Updated: Feb 9
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
It was silent as I pushed my fork around my plate for only
about 5 minutes... before I heard, “Daaaaaaaaad!”
“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
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
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
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!”