June 27, 2021
While we may not like it, taking risks are part of life. They can be small risks, or they could be big risks. There is a chance of losing everything, and there is a chance of losing little. The world of business involves risks daily. Risks on new products or services. Risks on hiring people. Sometimes the risks pan out and other times you are required to go back to the drawing board. Risks can affect the entire community for both good and sometimes bad.
Walt Disney was no stranger to risk. He took one risk right after another because he had a vision. A vision of creating something no one else had created before. He could have thrown in the towel when his first studio, Laugh-O-Gram went bankrupt in 1923. Instead, he took risks and found funding to continue in his crazy venture. It would be five short years later when Mickey Mouse would first appear in Steamboat Willie. As quickly as he became successful, there were still people questioning him and he had to continue to take risks. Now, millions of people look forward to going to a Walt Disney Park every year.
Of course, risks do not only involve business dealings. The stories of healing in this week’s gospel reveal a risk on the part of those seeking Jesus. A risk of putting everything on the line. A risk of faith. A risk trusting Jesus heals.
First, Jairus approaches Jesus soon after he comes ashore. Jairus explains to Jesus his daughter is near death and he would like Jesus to see her and heal her. Jesus agrees and they set off toward his house. Were Jairus and Jesus acquaintances? There seems to be little hesitancy on Jesus’ part to help. In other healings he just tells them to go, they have been made well. Here, Jesus is going for a personal touch. Jairus takes the risk of putting everything on the line. We know he was a leader in the synagogue. What would others say when they knew he went to Jesus seeking help? And at the same time, Jesus was his last resort. His daughter was worth the risk.
Sandwiched between the story of Jairus’ daughter, is the story of the woman who has been hemorrhaging for 12 years. She takes the risk to reach out to Jesus. If only she could touch his cloak, she may be healed. Jesus was also her last-ditch effort. She had been to the doctors and spent all her money and she was actually in worse health now. She did not have anything to lose. She was at the lower end of the economic scale, whereas Jairus was on the upper end of the economic scale. As Jesus calls out, wondering who touched him, she came with fear and trembling. Afraid she may be chastised and even worse. She was considered unclean because of her hemorrhaging. To reach out and touch someone would be considered contamination.
While the woman comes to Jesus with fear and trembling after the act of touching his cloak, she seems courageous right before the touch. The fear and trembling quite often happens to us before we take a risk. There is a fear of stepping out into the unknown. There is a fear of losing everything. Walt Disney was familiar with losing everything and yet was confident in his plans and took risk after risk to share his vision with the world. In the face of fear, we can become frozen and numb because of being overwhelmed with everything else happening around us. All these events can put a damper on our faith and thus not believing in the healing of Jesus. Yet, despite our fears, Jesus continues to reach out and heal. It may not always be the way we expect or want, but Jesus is always present in the brokenness to help us pick up the pieces.
When we take risks, it is much more than ourselves who are affected. The risks of Walt Disney nearly 100 years ago affect people today. Taking risks reverberates throughout our friends, family, and even communities. It is the same as we open our hearts to the healing of Jesus. We are connected and God wants us to be connected. Healing occurs in our families and those who surround us with love and support. Martin Luther King Jr. preached at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. just four days before he was assassinated. His words speak truth to the gospel and ring true for us today:
“We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.”
We are all mutually connected. God has knit and woven all of creation together into a beautiful quilt which embraces the world. We weave in our risks and when there are frays, Jesus is present to heal and tie off the loose ends. God knew from the very beginning the world needed to be healed. God brought peace to the chaos. We know the stories of our ancestors, and war and division are nothing new. Healing was God’s intention from the very beginning. It is Jesus’ intention to bring the healing to us through his stories and ultimately his death and resurrection. It is in healing we are made whole and the kindom of God is revealed and we are welcomed into eternal life. Jairus and the woman take a risk of faith to encounter the healing powers of Jesus.
Are you willing to take a risk of faith?
Jesus offer healing to those who reach out to him. Jesus offers healing to all of creation. There does come a time when we question the healing. Our congregation has experienced a lot of death in the past couple of weeks and it is easy to wonder why we did not witness a physical healing. Healing does not always look like Jesus blessing the woman with hemorrhages for 12 years. Healing has occurred in death and being welcomed into eternal life. Healing has begun to happen for those still here by mourning and shedding tears at memorial services. In the meantime, let us continue to take a risk of faith. Let us proclaim our faith boldly. A faith which at times can seem counter cultural. A faith based on mystery. A faith in which Jesus heals.