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What do you know about crowd behavior?It’s the fourth of July week, and back home for me, Fair Saint Louis is gearing up.  It attracts up to one and a half million people over the course of the holiday week.  And it had been a mainstay of my 4th of July holiday.  (not quite so much as I get older) I loved the crowds, the people watching.  I also learned, quickly on, that walking between place to place and venue to venue gets progressively more difficult as the day goes on and more and more people arrive.  Eventually, you got sucked along with the crowd.  Only with great effort, could you buck the crowd, could you move against the flow, and get to where you want to go, and not where the flow was taking you…

Both Jairus and the woman found a way to buck the crowd.  You know it had to be crowded by the shore’s edge, yet Jairus came forward with his plea.  His bucking of the crowd was not that hard.  Jesus had just arrived on the shore, the crowd was not yet organized, so he just kind of muscles his way forward.  Once Jesus agrees to come with him, you can imagine Jairus in the lead, creating a path, running interference, making sure that Jesus could get to his home where his daughter was sick.  The crowd would not stand in his way.  NO ONE was going to get in his way.  So off they start.

The woman was not so lucky.  Once the crowd flow began to move, it became organized.  People want to be close to the master, so there becomes this protective ‘wall’ around Jesus.  It’s harder to get close, harder to make contact.  Jairus would have inadvertently seen to that.  She, however, was not going to be put off.  12 years of one doctor after the other, in vain hope for a cure; 12 years of being ritually unclean – not being able to participate in the life that is all around you; 12 years of frustration; 12 years spent on the outside of life in her culture led to a desperation.  And a plan.  “IF ONLY I CAN TOUCH THE HEM of his garment.  That’s all.  I’ve only got to get that close.”  Then, maybe, I can enter life instead of look at it from the fringe.  Then, maybe, I can live and not just survive.

Both Jairus and the woman shared the same desire: to know life, one for his daughter, the other for herself.  That was all that mattered. And there were willing to push through the crowd to make that happen.  And in the middle of that shuffling madness, right there in the middle

of a Fair St. Louis kind of crowd, Jesus cries out: WHO TOUCHED ME?  Jesus knew her touch was different.  He knew the hunger, knew the desperation, knew the desire.  And I always wondered how?  How did he feel that touch amidst the crowd pushing on all sides?  I believe it is because he had the same desire deepest in his heart.  It is why he set out with the official in the first place.  He wanted Jairus’daughter – come to know fullness of life.  And he wanted this daughter of Israel to be brought back into life.

What does Jesus want for you?  LIFE and life abundantly! We heard that desire from the book of Wisdom: “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.”  So Jesus was all about bringing that life, encouraging people to be on the road toward that life.  Only the crowd sometimes gets in the way.  Only life sometimes gets in the way.  In Mark’s gospel, the crowd sometimes hinders, sometimes helps people to get to Jesus.  You’ll see that throughout in the healing stories.

The same thing is true about our own crowds – internet, church, neighborhoods, plays, volleyball tournaments, scouts and the like.  Sometimes they help us get to Jesus and sometimes they hinder that movement. And when the ‘crowd’ of your life gets in the way, you have to push through.  Through the business and distractions, through the demands that push and pull on our time and priorities, our hunger for life has to be greater than the obstacles.  Like the woman, like Jairus, like people at Fair St. Louis, you have to fight your way through to get to Jesus.  And when you do, you’ll find your Lord waiting there for you…

So I leave you with a question and a prayer response to that question this week:  What is the ‘crowdedness of your life” that is trapping you on a path not of your choosing?  What is taking you where you do not want to go these days?  And once you have answered that, then in your prayer, ask for the will and the courage to push through that so that you might get to the one who desires only life for you…

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