Sermon: Stretch Out, Now

July 1, 2018
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Mark 5:21-43

If there is one thing I could use in my life right now, it’s healing.

To start with the most trivial, I’m pleased to say that I’m getting over this cough I’ve had, but this has been one stubborn little virus, and I know a number of you have had a similar experience. It’s still not entirely gone. Some have told me it can linger for up to six weeks. Yikes.

That’s pretty quick compared to the healing our island needs down in Puna. Nature will take care of it, with time, but it will take decades, not weeks, until forests grow there again, or the land will have soil for farms. The lush greenness of this volcanic isle is a daily miracle, but it is one of God’s slow miracles, happening mostly unseen until it becomes what has always been.

Decades are too slow for the healing needed by the residents of Leilani and Kapoho and the neighborhoods between. Homes and livelihoods have disappeared, been cut off, or are simply too dangerous to live in. There is a proposal before the governor and the legislature now to swap state land for what has been taken by lava, which comes from Senator Ruderman of Puna. I hope you’ll support that effort, and shorten the time for healing the losses of our neighbors.

Even that is too slow for the families that have been separated at the U.S./Mexico border. A federal judge ordered that they all be reunited in thirty days. Practically speaking, that might be the time required to undo what should never have been done. Morally speaking, it is thirty days too long. Let us pray that the Justice Department and the Homeland Security Department spend the time restoring families and not fighting a court order. Mind you, they are now arguing that the order permits them to imprison entire families, as if exchanging one evil for another makes it right.

Yesterday, thousands of people demonstrated from Maine to Hawai’i, proclaiming that the people know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil.

In other news, the Justice Department has declined to defend the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that health insurance policies cover pre-existing conditions, which quite simply means, in the end, that none of us will be insurable once we get sick. In addition, the House of Representatives is considering a measure to reduce the Federal deficit created by the tax cuts of last year: over $500 billion in reductions to Medicare alone.

The logical conclusion is that only the wealthy are entitled to medical care.

Only the wealthy get healing.

Jesus’ response to that would be, and is, an emphatic, “No.” Yes, he went to heal the daughter of Jairus, the synagogue leader. By the standards of a Galilean village, he would have been among the wealthiest, most influential people any of them knew. He also came to find Jesus as soon as he stepped ashore from the boat, because he knew his daughter needed healing and he believed Jesus had the power to do it.

It’s worth noting that while Jesus did have troubles with religious leaders during his ministry, he didn’t have trouble with all of them. Jairus came to him. He stretched out.

Jairus wasn’t the only one to stretch out. This brave, determined, faithful woman also stretched out for Jesus’ power to heal. She did not choose to risk rejection by asking Jesus directly. Twelve years of bleeding left her, I suspect, with little extra energy. She had her confidence in Jesus’ power and in God’s grace, despite twelve years of frustration with the physicians who had taken her money but not her disease. She stretched out.

And she was healed. Healed, too, was Jairus’ twelve-year-old daughter – she had been living for as long as the woman had been suffering – because Jairus stretched out, and the woman stretched out, and when they said the Teacher needn’t bother then Jesus stretched out. They were healed.

I don’t know about you, but I could use some healing in my life, in my family, for my home, for my neighbors, for my nation, for my planet. Actually, I do know about some of you, and I can guess for others: you could use some healing, too.

I guess we’ll have to stretch out now.

I wish stretching out was simple. Sometimes it is. “Oh, I’m sick. I’ll just stretch out on the sofa and feel bad for a few days, drinking citrus and eating chicken soup until I feel better again.” Sometimes stretching out looks and feels a lot more like that woman’s twelve years: physicians and technicians and specialists and nurses and insurance clerks and appointment schedulers and tests and blood draws and exams and tentative diagnoses and mistaken diagnoses and treatment plans and embarrassing, uncomfortable therapies and maybe, maybe there will be healing.

That’s stretching out, and it’s not so simple.

There’s stretching out to government officials who have good hearts but don’t know where to find the resources. There’s stretching out to elected persons who have good hearts but whose attention needs to be focused. There’s stretching out to public servants who serve themselves, rather than the public. There’s stretching out to confront the principalities and powers and declare, “Do your evil no more!”

Sometimes, we stretch out, and the healing is long in coming, or doesn’t seem to come at all.

I wish stretching out was simple. I wish healing was simple. I know that God’s grace is simple – I just wish I could simply perceive it more often.

It turns out you have to stretch out to perceive God’s grace, too, at least sometimes.

Many times in my life, I’ve seen people stretch out, and find healing for their bodies, their minds, and their spirits. Many times in my life, I’ve seen people stretch out, and that healing has been very slow in coming. Many times in my life, I’ve seen people stretch out and persevere, and the stretching itself became the healing. Many times in my life, I’ve seen people stretch out and persevere, and the healing seemed to come from within, unrelated to the stretching. Many times in my life, I’ve seen people stretch out, and the healing finally came as they passed from this life to the next. Many times in my life, I’ve seen people stretch out, and find healing without breath.

So I’ll keep stretching out. I hope you’ll keep stretching out. Stretch out for health. Stretch out for life. Stretch out for love. Stretch out for faith. Stretch out for hope. Stretch out for justice. Stretch out for community. Stretch out for immigrants. Stretch out for native-born. Stretch out for children. Stretch out for parents. Stretch out for kupuna. Stretch out for the strangers. Stretch out for those you love. Stretch out for yourself.

And stretch out now to this table. Jesus said, “Give her something to eat,” and at this table Jesus gives us something to eat. Jesus gives us his self for healing as we stretch out.


We are running into technical difficulties posting the sermon recording this week. We hope to resolve them soon and include the audio.

The image is a stained glass window in Stanford Memorial Church, Stanford, California, by Frederick S. Lamb, based on artwork by Antonio Ermolao Paoletti – Photo by Eugene Zelenko, 2007-07-22, Public Domain,


Categories Sermons | Tags: , | Posted on July 1, 2018

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