Fourth Sunday in Lent
Sermon: Different Pictures
Have you noticed that when you have long periods of difficulty or stress that your ability to be creative leaves you? The picture of our lives becomes dull and hope of a better
future wanes. We need to be rejuvenated, awakened from our sleep by a touch
of inspiration as we hear Matthews healing stories this morning. We also become aware of our need to reach out to the Divine Healer. We want to reach out and touch the power we believe can bring new life into our intellect and imagination. When we are revitalized we are able to re-engage with our world. It allows us to seek and see solutions we were not able to when we were stressed. We are now capable of creating different pictures of life renewed just as an artist creates a thing of beauty from broken glass in the form of a mosaic.
We have been focusing on Matthews stories of Jesus’ healing ministry. Typically there were two stories but they were not intertwined with each other. Matthew takes the story of the dead daughter and the woman with the hemorrhagic condition and puts them in conjunction with each other.
There are some distinctive features in Matthew’s telling of this familiar pair of stories. First, it should be noted that this is the only Mathean account of a person being revived from the dead. Jesus not only has the power to heal illnesses but has the power to overcome death itself. A second unique feature is the way Matthew intertwines the two stories. The characters of the story a very different. The man, a synagogue leader is bold and exerts power. He enters the house uninvited, interrupts Jesus’ dinner, asks him to leave the meal and perform a service for him in his own house and on top of that exposes Jesus to ritual contamination through contact with a corpse. The third uncharacteristic feature arises from hearing that Jesus follows the man. In other healings everyone follows Jesus. The woman on the other hand, very timidly touches Jesus’ robe as he passes by. A ritually unclean person, the woman has no one to intervene on her behalf. She does not ask Jesus for healing but believes simply by touching his robe she will be healed. Jesus speaks to her, touches her, heals her. Lastly I should point out that both the daughter and the woman (who Jesus addresses as “daughter”) are anonymous, a feature that widens their relatability not only for Matthews audience but for generations of believers yet to come. In each healing Jesus overcomes both ritual impurity and social stigma associated with each case through some manner of touch.
Touch is what has been lost the most over this past year of upheaval. With vaccinations ramping up we are able to be with others who have been vaccinated and share long overdue hugs! Hugs touch us in mind, body and soul! The healing touch of a hug can bring the picture of our lives back into focus with bright colors and a sense of hope for a better future. I would be remiss if I said our lives would go back to normal. We will not be able to go back to the way things were. We have to imagine that we will emerge with a new life, a revived life full of possibilities. Now it might feel impossible right now to imagine what that new normal might look like with vigor and creativity in these exhausting times. But creative thinking and action can happen when we must prune and choose and prioritize because we are so exhausted. We need to let go of things we have been holding onto in our lives and in our church just because “we’ve always done it that way.” We need to open our minds to the ways in which Jesus is calling us to new life. What is being saved? Why is it being saved? For what purpose? What will we do with our new found healing? What will we leave behind and what new things will we make room for in our lives and communities?
We need to reach out to the Divine Healer. We want to reach out and touch the power we believe can bring new life into our intellect and imagination. When we are revitalized we are able to re-engage with our world. It allows us to seek and see solutions we were not able to when we were stressed. We are now capable of creating different pictures pf life renewed just as an artist creates a thing of beauty from broken glass in the form of a mosaic. In this Lenten season of recovery, what is being re-awakened in you, in us, in our communities?
In the greatest of hope