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Jesus at the Gay Bar

A poem by Jay Hulme


He’s here in the midst of it –

right at the centre of the dance floor,

robes hitched up to His knees

to make it easy to spin.


At some point in the evening

a boy will touch the hem of His robe

and beg to be healed, beg to be

anything other than this;


and He will reach His arms out,

sweat-damp, and weary from dance.

He’ll cup this boy’s face in His hand

and say,


                  my beautiful child

there is nothing in this heart of yours

that ever needs to be healed.



This poem riffs off a Bible story found in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 5, which is all about healing. Who needs healing? What needs healing? The story – like this poem – challenges our assumptions about these questions. 


It’s a story-inside-a-story, like a chocolate éclair. The first story is about the 12-year-old daughter of a synagogue leader, Jairus, who is on the brink of death.


But while Jesus is on his way to see her, we have an unexpected, interloper story: another woman, who has been bleeding for 12 years, also seeks healing. This is more than a physical ailment: her condition rendered her ritually impure, and she existed on the edges of society as a result. The woman touches the hem of Jesus’s cloak, and is immediately healed. But Jesus does not leave it at that: he invites her into conversation, into relationship. Only after hearing her story, her “whole truth”, does Jesus send her off in peace, declaring her to be healed.


Meanwhile, Jairus’s daughter has died. Jesus goes to her home, declares her to be only sleeping, and then tells her to get up. The little girl goes from death to life; she is healed.


These two stories challenge the way we think about what needs healing, and who needs healing.


For one, God cares not just about healing physical ailments, but is concerned with SOCIAL and EMOTIONAL healing too. Even though her bleeding has already stopped, it is only after Jesus calls the older woman into relationship that he declares her healed.  


For another, God is not just concerned with individual healing, but COLLECTIVE healing. The number 12 is significant in this story, as both the age of the young woman, and the number of years the older woman had been bleeding. Twelve is the number of tribes in Israel, signifying a kind of nation-wide vision of wholeness. This story-within-a-story has something to tell us about society-wide healing, and to find its nugget of truth we look to the story tucked into the middle, the filling of the chocolate éclair. For a society to be whole and healed, we must do what Jesus does for the ones living on the edges: call them back into relationship and listen to their whole truth. Place them at the centre.


Often queer people are told they are broken and need healing. But it is not their queerness that needs to be healed, but the wounds associated with their exclusion. The wounds that reside in the bodies of those who have been shut out and told they are damaged, AND the wounds that we, as a collective body bear because some of God’s beloved are shunted to the edges. By bringing each other back into relationship, and hearing each other’s stories, God is able to heal these wounds.


I wonder…for what do you seek healing? And what, in our community and society, needs healing too?


Poem by Jay Hulme

Reflection by Rev Andreana

Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

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