Sunday, July 15, 2018

Children in the Bible Sermon Series: "The Little girl Who Got Up"

Mark 5:21-43


            There’s a little Lutheran church in Cusco, Peru which is called “Talitha Cum.”  
            I thought it was an unusual name for a church --  in fact, I’ve never heard of a church with this name before, in the United States or anywhere else.  
            Why did they decide to call themselves “Talitha Cum”?  What were they thinking about?  What was their story?  
            These are the words – in Aramaic – that Jesus spoke to Jairus’ daughter when he raised her from the dead. 
             “Little Girl, Get up!” – And she got up.  And she was twelve years old.  

            What do we know about her, this little girl  in the Bible? 
            Not much, actually. Just a little.  We know her father’s name, but not hers  Her father was important; he appealed to Jesus to heal his daughter.  
            And Jesus was on his way to do just that when he was interrupted by another person – a woman – who needed healing
            Afterwards, everyone thought it was too late.  
            Jesus’ delay had cost this little girl her life.   When Jesus said, “she’s just sleeping”, they laughed at him.  
            But he went in and took the little girl by the hand, and said “Little Girl, get up!” – And she got up. She got up.

             So we don’t know much about the little girl.  Except that she was 12 years old, except that her father was important; except that she got up when Jesus said the word.  
            So what can we learn from her?  Can we learn anything about ourselves, about Jesus, from this little girl?

            Lately I’m thinking about children – a lot.  
            Maybe it’s the story about the boys in Thailand trapped in a cave with their coach.
            And waiting to be rescued.  And how they were rescued – and how that took the efforts of so many other people – to be rescued.  
            Or maybe it’s because of the children who were separated from their parents – and now being reunited
            In both cases -- they couldn’t help themselves, they had to rely on other people.  
            The children in the cave had to wait for help – they couldn’t rescue themselves.  The children on the border need help to find their parents or guardians again.  
            And the little girl needed Jesus – to take her hand and say the words – “Talitha com!”  “Little Girl, get up.”  She couldn’t raise herself.  She couldn’t rescue herself.   

            And you know – in so many ways – that is often the position we find ourselves in, before God. 
            We like to think that we can control everything – or most everything – or perhaps the most important things – but many times the most important things are beyond our control.  
            The most important things –  are in God’s hands.  Salvation – is in God’s hands.   
            And Jesus comes into our lives, and takes us by the hand and says the words that are life for us. “Talitha cum!”  Get up – and live.  

            The other thing we can learn from the little girl – and the two stories here – is that there is always enough – mercy and healing – to go around.  
            At the beginning, Jairus is desperate for Jesus to come right away.             And when he stops – to show mercy and healing to another – nameless – woman – it seems like his compassion is going to be at the expense of the little girl.  
            If he is going to be compassionate to this nameless woman, who had been suffering for twelve years – then the little girl will die.
             It seems like the lesson here is one familiar to all of us – there is not enough to go around – not enough resources, not enough mercy, not enough love – if you reach out to one person, you will have to leave out someone else.  

            Is that what we think? 
            Is compassion a sort-of zero-sum game?  
            I remember reading a story about a man who was stopped at the mall by a kindly woman who offered to pray for him and his children.
            He gladly agreed and asked if he could pray for her and her children as well.
            Then he asked if they could pray for the children at the border.
            She recoiled.  “But – their parents brought them here!”
            She could not afford to be compassionate.  – even in prayer.  

            Perhaps that’s just how Jairus felt.  If Jesus healed the poor woman, his daughter would be left behind.  It would be too late.  

            But that’s not what happened.  It wasn’t too late.  
            Jesus could heal the woman and he could heal the little girl too.     There was more than enough to go around, for those of us who need life and healing and mercy.

            “Talitha Cum.”  
            These are Jesus’ words of resurrection to a little girl.  
            And it’s also the name of a little Lutheran church in Cusco Peru.     And I discovered that the pastor who founded the congregation a few years ago – it began with a Bible study, and this was one of the gospel stories that they studied together.  
            When they decided they wanted to be a congregation, there were just a few people – and they were all – women and girls.  
            So they thought of the story they had studied about how Jesus had taken a little girl by the hand and raised her to life.  
            And they thought – that is who we are, too.  The women and girls Jesus has raised to life.

            And they got up.  

            What do we know about this little girl?  What can we learn from her?
            That by the mercy and love of Jesus, she got up.  
            And so can we.  So do we.   
            There is enough mercy – there is enough healing – to go around.  AMEN

*photo is from Peru, but is not from Talitha Cum, in Cusco.

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