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Touch the hem of his garment

by davesandel on July 4th, 2022

Monday, July 4, 2022

Independence Day, USA

            (click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Touch the hem of his garment

My daughter has just died. But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live.

At Vineyard yesterday the young preacher said he’d prayed for three dead people, and none of them returned to life. He also said he was pretty sure he’d freak out if one of them ever did. We laughed.

Jesus rose and followed the father.

Of course if we had lost our daughter Andi, then we would welcome anyone laying hands on her and praying. “Andi, come back to life. We don’t want to lose you. We love you. God, give her back her life.”

When Jesus speaks, everyone listens. When he walks, everyone follows. And there was a crowd that day. One woman who had not stopped bleeding for twelve years followed him. She whispered to herself. “I believe, I believe.”

She came up behind Jesus and touched the hem of his garment. And Jesus felt strength go out of him and turned to the woman.

Jesus looked deeply into her eyes. He smiled. She wept. She knew her body was different, healed, the moment she touched his robe.

Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you. And from that hour the woman was cured.

She had more than enough. Jesus’ love and Jesus’ power within her was all she needed as she lived out the rest of her life. Her faith had saved her.

And also the faith of the dead daughter’s father. He came to Jesus and humbled himself, he came to Jesus and asked him to come and touch her, because he knew Jesus would bring her back to life.

Jesus told the mourners, “Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they ridiculed him.

My friend Bill is a local minister to international students at the University of Illinois. They have occasionally asked him to go with them to the big Carle Hospital here and pray for their friend or father or mother, because they had died. And Bill went, and prayed, and there was no visible resurrection. But the nurses did not stop him, as he came in with the loved ones. The nurses might well have been praying too.

So what if nothing happens? When the next person asks, wouldn’t you keep on praying anyway? Not out of desperation, nor even out of grief, but out of faith.

When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand, and the little girl arose. And news of this spread throughout all that land.

James Finley was a novice at the Abbey of Gethsemani when Thomas Merton was the Master of Novices. Finley wrote a memoir of those six years called Merton’s Palace of Nowhere. Merton taught him that “prayer never touches us as long as it remains on the surface of our lives, as long as it is nothing but one more of a thousand things that must be done. It is only when prayer becomes the ‘one thing necessary’ that real prayer begins.

Finley acknowledges, as did Merton, that talking about prayer is next to impossible. He tries anyway. “You sit in prayer. On the surface there is nothing. Yet, as the noise of your next thought falls away, as you allow the silence to deepen around and within you, you discover that you are on the trackless waters on which Jesus bid Peter walk in order to be united with him … and we begin to intuit that the subtle nothingness of prayer is everything.”

Finley goes on, striving to avoid paradox just long enough to complete a sentence or two. I don’t mind the paradox, really. My mind is ready to settle into God’s warm breast and rest, not labor for understanding.

And I believe there is healing in them thar wings.

(Hosea 2, Psalm 145, 2 Timothy 1, Matthew 9)         

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