Legend has it that St. Benedict – a monk who died in the 6th century – founder of the Benedictines and probably most well known for his “Rule of Life” – was once asked – what is it you monks do all day at the monastery, what goes on over there?
And Benedict replied – It’s simple. We fall down. We get up. We fall down and we get up.
That, my friends, is one way to take in the good news of this morning’s gospel. A story that contains a story of people falling down and getting up, falling down and getting up. (Mark 5:21-43)
Falling down because that’s life – and getting up because of their faith – because of their love for someone else – or because someone took their hand and helped them.
First – a father, Jarius. He is a high-profile leader of his community. I am sure he does not fall often. I am sure the people come to him when they’ve fallen and need help – encouragement – strength. I am sure that for him to fall on his knees – begging – is completely out of character for what people expect of him and what he expects of himself.
His prayer is simple – we’ve all prayed it – help, please help. And Jesus does – he turns and follows Jarius. There isn’t even a conversation.
But on the way – someone else. This woman, she is literally the walking wounded and she has been for twelve years. Within her there is mustard seed faith along with her shame. She has so integrated and identified with the exclusion she has surely experienced because of her condition that she cannot even bring herself to speak to Jesus.
We just hear her thoughts – if only I touch the hem of his garment. And when she does and Jesus feels the connection and turns – she falls in fear and trembling. Has life brought you there? Somewhere in proverbs or maybe Lamentations it says – the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
This woman is wise and faithful. And Jesus gets her up with a title of true belonging. “Daughter your faith has made you well.” You are one of God’s – you are part of the human family. Your courage to reach out – in front of all these people – I imagine this woman will spend her life paying it forward – helping people get up who have lost hope.
And finally Jairus’ daughter. A 12 year old girl – what do you think of the connection by the way – the woman suffering for 12 years – and this daughter – 12 years old? A connection I am sure – but she is reliant on those who care for her – not even conscious to what is happening at this point. The prayers of others are what get her up – So Jesus simply takes her by the hand – Little girl, get up. And let’s not make a fuss about all this – shhhh – Jesus says, no need to make a big deal, this is just what life with God is all about – we fall down, we get up, we fall down, we get up.
On Monday here there was a baptism – two actually – an 8 year old boy Robert and his 4 year old sister Gwyneth. They live in California, but the mom guess where she grew up going to church? So two baptisms of children who can talk – exciting. I prefer baptisms during worship I do – but I will say – the baptisms I’ve done over this year are meaningful – the intimacy and getting to spend some more time with the families.
Anyway – Robert, the 8 year, had questions – 1) what is this, why are we doing this – well I said, you know how when you have a birthday you are a year older? And what do you do – last year you blew out 8 candles on a cake – you did something everyone could see to mark someone that was already true. Baptism is like that – you are a child of God but we do something everyone can see and it becomes even more true.
Got it – he said. Next question – where do we do it. Over here. So we walked to the font – it’s a font I said – do you know that word. No. Ok – a font means there is always living water. Have you ever seen a pond that is covered with green algae? Yep. Well that’s because the water gets stagnant, it isn’t fresh and flowing – a font is always filled with fresh water – because God gives us living water so we can have full wonderful lives.
And then I explained that’s why I’ll be pouring fresh water into the font before the baptism. Got it – he replied.
And then I asked – Can I show you my favorite window? Yes, he said. If there is anything I’d want you to remember about your baptism today it’s this window. So we came over here – and I said – this is a dad – and this is his son – and he just ran out to grab him in this hug – because his son came home. And that’s what baptism can sometimes help us remember – the love of God is always wanting to hold us – running to meet us – wherever we are and no matter what we’ve done.
Guess what Robert said – Got it.
Maybe he does – and maybe he will. We all get it, until we don’t. We all got it until it’s gone. We all fall and we all need help getting up.
There is no shame in falling down – or reaching out. Sometimes we get it – sometimes we need God to say – I got it.
What was it we heard before this gospel -
This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases God’s mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning. (Lam 3:21)
Life with God isn’t complicated, it’s like St. Benedict said, we fall down, we get up. Thanks be to God for that good news!