Two Hands

Sermon for Sunday, June 27, 2021 || Proper 8B || Mark 5:21-43

I’d like to talk this morning about hands, specifically about why I think God gave us two hands. But before I let you in on why I think God gave us two hands, I invite you to think back to a time when you remember holding someone’s hand. 

Perhaps, the hand you held was your child’s. When I was little, my parents would each hold one of my hands and do what we called, “1-2-3-whee!” (which is where you swing the kid by their arms as you’re walking). I absolutely love holding my children’s hands when we are walking, and they are finally tall enough where I don’t have to stoop to do it.

Perhaps, the hand you held was a parent’s hand as she lay dying. Your mother held your hand back…until she didn’t. You kept clinging even when the muscle tension left her fingers, and you can still feel her papery skin held in your hand all these years later. 

Perhaps, the hand you held was that of your first crush. You were nowhere ready to start kissing, so you showed your affection by holding hands – maybe even in your middle school’s hallway or at the movies during the scary part.

Perhaps, the hand you held was your spouse’s on your wedding day, as you slipped a ring onto her finger and vowed, in the name of God, to honor her with all that you have and all that you. All these years later you still hold hands when you say the Lord’s Prayer together at church.

Imagine that person’s hand in yours. Feel how warm their hand is…or how cold. Feel the moisture or the dryness. Feel the knuckles, nobbly or smooth. Feel their hand squeeze yours back. Feel the sacred rightness that comes over you in the moment of holding.

And now take your imagination one step further. Imagine that the hand you are holding is the hand of Jesus. Feel Jesus’ hand squeezing yours through the fingers of your loved one. Feel Jesus’ hand: strong and brown and callused from masonry work, yet tender and nimble, as ready to dress a fish as hold a child.

This is not some sappy or saccharine exercise designed to make Jesus more approachable. No. This exercise is designed to help us see Jesus for who he is. Throughout the Gospel according to Mark, Jesus holds people’s hands. Jesus takes Simon Peter’s mother-in-law by the hand and helps her up as her fever leaves her. After the demon convulses the little boy with epilepsy, everyone thinks he is dead. But Jesus takes the little boy by the hands and helps him stand up. Jesus takes a blind man by the hand in the town of Bethsaida and leads him out of the village. I can see in my mind’s eye the blind man clinging to Jesus’ hand for dear life as Jesus brings him beyond the areas of town he knows. What trust must he have had, and all communicated through a held hand.

And in today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus takes the little girl by the hand, the one whom everyone said was dead. Jesus takes her by the hand and says, “Little girl, get up.” Her limp hand trembles in his, and she squeezes his hand as vitality surges back into her. Imagine being the mother-in-law or the blind man or the little boy or the little girl. And you are. We all are, because Jesus holds our hands and gives us healing and connection and new life.

We have these hands of ours so we can offer to others the same things that Jesus gives to us: health, loving relationships, new opportunities, community. Here’s why I think God designed us to have two hands. We have one hand to reach out and hold onto someone else’s hand: a mentor, a teacher, a coach, a pastor, a parent, a friend, a sibling – someone who inspires us to become the people God calls us to be. We have a second hand to reach out and offer it for someone else to grab ahold. With this second hand, we become the one who inspires. And so with both hands held, we form a human chain of inspiring community, supporting one another as we live lives of service to God, each other, and the world. 

I encourage you this week to think about all the people whose hands you have held in this chain of inspiration. How has God called you deeper into life-giving relationships through these connections? To whom could you be reaching your hand out right now, either to gain or to give inspiration? How do your hands become the hands of Jesus in their lives and how do their hands become the hands of Jesus in yours?

I’ve spoken recently about a beloved mentor of mine who recently died of cancer. Fran McKendree was a blessing in so many ways. He gave me the confidence to sing and write songs. His music has been the soundtrack of my faith journey for twenty years. He is someone who grasped my hand when I flung it out in search of who I was supposed to be. His hand was the hand of Jesus in my life. I’d like to close this sermon with one of Fran’s songs. As I sing, contemplate whose hands Jesus is calling you to hold today. This is “Hand in Mine.”

Did you slip on that last step? Was it just too steep a climb?
Don’t look down. Just hold on tight now. Put your hand in mine.
`Cause these strong winds can blow you over, and the air, it gets so thin.
The hardest part is to begin now. Put your hand in mine.

Did your words freeze on your breath? Did your thoughts get trapped inside?
You know talk’s so overrated. Put your hand in mine.
We may be walking for a long, long time.
Put your hand in mine.

If we reach out for each other, we can build upon our love.
It’s so close now I can feel it. Put your hand in mine.
We may be walking for a long, long time.
Put your hand in mine.

Photo by Benigno Hoyuela on Unsplash.

One thought on “Two Hands

  1. I’m so sorry Fran McKendree is no longer in this life. He came to our parish several years ago when our deacon was ordained to the priesthood. His music brought even more joy to that joyous occasion.

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