So, next Monday I’m preaching in chapel. This is a sort of high pressure situation, as most of the people who preach in chapel are truly awesome preachers. I used to do it every year, but due to a variety of circumstances, I haven’t done it for 4 years now. So I’m feeling a bit more pressure. And, of course, there’s the whole congregation of brilliant scholars thing.
And the text for the day is one that I hate.
I could have chosen to go off the lectionary, but I just ended up not having the energy to come up with something else. In part, also, I think the fact that I really hate this passage is a sign that I might need to grapple with it some more.
It’s a healing story. A miracle. Barbara Brown Taylor says that the problem with miracle stories is that we all want one.
I know I do.
Because it’s a paired story of a little girl who is healed from death and an older woman who is healed from long term suffering, it seems like pretty much everyone in the room wants some of that. So I’m left with a bunch of trajectories, and no clear angle. On the one hand, I’m fascinated by the fact that on the way to responding to Jairus’ need, Jesus stops for someone else. Jairus is not mentioned in this exchange, but speaking as a mom, I would have been losing it with anxiety, and especially losing it when my child died during Jesus’ interaction with the other person. I wouldn’t have been proud of that reaction, but I can guarantee you, I would have been a wreck. I wonder if there is a trajectory there.
I also wonder if there is a trajectory about being a daughter.
Or a trajectory about healing in general, and what was the real healing that took place. Was it the physical healing? Or the fact that the two people were desperate enough to let go of everything else and beg?
Once I find a way in, I think I’ll be fine. I know my way in is going to be a back road. The main road is not for me, I don’t think. If you’ve preached this text and don’t mind sharing your manuscript with me, I’d love to read it. I’m not a copier at all. But I often get my best ideas by jumping off of other peoples’ ideas, and the ones posted on textweek just aren’t doing it for me. I would look back and see what I had preached on the text in the past but I’ve never preached it. Never. have I mentioned how much I hate this text?
I do. Perhaps it’s because I so clearly feel like Jairus. I have a daughter. I have power via my education and class. And yet, if that little duck gets sick, I would do anything, anything, anything for a cure. And the fact that this story made it into the Bible means it’s unusual. Most parents of dying 12 year olds didn’t get cures.
So what does healing mean then?