In Mark 5, in the crowds around Jesus, a woman with a long-term bleeding problem reached out to him, saying to herself, "If I just touch the fringe of his cloak, I’ll be healed." As her hand brushed the fabric, she felt the bleeding stop.

Jesus felt the power go out of him and turned to find a trembling woman. "Daughter," he says, "your faith has healed you. Go in peace."

In this story, I’ve always focused on the woman’s faith, trying to discern the role of faith in physical healing. This morning, I noticed Jesus address to her: "Daughter."

She seemed to want an impersonal relationship, content to touch his garments, unseen. But he wanted a personal connection. He wanted not only to heal her, but to love her.

Jesus, you invite us to be sons and daughters. Draw us from the fringes into your heart, where our deepest healing lies.

Receiving the Gifts

I took off my long black cashmere coat and watched my husband hang up his brown leather jacket. Amazing, I thought. We didn’t work for either one. A friend gave Jerry the leather. My mother-in-law’s sister had given Libby the Nordstrom’s cashmere and when Libby died, I inherited it. Like God’s bestowal of righteousness, a gift and an inheritance beyond our earning ability.

On the other hand, only because I had lost 40 pounds was I able to use the size 10 coat. So, maybe I did have something to do with this process. But then I remember losing that weight–I’d carried those extra pounds for 15 years–was all by grace.

Such mystery in this process of being made whole. What’s his responsiblity and what’s ours? How do we position ourselves to receive the gifts he means to give us? And, like my weight loss that allowed me to receive the coat, is that positioning also his gift?

Father, we want to receive all the goodness you have for us. Show us how to cooperate with you to enjoy your good gifts.

God’s Empathy

On the day of Jesus’ death, nailed to a Roman cross on a hill outside Jerusalem, darkness fell from noon to three. A darkness in those days isn’t the darkness I am accustomed to in an American city full of streetlights burning all night. Perhaps the soldiers guarding Jesus lit a few candles down on the ground below him, but no light would have reached Jesus’ eyes.

Once I was enveloped in darkness in a cave when the guide briefly turned off the lights. In that minute without light, I felt an awful aloneness. Only holding my husband’s hand kept me steady. Jesus endured total darkness for three hours. I cannot imagine the loneliness.

My minute of darkness helped me understand my psychotherapy clients’ feelings of isolation.
And because God, by real human experience, also knows loneliness, he understands ours.

Sweet Jesus, you who understand the feel of the darkness, come hold our hands today in this dark world.