Pentecost 12C – It’s Okay
August 14, 2016
David Lose[i] says that today’s gospel reading is perfect
for people who don’t have it all together.
And that of course means all of us,
even if we don’t admit it.
You’ve probably heard the news stories
about the fact that people who spend a lot of time on Facebook
have more symptoms of depression, low-self esteem, and jealousy than others.[ii]
Researchers say that it’s related to social comparison.
Facebook is great for making connections,
but when we compare ourselves and our experiences
to those of our friends,
both men and women, the studies say, tend to think we don’t measure up.
It seems that our friends go to more interesting places,
their family pictures look happier,
they have better things to do on a Friday night.
After we scroll through our friends’ lives,
we look at our own ,
and it seems we just don’t measure up.
We just don’t have it all together like our friends do.
Recently there’s been encouragement on Facebook to share things about your life,
such as seven pictures of your spouse,
or seven pictures which show you as a great mom.
One that I took part in this week is #SevenFirstJobs.
At first it was fun to think of what those jobs were.
Playing the organ at a little Methodist church in high school…
As a list, those jobs looked interesting, growing experiences,
but Facebookland didn’t learn the rest of the story.
The fact is, I hated working at McDonald’s –
for three years I hated working at McDonald’s.
I hated smelling like French fries all the time;
I hated the unpredictable hours and the inevitable phone call
asking me to come in when I was expecting a day off.
I hated suggestive selling, my orders being timed,
and coworkers who’d tease me for being too friendly at the drive thru.
As I looked at that list of all these jobs on Facebook,
there were other things the list didn’t tell.
It didn’t tell about the times I was out of work,
or was treated poorly by a boss,
or when I didn’t get the promotion I wanted.
None of that was posted on Facebook.
Just the #SevenFirstJobs….which looked like I had it all together.
David Lose says that this reading is perfect
for those of us who don’t have it all together,
even if we don’t admit it.
Lose points out that Jesus addresses 3 main characters in this story
who are struggling to keep it all together.
First there is Jairus.
Jairus is a leader of the synagogue who comes to Jesus for help.
He’s a leader of the synagogue.
And leaders are supposed to be competent,
to get things done,
and of all people to have it all together.
Until, that is, your little girl gets sick,
maybe close to death.
A leader normally would send someone else for help…
but this is his little girl,
and so Jairus runs to Jesus himself,
and throws himself at Jesus’ feet,
begging for Jesus to come.
His love for his daughter leaves him utterly vulnerable.
And then there is the woman.
She’s nearly the opposite of Jairus.
She is not a leader,
and has no social standing in the community.
Moreover, she apparently has no one
to ask this teacher on her behalf.
And if all this isn’t enough, she’s also ill,
bleeding for twelve years.
Because this was most likely vaginal bleeding,
by Jewish law, it would have made her impure,
unable to enter the synagogue (for 12 years),
and also likely unable to bear children,
in a society where bearing children was the primary role of women.
So this woman, too, is desperate.
For this reason, she braves the crowd,
wanting only to touch the cloak of this healer.
And then the third character is the little girl.
She’s twelve years old – signaling an important age,
the beginning of maturity, at the very cusp of adulthood in that society.
Yet she may never see it.
She, too, is utterly vulnerable.
Jesus touches these three characters.
Each of them is vulnerable in their own way.
Each is desperate in their own way.
Maybe there’s one you identify with.
Is it Jairus, the leader,
who finds that all the usual advantages and experience
that go with his position suddenly bring him nothing?
Or is it the woman who has been ill,
one who has endured much and isn’t sure she can bear any more?
Or is the little girl,
the one who is helpless, utterly dependent on others?
Which one do you identify with?
We are all vulnerable in some ways.
None of us has it all together,
even if we don’t admit it.
If Facebook is a community where
social comparison can make us feel less about ourselves,
here, we can work at being a community,
where no one has to have it all together –
where it’s okay not to pretend,
to admit our vulnerability,
to accept our limitations,
and to be who we are.
- It’s okay if your shoes don’t match;
- It’s okay if you decided not to shave this morning;
- It’s okay if your kids scream;
- It’s okay if you’re out of work or hate your job;
- It’s okay if the family picture on Facebook is usually missing someone;
- It’s okay if you’re overweight or underweight;
- It’s okay if you’re house needs work or you don’t cook or you are terrible at small talk
- It’s okay if you got a bad performance review
- It’s okay if you couldn’t find a picture of your spouse to post,
or have no photos of yourself being a ‘great mom’ or have no spouse or kids;
- Here it’s okay to add yourself to the prayer list – every week!
It’s okay if you don’t have it all together.
None of us do.
Jesus came and touched the vulnerable.
It’s okay to admit that that includes us.