Daddy, do you know my Bible story?
I died, but Jesus raised me to life.
– Talitha Duckworth
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
The Nicene Creed
When Jessicah and I had our first child we committed to giving Biblical names to all our children, as is a tradition for much of my wife’s extended family (and with a family of over 60 aunts, uncles, and cousins, most with Biblical names, we even have an Uncle Shem!). But then we raised the stakes, and decided to give our children obscure Biblical names . . . names that wouldn’t show up on the Social Security Administration’s baby name website
, a website which lists the top 1000 names for each year for the past 100+ years. Our poor children with their obscure Biblical names will never find keychains or bicycle license plates printed with their names. I’m sure they’ll thank us for this later . . .
Our oldest child is named Talitha, from Mark 5:41. Talitha is not a proper name, but rather the word for “little girl” in the ancient Aramaic language which Jesus spoke. In this story (Mark 5:21-43
) Jesus is summoned to heal Jairus’ daughter, who was sick. Along the way to his house, however, Jesus is stopped by a sick woman who is also seeking healing. Jesus is delayed, and by the time he resumes his trip to Jairus’ house, the little girl had died.
Jesus nonetheless continues on his journey, insisting that the girl is not dead but asleep. Witnesses to her death laugh at Jesus, but he ignores them. Jesus continues ahead, enters the house, and says, “Talitha cum,” which in Aramaic means, “little girl, get up.” The girl rises from the dead. This is the only instance of Jesus raising someone from the dead in Mark’s gospel.
And so from an early age we would teach this story to Talitha, reading it to her from her Children’s Bible. Sure enough, she learned it, and retold it to me in this way:
“Daddy, do you know my Bible story? I died, but Jesus raised me to life.”
But what’s more . . . when on internship I had to assist with a funeral, Talitha told me:
“Daddy, it’s ok. Jesus will raise that person back to life one day, just like he raised me to life.”
What makes me so proud is that my daughter figured out that this story is not just for her . . . not just for Talitha Duckworth, and not just for Jairus’ daughter some 2000 years ago, but rather it is a preview of what is promised . . . for all.
This month we’re going to hear the great story of our Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection . . . a story proclaimed in word and music and framed by the great prayers and traditions of the church. But please remember this: just as the raising of Jairus’ daughter is not just about her, so too is the Easter resurrection not just about Jesus. This resurrection is for all.
Unlike my daughter, most of us can’t look to the Bible and find our name attached to a resurrection story. But each and every Sunday when we walk past that baptismal font at the entrance to the church, we are reminded that in baptism not just our names – but our whole lives – are attached to Jesus’ resurrection. What God did in Christ at the empty tomb, God also promises to do for us.
(Published in my congregation's April 2009 newsletter)