Instructor – Kimiko Karpoff
Kimiko has been a Healing Pathways practitioner for more than ten years and has studied a variety of healing traditions. A diaconal minister in the United Church of Canada, Kimiko has shared healing work in contexts ranging from outreach ministries to youth retreats to congregations to individual hands-on pastoral situations. She shares her spiritual journey in words and images at www.scatteredsacred.com
Rev Kimiko Karpoff, dm
Visiting Preacher, March 17, 2019
Today’s scripture is about Jesus’ public encounter with two people. One is Jairus, a synagogue official. He is a man with status and power. The other is a woman. Here she is nameless and sick. She’s been bleeding for 12 years, menstruating 12 years.
When reading scripture it’s important to notice details. Having one person named and the other not shows an imbalance of power and of significance to others in the story. Jairus is known, the woman is not. Jairus has power, the woman does not.
I want us to walk for a minute in today’s scripture from the point of view of the nameless woman. As we begin, just take a breath. As you let your breath out. . .
Imagine for a moment that you are the unnamed woman in today’s scripture. Close your eyes and feel your body shift to another time and place. Feel your bare feet on the dusty ground. Your body is enveloped in folds of cloth, your hair draped, protection from both the sun and gazing eyes.
As you inhale, breath in the smell of this place. The air smells of the sea mixed with the aromas of town; baking bread, cooking foods, dust, and many bodies.
Look around. You are standing at the edge of a large crowd of people as Jesus and his friends arrive in a boat. You have heard of this man, Jesus. People say that he is a great teacher and a healer.
You are sick and your body is weak. You have been bleeding, on your menses, for 12 years. You are exhausted by this constant loss of blood. Your longing to be well has meant that you spent all of your money looking for healing, but you were not healed. Now you are also destitute. You try not to feel the defeat of this.
The crowd begins moving and you move along with them. You can see that this Jesus is the hub of the crowd. Everyone revolves around him.
What’s happening? There is Jairus from the synagogue. He is a man with status and power. Everyone knows him. He’s making his way through the crowd directly toward Jesus. People move to let him pass. When he gets to Jesus he falls to the ground, prostates himself at Jesus’ feet. You are surprised by this show humility and strain to hear what’s going on.
“My little daughter is at the point of death,” he says to Jesus. “Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live,” he pleads. Jesus agrees to go to Jairus’s house. Jairus gets up to lead the way. The crowd continues to follow as they move through the town.
You are both excited and nervous. Jairus has confirmed for you the power of this healer, Jesus. Jairus would not have come to Jesus publicly if he was not a great healer. If he can heal Jairus’ daughter, surely he can heal you. But you dare not ask him, especially when he is on his way to Jairus’ daughter.
Yet you continue to move along with the crowd. No one pays attention as you gently wind your way closer and closer to Jesus. You think to yourself, “If I could even touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Finding yourself close enough, you reach out and you touch the hem of Jesus’ robe.
Immediately you feel the bleeding stop and your body healed. At that same moment Jesus stops and turns in the crowd. “Who touched my clothes?” he asks.
You shrink back as his friends start to shush him. “Look at all of these people. What do you mean who touched you? Who didn’t touch you in this crowd?” But you see that Jesus knows. And although you’re trembling, you step forward and fall on the ground at his feet, as Jairus had done earlier.
And, much to your surprise, you tell him. Everything. About your bleeding. About the money gone to physicians who did not heal. And how when you touched his robe you could feel the bleeding stop and healing begin. Jesus listens. And when you’re finished he speaks. “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
You feel your anxiety leave you even as you felt your body healed. Some men come from Jairus’ house to say that his daughter has died and they no longer need the teacher. You realize that she died while Jesus had stopped to speak to you. But Jesus seems unconcerned and goes with Jairus to his house. And you are left there watching the crowd dissipate at Jesus’ dismissal. You go home healed and renewed.
And so dear friends, come back to this place where we are now. You are yourself, sitting here in a church. This is March 17, 2019. We are reflecting on a powerful story of Jesus the healer. Feel yourself in the pew.
So what actually happened here? How did Jesus heal this woman? And what else is going on that impacted her experience?
First of all Jesus stopped. Even though he was on his way to heal the daughter of someone who had status and power, something important, he stopped. In doing so he affirmed her as equally valued, although she is nameless here. And he did this very publicly. Everyone could see that he was giving her equal attention.
Jesus listened. Theologian Nelle Morton in her 1977 essay Beloved Image talked about hearing into speech. We speak now about hearing each other into speech as a way of bringing to speech that which has been silenced. We understand it both as an act of our listening and also an acknowledgement that a Divine ear has heard us, allowing us to begin the process of speaking. Jesus provided the human ear that reminded her of her voice.
Jesus was kind. He did not rebuke her for her approach or for stopping him with her touch of his garments. He took the time, then bade her go in peace, noting that her own faith, her trust in her own wholeness, made her well. She asked for what she needed and it was given.
And her bleeding stopped. The energy that came through Jesus caused physical healing. This is harder to explain and has both story and metaphoric significance. The cause of her suffering was gone.
As we look at this in a context of ourselves, of the world as it is today, it speaks to us on many levels, of the need for ministries of healing.
Over this weekend, 18 of us have gathered to explore energy touch healing through the Healing Pathway. Healing Pathway takes us on a journey of grounding in and centering on Divine Loving and sharing that with others through touch and intention.
We are at a time when there’s so much disconnect. People are feeling the stress of disconnection. Many of us never feel the loving touch of another person, a real loving touch beyond a handshake of or pat on the back. People who work in schools do not touch or hug children. In care facilities, elders get touched only for practical things. There is so much to distract us that even in conversation sometimes we are not present with one another.
Engaging in healing ministry is powerful spiritual practice for the practitioners and deeply moving connection for both practitioners and recipients. If you get a chance, talk to someone who has been part of the workshop this weekend.
As powerful as this is on a personal and local level, I want to take it beyond that as well. I hold in my heart, like many do, the grief of the shootings at the Mosques in New Zealand this past week, and the shooting at the Synagogue in Pittsburgh in October and shootings at Mosques in Canada and so many other places where fear and hatred leads to death of those seen as other.
How do we respond to that? We pray, we send love, but feel distant and helpless to effect any change. Imagine ourselves, for a minute, as a community rooted, centered, and grounded in Divine Love. And imagine there are whole communities in our neighbourhoods, Muslim communities in our neighbourhoods in our world, who are like the woman who has been bleeding for 12 years. They are suffering loss after loss, they are fearful. But they are good and faithful people. They quietly reach out, looking for healing, for welcome. What do they find?
Do they find neighbours who will put aside the important things they are doing and stop to listen, to hear into speech?
Do they find kindness?
Do they find people who will say Enough!, and challenge our own comfort, our own selves in order to stop the spread of fear in our circles of influence? This is more than “we are a friendly church.” This comes through the work of truly healing our own deep wounds, our own flaws and prejudices.
Notice that in this story that we heard this morning, the woman knew somehow, that Jesus could heal her. Jesus did the work to be that healing presence. Throughout scripture we see him praying, we see him opening to God, we see him noticing the world around him. In order to be healing for others, we need to do that deep prayerful work ourselves.
We need to be present for others, truly present. When we began the weekend we intentionally put aside anything that would distract us from the moment.
Energy is resonant. When we take time every day in prayerful connection to the Divine we raise our own energy of Love. When we live in to our own Belovedness, we can see and live that others are Beloved. When we do this it impacts everyone around us. We become like Jesus. We become people and communities that others reach out to and find healing.
The world needs healing. Your support of this weekend’s Healing Pathway workshop is good ministry.
I believe that right now, healing ministry is one of the most powerful and important things that we can do. We do it for ourselves and we do it for each other and we do it for the healing of the world.
May it be so.