A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed pt 1
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 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.” So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
A desperate reach. A woman who has tried everything and seemingly is reaching to the tiniest hem of Jesus’ robe as a last hope and a last resort. There is a feeling of utter desperation in her act – she doesn’t come before Jesus like the the synagogue leader, but instead just reaches out from amongst the crowd, seemingly anonymous (or hoping to be so). I am not 100% sure how this connects, but the desperation she seemed to be feeling reminded me of the desperation of our sisters and brothers in Iraq right now. For most of us here in the West, they are anonymous – they are stories on the front page of a website. But they are being persecuted in a way that is utterly incomprehensible to us. I do not need to recount the stories that we can all read about, but simply to say that we need to take notice. We need to notice the hand reaching out desperately trying to find safety, security, and hope. In recent days, a movement has begun online to change social media profile pics to this image.
This is the Arabic character for N which has been painted on the homes of Christians in various parts of Iraq by ISIS or IS – standing for Nazarene. This mark is used to quickly identify homes of people who have not recanted their faith.
But our response has to move beyond just changing an image on Facebook or Twitter. How can we help?
First, pray. Pray. Pray. Pray for our sisters and brothers in Iraq. Pray for the many Christians in other places in the world who are persecuted but whose stories do not make the news. Pray for the millions who are persecuted for so many other reasons (religious, racial, and so forth). And pray for those who are committing these atrocities. Pray for changes of heart and action. Pray for finding ways of peace instead of the sword. Too often we underestimate the power of prayer. I don’t know all the ins and outs of how it works, but it does. Pray.
Second, contact your elected leaders. We may not be able to hop on a plane and physically help, but we can communicate with our leaders to let them know that we want them to do something about these atrocities. If you don’t know who to contact, here’s a great site to find your elected leaders.
Finally, pray some more.
The image today is a picture of the bottom corner of the cross that hangs on the outside wall of our church building. Just like the hem of Jesus’ robe, when you look up close, its not exactly pristine. Its worn and not quite what it once looked like. Yet, like the hem of Jesus’ robe, even the corner of the cross represents hope and represents the power that can work miracles and protect our sisters and brothers who are reaching out like this desperate woman.