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Teacher's Pest

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you felt


Working on my sermon the other night I was working on this

sermon, while I was picking at dinner, and I was interrupted

by my 6 year-old son. This was after the bedime ritual that’s

part parade, part wrestling match, and part hostage

negotiation I finally plopped myself down at the kitchen

counter and I swear it wasn’t one bite of my dinner before I


“Daaaaaadddd! Can you bring me a glass of milk!”

That was not gonna happen. So I responded, “Son! It’s bed

time! Go to sleep!”

“Daaaaaaaaaadd!! Can I PLLLLLLLLease have a glass of


Righteously indignant, I answered, “Son! If you yell outta

your room one more time, I’m gonna come in there and

spank you!”

It was silent as I pushed my fork around my plate for only

about 5 minutes... before I heard, “Daaaaaaaaad!”

“Son! What?!”

“When you come in to spank me, will you PLEASE bring me a

glass of milk!”

As a parent, though, I’m learning to navigate the difference

between rules and principles. And I acknowledge already,

that sometimes, the rules that I make get in the way of the

principles I’m trying to model.

Frankly, I could stop there. I’ve never really made my point

that early in a sermon before...

But, not needing to say anything else has never stopped me

from still talking so...

This morning, we turn to the Gospel of Mark, and Mark is

actually telling two stories at the same time. there is the

persistent woman and Jairus, the father of a dying girl..

I suggest to you that these are stories of people who

challenged the inefficacy of rules because they deeply

knew the principles of the Man from Galilee.

I can imagine the desperation of a woman who for 12 years

was not only suffering physically but God only knows what

suffering she must have endured under several physicians -

did she feel heard? Did she feel believed? Did she feel

safe? I can only imagine the hopelessness of 12 years

without a diagnosis. Can you? But from this point forward,

let her be known for her faith and not her condition, she is

the persistent woman.

I can imagine the desperation of Jairus, the once-proud,

the once-secure synagogue ruler who was all of a sudden

humbled by the desperation of a parent whose child was

deathly sick. Can you?

Yes, they were desperate. And in the middle of a crowd, in

the middle of a movement, in the middle of an insurrection,

and in the middle of a whole other bible story... Jesus

stopped. Jesus heard. And Jesus healed.

Let’s honor what this says about the boldly faithful.

But also, let’s not lose what this says about Jesus. And how

Jesus stands for the desperate.

Actually, All of Mark’s gospel is kinda desperate. If Mark was

a Netflix series, there’d be scary music on the WHOLE time..

But Mark knew how the story was going to end, that Jesus

was going to take all of those things, and turn them upside

down on their heads.

Things were desperate, and that’s when Jesus was at his


And that’s actually a question that Mark records in today’s

scripture that “some people” - oh be careful when it’s some

people, am I right?!” - some people ask, your daughter is

dead why bother?

And I’m wondering if that question isn’t as rhetorical as it


Mark answers it today, but he tells us that the ANSWER is not

Why, but who!

The answer to why bother comes down to WHO Jesus is and

WHO we choose to be.

The people in today’s scripture are desperate.

Some of us talk about desperation as “having no hope.” I

think desperation is actually what happens when you get to

be bold, based on pricinples, and drive past the limits that

you thought were set.

Jairus, the parent, the woman. Who for YEARS, GOD only

know what abuse she suffered, they are so desperate that

they don’t care about the rules anymore, they were willing

to reach out to Jesus, and what they realized, was that

Jesus is a savior, that apparently, likes to be bothered.

Forget Teacher’s pet, the blessing seems to go to Teacher’s



And Jesus seems to not mind those times when people

follow rules versus principles...

I’ve spent the last several years of my adulthood trying to

become more self-sufficient, more self-sustaining, more

independent. Which is weird, because I also know that God

didn’t create us to be non-dependent on one another.

As churches, sometimes we seem to want to build and

grow... and yet... it seems that the GROWTH that happens

in the most exciting ways, those miracle moments... occur

when we are willing to continue to be so desperate that we

are identified by our willingness to not be afraid to bother


Because the truth is, all churches, or in fact THE CHURCH

UNIVERSAL, after nearly two years of pandemic, years of

political divide and an increasing awareness of the

oppressive and systemic violence in our midst - all while

church statistics are declining to an all time low - is having to

ask ourselves, what does is mean to be the church? And

what does it mean to live faithfully into what God has in

store for us next.

But I pray that we will become more desperate because

friends, I don’t think we are desperate enough.

This Christian movement that began in caves, and then

ancient living rooms, began setting rules (and limits) for

ourselves: “we can’t do that, we’ve always done THIS. Or...

That’s not where THAT goes... or my personal favorite... but

the Millenials want...

What if we gave ourselves permission to reach out and grab

the one who has proven, he likes to be bothered.

I KNOW, YOU KNOW, and the biblical stories today remind us

that we serve a teacher who is not tired of being bothered -

who WANTs to be bothered with our pain. With our fear. With

our anger. With our need. With our cries. With our loss. With

our tinniest prayers and our largest of prayers.

And friends of Coral Isles UCC, you and I, my family and I,

we’ve worshiped together and eaten together and I’ve

seen how willing you are to, like Jairus, like the persistent

woman be bold, be risky, be creative to do new things

because that’s who Jesus is and thats what Jesus does.

Friends, you’ve persisted to make this church and this

community a safer place for those to recover from the

struggles of addiction, shelter from violence, and you’ve

been determined to make this world a more equal and just

place for those that have been disadvantaged because of

HOW they were born and you’ve declared this a place

where they are loved and empowered because of WHO

Jesus is.

Lemme try that again... you are changing the world

because of HOW boldly and faithfully you are declaring

WHO Jesus is - even if that means taking the old ways and

old rules and flipping them on their head. Jairus and this

persistent woman, they had to risk being mocked, shamed,

or even stoned to break the old “way.” They knew “HOW”

they got it done wasn’t as important as “WHO” Jesus was.

Ya know that sounds a lot like that whole, “It’s not whether

you win or lose... is’s HOW you play the game...” that my

mom always told me, which I always thought was kinda

stupid... but it wouldn’t be the first time my mom was right.

I want to show you this:

Rick Reilly told one of the most beautiful stories I have ever

heard about the Gainesville State High School Football

team. From many angles, Gainesville State is the same as

any other High School – they have textbooks, and desks,

and lockers. And yet, Gainesville is a maximum-security

correctional facility. Every student is serving time after

having been convicted of a felony.

Yes, Gainesville State has a football team. They are not very

good though. They finished 0-9 in 2008. Every game was on

the road, and though the football team was a privilege for

those students who played by the rules in school, the empty

visitor-s section everywhere they traveled was a reminder of

the time where they didn-t play by the rules.

But for one game in December of that year, at Grapevine

Faith High School, in Grapevine, Texas, they were shown a

greater principle than any other rule they had known.

You see, Grapevine Head Coach, Kris Hogan, had an idea.

Writes Reilly, LFaith had never played Gainesville, but he

already knew the score. After all, Faith was 7-2 going into

the game, Gainesville 0-8. Faith has 70 kids, 11 coaches, the

latest equipment and involved parents. Gainesville has a lot

of kids with convictions for drugs, assault and robbery—

many of whose families had disowned them—wearing

seven-year-old shoulder pads and ancient helmets.

So Hogan had this idea. What if half of our fans—for one

night only—cheered for the other team? He sent out an

email asking the Faithful to do just that. MHere's the message I

want you to send:- Hogan wrote. MYou are just as valuable as

any other person on planet Earth.’”1 1

The rules, that night, had been turned upside down on their

head. Sometimes, that message - that those who are so

easy to cast aside and forget about are just as valuable as

any other person - requires us to turn the rules on their head.

The home fans became the visitor fans. They even made a

banner for players to crash through at the end. It said, "Go

Tornadoes!" Which seemed, I-m sure to some, to be counter-

intuitive, seeing as the home team mascot is the Lions.

I guess using the world’s logic, really, the whole thing

seemed counter intuitive. Writes Reilly, LIt was rivers running

uphill and cats petting dogs. More than 200 Faith fans sat on

the Gainesville side and kept cheering the Gainesville

players on—by name.” After the game, the players were so

impacted by this moment that they gave head coach Mark

Williams a sideline squirt-bottle shower like he'd just won

state championship, even though his team lost 33-14.

After the game, both teams gathered in the middle of the

field to pray and that's when Isaiah, a Gainesville

Linebacker, surprised everybody by asking to lead. Isaiah

prayed, "Lord, I don't know how this happened, so I don't

know how to say thank you, but I never would've known

there was so many people in the world that cared about


I can only hope that because the rules of the game they

thought they knew were flipped on its heads, those young

men were compelled to DREAM ON to understand a world

that has a love for them and a need for them not in spite of

who they are but BECAUSE of who they are.

Friends, I give thanks that you KNOW who Jesus is. And you

KNOW that when things seem desperate, when the world

seems desperate, that means God is that much closer to

knowing the next big thing. I pray that that assurance gives

you peace. I’m excited for the future of Tavernier United

Church of Christ because as you keep reaching out for

Jesus, I believe you will keep Dreaming ON for what more

can be done to flip this world on its head that only YOU can


I pray that you will have the courage, the wisdom, and the

desperation to not rely on questions like “What worked

before?” Or “What do we need to create?” But instead

“Who is Jesus?” And who is Jesus calling us to be?

Because, I believe, therein lies the future of your church.

And it is great. And it is blessed.

Your faithfulness, your persistence and your creativity are

exactly why the question “Why Bother?” Is not rhetorical.

And the answer to that question, that you know, is an

answer that can, has, and will continue to change the

world. Amen.

As you go today, may you go with God’s love that can

change the world, God’s peace which surpasses all

understanding, and as you go,

may you go with God’s grace never to sell yourself short.

Grace to risk something big for something good. And grace

toremember that the world is too dangerous for anything

but truth and too small for anything but love. Amen!”

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