Jesus Changes Everything!

When I was writing this sermon on Monday, I wrote about how Jesus saved us from our sins by dying on the cross for us. This is true, however when reading what I just wrote, I realized that he saves us from so much more than just our sins.

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Joey Brueggemeier is an 11th grader at Owatonna High School

This past November my mother and I went on the church Chile trip to EPES. Now I am a history lover and I did my research and then some on the history of Chile. I knew that Chile went through a communist coup from Sept 11,1973 to 1998. What I didn’t know was that Augusto Pinochet the dictator was a sympathizer to Adolf Hitler. Pinochet built camps that he sent Chileans to that did not agree with him or resisted him being in power. We went to one of these camps and were lucky to have a tour guide that was a actual prisoner at that camp. She showed us the living conditions of where they stayed.

It was a one meter by one meter by 2 meter tall rectangle, they fit four people into these so called “Jail Huts”. They were outside all lined up with no windows and no light coming in besides a small hole in the door. They stood in those all night in the cold and all day in the heat. This lady said something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. “This place did do one good thing for me. It strengthened my relationship with God. The whole time I lived here, I kept hearing this voice telling me I would get out alive and see my family again”. She said if God did not save her she would have never made it out alive.

When we were at the ELCA Youth Gathering this past summer, I remember this strange looking woman walk out on the stage, to me she looked like a mix of a jail escapee and a drug dealer. When she gave her speech, it blew me away my mind. My misjudgment of this woman taught me a lesson my parents told me about before. Not to judge a book by its cover.

She told us that she was a pastor and worked with inmates, and junkies teaching them about the ways “God can save you no matter how far down the wrong road you go and fall of the cliff, God will be there to save you”. Her name is Nadia Bolz-Weber, and she admits to doing things she wishes she would not have.  But God saved her, and she believes it is what brought her to ministry.

In today’s gospel, we hear about the girl who died but was saved by Jesus. But that is not the important part of the story but still important I believe. I believe that it is when Jesus says “Take heart, daughter your faith has healed you”. These words are a perfect example of what my few adventures as a 16-year-old junior in high school has taught me. We don’t need to be dead for Jesus to save us. No, Jesus saves us from our everyday mistakes, whether it is as little as singing a wrong note in our hymnals or not following a rule. Jesus saves us whether your being imprisoned in a camp for expressing of beliefs or in between a rock and a hard place, Jesus saves. Nothing we can do is out of God’s hands from saving you or me. Jesus wants us to welcome him into our lives, because no matter what we are doing or where we are going, he is right besides us loving us and willing to save us from whatever happens. No one is unworthy of his saving grace, mercy or love because no matter what he has already saved us.

Pastor Todd:

Thank you, Joey, for sharing from your wisdom and experience.

Today in our Gospel, we encounter three people who are desperately, desperately in need of the healing that Jesus can bring.

The first story is about Jairus, who is the leader of the synagogue.  He’s like the church administrator.  And his daughter is close to death.  I don’t know if you’ve ever been in the position where someone you love is in hospice, or close to that time, but it is so difficult to sit vigil while you’re waiting for your loved one to die, hoping against hope.

And he heard about this Jesus, traveling, teaching and healing.  And Jesus is nearby.  So maybe…just maybe…this was his chance.  Jarius finds Jesus and pleads with him to come…and Jesus agrees.  Think of the relief in his eyes.  As they walked, there were crowds, trying to get near Jesus.  They were pressing in close.

On the way, in the crowd, a woman approaches, who has a hemorrhage.  We don’t know her name.  But we know that she’s been very sick.  She had been bleeding for 12 years.  12 years!  Think of the blood loss that’s involved.  Think of how weak she must have been.  Think of the endless trips to the doctor’s office trying to find relief.

But we also need to understand that in Levitical law, there were 3 things that made you ritually unclean.  They were leprosy, body excretions and death. Being ritually unclean meant you could not touch or be around anyone else.

So this woman was absolutely shunned by the rest of the community, because if she touched anyone, or they touched her, even by accident, they would become ritually unclean.  And until they went through a process of ritual purification, those who had touched her could not rejoin their families, their worshipping community or anyone else.

So, this woman is not only ill, but isolated and alone.  A lot of us can relate to the fear of being isolated.

And so, this woman is desperate, and is going to take this chance.  If she can just get to Jesus, if she can catch up with him and just touch his cloak; not actually touch him…but just the hem of his robe….then maybe…just maybe…. And so, she does; she touches his robe.  And in that moment, suddenly she feels…no, she knows that she’s been healed.

Think of it!  After 12 years of being sick, she suddenly…in an instant… feels healed!

And then Jesus does this thing that might seem innocent, but to her it must seem terrifying.  He stops, and looks around, and says “who touched me?”

And the disciples look at each other, look at the giant crowd, still pressing in, and then look at Jesus, and they say “really?”  All these people, and you want to know which one touched you?

But he knows.  He knows what happened.  And she knows that he knows.  And she comes forward.  According to Jewish law, she had transferred her uncleanliness to Jesus.  And think of all the people in the crowd who were pressing around her and Jesus, and who were now full of fear: “did she touch me?  Am I now unclean?

But instead, Jesus looks at her not with anger or fear, but with compassion. “daughter… daughter…your faith has made you well.  Go in peace.”  And she does.

What a wonderful encounter, completely the opposite of what anyone would expect.  No one who had read their catechism would expect a rabbi to be touched by an unclean woman and then call her “daughter.”  But that’s what Jesus does.

And then Jesus continues on his way to Jairus’ home.  And they’re on the way there when they get the word. Jairus’ daughter has died.

I’ve been to a lot of bedsides of the dying.  But there is nothing so heart-wrenching or tragic as the death of a child.  It’s just wrong.  Parents are not supposed to bury their children.  For Jarius, in that moment, all hope evaporates.  All hope.

But Jesus says “no, let’s go on.”  He is reminding us that we are never beyond hope.

Jesus comes to Jarius’ home, and everyone there is wailing and weeping and mourning over the loss of this little girl.

Jesus bends over her…touches her on the forehead and simply says “no, she’s just sleeping.”  They all laugh at him.  She’s not sleeping!  She’s dead!  Anyone can see this!  But Jesus kneels down next to her and tells her to arise.  And she does.  She just sits up.  And very practically, Jesus steps back, looks at her shocked father and says “you should give her something to eat.  She’s probably hungry by now.”

Here’s what I believe:  Just like the Jarius; just like the crowd, just like that woman who was bleeding for 12 years; just like the people who were gathered at Jarius’ home, we too all desire some form of healing.  We want our lives, our community and our world to be healed.

  • We live in a world where we all know someone who is suffering with cancer, or some other disease.
  • We live in a world where school lock down drills are a regular part of our children’s lives.
  • We live in a world where people who live on the edges of our society do not know if they have a safe place to turn.

I’ll say it again: We all want our lives, our community and our world to be healed.

What Jesus was telling the woman who was bleeding; what he was telling Jarius; what he is telling you and me, is to trust him.

We trust in Jesus to heal:

  • We trust in the Jesus who at age 12 astonished the religious leaders with his wisdom and teaching.
  • We trust in the Jesus who was so compelling that people dropped what they were doing to follow him.
  • We trust in the Jesus who with just a touch, healed the sick and raised the dead.
  • We trust in the Jesus who poured the wine and broke the bread, and who caused our hearts to burn
  • We trust in the Jesus who was resurrected from the dead.

Like Jarius and the woman, we too reach out.  We just want to touch Jesus…even just the hem of his cloak, because we want to experience, and we want our world to experience…healing.

And Jesus reminds that he is here.  In the Word.  In the bread and the wine.  He is here.  And we trust in his healing.  And while we don’t completely understand it, we trust that Jesus changes everything.

Thanks be to God!

Amen.

Note from Pastor Todd:  My gratitude to Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.  This sermon was  influenced by her sermon at the closing worship service on the final day of the ELCA Youth Gathering.

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