Boundaries

Mark 5:21-43

It's only Mark five and yet this gospel is compact, compact and crossing all kinds off cultural boundaries. Today's reading seem to highlight one of the biggest boundaries crossed. A good Jew had certain rituals to adhere to, a certain letter of the law after touching or being touched by people who are unclean. We hear the story and forget that Jesus is a good Jew not a Christian and our ears tame its understanding. Make no mistake though Jesus is crossing the boundaries of what is acceptable.

Jesus after being touched by the woman with the bleeding should have gone and been ritually cleansed the same after touching the girl who is dead. It took time in order to go through ritual purification, each unclean touch had a certain prescribed number of times you would have to pass through the water. Yet Jesus does none of this in either case. Also these ones that he heals are not men or sons, they are a woman and a girl. This is why the response of "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease." (Mark 5:34) is so significant. He claims her as a child of God, not as someone who has just tainted him.

The other boundary is with the little girl, Jairus' daughter, who is just at the cusp of marriageable age. Children died of disease in the ancient world all the time and yet Jairus and Jesus see the daughter as beloved even though she is a daughter and not a son. Jesus doesn't take the mourners as the experts on her death either. He is willing to go in and heal her even if it is in touching a dead person. He crosses the norm of what is expected, no one can cross the boundary of death to life and here Jesus does.

What boundaries are we willing to cross as Christians? Only the acceptable ones, the ones that save someone's soul as long as they accept Jesus. Are we truly willing to be unclean and cross boundaries that bring despair to our traditions, our denominations in order to touch people's lives and give them hope and faith and love?

These past few weeks have given us interesting opportunities in order to cross boundaries. We have mourned as a nation for people shot down while they attended a prayer meeting at their church, Mother Emmanuel AME. The posts on social media have ranged from prayer, support, and love to naming the incident as people who have died for their faith. It is much easier for us to talk about this tragedy in terms of people who lost their life because of their faith and avoid the one which is truly at the center of this, that these people died because of the color of their skin. To talk about race and the way our society still keeps in place symbols, institutions, and ways of pricing out equality are much harder discussions to have. It requires us to take time, listen to another's story and to analyze our societal behaviors and come up with new ways of responding. It requires us to look at long held structures and admit our role as privileged people and that is hard. We are all unclean because of not having the discussions that need to happen. We must be brave and cross those boundaries even when others would label us unclean.

The other thing which has warranted big discussion this week is the Supreme Courts ruling on gay marriage being legal in all states. Now this is state law there is nothing in this that says churches immediately have to accept the law. I have seen posts from people who have said this is the beginning of the persecution of the church. It is hard for us to release our privilege. It is much easier to claim victimization instead of have the real talks about crossing boundaries. That Paul tells us the greatest is love, what does that mean for us as Christians? Is there a limit, a boundary to God's love. It is a much harder discussion to have about how we limit those around us and how wide God's love is and if our boundary is made from something false and not real.

These are all conversations that take time, that ask us to listen to others. They ask us to cross initial boundaries of society and to open our hearts in love. It asks us to honor and receive others story as a gift and this is what Jesus has done in this story. Honored the gift of both women to Israel and this crosses a huge societal image of women as being owned back in Jesus' time. These women are not property they are both daughters and beloved. Should we not do the same?