The Healing Power of the Fringe1
It’s Monday, and I’m a pastor. . . so that means I’m praying and pondering what to preach about this coming Sunday. The passage that’s been tugging on my heart for a while is Mark 6:30-34, 53-56. These verses are like the frame to a picture. The “picture” that we often focus on are the big stories of “Jesus Feeding the Five Thousand” (verses 35-44) and “Jesus Walks on the Water” (verses 45-52). There’s a lot of action and power in these stories. These are stories we tell our children to help them learn about Jesus and how awesome God is.
The “frame” verses are quieter, more subtle—but just as powerful. In the first part of the “frame,” verses 30-34, we read of Jesus being like a shepherd. He calms his disciples and cares for them, telling them to take a moment to rest. And he cares for the great crowds following him, too. The key word here is “compassion.” Jesus looked out at the crowd and “had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” The people were vulnerable, in need, pushed down and pulled around.
In the second part of the “frame,” verses 53-56, the action picks up, and we feel the buzz and excitement as people recognize Jesus and swarm him. They can’t wait to get close to him! They’ve heard he’s the one who heals, and they want to experience that healing themselves. If they could just touch even the fringe of his cloak, that would be enough. And it was enough.
Just a fringe of Jesus’ clothing carried power to heal. I wonder if we might be called to be Christ’s “fringe” in this world. Brushing through all the places we do life — our schools, our workplaces, our neighborhoods, our stores, our restaurants. . . .
What if we now carry God’s power to heal through a kind word, a smiling eye, a warm hug, a strong helping hand, or legs to “stand up” and make a difference? If there’s anywhere that Christ’s fringe brushes around, it’s certainly through the vibrant efforts of Teach My People.
I’ve seen children discover the joy of learning, have their tummies fed with nourishing meals, experience the love of caring teachers and tutors, celebrate major achievements, grow in the life of faith, and dance for hours at a neighborhood block party (put on by Sugar Hill Church). Just little touches here and there that bring God’s love in a powerful, healing, life-changing way.
Because that’s our call: to be people of compassion, to be people who show God’s love—and live God’s love—wherever we go.