And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5, verses 25-34.
We are skipping ahead a few verses today. Someone in my family passed away yesterday and I want you to know a little bit about her. My father’s sister, June Terry, passed away yesterday at the age of 71 after a nearly 30 year battle with scleroderma; more on that in a minute because it’s extraordinary.
If you knew her, you knew someone special. Aunt June was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. She was outgoing, sensitive, positive, and talented. She had a beautiful singing voice and belonged to several chorale groups around Philadelphia. My immediate family grew up on the other side of the country from Dad’s family in Philadelphia, so we never go to spend much time with them. When I grew up, the Air Force stationed me back east and I was blessed to get to know some of my relatives there, including Aunt June. You can’t say this about many people but I can say this about June: I never heard her utter a cross, malicious, or cruel word against anyone. It wasn’t for reason either because she had as much reason as anyone. She lived a tough life and lived through some tough circumstances, yet they didn’t define her. Faith defined her. Faith in God, faith in hope, faith in what is good in people. I never said it to her – don’t we all say that too much? – but I very much admired her for that.
My Dad was a great cook (he prided himself on it), but he said he couldn’t hold a candle to his sister. He bragged about her lasagna, her spiced pot roast, and her ability to turn bread and water into a scrumptious feast. I had dinner with her more than a few times and couldn’t agree more. I’m lucky to have recorded some of the family recipes she made best
But we don’t just remember people for their cooking, unless, that is, they cook up inspiration. Aunt June did just that. I mentioned above that she battled scleroderma for most of 30 years. That makes her both a medical anomaly and a medical miracle. Scleroderma is a rare auto-immune disease that, in some forms, hardens your internal organs from the inside out. That’s the kind Aunt June had. It’s chronic, debilitating, painful, and ultimately fatal. Like the rest of her life, though, I never knew her to complain about it. That wouldn’t have been in her nature. She was pleased to know (but never admitted) that many others in the US will benefit from drug studies and research conducted on her because she was extraordinarily long-lived with the disease.
Personally, I think her hopeful outlook was a manifestation of her faith. When she had nothing left to live for, she lived for heaven. She became the woman Jesus healed when the woman touched His robe. It wasn’t her body that He healed: it was her soul. None of the problems of this world could plague her inside where it mattered most. Where the soul matters, Aunt June held fast to her Savior and God. For me and without misrepresenting who she was or making her into someone she wasn’t, June Terry was a hero of the faith.
Yesterday she got to meet Jesus face to face and hear Him say, “well done, June. I’m so pleased you’re home.” Today, she woke up in heaven and she’ll be there until the rest of us amble along. Those of us left behind here are sad to see her depart yet glad to know she’s truly healed, truly happy, and truly at home forever.
Read Mark 5, verses 1-20.