(Sermon from Feb. 8)
29 After leaving the synagogue, Jesus, James, and John went home with Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed, sick with a fever, and they told Jesus about her at once. 31 He went to her, took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she served them.
32 That evening, at sunset, people brought to Jesus those who were sick or demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered near the door. 34 He healed many who were sick with all kinds of diseases, and he threw out many demons. But he didn’t let the demons speak, because they recognized him. 35 Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer. 36 Simon and those with him tracked him down. 37 When they found him, they told him, “Everyone’s looking for you!”
38 He replied, “Let’s head in the other direction, to the nearby villages, so that I can preach there too. That’s why I’ve come.” 39 He traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and throwing out demons.
As a pastor, one question I get asked a lot is, “what does a typical day look like for you?” or “what does the day in a life of a pastor entail?” And we would much rather get this question than a comment like, “Well, you only work one day a week, don’t you?!” The thing is, though, that pastors don’t really have a typical day. I do any number of things on any given day. Sometimes it’s planning worship, writing a sermon, and going to a meeting. Sometimes it’s making a pastoral visit, a few phone calls, and working on assignments for my doctor of ministry degree. Sometimes it’s attending a conference or a clergy meeting or serving on a committee for the Indiana Conference. Other times it’s attending or participating in community meetings or activities. Sometimes it’s changing the church sign or unclogging a toilet! The possibilities are endless for the day in the life of a pastor.
And as much as I like routine, it’s hard for me sometimes to get my mind around that fact- that I don’t really have a typical day. At least it keeps life interesting when you never know what might happen on any given day.
Since a day in the life of a pastor is never “typical,” I was curious to see what a day in the life of the President might look like. Apparently his day begins with a daily brief, a highly classified document prepared by the Director of National Intelligence, which provides information about international matters and events on a need to know basis. He then has a series of meetings or events, usually with his Cabinet officers or White House staff. Most days include giving remarks to groups of citizens about different issues or needs, and press events to the public. Other events might include meetings with foreign leaders, dinners, and legislative processes. Sometimes it’s even meeting with people or groups to honor or congratulate them. He might even visit with the Patriots to congratulate them on their Super Bowl win! (Boo…..)
But what about a typical day in the life of Jesus? What would that look like? Luckily for us, today’s text from the Gospel of Mark gives us a rough idea of what Jesus was up to on a typical day in his early ministry. Jesus has just called his first followers and they have ventured to Capernaum where he has amazed people with his teaching in the synagogue and has healed a man of an evil spirit. News began to spread quickly about him through Galilee. Jesus and his disciples then leave the synagogue and go to Peter’s mother-in-law’s home, where Peter’s mother-in-law is sick in bed with a fever. When Jesus hears of this, he goes to her and heals her to the point where she is well enough to go about her household duties of caring for the guests.
When evening comes, Jesus spends time healing those who were sick with illness or evil spirits. He might have spent hours healing people brought from all over the area, cleansing them and making them well. In the morning, he goes to a deserted place to be alone and to pray. When he is found and told that everyone is looking for him, his response is for the group to leave Capernaum and head in the other direction so that he may preach, teach, and heal there as well.
A typical day in the life of Jesus’ early ministry: teaching, healing and cleansing those who are both close friends and those who are strangers, getting away to pray and spend time with God, then going elsewhere to teach, heal, and preach. Sounds like a pretty packed and heavy day to me. Most of us like our routines, but in Jesus we see a model of living that involves time spent healing, teaching, loving, praying, and getting outside of our own boxes and comfort zones. I’m guessing that the disciples were expecting Jesus to stay in Capernaum to continue the same routine of teaching and healing there, but that’s not what Jesus had in mind.
Notice that after his early morning prayer, Jesus decides not to stay in Capernaum. Instead, he decides to move on to teach, preach, and heal elsewhere, perhaps mixing up the typical day in the life that the disciples were just beginning to get used to. And getting at the heart of it all, Jesus adds that this is why he has come: to preach the kingdom of God and to heal in a variety of places. This one amazing day he spent in Capernaum serves as a model for Jesus’ ministry throughout Galilee with growing expectations for what else may happen on the journey. The disciples will learn, after all, that there is no such thing as a typical day in the life of Jesus, and they must be prepared for anything as the kingdom of God unfolds.
This day in the life of Jesus’ ministry also gives us insight as to why he has come. He has come to preach the kingdom of God, to challenge the status quo with his teaching, and to help others become whole by healing. Jesus focuses on healing as one of his first tasks. Why is this? I think he does this because in order for people to fully receive and accept the good news and acceptance of God, we must be willing to be healed. In order for us to be bearers of good to others, we ourselves must be willing to be healed. In order to for us to believe, we must be willing to present ourselves to be healed of our sin, illnesses, anxieties, etc.
This begins when we offer ourselves as people in need of healing. What do you need to be healed from? What healing do you offer to others? As Jesus’ healing hands in the world today, we as a church need to heal people who have been hurt by the world- those who look in the mirror and see themselves as damaged goods rather than someone who is loved by God. As Jesus’ healing hands, we are to help people realize that they are worthy of healing and to help them polish their mirrors until they see themselves as God sees them.
As you reflect upon your life, your routine, your reflection in the mirror, from what do you need to be healed? In order for you to go about your daily life, what do you need to do to break free from your typical routine in order to embrace a new pattern of living, teaching, loving, healing? As a church, we need to make sure that we are comfortable with breaking out of our routines and habits enough so that we may reach others who are in need of the healing and grace that Jesus offers. Let’s not get so comfortable with our traditions and habits that we forget to move on to the next place, filled with people in need of healing. Take a look at the message that this church wanted to promote:
So often in today’s world, people expect a typical day in the life of a church to be judgmental, hypocritical, a place where answers are dictated, a place where questions are not welcome, a play where perfect people go to be more holy. No wonder people are scared of church. But we need only to look at a day in the life of Jesus to see that his message is so much more than that. It begins with healing and moves to teaching and preaching the challenging, complex, and beautiful kingdom of God. It also includes personal and private time to get away to pray and spend time with the Lord. We are challenged by this to be people who are in need of healing. We are challenged by this to be healers ourselves, so that we may venture out into the world, to step out of our routine, and live life to the fullest. We are challenged to be a church that is a place for healing and wholeness rather than a place of habit or routine. We are called away to a quiet place to pray and spend time in the presence of God. Then, we are called to proclaim that Jesus comes to give life and give it abundantly- this is, as he says, why he has come.
But before we can do all that, we are called to be healed. It begins with knowing you are worthy of being healed. Are you in need of healing today? If so, I’d like to give you an opportunity to come forward and receive a healing blessing and anointing, and to be reminded of the healing power of Christ in our lives. And in this, may you be reminded that we are called and chosen by God to be a healing presence to others. So I invite you to come forward and receive healing- to step outside of your normal worship routine and allow space for the Spirit to enter into your life in new ways. Amen.
“May the power of God’s indwelling presence heal you of all illnesses- of body, mind, spirit, and relationships- that you may serve God with a loving heart. Amen.”