July 1, 2018 – Pentecost 6B
*Sermon delivered during a polka service*
21When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” 24So he went with him.
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ” 32He looked all around to see who had done it. 33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
35While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
It strikes me that part of worship, part of why we gather every week, is to hear and experience the Word of God, the living Word of God. Martin Luther had an interesting view of what the word of God meant. It comes to us in the Bible, of course. The words on the page tell us the story of Jesus, God’s Son, who give us the clearest possible glimpse of who God is and what God is up to. But we also believe that the Living Word of God is more that just ink on a page and we can encounter the Word in a lot of different ways. We hear it in preaching, where those of us brave and foolish enough to get up here each and every week and try to proclaim the gospel and the mysteries of God for everyone to hear. But we also get it in other way: music.
Martin Luther, describing music as the gift of language meeting the gift of song, once said that it is “one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.” Music has a way of settling into us, teaching us, and helping us come to a deeper sense of ourselves. How many of us still sing the ABCs to yourself when you’re alphabetizing something or looking for a name in a list? I know that I do.
As we gather for worship today, then, I wonder what this music is telling us. Polka music, like all music, carries with it both a particularity, a context and culture that it comes from, but it can also be used to proclaim universal themes and truths. The same is true of mariachi music, west African drumming, Gregorian chant, and Japanese min’yo music. Music can help us describe, in our own ways, the borderless and boundless truths of God’s love and grace.
And what does this mean, then? Why does it matter that the Word of God can look like ink on a page, sound like a sermon, or make us dance with an oompa-pa? Because, if this reading is any indication, wherever the Word of God is we’ll find healing. Maybe the healing will take different forms, but healing will happen, nonetheless. Where the Word of God is, love will be shown. Where the Word of God is, you’ll find peace in the midst of chaos, light in the midst of darkness, and companionship in the presence of isolation. The Word of God breaks down whatever boundaries and walls we build up and shows us the face of God in each other, whether that comes through writing, or speaking, or music.
So, whether or not you like polka music, I hope you’re hearing the Word of God differently today. Even when it strikes our differently, this truth remains: God loves you. God has redeemed you. God has claimed you as a daughter and son. And you have a place here. Amen.