“A Little Girl ...” The Rev. D. Wallace Adams-Riley
Dear God, take my lips, and speak through them;
take our minds, and think through them;
take our hearts, and do with them what only you can do.
She is four, in the photograph; sitting in her father's lap. He, her father, a Marine just back from World War II, still in his officer's uniform, looking as though he just walked down from the Acropolis; so handsome, so dignified and strong.
She, in her freshly pressed dress, with lace and all; her dark hair brushed just right; and peace in her eyes, and comfort in her smile.
She called him "Mr. Daddy" when he first got back.
As I left Columbia, my hometown, yesterday, I caught a glimpse of the photograph; one I've known all my life.
Back in 1945, that picture appeared in the local newspaper.
That little girl in the photograph is my mother.
Whom I was glad to see, and spend time with, this weekend.
Along with my father, and two of my brothers, even if it literally was the hottest weekend in the history of Columbia. It was still, as always, good to be together.
Meanwhile, meanwhile, my mother is now, as I may have shared with you before, somewhere in the beginning of late-stage Alzheimer's.
It has been, yes, terrible. For her, and, yes, for those who love her; her family.
I have prayed for her, and for our family, more times than I can remember, and will, of course, continue to do so.
In this morning's gospel, we have another little girl in need of healing; another daughter.
Two, really; two daughters, in need of healing.
We have the daughter of Jairus. Her father is a leader in the community; highly respected. And he comes asking after Jesus, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Please come help. Please come heal her. That she may live."
He is afraid, and he asks Jesus for help.
Jairus somehow senses that he can trust Jesus.
And, together, they set out.
And then, while en route to help the little girl, a poor and unwell woman, a woman who has suffered for years from a hemorrhage, finds her way through the crowd to Jesus.
Like the synagogue leader, she too, somehow senses that she can trust Jesus.
And, sure enough, she can.
She can trust Jesus.
And she is made well.
"Daughter," Jesus calls her. "Daughter, your faith has made you well."
"Go in peace, and be healed."
Meanwhile, before Jesus is able to reach Jairus' house, word comes that the little girl has died.
Jesus, however, reassures the father, that like the woman with the hemorrhage, he too can trust Jesus.
"Do not fear, only believe," Jesus says.
Do not be afraid. Trust. Trust me, Jesus is saying.
And Jairus does. Jairus does trust Jesus; Jairus does believe.
And, sure enough, Jesus takes his daughter by the hand, and she is made well; she lives.
And Jesus makes sure she gets something to eat.
In both of the encounters, there is great vulnerability, and great fear.
And there is great trust, great trust.
And it is by way of that trust, that healing comes.
That life comes. That peace comes. That joy comes.
By way of trust.
Trust is what we mean, and trust is what Jesus means, by "faith" and by "belief".
It's what we mean when we say, "We believe in one God, the Father Almighty..." We're saying, we trust in one God, the Father Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth.
"Do not fear, only believe." Only trust, Jesus says.
Trust God; trust in me.
And everything else follows from there.
And everything else follows from there.
This week I found myself in conversation with an old friend, Nathan, who was asking how my mother is doing; kindly asking for an update, not having heard in a while.
He was asking how my mother is doing.
And, he was asking, how I'm doing, with how she is doing.
The woman with the hemorrhage. And Jairus, the synagogue leader. And the Evangelist Mark.
They each join Jesus in testifying, testifying to you and to me, that God is indeed trustworthy.
"Do not fear. Only believe."
Only trust, that God can be trusted with what and with who is most important to us.
Yes, that, whatever comes, God can be trusted.
I believe that.