Sunday, July 1, 2018

6 Pentecost

July 1, 2018

Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15; 2:23-24; Mark 5.21-43

+ If you’re anything like me—and I know some of you are on this one—you know how awful being impatient can be. We want certain things—and we want them NOW. Not tomorrow. Not in some vague future. NOW! And it no doubt drives those of around us crazy.

But I am impatient. I want to be doing certain things.  And I have never liked waiting. Waiting is one of the worst things I can imagine.

Many years ago, I studied a famous play by Jean-Paul Sartre called No Exit. I’m
not going to go into the whole plot of the play, but the essence is this. Three damned souls arrive in hell, expecting torture and fire and unending pain. Instead, they’re brought into a plain room.

And they wait.

And wait.

And wait.

There’s more to the play than this, but essentially, it’s about hell is simply a waiting room in which one waits and waits and waits.

To me, that play has always been terrifying. I understand it. I get it. Yes! That’s what hell would be like (if I believed in hell)

Impatient as I am, ultimately I know that waiting and being patient is a good thing sometimes.  I’ll give you an example.

I have been very transparent with all of you about my mourning and grief for my mother following her death. I haven’t hidden that fact from any of you. And you’re probably sick of me bringing it up on occasion.

But, what I haven’t shared with anyone is that, there have been moments—very dark moments—when I simply want to be done with mourning. I want to past this pain, this experience of first things—first holidays, first times at this restaurant that we would eat, or that store in which we shop.  I just want all those difficult things behind me. I want to be done with it all and move on.

I really want to cling hard and fast to our reading from Wisdom this morning:

God did not make death,
And [God] does not delight in the death of the living.

I know that. I realize that death and mourning and grief are all part of our own experience of hell here on earth.

Because, right here, right now, in the midst of it all—it’s not very pleasant. In fact, it’s very much like Sartre’s hell. I want to be done with mourning and sadness and all that goes along with losing someone we love.

The fact is, as much as I want that—it doesn’t work this way. We can’t rush these things. Things happen in their due course.

Not OUR course.

Not MY course!

But the proper course.

God works in God’s own time. And this is probably the most difficult thing for us.  
Impatience is present in our Gospel reading for today, but in a more subtle way. Our reading from the Gospel today also teaches us an important reflection on our own impatience and waiting, and also about how the hell of death is ultimately defeated.

We have two things going on.  First, we have Jairus, the leader of the synagogue, who has lost his twelve-year-old daughter, even though he doesn’t know it yet. The hell of death has drawn close to Jairus. While Jairus is pleading with Jesus to heal his daughter, we encounter this unnamed woman who has been suffering with a hemorrhage for twelve years—twelve years!—the same amount of years as the daughter of Jairus lived—is desperate. She wants healing.

I can tell you in all honesty that as I read and reflected and lived with this Gospel reading this past week,  I could relate.   I can relate to Jairus, who is being touched with the darkness of death in his life.  And when I read of the woman with a hemorrhage grasping at the hem of Jesus’ garment, I could certainly empathize with her impatience and her grasping.

Many of us have known the anguish of Jairus. We have known the anguish and pain of watching someone we love fade away and die.

And many of us know the pain of that woman. We often find ourselves bleeding deeply inside with no possible hope for relief. For us, as we relate, that “bleeding” might not be an actual bleeding, but a bleeding of our spirit, of our hopes and dreams, of a deep emotional or spiritual wound that just won’t heal, or just our grief and sadness, which, let me tell you, can also “bleed” away at us.  And when we’ve been desperate, when we find ourselves so impatient, so in need of a chance, we find ourselves clutching at anything—at any little thing. We clutch even for a fringe of the prayer shawl of the One whom God sends to us in those dark moments. When we do, we find, strangely, God’s healing.

And in this story of Jarius’ daughter, I too felt that moment in which I felt separated from the loved ones in my life—by death, yes, of course. But also when I felt that a distance was caused by estrangement or anger. And when I have begged for healing for them and for myself, it has often come.

But it has come in God’s own time. Not in mine. It is a matter of simply,  sometimes waiting.

For Jairus, he didn’t have to wait long.

For the woman, it took twelve years.
But in both cases, it came.

Still, I admit, I continue to be impatient. I am still impatient in my mourning.  But even now, in the midst of it all, I can hear those words that truly do comfort me:

 “Why do you make a commotion and weep? Your loved one is not dead but only sleeping.”

Resurrection comes in many forms in our lives and if we wait them out these moments will happen.  

And not all impatience is bad. It is all right to be impatient—righteously impatient—for justice, for the right thing to be done. It is all right to be impatient for injustice and lying and deceit to be brought to light and be revealed. And dealt with. It is all right to be impatient for the right thing to be done in this world.
But we cannot let our impatience get in the way of seeing that  miracles continue to happen in our lives and in the lives of those around us. I know, because I have seen it again and again and, not only in my own life, but in the lives of others. We know that in God, we find our greatest consolation.

Our God of justice and compassion and love will provide and will win out ultimately over the forces of darkness that seem, at times, to prevail in our lives.  Knowing that, reminding ourselves of all that we are able to be strengthened and sustained and rejuvenated. We are able to face whatever life may throw at us with hope and, sometimes, even joy.

See, we are not in Sartre’s hell. Trust me. We’re not. At some point, the doors of what seems like that eternal waiting room will be opened. And we will be called forward. And all will be well. That is what scripture and our faith in God tell us again and again. That is how God works in this world and in our lives.

So, let us cling to this hope and find true strength in it. True strength to get us through those impatient moments in our lives when we want darkness and death and injustice and pain behind us.  

Let us be truly patient for our God.  

If we do, those words of Jesus to the woman today will be words directed to us as well:

“your faith has made you well;
go in peace;
be healed.”

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