hard but for many of our youth it was the first time they had ever seen poison ivy, experienced chigger bites and worked in the hot, humid Tennessee sun.   It was a nice bonding experience and it was great to see the youth interact with Susan.  She shared her life story and her faith with us.  Then she brought out some homemade beet juice, that she believed was a cure all for what ails you.  I must admit that was skeptical but drank it anyway…whatever magical powers it has have not work on me.

 

On Tuesday, we were sent to Sheri’s home.  We were assigned to build a shed for her.  Sheri is a single woman, in her mid-seventies with grown children who live in other states.  Sheri is very particular and demanding.  The plans called for a 6×8 foot shed but she wanted an 8×10 shed because she had so much crap to put in it. We began our work and hit difficulties right away.  Mid-morning, we were visited by the City Building inspector, who asked for our building permit.  He explained that we had to stop building until we had it.  I said, that we were a church group on a service trip and we were building a shed…he said it didn’t matter we had to have a permit!  So, our work was done for the day.  The Mountain Top staff took care of the permit and we returned to work on Wednesday morning.

 

We began work and again the building inspector showed up, this time he said we needed to make sure the floor was off the ground and we needed to use hurricane ties on the rafters and support clips on the floor beams.  Then he said, he would have to inspect the work before we could finish!  We got to work.  I was frustrated, the kids were angry, and Sheri still wanted the Taj Mahal of sheds.  It was a trying day. The Mountain Top staff assigns tasks so that you can complete them during the week of service but there was no way we would finish this shed with all these interruptions. We were assigned a new task for Thursday.  We painted, and pressure washed a home in Dunlap a community about an hour away.  It was a good break from the shed because we were able to finish and have some success, but the unfinished shed was a challenge we wanted to meet.

 

We learned that we would be going back to Sheri’s home on Friday to do as much as possible on the shed before we left on Saturday morning.   It was during a frustrating situation on Friday morning when we had measured a rafter twice and then cut it, but it was too short to fit the space that it hit me.   We were all exhausted by this shed, frustrated by the difficulties, angry at the city building inspector, mad at our mistakes and the countless interruptions.   It was in a moment of clarity that it hit me… “Stephen it is not about a shed!”   Wow, I thought we had a job to complete, it was a process with a plan and directions and timeline.  And it was a Holy Spirit moment that hit me like a 2×4 to the face, it is not about the shed!  Everything else that is happening this week at Mountain Top is much more important!

 

Sometimes the most important times in ministry and life for that matter happen in the interruptions.  The best laid plans are tossed aside for the work of God to take place.   It is exactly what happens to Jesus on his way to visit Jairus’ dying daughter.  Jairus, is a leader of the local synagogue.  He begs Jesus to come with him back to his home to heal his daughter.  Jairus will do anything to make his daughter better, so he begs Jesus to help him.  But suddenly his journey to Jairus home is interrupted.

 

Mark seems to insert this interruption in story about Jairus because Mark is more interested in the ordinary people, the people in the crowd than only the powerful people.  The focus is on just one person, a chronically sick, nameless woman, who has been hemorrhaging for twelve years.  According to the regulations of her religion this condition makes us unclean.   Nobody can touch her, no one can even go near her.  She has gone from doctor to doctor seeking help but has found none. She is at the end of the road.  She has exhausted her patience, her options and her resources.  She is not exactly dying, but she certainly is not fully alive.

 

She must have heard about Jesus and the amazing things he was doing.  So, she joins the crowd that day as Jesus is on his way to Jairus house.  As Mark tells the story, the crowd is pushing in to get as close to Jesus as they can because they have also heard about this healer and they want to see him.  They must be thinking to themselves, “Maybe he can fix my problems.  Maybe he can give me back my dreams. What can it hurt?”  But the woman who was spent did not grab at Jesus. In her humility, she was afraid even to be seen by him. So, she just reached out her hand and touched the hem of his robe as he walked by. And immediately she was healed.

 

Suddenly, Jesus stops, he looks at his disciples and asks, “Who touched me?” His disciples think he must be kidding.  “Who touched you? Jesus, half of Galilee is trying to get their hands on you, and you want to know who touched you?”  Clearly, the disciples want to keep him on task, on time and to stick with the plan.  They were committed to keep Jesus moving on to Jairus’ house and beyond, they wanted to hurry him along.

 

It seems that Jesus never hurries, he must know that the important stuff happens in the interruptions.  Next, we are told, “But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.”  Jesus stops and says. “You are well.”  It’s a powerful little word in the Greek that means “whole,” “saved.”   This woman was as good as dead; isolated from all human contact, exhausted after years of suffering, rejected by her society and her religion.  Dead.  Then Jesus speaks the word, “life.”

 

So, Mark was right. Jesus’ many miracles and crowd-drawing ministry were leading up to a spectacular event.  But that amazing event was not what was about to happen at Jairus’ house.  Once Jesus got there, he threw out the crowd and healed the little girl in private. No, the big, amazing event was when Jesus stopped everything to care for the nameless woman along the way.  You see it is not about a shed…it is what happens along the way that is really important!  Jesus always has time for you and for me and for nameless people along the way.

 

Let us pray: