“Stop, don’t touch!” is an automatic command when among people infected with the deadly Ebola virus.
“Stop, don’t touch!” is told to adults who work or volunteer with children and teens. They must fill out forms, watch an online video, be fingerprinted, have a background check in order to be certified as having no record of abuse or inappropriate contact with another person.
For good reasons, some touching is a taboo.
The woman in the Gospel story knew all about that. Spells of bleeding were robbing her of energy, money, and community…for a count of twelve years; the number of the tribes of Israel, the heritage she could not claim.
By Hebrew law, bleeding made a person unclean, and thus prohibited from assembling for synagogue worship,
religious festivals, and village gatherings.
The doctors had no remedy, prayer seemed to fail; yet there was something about the Man crowds were pressing in on to hear Him teach, something that caused her to dare to believe ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’
The Apostle Paul would later say that “something” was because in Jesus “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:19) The invisible God made visible as a God Who welcomes being touched even by the unclean, the untouchable, even by the woman who reached out to touch only the hem of Jesus’ robe.
Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. and she heard Jesus call her “Daughter!” That meant she was no longer separated, no longer untouchable. “Daughter!” Jesus was welcoming her into the company of His gathered followers, into His family where people are healed from being labeled as less than human, by their own self-judgment, or another’s verdict.
Church as Jesus meant church to be; a place, a people who have dared to reach out in faith to touch the One –
unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid (The Book of Common Prayer) and find the healing wholeness God intends for every human being which Myra Brooks Welch pictured in an auctioneer’s bid for an old battered and scarred violin.
There was no response to his, "One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?" Not one bid. Then a grey bearded man
"Came forward and picked up the bow,
wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.”
When the music ceased the auctioneer began the bidding,
"One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?"
Two thousand, who makes it three?"
Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone", said he.
The cheering yet perplexed audience questioned the change in worth,
and heard in reply, "The Touch of the Masters Hand." and the intended lesson,
"… many a man with life out of tune
All battered and bruised with hardship
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin…
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.
But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Masters' Hand.”
Church as church is meant to be, where in worship, at font and table, people are compelled to reach out as did the woman in the Gospel, and feel the surge of the life of Christ – that redeems the most broken, tattered, scrapped and scarred life, wasted to the point of being untouchable, yet restored to being a priceless human being in God’s sight, with the touch of the Master’s hand.
The same touch Jairus, the leader of the synagogue, sought from Jesus, even though being well-versed in Hebrew law, he knew a law-abiding Jew was prohibited from touching the dead and dying. Yet he 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.’
A twelve year old daughter, a year from maturing into being a woman and a daughter of the covenant; a future, death was about to take from her.
But, with the touch of Jesus and at His words, “Little girl, get up!” she got up…to walk into being a daughter of the covenant, and a future in her family and God’s family.
The touch of Christ that is not a taboo, but the awaking to the Baptismal-Confirmation vows:
to be a member of the faith and family of Jesus Christ,
to renounce evil and desire the freedom of new life in Christ,
to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior,
to commit to doing His works and words, as best able,
and be nourished in the company of his church, at his table,
and in his mission to the world.
The touch of Christ we crave every child and teen might hear through the church that is a people bound together
by that life-giving touch.
In a Bangladesh village where electrical power has been almost impossible to achieve, an intriguing sight is a thatched roof hut with a solar panel. There are 80,000 new connections a month.By going solar, they are leapfrogging poles, wires, coal, gas, and kerosene for lighting that pollutes the family’s lungs, and going mobile
as they go straight to sun power. (Sojourners, July 2015, P. 14)
Even more dramatic and more life-saving is the Power of Jesus, the Son, Who brings light to all who sit in darkness as He touches every age with His awaking words, “Get up!” Be alive to the new life of Christ.
Be the church as Jesus intended it to be, adults like the woman touching and the child being touched, a people who know touching is not a taboo when it is the touch of Christ.