So how does the story of the bleeding woman pushing unnoticed through the crowds help us to make our churches a better, safer place for sinners and seekers?
We have to take our example from the crowds.
Remember how we said on Tuesday that the reason the woman was able to make her way through the crowds without being called out for who she was is because everyone in the crowd was focused intently on Jesus? The same could be true in our churches.
If we were coming to our churches to worship more than to gossip, to encounter Jesus more than to be noticed by our friends, to truly come to God...we wouldn't really notice anyone else.
I mean, we'd notice them - how could we not - but it wouldn't be a thing. We would notice them the same way a fish notices the fish that's swimming beside it. It knows the other fish is there, but it recognizes more than anything that that fish is just swimming in the same direction. It realizes they are headed to the same place together.
I like to imagine that every so often in that crowd, the whispers worked their way to the bleeding woman herself. The excitement over Jesus started spreading like a ripple effect through those gathered. I like to imagine that at at least one point, if not several, someone leaned over and whispered out the side of their mouth to the bleeding woman about the amazing Jesus who was just a few feet away. About what He was doing. About what He was saying.
And even in this, whoever was whispering to her didn't recognize her unclean condition as the most true thing about her. No. Someone leaned over to whisper to a fellow traveler, and all they knew was that this person was going in the same direction they were. This person was working just as hard to get to Jesus. This person was here for one reason and one reason only: the Teacher.
Can you think for a moment about how much gossip and judgment and trouble it would take out of our churches if we could be more like this crowd? If we were so focused on Jesus that we didn't have time to notice anything but that those around us are moving in the same direction that we are?
It doesn't matter what you look like. What you smell like. How much money you make. How you showed up to church today. What your past is. What your present is. What your story is.
Today, your story is that you're here, pushing your way toward Jesus. And if we were all doing the same, if we were all there for the very same reason, we would just happily lean over, full of excitement, and whisper out of the corner of our mouths at one another, "There He is." We wouldn't have time for all of this judgment nonsense.
No one called the bleeding woman out of the crowd, but I don't think that means no one truly noticed her. I don't think that means no one talked to her or interacted with her. I think, in fact, that several probably did. But that they were too focused on Jesus to even process in their brains what they were maybe supposed to think about "someone like her." I think they were so focused on Him and on following and on getting there that even this unclean woman just sort of got swept up and carried along in a way that wouldn't be possible if even one person in that crowd would have let themselves get sidetracked by...rules. Or ritual purity. Or social norms. Or whatever you want to call it.
Our churches could learn a lot from these crowds. They really could.