the one about being on the move...
February 5, 2018, 12:00 AM

Sermon from February 4, 2018

Text: Mark 1:29-39

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, if there is one thing I consistently take from how Jesus acts in Mark’s gospel is this – Jesus is always on the move. Since verse 14 in this chapter which comes after his 40 days in the wilderness, Jesus is doing lots of stuff. He’s not really staying long in any one place.

Walking along the sea of Galilee as he calls out to his disciples to follow him, teaching in the synagogue, cleaning a man with an unclean spirit, and now caring for Simon’s mother-in-law and the many who came in search of healing as well. Everything we’ve been reading as we’ve walked through the first (and ONLY the first) chapter so far in this gospel seems to have transpired over the course of only a day. Maybe two days.

No matter the timeframe, the news about Jesus is quickly spreading. Jesus and his friends enter the house of Simon and Andrew and Simon’s mother-in-law is not feeling so well and Jesus takes her by the hand and the fever leaves her. If only we had Jesus to come around the Newberry and Midlands area right now with all these cases of the flu, right?

From that moment and for the next few hours, many are brought to Jesus so that they might be cured. Cured of fevers and diseases, cured of spirits and demons, cured of those things that removed them from the cultural life of the day. Through Word, prayer, and touch Jesus brings full life back to those who have been separated from the life of the world because of their condition (illness and mental health).

Yet, after he finishes that work he goes off to pray and the disciples have no idea where he is. They go in search of him, wondering where in the world that Silly ol’ Messiah has gone. When they find him, they exclaim, “Where have you been! There are people hurting over there! There’s work to do, Lord!”

I find Jesus’ answer eye-opening.

I think Jesus acknowledges that there is indeed work to do, but they must keep moving.

I find it profound that the disciples don’t ever seem to fully what they are saying. They state to Jesus, “Everyone is searching for you.” And it was true. There were many who were searching for Jesus so that he might continue to heal those in need in that small-ish area.

And, if Jesus had done that – the people would’ve been overjoyed. He could have setup shop in this town and had a nice little ‘medical’ practice and life. Simon, Andrew and the others would’ve been tasked with reaching out to the sick and possessed and inviting them to see this guy that cures fevers and demons with just a word!

That would’ve been nice. It would’ve been easy. I’m not sure anyone would’ve faulted Jesus for that. People were being helped, and I’m sure more around the area would’ve heard the rumor about this mysterious healer. They perhaps would’ve come out of curiosity, maybe even desperation.

But, that isn’t how it happened.

The disciples, state to Jesus that many are searching for him, and his response is to go and find some more. To go out into the neighboring towns to proclaim the message that he has – that is what he has come to do.

It is interesting that even at this early stage in Jesus’ ministry that there was the inclination to ‘hold on’ to a specific part of Jesus’ ministry and not go any further. Not to dive deeper, to even (even if innocently or unintentionally) keep others from experiencing God’s grace in and through this man.

And, we tend to still do that don’t we? We get something good, begin a good ministry, get a good group going and we like where it’s at. We’re content with how things are. We want to keep it simple, just continue doing what is working (and working well I might add). Just keep it for these people. This is ours. It isn’t that no one else should have it, but we’re really not interested in doing the work necessary to move it further out than what we have here.

Yet, Jesus here is intent on shattering that world view. He isn’t ‘ours’ in the sense that we hold exclusive claim and right to the message he brings, the miracles and healing he can and does perform, the new-life in which he shares with those he meets. We don’t hold claim to that, and Jesus in our reading this morning is telling his disciples and each of us that Jesus has got some work to do. And it involves venturing further out. It involves going to neighboring areas. It involves interacting with folks you might not know.

If anything, Jesus hasn’t been interested at all in maintaining the ‘status quo.’ Not even the ‘new status quo’ that he ushers into the world.

Jesus is on the move.

But, there something great about Jesus being on the move. He doesn’t go off by himself. He doesn’t leave his disciples by the wayside. He doesn’t abandon those around him.

Jesus invites his friends and those around him to follow him and join him in this life of call, faith, and healing. “Let us go…”

I think that is the thing we forget as we begin to see where ministry is taking us – taking us individually as fellow members on this journey, but also taking us as a group in ministry. It is nerve-racking to see where God might be leading us. Leading us to new opportunities to bring and receive God’s word of healing, life, forgiveness, and love.

Jesus is with us as we venture out. Venturing outside these walls at Redeemer, venturing outside the walls that we erect in our lives, venturing past the ideas of walls that block others from joining us. Jesus calls us outside that which makes us feel comfortable and safe. Jesus calls us into opportunities that involve risk.

Yet, all the while Jesus is present with us in that ministry and in those opportunities.

As we are invited into these new opportunities of ministry, Jesus is saying, ‘there is other work also.’

There is other work, where can we be called to bring new life and hope into the community around us? Where can we offer ourselves and what we have in abundance to bring hope to a world that yearns for it?

As we gather food and money today for the Manna House through the Souper Bowl of Caring, perhaps that new opportunity for ministry is to volunteer at the Manna House. To see, to know, to love those who are in need in our community. Maybe that might lead you to find other ways to care for those in a more profound and sustaining ways. In that risk; the risk that reaches into our abundance to give to others – Jesus is there.

Perhaps it is doing the ‘odd’ and risky thing and not getting wrapped up in the spectacle of the Super Bowl of football today. Not saying we cannot watch or enjoy the game, but understanding that it is just a game and that there are opportunities to help those in need in deep and helpful ways. Maybe skipping past the pre-game festivities and joining in on the worship service at White Oak last this afternoon to continue to help spread this hopeful word of God’s gospel to those who might be looked over or even forgotten. In that risk; the risk of stepping out of the flow of the social pressurized world to intentionally be with those on the outskirts – Jesus is there.

It is risky, it can be scary. Yet, we remember – Jesus is there. Jesus is inviting you – inviting us – to go. To be on the move. To not sit idly by. To be with. To venture forth. To proclaim God’s message of love, forgiveness, and hope. Amen.

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