Sermons 2006
"Trust, Faith, and Belief" Proper 8B, 2 July 2006, Mark 5:22-43

Home | "Light and Darkness", Christmas 2C, 31 December 2006, John 1:1-18 | Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2006 | "What then shall we do?", Advent 3C , 17 December 2006, Luke 3:7-18 | "Luke's Gospel", Advent 1C, 3 Dec 2006, Luke 21:25-31 | Which Jesus? Proper 29B 2006, 26 November 2006, John 18:33-37 | Apocalypticism and Fundamentalism, Proper 28B, 19 Nov 2006, Daniel12; Mark 13:14-23 | "The Widow's Mite: All and Everything", Proper 27B, 12 November 2006, Mark 12:38-44 | "The Commandments to love God, Neighbor, One Another" Proper 26B, 5 November 2006, Mark 12:28-34 | "Sight -- and Seeing" Proper 25B, 29 October 2006, Mark 10:46-52 | "Baptism: Overwhelming Washing", Proper 24B, 22 October 2006 Mark 10:35-45 | "God's Transforming Love", Proper 23B, 15 October 2006, Mark 10:17-31 | "Divorce", Proper 22B, 8 February 2006, Mark 10: 2-9 | "Hard Sayings and Sharp Words", Proper 21B, 1 October 2006, Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 | "First or Last?" Proper 20B, 24 September 2006, Mark 9:30-37 | "Unintended Consequences", Proper 19B, 17 September 2006, Mark 8:27-38 | "Ephphatha! Open up!" Proper 18B, 10 September 2006, Mark 7:31-37 | "Rituals", Proper 17B, 3 September 2006, Deuteronomy 4:1-9; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | "Choices." Proper 16B, 30 August 2006, Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-25; John 6:60-69 | "Come to the Table." Proper 15B, 20 August 2006, John 6:53-59 | "Do not be afraid." Proper 12B, 30 July 2006, Mark6:45-52 | "General Convention and Jesus' Compassion", Proper 11B, 23 July 2006, Mark 6: 30-44 | "Basics for the Journey", Proper 10B, 16 July 2006, Mark 6:7-13 | "Jesus and Rejection", Proper 9B, 9 July 2006, Mark 6:1-6 | "Trust, Faith, and Belief" Proper 8B, 2 July 2006, Mark 5:22-43 | "Storms, Fear, and Faith" Proper 7B, 25 June 2006, Mark 4:35-41 | Mighty things from Small, Proper 6B, 18 June 2006, Mark 4:26-34 | Trinity, Pentecost 1, 11 June 2006, Exodus 3:1-6; John 3:1-16 | The King Jesus Fire-Baptized Holy Spirit Church, Pentecost , 4 June, Acts 2:1-11; Jn 20:19-23 | "That they may be one" General Convention 2006, Easter 7B 28 May 2006, John 5:9-15 | "Friends, friendship, and love" Easter 6B, 21 May 2006, John 15:9-17 | Mother's Day, two mothers' love!" Easter 5B, 14 April 2006, John 14:15-21 | "Interesting, this Good Shepherd!" Easter 4B, 7 May 2006, John 10:11-16 | "How do you prove you are alive?", Easter 3B, 30 April 2006, Luke 24:36b-48 | "Do you believe because...." Easter 2B, 23 April 2006, John 20:19-31 | "He goes before you to Galilee...." Easter B 2006, 16 April, Mark 16:1-8 | "Journey into darkness", Palm Sunday B, 9 April 2006. Mark 11:1-11, 14:32-15:47 | "Sir, we would see Jesus!" Lent 5B, 2 April 2006, John 12:20-33 | "Miracles and Faith, Ordinary and Not", Lent 4B 2006, 26 March 2006, John 6:4-15 | "Rage, Rampage, and Outrage", Lent 3B, 19 March 2006, John 2: 13-22 | "Images of the Cross", Lent 2B, 12 March 2006, Mark 8:31-38 | "Baptism, Temptation, Redemption," Lent 1B, 5 March 2005, Mark 1:9-13 | Ash Wednesday , 1 March 2006, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | ""Nanny McPhee' and transfiguration", Epiphany Last B, Mark 9:2-9 | "Jesus, leprosy, and the law of Moses", Epiphany 6B, 12 February 2006, Mark 1:40-45 | "Healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and love", Epiphany 5B, 5 February 2006, Mark 1:29-39 | "Haints, Unclean spirits, and demons" Epiphany 4B, 22 January 2006, Mark 1:21-28 | Epiphany 3B, 22 January 2006, "God's Call -- and Our Response", Mark 1:14-20 | Epiphany 2B, 15 January 2006, "Call and Response", John 1:43-51 | Epiphany 1B, 8 January 2006, "The Baptism of our Lord -- and Ours", Mark 1:7-11 | The Holy Name, 1 January 2006, Luke 2: 15-21

Proper 8B 2006 Mark 5:22-43

I included the entire passage from Saint Mark because the healing of the women with the hemorrhage and the raising of Jairus’s daughter belong together. They belonged together at the time Saint Mark’s gospel was written and they belong together now. These two stories together give us important insights into Jesus’s teaching about this thing the Bible generally translates as “faith” or belief”.

The koine Greek word generally used in the New Testament is “pistis” (pistis). Theis hugely important New Testament term, pistis, in its various forms, is often understood abstractly, as faith, or understood as the result of a heady cerebral exercise, as belief. But underlying its use as faith or belief is a much deeper understanding: faith and belief as trust.

The predominant understanding of faith and or belief as mental assent — really, as something one does rather than the gift of the Holy Spirit -- has its roots in the radical reform movements of Protestant Orthodoxy. It tends to miss the subjective understanding of pistis as trust as the Church had understood it from the beginning.

"Believers" need an understanding of pistis that emphasizes a healthy trust in and reliance on God. The popular but mistaken interpretation of Jesus' reply to Jairus suggests that the synagogue leader's petition will be granted if he "believes hard enough." In contrast to this faith as work, Jesus offers something peaceful, the opposite of fear. Translating pistis as trust connotes rest rather than mental strain. Hear the power of Jesus replies to the woman and to Jairus this way: "Daughter, your trust has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease." "Jairus, don’t be afraid; just trust me." Pistis trust is the antidote to fear and panic.

Trust is not a spiritual work or a mental effort. Rather, Trust is the relaxed and open attitude of reception to the Triune God that makes life and healing possible.

Many people today, inside and outside the community of faith, suffer from damaged trust. Like the bleeding woman, some have ample reasons for claiming victim's rights. They are tempted to retreat inwardly in bitter distrust. The woman, however, stakes no such claim, makes no such withdrawal. For her, pistis-trust admits hope from outside herself. Belief in ancient times was never strictly intellectual but was closely akin to hope. And so the trustful woman is healed inwardly in the hopeful act of reaching out to Jesus.

Others, distrustful of the very notion of dependence on another, may be closed off to the healing energies of Jesus. Like Jairus, they may be talented people, people of authority and influence in their faith and secular communities. They may know about and profess pistis-belief. They may even have enough pistis-faith to fly to Jesus in troubled times, but like Jairus, they need to see hopeful pistis - trust in action before they "get it." And so it is Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, the prominent and wealthy one, who has to wait for Jesus to deal with the woman with the hemorrhage.

Consider that the woman's healing, taking place within the errand to save Jairus' daughter, is not an interruption or an inconvenience. Instead, consider that it is the very necessary enactment of Jesus' subsequent instruction to Jairus. The timing is providential, not only for the woman, but also for Jairus, who is privileged to witness a demonstration of pistis-trust that he will shortly be told to emulate. In a dramatic sense, the woman is every bit the teacher for Jairus – and for us -- that Jesus is, for trust has been demonstrated, truly and powerfully, for Jairus' benefit, that he might learn from her and do likewise.

In an important sense, these two stories, considered as a whole, like the account of Jesus' tarrying on the way to see his dying friend Lazarus (Jn 11:1-44), appears to contradict the popular evangelical notion that "time is running out." Time may well be running out for distrustful unbelievers, but for those who trust in Jesus, time, in a sense, stands still. "The end" may be near – who knows? -- but there is no reason to panic. On the contrary, Jesus acts like he has all the time in the world, which he does, since he owns it!

Jesus enters into the confusion and commotion that greets him at Jairus' house. But on his entrance he quickly brings the scene under God's reign: chaos is ordered; weeping and mocking laughter are shown the door; the broken are assembled in hope around a child's death bed; death itself is domesticated, turned back, declared temporary, redefined as nothing but a nap.

The central facet of Jesus spectacular miracles is the extraordinary calm that encompasses them in creating an atmosphere in which pistis trust can take place. Stilling the storm: Peace; be still. And to the disciples, “Why are you afraid; have you no trust?” These dramatic and spectacular miracles – at least dramatic and spectacular to us – these miracles tell us of the love of God manifested to us through Jesus Christ.

Trust first – and faith and belief can follow as morning follows night.

Now a word about Independence Day: today many American Christians might prefer only patriotic hymns and sentimental slogans. But if we take this time to reflect on how we as a nation might use our liberty in accordance with God’s gracious will, we can come to know the kind of faithfulness and hope – and especially trust -- that gave all those who came and still come to this fair country seeking a truer vision of God’s purpose, the courage to leave the realm of the familiar and to step out and into the New World God has already begun in Christ.


Adapted from SermonMall Commentaries, etc., for 2 July 2006 and Selected Sermons for 2 July 2006, dfms,org

Wicomico Parish Church
PO Box 70
Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579