Here is the message from this morning. I need to promise myself to begin work on these at an earlier point in the week, like maybe Sunday afternoons. I was awake early in the morning to finish this one, and I can’t be doing that again. I did not believe the weather forecasts about rain and freezing on the roads and such, but it happened. After 60 degrees yesterday, it just seemed that spring was here. Believe me the sky is more than a bit confused. Below are some pictures of the van after we made it home and it was parked in the garage. You get an idea of what the world looked like at the time. The temperature has gone up, so we are at a steady rain at the time, but by tonight the roads should be a sheet of ice again. Yikes, not looking forward to the morning commute.
The scriptures used were: Mark 1:29-39, Isaiah 40:21-31, and I Corinthians 9:16-23. My title in the bulletin was: “Healing—Curing.”
I realize that according to our famed Ground Hog, winter is not quite over, but as of Saturday, it looked to be pretty much packing up and moving to another area of the world. What a beautiful day. It was the type of day that one should have bundled up and gone outside to accomplish some task or another. At the least it would have been a great day for a walk or even to hang some of the laundry outside, but that would have taken a bit of effort.
I was dragged out tired yesterday, and so I opted to use the dryer, and I stayed inside. I had one of those days where I rested, but didn’t really rest. You might know those days, where you do a little of this and that, but not much of anything. Mostly I was tired, but lately I have a hard time napping in the middle of the day without feeling like time is being lost.
I used to be able to accomplish nothing for great lengths of time without any care in the world, but now I seem to be driven by this need to get something done, something accomplished all the time. Perhaps it is a sort of mid-life crisis or something. At any rate, I won’t be doing that again, I have learned a hard lesson that the longer you put off a good sleep, the harder it is to find.
But why am I even telling you this? The point I had been intending to open with is the fact that we in our family have noticed so much illness around us this winter. In fact, maybe it has been too warm. Isn’t there something about the cold that kills off the germs, on the other hand those that survive are better able to get at us when we don’t spend enough time out in the open air. It must be one of those six of this, half-dozen of that sort of things.
Anyway, there have been a few people that we know who have been diagnosed with pneumonia, and they are both younger than us, so I am not sure if it is from pushing themselves too much or just being around the wrong germs at the wrong time. They are both up and going again, but the one woman, who works in James’ room told me on Friday night that she doesn’t go out and about much after work because she is pretty much ready for bed right after supper.
Germs, being cooped up inside with others who are sick and being overtired all contribute to making one sick. Earlier this year we were being warned about the flu virus, and it has been quite deadly. Next we have been hearing about outbreaks of the measles. It almost seems like there is a new generation who either doesn’t trust the vaccines or doesn’t understand what being vaccinated means for the health of the entire population. At any rate, I know that for me, being around sick people can go either way, it might make me sick, but it often makes me immune. Being overtired on the other hand, almost always leads to illness.
Our story in Mark today opens with a story about sickness. Jesus has left the temple where he was teaching and where he cast out the demon on the Sabbath, and he went with his disciples to Simon and Andrew’s house. Upon arriving, they find Simon’s mother-in-law is sick. Now she isn’t just feeling a little under the weather. She wasn’t diagnosed with pneumonia then sent home with a shot and some pills to take it easy. She is in bed sick with a fever.
Given the difference in culture and ages that people did things like marry and work and retire, I won’t try to speculate on her age, but we know that she isn’t a young woman, or apparently a woman of means. It doesn’t say anything else about the household, except that it is the home of both Andrew and Simon. It doesn’t even mention Simon’s wife, which for those of us in Bible study we are seeing that more and more in Bible accounts, but we get the idea from this passage that she is a woman, who wants to be of use to the family. She is a woman who continues to work even though she isn’t able to live on her own. But at this time she is sick with a fever and she is in bed likely thinking that she won’t be getting up again. But Jesus comes, and things change.
The disciples and those around them probably haven’t been with Jesus all that long, but they already know what he is capable of doing, and they tell him immediately about this woman. We could say it might be in order to let the men know that there is a sick person in the house, perhaps they would want to go elsewhere. Perhaps it is to let them know to be less boisterous in their conversations. Maybe it is just as a form of information, but I don’t buy any of those reasons. When it says, “they told him about her at once.” I am guessing the they was all of the other women in the house at the time, and the HIM was not Simon, but Jesus. They knew that Jesus could do something about this fever and this sick woman, and he did.
When Jesus went to her, he took her by the hand and lifted her up. He cured her with his touch. It doesn’t say that he brought a potion or told them what to do. It doesn’t say that he evaluated her and deemed it a fever that would pass. It says he lifted her up and she began to serve them. I don’t know about you, but when I have been sick for a few days, or even a very short time I don’t just get up and go around making a meal or waiting on others. I think we all take our time getting back to the normal routine of things.
This is the difference between normal healing and the healing that comes from the touch of Jesus. We have talked about this before. Jesus had a power that went from him to those he healed with his touch. The very next passage in the text tells about how the others from the city came and gathered at the doorway to be healed of diseases and demons and all that ailed them. Jesus the teacher and exorcist of last Sunday becomes Jesus the physician this Sunday.
My resources said that this passage is a problematic one because it puts so many different things together into one lesson. I don’t want to be flip, but perhaps I need more training to see the whole problem. It seems to me that the logic, and one of the readings I looked at mentioned this, the logic is that the Jews say Jesus cure the man of the demon in the temple, and because it was the Sabbath they went home, but as soon as sunset hit, and the Sabbath was over, they found where he was and brought their sick to him.
I also see the logic in the next set of verses when the disciples find him alone in a deserted place. Jesus was divine, but he was also in the human form, and all the healing and just all of the teaching when he is around people in that manner had to be exhausting, and it is no wonder he took some time for himself. He takes time to be alone and regain himself, to pray and in prayer also to quiet himself and rest in preparation of the new day and the new demands of which there will be many.
There was power in the healing that Jesus offered in his day. There is power in the healing that Jesus offers to us in body and mind. We may not be a congregation or a church group who believes the only way to healing is through prayer and waiting for it, but I know from our conversations that we believe in the power of prayer, and we also know that not all healing is the kind where the body is lifted out of bed and sent on its way to continue the work on this earth. Some healing is letting go, and allowing the loved one to find healing away from this earth in a place where we are not yet ready to be but will someday join again with our loved ones.
There is power in Jesus healing, there is power in God’s love for us. There is strength for all of us through God. It says so in the text we read in Isaiah today. Verse 28 ends with, The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable, then comes the part that we often need to hear, He gives power to the faint, and strength to the powerless. And the end of that passage has to be one of the most promising verses in the Bible, when we read, “but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not feint.” What a wonderful promise we are given. Even as we are growing older and cannot always do what we once did, we are given this promise that God will renew us if not today, if not now, then when we meet with him face to face.
Simon’s mother-in-law had her day when Jesus came and took her by the hand and lifted her up that she was able to get out of bed and serve and wait on the young men who had come to her house. She was able to show them hospitality and kindness. We too have the promise that someday Jesus will take us by the hand and cure us of all that ails us. It might not really be what we want to talk about, but it is a day we will all face, and when it comes may we each be prepared. Paul writes that it is through being a slave to the gospel, to the good news of Jesus life and death and resurrection that we become free to join in his mercy. It is because of the grace that God grants us through Jesus that we have that opportunity to hold out our hand and accept his healing.