Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
Who do you identify with?
So, who do you understand most in this Gospel? That’s to say,
who do you identify yourself with the most here?
Are you the crowd?
The crowd doesn’t know what to make of Jesus. They follow him around seeing what he’s going to do next. Wondering what he’s about. But, they’re the crowd because they observe but don’t participate.
Are you Jarius?
Jairus is a leader of the synagogue, but more importantly here he’s a distraught parent of a little girl whose young life is being cut short. He’s upset about the situation his family’s in and he’s coming to Jesus for help.
Are you the hemorrhaging woman?
The woman here is never named, but her life has been in pain, dominated for 12 years by a terrible, life-demanding illness. She is desperate for healing, desperate for newness. She takes matters into her own hands and holds on to Jesus for dear life.
Are you one of the disciples?
The disciples throughout the Gospel of Mark are baffled. They don’t quite understand Jesus. They follow him around, the do what he tells them to do, but aren’t really sure what where he’s going. They know he’s a good guy and he does good things. But they are both perplexed and devoted.
So, where are you?
Maybe where you are isn’t even mentioned, and that’s ok.
Because where-ever you find yourself in the Christian faith. Jesus sets himself at the center. Whether you are orbiting—the outer limits, mingling in the crowed, following with the disciples, or hanging on to Jesus for dear life.
Jesus is the Rock. He is the strong foundation, the steady one, the alpha and the omega—the beginning and the end. Jesus is there AND he’s calling you to come closer. To trust deeper.
Jesus will summon you where you are and ask you to trust even more.
There are some paradigm shifts happening in society today. There are many people who feel like we’re on shaky ground as the Church and as a Nation and there are others who are celebrating the shifts.
We as members of the Body of Christ, are going to identify, empathize, and fight for different sides of issues that face our church and our nation.
In fact Good Shepherd has already been doing that.
As I get to know y’all, I hear personal stories of Pastor Ridenour departure. When Pastor Ridenour left, that caused division in our congregation. People had strong feelings wanting him to leave and other’s had strong feelings wanting him to stay.
Both are people—who faithfully and honestly disagree.
In the interim when Good Shepherd wanted to call a pastor, but the Synod wouldn’t allow you, it caused you to be divided and separated from the larger body of Christ. Some understood why you couldn’t call him, but other’s didn’t.
Both are people—who faithfully and honestly disagree.
This last week the Supreme Court voted to allow gay marriage in all 50 states. For some this was a resounding victory for equality. But, for others it was seen as a step in the wrong direction.
And in our congregation there a people—who faithfully and honestly disagree.
After the shooting in Charleston the issue of Gun control again came front and center of the national conversation. There are some in our congregation who want to fight for an outright ban to all guns and there are others who own guns and participate in shooting sports.
Both are people— who faithfully and honestly disagree.
But none of these is the defining issue for the Christian.
The defining issue for the Christian is Jesus.
The truth is, the church of Jesus has never been good about agreeing with each other on everything. In the 500 years since the Reformation, the church has split thousands of times. But, we even see disagreement in the church in scripture.
In the first letter to the Corinthians we hear some of the story of the Corinthian church. Friends let me tell you the Corinthian church had some problems.
One group in the church began saying, “We follow Paul” and another group “We follow Apollos.” And Paul comes in and says to them, “What are talking about? We follow Jesus! We follow where HE leads.”
And that’s what we do.
It’s our calling friends to come together as a church and work out as a community, where Jesus is leading us. We use scripture and conversation and love to determine how we should live together as a community.
We as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America say that “all are welcome” and it’s issues like gay marriage that test that. Are those who are gay welcome here? Are those who oppose gay marriage welcome? Who would Jesus turn away from our doors?
By the way, the answer to that is—neither.
There is beauty in our struggle together. There is beauty in saying that no matter where you are on this or that issue, we share a common God in Christ Jesus who loves and accepts us. And we urge each other to trust in God more deeply.
I believe that we as the church are the little girl being brought back to life.
Jesus is saying to us “get up.”
“Get up” from our complacency and love the unlovable.
“Get up” from our divisions and bring peace.
“Get up” from our politics and feed the hungry, visit the prisoner, care for the homebound.
“Get up” and be the hands and feet, voice and presence, of God in the world.
“Get up” and be the church even when you faithfully and honestly disagree.
“Get up” together and stay together.
Wherever we find ourselves in the Christian faith.
Wherever we find ourselves in our politics.
Jesus is calling you to seek his will, and friends, you may have to change some things.
So “Get up.”
“Get up” and sing.
“Get up” and go.
“Get up” and let Jesus work in and through your life.