This past week at seminary was fascinating: we were given a text to dig into (pulling out verbs); we then had to place those verbs back into the sentences in which they appeared; but then we were asked to let our imaginations run free a bit and contextualize what those sentences were stoking within us — what fire — and find a focus sentence that sparked our worlds. We needed to do this three times over the week, so I’m sharing what I came up with.
The first passage I chose was Matthew 9:18-22: the scene where the synagogue leader (Jairus in other accounts) begs Jesus to raise his daughter, and an anonymous woman reaches out for healing in the midst of the crowd.
|Verbs||Verbs to Sentences||Sentences of Context|
|…say…||Jesus is speaking||God is communicating continually throughout the world.|
|…came…||Synagogue leader comes before him||Leaders come before God when they need help.|
|…knelt…||Synagogue leader kneels before him||Some leaders demonstrate genuine need, if not genuine commitment.|
|…say…||Synagogue leader speaks before him||Some leaders speak the truth about God, whether or not they intend to follow God.|
|…died…||Synagogue leader’s daughter has just died||Death is inevitable for all people at any time.|
|…come…||Synagogue leader invites Jesus to come||Faith can be demonstrated through invitation & intimacy.|
|…touch…||Jesus can lay hands on daughter||Physical touch is a powerful force in the universe.|
|…live…||Jesus can make daughter live again||We are desperate to try anything in order to keep hold of our loved ones.|
|…got up…||Jesus gets up||Reaching out to help others demands we get up.|
|…followed…||Jesus follows||God follows even worldly leaders into their lives & spaces.|
|…came up behind…||A woman with hemorrhages comes up behind||Girls learn from childhood that we are untouchable.|
|…touched…||She touches the fringe of Jesus’ cloak||Women know that touch can be a source of healing.|
|…said…||The woman speaks to herself||Women know we are not listened to, even if we are heard.|
|…touch…||If I touch the fringe of [Jesus’] cloak||Desperation & desire can become a powerful expression of faith|
|…made…||I will be made well||We all yearn to be whole.|
|…turned…||Jesus turns||Touch turns the posture of God.|
|…seeing…||Jesus sees the woman||In the midst of billions, God turns to see me.|
|…said…||Jesus speaks to the woman||God listens & responds to women in ways that defy culture and context.|
Focus Sentence: Women know that touch can be a source of healing.
Women rarely occupy a middle space in our world. We are either shunned for being too dirty, or we are shunned for being too sacred and powerful. Set on the edges of the margins, we know from childhood the void that is left when touch is removed from our worlds. Touch, as a universal force, has been sanitized in our western culture to live as either medical examination or pornographic exploitation. Neither realm can exist as fully evil or fully good, but both are wholly insufficient to meet the needs of the bleeding woman. She already knows that touch will cure her, and Jesus knows that his response to her touch will be the more powerful component of the miracle. An intimate laying on of hands has been erased from our world to the point that we are suspicious of motives, and fearful of potential shadows lurking in offices, classrooms, in vans, and online. How can we learn to see our need for touch – between ourselves and God, & between one another – as well as begin to accept touch as a healing force rather than a clinical practice or a demonized subtext?