I heard a cute joke this week about a kindergarten teacher who gave her class a show and tell assignment. The students were instructed to bring in an object to share with the class that represented their religion. The first student got up in front of the class and said, “My name is Benjamin, and I am Jewish, and this is a Star of David.” The second student got up in front of the class and said, “MY name is Mary. I am a Catholic, and this is a rosary.” The third student got up in front of the class and said, “My name is Tommy, and l’m a Quaker, and this is a casserole.”…
While we don’t have as many fundraiser meals, carry-ins or potlucks as some faith communities do, sometimes it does seem like we could use a covered dish as a logo! What I want to invite us to do this morning, is to hold that image of faith-related practice as we know it here in our meetinghouse today, over against the image of faithfulness that Jesus shows as depicted by the author of Mark in the scripture reading we have today from that first chapter of Mark. We’ve already talked a bit about the story as Mark begins to tell it. lt moves quickly; it has a sense of urgency; Jesus is very active-doing and going all over the place. He bursts onto the scene, and as we noticed and in just a page or so: Jesus has been baptized, tested, taught in the synagogue, and exorcised a demon all in the space of about 30 verses. No time for a carry-in there. ln the next ten verses which we’re focusing on for today, lf we step back and consider them, they give us an outline of what Jesus’ mission is going to be about, and where it will be aimed-who will be the recipients of the amazingly disruptive ministry of this amazing man. Just as quickly as he leaves the synagogue, Jesus goes to the home of a couple of his new disciples. Here upon learning that Simon’s mother in law is ill, he heals her-just Iike that! OK-let’s think here a minute. First off, this is the Sabbath. lt is against the law to heal on the Sabbath. Healing is also something that when it happens, happens according to the rules and ritual in the temple. Jesus’ focus is a woman…a person that has no status or real value in this culture. Nobody usually cares or takes time with those who are second class citizens.
Then as the afternoon progresses, Jesus continues to make himself available to all who come to be healed. He gives no regard to who people are-whether they’re good Jews or outsiders; folks who are clean or unclean. His power is great and effective,Jesus heals EVERYBODY! Jesus is serving notice by his actions: His main goal is to bring healing to anybody who needs it. He is also guided by the in-breaking of the Good News, not by Jewish laws and conventional practices. When Jesus does slow down and regroup, he retreats back to the wilderness, to the place where God spoke most clearly to him, in order to ensure that he is in alignment with God’s intentions for him. He spends time in prayer, connecting to the source of his power and authority.
And then, just in case any reader is uncertain about what is going on and why, Jesus verbally declares his mission: “lt is for this reason that I came-to proclaim the message -to show and share God’s reign-with those in the neighboring towns. Jesus is here to proclaim through healing and exorcising that the Good News is for the whole world. He’s on the move! Jesus’ mission is clear, and so is the mission of those who follow him and claim to be his disciples… “The gospel for today reminds us that the story of Jesus is always on the move and will not allow any of us hearers to remain who or where we are “ So, our job is to enter into this journey and continue the work. But are we doing our job?
AND, where do carry-ins with casseroles, and “fundraising dinners” fit into this model? I DO think they’re there. I am convinced that as we meet, and share a meal that God through Christ joins us, enabling and empowering our thoughts and discussions, so that good ideas, activities, energies emerge. But I think that we are not to be content with stopping there; with allowing our focus to be limited to those efforts which will just serve to keep our little meeting safe and secure and financially solvent. Let’s not limit our work to a mere intellectual exercise where we focus on getting the most bang for the buck. Let’s also allow the Spirit-which blows where it will-to excite, inspire, and to change our Iives!
God’s call through Jesus is to get on the move! To gather our resources and then to journey out where we exorcise the demons of a culture and world that says that people are a disposable commodity, and the meaning of life is limited to what you can produce or earn. We will truly succeed only as we catch God’s vision and then work to proclaim it to our neighbors-here locally and throughout the world.
ln the words of Jesus from Mark chapter 1: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near, repent and believe in the good news!”
Let’s allow that, friends, to guide and direct our mission and goals; to leas us to where WE TOO are bringing forth the reign of God in worship, words, and deeds.
Let’s get on the move!