Weekly Bible Devotional
“I’ve been meaning to ask…Where Does it Hurt”
May 8, 2022
We continue this week our sermon series, “I’ve Been Meaning to Ask…” based on materials from A Sanctified Art. This series is focused on helping us bridge differences so that we may create spaces for compassionate dialogue, listening, and seeing the holy in one another.
Prayer for illumination:
Today we will read stories of those who have known hurt–
people who have carried shame,
who have lived with grief and chronic illness,
who have felt alone and ignored,
who have seen the depths of suffering.
As we listen, we will be reminded of
the hurt we have carried during these fragile days–
memories and regrets co-mingling in our chests.
And as we listen, we will be reminded
that our neighbors, our siblings in faith,
also come to this space carrying burdens.
So dust off our ears and stretch open the
canvases of our hearts so that in our pain,
we might lean into one another as we lean into you.
Pull us close.
We are listening.
Scripture: Mark 5:21-43
21When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.”
24So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32He looked all around to see who had done it. 33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
35While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
This week’s question implies that all of us have known pain and suffering. In order to cultivate connection, we must first get curious about the pain others carry and the pain we carry ourselves. Before we can act, we must first acknowledge and believe the pain is real, for bearing witness to each other’s pain helps us cultivate compassion. In the dual healing story of the hemorrhaging woman and Jairus’ daughter, we acknowledge those who suffer chronically and in isolation. By telling these women’s stories, we hope to bear witness to the particular and very common struggles related to fertility and reproductive health. Additionally, we must confess the harm done in neglecting the emotional, physical, individual, historical, and systemic wounds that exist among us.
Commentary by Rev. Brittany Fiscus-van Rossum:
In the days before the pandemic, my church–a vibrant community of people with and without housing–used to gather in an old basement. Some days, especially the rainy ones, we would crowd too many people in our tiny space. On such busy days of ministry, my church had a smell to it: the combined scent of damp socks and worn-out sneakers, drying jackets and sweat-stained tee-shirts, bathrooms used as showers, coffee percolating, and the remnants of cigarettes just smoked. Every crowd has a smell to it–the pungent, sweet smell of human life itself. Death has its own smells, too. Sometimes I think we would like to sanitize or avoid them both, because what we can
perceive with our senses can also remind us of where life can hurt. We shirk from the man who smells of his own urine, avert our eyes from the dirtied hand reaching out for change, and try not to see ourselves in the woman whose only possessions are piled in a damp cart. But in this passage, we find Jesus in the midst of human life–and all its hurting. He is in the press of the crowd with sweaty human bodies and the scent of a woman’s blood. Jesus stops and listens to this long-hurting woman –as if pain were not so shameful but something we all experience. Jesus then enters a stagnant, grief-filled room, no doubt smelling of sickness and death. He reaches out and touches the body of a girl already thought lost. These relational and embodied healings humanize those whose hurting has been pushed aside, calling our attention to the broken systems that can perpetuate and dehumanize pain. Jesus’ healing disrupts the injustice of a woman who has been rejected and labeled impure for her condition. With the girl, Jesus disrupts death itself. How might we allow Jesus to disrupt us–enabling us to acknowledge others’ pain so that we may seek life together? We must put ourselves in the uncomfortable places where human beings live, breathe, and hurt because those are the places where we will also find Jesus.
When It Hurts
By Rev. Sarah Are
I can tell that you’re hurting.
It’s the way your eyes cast down,
the way you shuffle through the house,
distractedly bumping into things.
It’s the restless sleep and
the quiet space between us which
turns us into icebergs.
We float by, silent in the night,
most everything existing
under the surface.
I can tell that you’re hurting.
It’s the way your prayers were quick
at first, and then–none at all;
your silence challenging God,
daring God to say something to the void.
I can tell that you’re hurting,
but I don’t know what that feels like.
where does it hurt?
I’m not offering to fix the pain,
I’m not that powerful.
However, I am offering to see it.
Show me your scars,
and I’ll show you that
you’re not alone.