Saturday, 27 June 2009

Going with the flow

A reflection on this week's gospel: Mark 5: 21-43

Going with the flow…

Tired of being shunned.
Tired of keeping out of harm’s way.
Tired of respecting everyone else’s sense of propriety.
Didn’t her feelings matter?
Wasn’t she allowed some respect?
Her culture said no.
Though she had no control over her illness.
Though she never asked to be unclean
That was what she was decreed
Deserving nothing.
Meriting no sympathy or compassion.
For she was a nuisance.
A danger to those who wanted to keep themselves pure.
Waiting to trip up the unsuspecting, who didn’t know her well enough to give her a wide berth.
How dare she show up in public.
Especially when the teacher was around.
How could she be so brazen to show face and risk putting everyone at the mercy of her disease, her uncleanness?
And to compound it by actually reaching out.
Stretching forward to touch the Teacher.
How could she?
Did she think the crowd would hide her?
Did she naively think she could get away with it?
Did she really think he wouldn’t notice?
A man of his stature would surely know instantly when he was touched by uncleanness.
Surely she realized that?
And to make matters worse, her selfishness, her taking what she wanted put another life at risk.
Because the teacher, on his way to save Jairus’s daughter was stopped in his tracks by her outrageous actions.
He was on a mission and she interrupted the flow.
I know he claimed it was alright.
I know he commended her faith and her courage.
But wasn’t he just being polite, trying to spare her blushes any further?
Does Jesus really want us to show our vulnerability?
To pursue our wildest imaginings?
To take risks.
To dream dreams.
To know that when we’re living in the cracks, even when we’ve barely got a hold on things, that God is there.
That in our brokenness and in our desperation.
When we let down our guard and come out from behind our masks.
Then God can set to work.
The God who loves interruptions and can still turn things around.
It’s not just about healing.
It’s not just about miracles.
And its not even about faith.
It’s about the knowledge of God’s presence in all of our darkest and weakest and most fearful moments.
It’s not our faith that heals but God’s love.
It’s not our courage that sees us through.
It’s God’s presence in our vulnerability.
God doesn’t measure how deserving we are but how needy.
And the results aren’t always what we ask .
For God is unpredictable.
And, for God, mercy and compassion and love are not limited commodities.
There’s always enough – and more to go around.
Enough for the vulnerable.
Enough for the risk takers.
Enough for the fearful.
Enough for the dreamers.
Enough for those who have fallen through the cracks.
Enough – and more.
Thanks be to God.

Liz Crumlish June 2009

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Born again

You must be born again.
What kind of talk is that? 
And who is he to question anyone’s parentage.
His lineage isn’t exactly squeaky clean.
You must be born again.
I suppose he has demonstrated that he can perform miracles.
But being born again?
Surely, even for him, that’s stretching it a bit too far – literally.
He comes away with some bumpers, that Jesus.
Why can’t he just talk straight
instead of all this confusing language?
Camels going through the eye of a needle.
At least that conjured up an amusing image.
But – you must be born again.
I certainly don’t want to picture that in my mind.
And maybe that’s the problem.
It all comes down to what we can imagine and what we can explain.
That’s the world from which we operate.
But this Jesus doesn’t seem to operate from the same world as us.
He seems to be living on a different planet.
I mean he’s so touchy feely.
So emotional.
You know he’s even cried in public.
What kind of a man is that?
But I think that’s what confuses us so much.
We deal with what we can prove.
With what we can argue and debate and work out logically.
That doesn’t seem to work with the stuff he’s throwing at us.
So what to do?
Dismiss him as a disturbed alien?
But he’s good entertainment value.
I’d be reluctant just to write him off.
And, in spite of his unorthodox beginnings – I’m not sure that he quite made it into the honeymoon baby category – in spite of that, he comes from good stock.
Respected folks, orthodox, not a line of nutters.
So his emotional side that he insists on flouting must have come from somewhere.
Must have some legitimacy.
Its just not our way.
Not what we’re used to.
Maybe that’s why there’s so many women following his every move.
Its not so much his looks.
It’s the fact that here’s a guy not frightened of his emotions.
Not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve.
So, when he talks about being born again, maybe we need to get beyond the pictures.
Get beyond the logic nonsense.
And think of it in a whole different way.
A whole new concept.
That’s scary.
Having to engage with our emotions and not just our brains.
That’s really scary.
Letting his words filter into our hearts and not just our heads.
That’s really, really, scary.
Don’t know if I can handle that.
Don’t know if I want to be changed that much.
He’s asking a lot.
And maybe that’s the crux of the matter.
Liz Crumlish 2009