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DFLC Sermon - February 4, 2024 - Pastor Marie Meeks

Grace and peace to you, from God our Father, and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Today’s Gospel is a continuation of a day in the life of Jesus in his early ministry. We heard about the first part of the day last week. Jesus taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath, and the people there were amazed at his power. Jesus also healed someone who was possessed by a demon.  Today’s reading begins right as they leave the synagogue. Jesus and the disciples go to Simon’s house for dinner. When they get there, they discover that Simon’s mother-in-law is ill. Jesus heals her; and she gets up to make dinner. And they have a meal together.

 

After the sun has gone down, the whole town turns up at Simon’s door. Word had spread about Jesus. People bring the sick and the possessed to Jesus to be healed. Jesus also spent hours teaching them, and calling them to repent, and believe the Good News. But it seems that what they remembered was the healing.

 

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus leaves the house to go to a quiet place to pray. Peter and the disciples go searching for him, and try to get him to go back and perform more healing miracles. But Jesus says, “Let us go to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also, for that is what I came out to do.” For Jesus, the message is the important thing. Jesus did not start his ministry to be a physical healer only. He came to heal our broken relationship with God. That’s why he wanted to move on to other villages – to share the Good News of redemption.

 

Here we find ourselves in the middle of the tension created when the disciples misinterpreted Jesus’s purposes. He does not want to stay in Capernaum and become the local healer. His teaching is powerful. He speaks with authority. He has the power to cast out demons and heal sick people. And that message is for everyone, not just the people of Capernaum.

 

But why does Mark interrupt this story of Jesus’s early ministry to tell us that Jesus got up before dawn to go out in the wilderness to pray? Praying is important to Jesus. So he got up when it was still dark and found a quiet place to pray. Throughout Mark’s Gospel, we are invited to participate in what is going on in the story. Of all the Gospels, Mark’s is the one that seems most like an action story. When you read Mark, you hear that Jesus immediately did this or that - or the disciples immediately left their boats to follow Jesus. Immediately after they left the synagogue, they went to Simon’s house. Some of Mark’s writing is so breathless, you feel like you are in the middle of the story yourself. And that’s where we should be,

right in the middle of the story of Jesus, learning how to live and pray as he did.

 

And what does this mean for us? It means it’s okay to go away for a while

and recharge with prayer. As soon as the disciples found Jesus, they wanted him to go back with them. They said, “Everyone is searching for you!” But Jesus was not interested in staying in one place. Jesus has an urgent mission to share. “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also. For that is what I came to do.”

 

We too are called by Jesus – called to go out of this place where we gather to pray and worship, remembering that we too need to share the Good News and proclaim the message. When we leave here today, we go to share the Good News with others. Wherever we find ourselves – refreshed at this table and with the prayers we say here, we are ready to go to proclaim the message. Amen.

 

 

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