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Positive Thinking


This week's narrative lectionary reading is from Mark 5:35-43.  Jesus has just come ashore from the 10 cities where he healed the demon possessed man and was thrown out by the gentiles who feared his power. As soon as he lands on the shore a crowd gathers around him.  A local leader begs for Jesus to heal his daughter who is sick.  Jesus agrees and goes with the man, but the whole crowd follows.

As they walk along, the crowd is pushing in on one another trying to get a look or a word with Jesus.  Suddenly Jesus stops and asks who touched him.  Everyone must have been terribly confused, lots of people had touched him.  One woman, however, had touched his cloak thinking that if she could just touch his clothes she would be healed of the bleeding she had suffered with for 12 years.  As soon as she touched his clothes she felt her body change, and she knew she was healed.  She knew Jesus was talking to her.  Shaking and afraid she admitted it and told Jesus the whole story.  He was not mad, he praised her for her taking a risk on faith, and he blessed her.  Her positive thinking had made a difference, her faith had healed her.

As they were talking, some people from the leader's house came to inform him that his daughter had died.  They encouraged him to leave Jesus alone.  Jesus overheard and told the man to ignore their words and to trust him.  Often we defend our pessimism by saying we are just facing the facts, but here, Jesus is encouraging the leader to ignore the facts.  Jesus did not say he would raise the dead, he said the girl was not dead.  He was concerned with how the man was thinking.

They arrived at the leader's home to find it full with neighbors bringing food, and gossips looking for a good story.  Jesus asked them what all the fuss was about and explained that the girl was not dead but sleeping.  These were people who were well acquainted with death, so they laughed at him and said he didn't know what he was talking about.  Jesus cleared the home and went into the girls room with her parents and a couple of choice disciples. 

He told the girl to rise and she did. 

Why did he handpick the people in the room?  Why did he clear the home of the unbelievers?  Did it matter what they thought?  Did their negativity have an impact?  Does our positive thinking have a real impact in our world?

I find myself resisting the idea and writing it off as new age thinking, but it is hard to figure out what to do with this story without accepting something of the idea.  We are after all, created in the image of God, and God used words and thoughts to make this world.  Maybe our thoughts and our words have more power than we give them credit.  Scientist have started to accept the power of positive thinking in the treatment of difficult diseases, maybe we are just beginning to scratch the surface of this great power. 

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