Tumbling in the Sand
The texts for Sunday June 28, 2015 (5th Sunday after Pentecost): Lamentations 3:22–33; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8:7–15; and Mark 5:21–43
Jesus finds his way into town
and, despite crowds pressing in,
he heals two.
Or at least just two in this story.
Two seemingly very different women.
One, barely a woman — just 12 years of age —
from a wealthy family
held closely by the community
The other, a far older woman,
cast out of community as unclean and unworthy
probably seen as “sinful” because she was sick
spent her last penny searching for healing.
Who knows the last time she was called “daughter”?
Who knows the last time she had been loved?
On Wednesday, June 17th, a young, white man
entered Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC
and killed nine black faithful human beings
after sitting with them in Bible study
for nearly an hour.
The next day, as I read—with horror—the details of the shooting, I arrived an hour-ish or so away in Sumter, SC, for my sister-in-law’s wedding.
By accident (by vanity) and by chance, I found myself spending Friday
at a walk-in dental clinic that took all of its patients at the same time: 6am
and then sent all of us through a series of lines, waiting, exams, etc
until we had the services that we needed complete.
And so, I found myself spending the day in the waiting room
with a group of predominantly black people watching the news —
watching a nearly all white team of reporters
cover a story about
and white violence
in between commercials of entirely white people
enjoying products of all sorts with perfect white smiles
and perfect white skin.
In my context, I didn’t even need to hear the words to see the realities of racism —
the realities of a society structured in such a way that white was what was portrayed as normal and normative and black, the oddity, the ones left out.
It certainly gave me much to think about.
And I’m still at a loss for words (I have been for a long while, actually, but I feel like I need to say SOMETHING) that we live in such a white-washed country
where people of color are considered the outsiders and people who are white — brought up in churches like ours — an ELCA congregation just like ours
could feel so entitled as to oversimplify people who are not like they are
could feel so entitled as to hate people who are not like they are
could feel so entitled as to kill people not like they are.
About all I know is this — we need to reckon our own complicity with this.
We need to come to terms with the ways that we benefit from racism as white people.
We need to acknowledge the ways we pit ourselves against those who do not look like us as though there isn’t enough to go around.
We need to realize our fear of those not like us and of those we do not know.
We need to do a whole lot of repentance and a whole lot of work toward reconciliation.
I hope that the President of the United States is right.
— in his Eulogy of the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Obama states that in this act of terror, God brought us grace:
Grace to see where we had been blind —
Grace to see a history of violence that still needs healing hiding behind ideals of heritage and symbols that have come to stand for hate.
Grace to see the destruction of gun violence in our midst.
Grace to see our sin of systemic racism that leads to greater injustices, and the work that still needs to be done to change.
I hope that, indeed, we have been given new eyes to see where we have been blind
and that we might find the passion, the commitment, and the broken hearts necessary for the work ahead.
And that we might start that work now.
In the extremely simple ways that our bishop — Jim Hazelwood — suggested this past week:
By first of all committing to point out and protest when we hear others making generalizations and/or negative comments about people of another race. This is racism. These comments open our hearts to greater hate and close our minds to the diversity and gifts of those around us who are different than we are.
And the second suggestion was that we go make a friend. Make a friend who is of a different race than you are. And not just an acquaintance, but a friend — someone you’d invite to dinner, that you’d have coffee with, that you’d bring to church with you. That you’d actually listen to and love.
Neither of these things alone will end racism, but they are a great place to start.
In today’s gospel, two very different women are healed.
One might be tempted to believe that those healings have nothing to do with each other, except for the coincidence of the narrative.
But, Mark makes it clear that these two are healed together—
that their healing is in fact one and the same—
in the way they are both called daughter.
in the way that the time of twelve years is emphasized
in the way that the community in included and excluded
in the way that their healings intertwine like no others in scripture do.
The woman whose hemorrhage was healed and the young woman raised from the dead are healed together as one, despite how different they might seem.
This is also the truth of racial reconciliation.
We, no matter how different we may seem,
are bound together as one —
not in competition for God’s love or for life.
But instead, our healing
is dependent on one another.
God does not choose to heat just one or another.
God is not interested in a community that is not diverse or is limited in grace and healing.
God stops to include us all
and until all of us are well,
until all of us are whole
until all of us know that we are all children, beloved of God,
none of us will be fully healed.
But, listen! Do you hear? Jesus is calling:
Featured Image: “Christ Raises the Daughter of Jairus” undated by Yelena Cherkasova. Found at this great blog: Art and Faith