Saturday, 30 June 2018

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”: a sermon (Mark 5:21-43)

My talk is at least partly based on a quote that’s sometimes attributed to a former Beatle, the late John Lennon:  “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”  (Actually, he wasn’t the first person to say it.  The quote was around for a few years before that, but Lennon used the quote in his song “Beautiful Boy”, celebrating the birth of one of his sons.  But even though someone else said it first, almost everyone now attributes the quote to John Lennon.)

Anyway, whoever said it first, it’s a good quote:   “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”   I’ll get back to it in a few minutes.

Our gospel lesson tells us about a time when Jesus was interrupted in the middle of doing something important – to do something else which was equally important.

Jesus was asked by a man named Jairus to see his daughter, who was ill and on the point of death.  Jesus agreed and went with Jairus to his home to see the little girl. 

Now, there’s one interesting thing about Jairus.  Mark describes Jairus as being either one of the “leaders of the synagogue” or one of the “rulers of the synagogue”, depending on the translation you’re using.  In the original Greek, the word used for Jairus and his colleagues was archisynagogus. 

To be an archisynagogus, didn’t mean that Jairus was a rabbi or anything like that, but a lay member of the congregation with a lot of responsibilities around the place. 

·        It may have been that no one else could be bothered doing anything, so “Good ol’ Jairus’ll do it”.   

·        Or it may have been that Jairus really liked being the bloke in charge of things and didn’t want to share the responsibilities.

Mark doesn’t really tell us, but the tone in which he tells the story gives the feeling that Jairus was a decent bloke.  (And that’s the thing about archisynagoguses:  ministers tend to complain and joke about the bad ones (I know I do!), but many archisynagoguses are good people, like Jairus.)

Anyway, from my almost 39 years of experience in ministry, I know that one of the keys for a minister to survive in ministry is how the minister relates to the Jairuses and the other archisynagoguses in the congregations.

Anyway, Jesus, and Jairus, and the disciples were on their way to Jairus’s house to check out how the little girl was doing when … something else happened.  A woman suffering from a debilitating gynaecological ailment decides that all she needed to do was to touch Jesus’s clothing and she’d be healthy.

That’s what she did.

Voila!  That’s what happened.

Jesus has a bit of a conversation with the lady and then it’s back on the road. 

By the time they get to Chez Jairus, the child had died.  While it’s touch-and-go for a while, Jesus does his thing.  By the end of the story, the kid was alive, awake, healthy, and eating lunch.

Meanwhile, the lady whom Jesus encountered on the road was starting to get on with her life again.

And, as we’re reminded in the song, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”   

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