Rev. Andrew Cunnington
1st July 2018
Lost In The Crowd… Found In Christ

Well of course we’ve hit the rush hour. People are everywhere looking up at the departure board.

Now let’s push our way through and see what we can see. Redhill. Redhill. Everything but.

Caterham. Sutton. Epsom Downs. No good. Brighton, now there’s a possibility, excuse me can I just squeeze through. Thank you let’s see. No goes from East Croydon straight to Gatwick. Unless you want to change.

Can’t see Redhill anywhere up here. It’s ridiculous. Oh look there’s the one for us Reigate. Platform 12 in three minutes. Aim for the second carriage then you’re right outside when we arrive. What! Delayed. Where did that come from! Look it’s on the platform… Look excuse me… can I push through and see what’s going on here.

Why’s everyone running suddenly like a herd of elephants. Didn’t catch the announcement… Horsham in fifteen minutes – on platform, 10 train divides at Redhill that’ll do us. Let’s run come on… man struggling with his oyster card at the barrier… holding coffee in the other hand, why doesn’t he get a grip… come on!

Why isn’t anyone boarding the train? All the carriages are locked and now we’re crammed on this platform. What they say… the driver of this train is stuck at Selhurst. Well, I have every sympathy with him, but honestly. Honestly.

The everyday life of commuter folk…

There is a similar state of pandemonium down in Capernaum today. No trains to catch but a saviour to find and hold and call your own. He’s just got off the boat. No more than a lad really. Most of us know him of course. He comes from round here.

Can it be true what they are saying about him? Son of God or completely mad? Healer or imposter? Liberator or fake? We’re pushing and jostling to get close. To hear a word. Get a touch. Make our minds up about this boy.

And then I see a strange thing. The leader of our synagogue is kneeling before him. Kneeling before the carpenter’s son.

I mean this takes the biscuit. When the elders get to hear about it, there will be hell to pay literally. And he’s begging this boy to come and heal his daughter, and Jesus is nodding and they are striding off together and the crowd flocks with them… and I’m trying to keep up.

And then someone else – Oh yes… it would be her wouldn’t it. Always making a spectacle of herself. We’ve told her to keep out of the town, especially on market days. Her illness makes her unclean, untouchable, sounds harsh, but you know as well as I do you have to have some standards. And she is kneeling just like Jairus did and she is touching Jesus. I’m sorry its disgusting. She is grasping hold of the hem of his garment and literally pulling him back.

Jesus is contaminated by her sin. Pull back everyone pull back. Jesus is talking to the woman and she is rising from the ground. There is colour in her cheeks, she’s standing up straight.

Is she cured or is it just a set up? The main thing is that Jesus let her touch him and he now needs ritual cleansing.

But what’s this – he’s still going on to Jairus’s house. Quick tell the elders to run and bar the way. We can’t have him going in there He will contaminate the house and all of us who hold to the law as it’s been given.

Tell them to run… tell them to get Jesus not to come – say the child is dead – get the mourners round the door, make it look good. We can’t have him going in there. Get some high vis jackets on the scene if you have to. Hold him fast. Push him to the ground, Don’t let him go in the house of the leader of our synagogue.

She is not dead – yells Jesus – she is only sleeping – now get out of my way… and they can’t hold him and he strides into the house and touches the rabbi’s daughter with his dirty filthy hands, made unclean by that dirty filthy woman. It’s… I mean it’s… So the woman is better and the daughter is cured… but that’s not the point… the point is he is touching the unclean and I for one wouldn’t have him under my roof, would you.

And the rumours spread amongst the crowd – of the healings and wholeness and the flagrant disregard for the rules. And the camps are divided… and the battle is drawn for three long years.

Light against darkness. Good against evil… ending in the cross, but here is where it all started.

Two contrasting crowd scenes. London station. Capernaum seashore… reminding us of our crowded lives with so much going on. So much in our faces that we miss the Christ in the midst of the chaos.
We miss the holy encounters that might transform our lives because of the preconceived ideas we hold about our faith and one another and of God.

Faith properly understood might bring us home to somewhere more than Redhill. Might raise us up. Might convince us that we are not unclean, not any of us, but we can be redeemed.

Crowd scenes are everywhere in the Gospels. The crowds at Bethlehem to begin with and no room at the inn. The 5000 crowded into the desert with no food. Too many people at Cana’s wedding. Too many people at the door of his home wanting healing. Crowds in Jericho that means Zaccheaus cant see anything. Crowds of disciples making sure the children don’t get to him. Multitudes on the mount come for teaching. Great squads of soldiers in the Garden come to arrest him.

Jubilant crowds yelling Hosanna. Ugly crowds chanting crucify. Crowds not just of adoring fans and would be disciples but infiltrated masses looking to worm their way in and cause havoc.

If you were to place yourself in today’s Gospel story I wonder where you would be… Just a face in the crowd whose life is being jostled by everyone else. Never getting near to Jesus and given up trying.

Pushing through the crowd to get close to him – because you think he might just have an answer you have been looking for. But needing to summon up the courage for that. Dare you be the leader of the synagogue or the woman – both with reputations – but realising they are as of nothing once you have decided to kneel before this man.

Are you allowing Jesus space to be himself in your world – or is that a bit too risky… that he might send everything flying if he comes striding through your door.

Faith so easily lost in the crowds. Jesus so easily missed in our busy lives.

Intent on making a journey home – but not quite sure where the destination is – except that it is the place where all uncleanness has been made pure and ugliness is beauty.