Sermons 2009
Pentecost 4B (Proper 8B), 28 June 2009

Home | Proper 17B, 30 August 2009, Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | Proper 16B, 23 August 2009, John 6:56-69 | Pentecost 10 (Proper 14B) 9 August 2009, John 6:35, 41-51 | Pentecost 8B (Proper 12B), John 6:1-21, 26 July 2009 | Pentecost 7B (Proper 11B), 19 July 2009, Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 | Pentecost 6B (Proper 10B), 12 July 2009, Mark 6:14-29 | Pentecost 5B (Proper 9B) 5 July 2009, Mark 6:1-13 | Pentecost 4B (Proper 8B), 28 June 2009 | Pentecost 3B (Proper 7B), 21 June 2009 | Pentecost 2B (Proper 6B), 14 June 2009 | About Pentecost, Pentecost B, 31 May 2009, | On the Trinity, Trinity B, 7 June 2009 | Jesus and Prayer, Easter 7B, 24 May 2009, John 17:6-19 | How can we love? Easter 6B, 17May 2009, John 15:9-17 | 2 Sermons: Vineyard and a Baptism, Easter 5B, 10 May 2009, John 15:1-8 | Who's in? Who's out? Easter 4B, 3 May 2009, John 10:11-18 | Sacramental Meals, Easter 3B, 16 April 2009, Luke 24:36b-48 | Resurrection, continued, Doubts, and a Baptism, Easter 2 B, 19 April 2009, John 20:19-31 | He is not here, Easter B, 12 April 2009, Mark 16:1-8 | The Seven Sayings from the Cross, Palm Sunday B 2009 | We wish to see Jesus, Lent 5B, 29 March 1009, John 12:22-33 | For God so loved the world, Lent 4B, 22 March 2009, John 3:14-21 | Out with the money changers! Lent 3B, 15 March 2009, John 2: 13-22 | On taking up the Cross, Lent 2B, 8 March 2009, Mark 8:31-38 | News or the real Good News?, Lent 1B, 1 March 2008, Mark 1: 9-15 | Listen to Him! Epiphany Last B Transfiguration, 22 February 2009, Mark 9:2-9 | What do you mean, demons? Epiphany 4B, 1 February 2009, Mark 1:21-28 | Immediately and discipleship, Epiphany 3B 2009, 25 January 2009, Mark 1:14-20 | Right in front of your eyes, Epiphany 2B, 18 January 2009, John 1:43-51 | In the beginning, water and the Spirit, Epiphany 1B, 11 January 2009, Genesis 1:1-5; Mark 1:4-11 | In God we trust, Christmas 2B, 4 January 2009, Jeremiah 31:7-14; Matthew 2:1-12

Proper 8B 2009                                                  Mark 5: 21-43


In this personal computer age, when we need to emphasize something when we write, we can use bold, italics, underline, highlight, indentation, bullets or different font size.  The ancient Hebrew and Greek writers did not have these modern typing techniques, so they used literary styles.  A chiasm is one of those styles and is important in the Bible.  A chiasm is a writing style that – once understood – clarifies, emphasizes and reveals a deeper meaning in the Scripture than is understood in just a surface reading of these same verses.  Theologians and scholars have been identifying chiasms in the Bible for centuries, noting that the center verses are normally the point of emphasis, at least on the initial level, providing the entry point to deeper levels of understanding. (1)


Our gospel lesson for today is a chiasm:  the center verses are the healing of the woman who had been hemorrhaging for many years in the middle of the story of the raising of Jairus’ daughter.  At the simplest chiastic level it is a straightforward A-B-A chiasm:  A Jairus’ daughter – the sick woman – Jairus daughter. But going deeper an A-B-C-D chiasm is revealed:  Jairus’ little daughter at the point of death – the sick woman healed – Jairus daughter dead – Jairus daughter raised from the dead. 


            Or in even deeper, more abstract and symbolic terms: make well-faith-death- save-life, pointing toward the relationships of and among faith, healing, salvation, death, and life. (2)


Both stories in the chiasm involve healing, saving, salvation.  All three English words in the Greek derive from the primary or root word swz, to save, as in deliver or protect, literally or figuratively, hence the specific word used dwzw,  to be found, to rescue from peril, keep alive, make well, make whole, in both the preservation of physical life: made well, delivered from physical death, sickness or peril --  and or spiritual life: made whole, delivered from sin, restored to the community of the faithful and the Body of Christ, made whole with God.


Death is involved in both stories, bleeding to death in the case of the woman, actually dying in the case of the little child.  We have had two deaths in the parish this month and in the past year we have been touched by other deaths.  Death has always been a question – especially the death of the young.  If God loves us so much, why do we die?  Why did they?


            We who still have life are the ones who mourn for those whom we love we see no more.  We can’t touch them or see their love for us.  If we believe what we claim in our prayers, hymns, and worship, then we know that they are where they are not suffering but are made whole and united with God.  Of course our hearts are broken.  Broken not only for our own loved ones, but for wherever death strikes for reasons we do not, cannot, understand.  We think of our most beloved friends and family and our hearts break.

            But we believe that God weeps with us, too.  God weeps because we weep.  There’s nothing wrong with pouring out our deep sadness at the loss of someone we love or at an evil that’s been committed in our world, but we are not alone.  In that we can have faith, even in our darkest grieving hour.

            God didn’t make death. Death is a natural part of being a human being with a finite life on a finite planet. Suffering, sickness, pain, and death are part of being a human living in the natural world.   (3)


The Gospel also teaches us that death is not the end of the story.  The bleeding woman is made whole. And Jesus tells her, “your faith has made you well.”  dwzw


Jairus comes to Jesus, pleading that she be made well – dwzw – and live.   And Jairus’ daughter was raised from the dead, giving us, as in the case of Lazarus, the promise of resurrection. As humans we struggle to understand these things. The idea of finally all being together in eternal life, rising from our own death, is hard.  But the stories of Jesus raising people from the dead give us an insight into resurrection.   And in a real sense, those for whom we mourn remain alive in our memories and in our hearts as God is in our minds and heart.  We may not be able to see or touch, but they are with God, they are with us.

  God is love. God is with us in every emotion, in every part of our lives. We pray for the living because they need it..  And we pray for the dead not because they need it, but because it helps us.  (3)





2.  Williamson, Interpretation:  Mark. P. 112

2.  Adapted from a sermon by the Fourth Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 8B, June 28, 2009, Sermons that Work,