Contagion

Holy hands, unholy world
Mark 5:21-43
In 1976, a particularly nasty contagion took the lives of 151 people in Sudan and another 280 in Zaire. The disease recurred in Sudan and took the lives of another 22 people. It lay dormant for 15 years, then took 97 lives in Gabon and 254 lives in Zaire from 1994-1997. The virus took two years off. From 2000-2004 Central African countries lost 484 more people to this disease. Two more years without deaths. We are up to 1,288. From 2007-2012, another 291 people died: 1,579 in all. The most severe outbreak of all occurred in December 2013, leading to 11,385 deaths in Africa and beyond. Last week there were another 20 confirmed cases of the disease in Sierra Leone and Guinea.

In all, about 13,000 people have died from one of four strains of the Ebola virus. The most deadly strain — Ebola Zaire — has a 90% death rate. It is a hemorrhagic disease, transmitted by blood, saliva, milk, semen, urine, vomit.

It is a horrible disease. I am not going to explain it. We live in a seriously messed up world.

Let’s pray.

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I invite you to turn to the book of Mark, chapter 5, verse 21. Jesus is in the early part of his ministry, teaching in and around the large lake in the north of Israel which is called the Sea of Tiberius, of the Sea of Galilee. It is about a.d. 30. He had been on the eastern side of the lake and was returning to the western shore, perhaps near the town of Gennesaret or Capernaum.

521And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23and implored him earnestly, saying, 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 great crowd surrounds Jesus, who is in danger of becoming a celebrity. He is in the midst of a large number of people who have heard of his teaching, his exorcisms and his healings — they are interested in seeing what he will do next.

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