It was an ordinary day, a day of working. A woman, in the middle of her life, readied herself for her commute home after another day’s work.
She took a seat on a bus. Other commuters embarked and disembarked, but soon the bus was filled. The bus driver was one of those management types, and in his world there was a particular way the passengers were supposed to behave. It was Montgomery, Tennessee, and “white” folk sat at the front and “black” folk sat at the back. The driver, noticing that four whites were having to stand, instructed four black passengers to give up their seats. This woman was one of them. She refused. You know her story and her name, she is Rosa Parks.
Rosa, reflecting upon her refusal, simply notes that she refused not because she was physically tired, but rather because she was “tired of giving in”…tired of giving in….tired…it was this tiredness that initiated a whole new era.
This is the dynamic that is happening in the Jesus story as we enter Holy Week. It is a Holy Week because it initiates a new era by a people who were tired of being beaten down.
It is amazing what can be born of tiredness. I spoke with someone this week who said they were feeling a little “flat”, not up, not down, just “flat”.
Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper. I want to pause there for a moment in this story found in Mark 14:3-9. Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper. Do you notice what the story doesn’t say?
I have read the Bible for a long time, a lot of years. My job requires it, yet in all these years I am loathe to admit I have never noticed this aspect of the story before. Maybe I have been asleep on the job and all of you are grateful I am finally catching up.
Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper and what isn’t said in the story is this. Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the Leper who Jesus had healed or cured the day before or the week before or the month before. It doesn’t say that.
I have often bemoaned that when I am walking alongside persons with chronic illness or in varying stages of palliative care, I often bemoan that there is not a story where Jesus doesn’t cure the person, a story where there is healing but not necessarily curing. I wanted just one story. Well here it is.
I want us to feel the heart energy of our Scriptures today. We encounter a story in Mark 5:21-43, a story that is foundational to the Christian story and to our Christian faith and to us as a community. This story goes to the heart of the matter.
I draw your attention a dramatic curiousity in this drama .
A 12 year old girl is dying and dies. A woman has suffered terribly for 12 years. Jesus has just gathered about him 12 disciples as an individual who belongs to a nation made up of 12 tribes. The twelve matters.
The literary genius of the story couples or links the lives of two very different women into a common theme. This theme is about the kind of community God wants for our world, a community where all are valued and not just those of prominence and at the centre of life. The literary genius also presents us with God’s longing, Gods aspiration, God’s desire about the way life should be ordered. This is a story that proclaims the mutuality that God originally intended. This story is, in the words of Marcus Borg, stories that never were but always are. This “miracle” story is intended to show the oppressive social context Jesus challenged and his sacred intent on transforming this world, both personally and socially and it is fitting that we read this story on International Women’s Day.
Pause with with a moment and consider the story.