On Hoskin Avenue in Toronto, Ontario, Canada two esteemed institutions of theological training face one another from opposing sides of the street: Wycliffe College in the Evangelical or low-church Anglican tradition and Trinity College in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. Several years ago, a friend of mine visited both schools during Eastertide, and upon arriving at Wycliffe she discovered a large sign out front that proclaimed, “He is risen! He is not here!” She further discovered, however, that someone had taken a large marker and underneath scrawled, “He is across the street!”
While this humorous slight was surely done in jest, the reality is that we often find ourselves in truly pitched battles about the right ways and the wrongs ways to do things, and we quickly lose sight of the higher and deeper calling we have to transcend our divisions for the sake of the Gospel. Nowhere better do we see this than in today’s Gospel reading. The stories of Jairus and the hemorrhaging woman display in sharp relief the reality that God’s work in the world transcends every single constraint or parameter that we might want to put on it.
On the one hand, we find Jairus, a man of power and influence. As leader of the Synagogue, it is clear that he is a man who “should know better.” His compatriots scorning of Jesus suggests that his kind of people do not need help, do not need healing, do not need a savior. In the tragedy of his daughter’s illness, however, Jairus sees his own brokenness and is humbled in his helplessness. On the other hand, we find this unnamed woman who has suffered from twelve years of hemorrhaging. She is left destitute, and her affliction puts her in a state of constant ritual impurity according to Jewish law. Her kind of people seem beyond help, beyond healing, beyond salvation. Yet, her audacity compels her forwards. Both this unnamed woman and Jairus fall at the feet of Jesus in recognition of his Kingship, in recognition of his healing and transformative mercy. And what does Jesus do? He simultaneously names and acknowledges the faithfulness and sincerity of both the unnamed woman and Jarius, the low in this story and the high, the poor and the rich. Christ transcends all of the seeming constraints in order to respond in mercy and love. Let us pray that we too can have the same humility to recognize our own powerlessness and the same audacity to ask the creator and redeemer of the universe for the truly life giving transformation that we all desperately need.
And what do we as the Church become when we live into these principles corporately? We become a community of generosity, wholeness, and love. We become a community that incorporates the rich and influential insider and the marginalized and oppressed outsider simultaneously and seamlessly. Imagine what the Church would like today if we recommitted ourselves in earnest desperation to the heart of the Gospel, if we put aside our divisions to welcome everyone in love in the name of Christ. Imagine if the prayer on our lips every moment of every day was, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Imagine the witness that this would have in the world, in our nation, and in our very city.
At the end of the day, the sign at the beginning of the sermon was not completely wrong. Yes, Jesus is risen and not in the tomb, and yes Jesus is with us when as we gather ourselves in this congregation to worship him, but Jesus in case we forget is also across the street. Jesus is out there as much as he is in here. When we live into our mission to be a Christ-centered, Kingdom-centered faithful community, filled with generosity and love, we play our part in bearing witness to the truly earth shattering and transformative healing that Christ offers to a broken and hurting world. Let us therefore be reinvigorated in our faith, renewed in our hopes, and reoriented towards the work that truly matters. Amen.