September 8, 2019
My favorite part of the Mary Poppins movie is when the kids, Mary and Burt all jump into the sidewalk picture Burt has drawn with chalk. That’s a perfect living out of one of my fantasies. Because I have no art knowledge whatsoever, when I go to art galleries, I am most drawn to paintings I want to jump into. Sometimes it’s as simple as a tree that beckons or maybe a little English cottage scene. That idea of momentary escape and total immersion in a peaceful or delightful other reality is often appealing when life gets overwhelming and everything feels like just too much. And as you’ve already discovered, sometimes I like to do this with sermons too. It’s a different way to experience a familiar scripture text, if we attempt to jump into the story on the page and find ourselves in these words and in this place. So that’s what we’re going to do this morning with this Mark text.
Speaking of feeling overwhelmed, Jesus has every right to be stressed out and burdened as we come to him in this passage. After teaching the crowds of people, he and his disciples have retreated across the lake for a break. But that night as they are on the water, making their temporary getaway, the winds shriek and they almost drown. Only Jesus’ words finally calm the storm. They alight on the other side of the lake and are met immediately by a man possessed by many demons. Jesus casts them out and into a herd of swine. The pigs, some 2,000 of them, controlled by legion evil spirits, rush down the bank into the lake and die. There are a few witnesses so disturbed by what they see, they ask Jesus and his friends to get back in their boat and leave. And so the weary crew sets sail back across the lake to the crowds still awaiting them on the other side.
Jesus steps out of the boat and masses of people surround him. He gets no break, no chance to even get sorted out before he has this synagogue ruler fighting his way through the crowd in order to fall at Jesus’ feet and plead with him. Jairus says, “My little girl is dying. But I know if you come with me and put your hands on her she will be made well.”
Let’s stop here for a moment. This father is now grasping at straws. His daughter is dying, but he refuses to give up hope. He is desperate to move heaven and earth in order to get his child the help she needs.
I was talking with my sister the other day about how parenting seems to do alarming things with one’s perspective. I am shocked and appalled when I hear about the lengths parents will go to, interceding with a teacher on their child’s behalf, dressing down a coach if their child isn’t treated fairly or even verbally abusing referees when their child is given a penalty. Shocked and appalled and also at times uncomfortably uneasy.
Now for the most part, as a parent, I’ve learned to hold my tongue. But there have been exceptions too. If you sit beside me at a basketball game, you might hear some of those exceptions. But what I really can’t get away from is while I usually do a pretty good job keeping my mouth shut, you should hear the conversation taking place in my head – wow!