Sermons 2006

"Healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and love", Epiphany 5B, 5 February 2006, Mark 1:29-39

Home | "Light and Darkness", Christmas 2C, 31 December 2006, John 1:1-18 | Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2006 | "What then shall we do?", Advent 3C , 17 December 2006, Luke 3:7-18 | "Luke's Gospel", Advent 1C, 3 Dec 2006, Luke 21:25-31 | Which Jesus? Proper 29B 2006, 26 November 2006, John 18:33-37 | Apocalypticism and Fundamentalism, Proper 28B, 19 Nov 2006, Daniel12; Mark 13:14-23 | "The Widow's Mite: All and Everything", Proper 27B, 12 November 2006, Mark 12:38-44 | "The Commandments to love God, Neighbor, One Another" Proper 26B, 5 November 2006, Mark 12:28-34 | "Sight -- and Seeing" Proper 25B, 29 October 2006, Mark 10:46-52 | "Baptism: Overwhelming Washing", Proper 24B, 22 October 2006 Mark 10:35-45 | "God's Transforming Love", Proper 23B, 15 October 2006, Mark 10:17-31 | "Divorce", Proper 22B, 8 February 2006, Mark 10: 2-9 | "Hard Sayings and Sharp Words", Proper 21B, 1 October 2006, Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 | "First or Last?" Proper 20B, 24 September 2006, Mark 9:30-37 | "Unintended Consequences", Proper 19B, 17 September 2006, Mark 8:27-38 | "Ephphatha! Open up!" Proper 18B, 10 September 2006, Mark 7:31-37 | "Rituals", Proper 17B, 3 September 2006, Deuteronomy 4:1-9; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | "Choices." Proper 16B, 30 August 2006, Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-25; John 6:60-69 | "Come to the Table." Proper 15B, 20 August 2006, John 6:53-59 | "Do not be afraid." Proper 12B, 30 July 2006, Mark6:45-52 | "General Convention and Jesus' Compassion", Proper 11B, 23 July 2006, Mark 6: 30-44 | "Basics for the Journey", Proper 10B, 16 July 2006, Mark 6:7-13 | "Jesus and Rejection", Proper 9B, 9 July 2006, Mark 6:1-6 | "Trust, Faith, and Belief" Proper 8B, 2 July 2006, Mark 5:22-43 | "Storms, Fear, and Faith" Proper 7B, 25 June 2006, Mark 4:35-41 | Mighty things from Small, Proper 6B, 18 June 2006, Mark 4:26-34 | Trinity, Pentecost 1, 11 June 2006, Exodus 3:1-6; John 3:1-16 | The King Jesus Fire-Baptized Holy Spirit Church, Pentecost , 4 June, Acts 2:1-11; Jn 20:19-23 | "That they may be one" General Convention 2006, Easter 7B 28 May 2006, John 5:9-15 | "Friends, friendship, and love" Easter 6B, 21 May 2006, John 15:9-17 | Mother's Day, two mothers' love!" Easter 5B, 14 April 2006, John 14:15-21 | "Interesting, this Good Shepherd!" Easter 4B, 7 May 2006, John 10:11-16 | "How do you prove you are alive?", Easter 3B, 30 April 2006, Luke 24:36b-48 | "Do you believe because...." Easter 2B, 23 April 2006, John 20:19-31 | "He goes before you to Galilee...." Easter B 2006, 16 April, Mark 16:1-8 | "Journey into darkness", Palm Sunday B, 9 April 2006. Mark 11:1-11, 14:32-15:47 | "Sir, we would see Jesus!" Lent 5B, 2 April 2006, John 12:20-33 | "Miracles and Faith, Ordinary and Not", Lent 4B 2006, 26 March 2006, John 6:4-15 | "Rage, Rampage, and Outrage", Lent 3B, 19 March 2006, John 2: 13-22 | "Images of the Cross", Lent 2B, 12 March 2006, Mark 8:31-38 | "Baptism, Temptation, Redemption," Lent 1B, 5 March 2005, Mark 1:9-13 | Ash Wednesday , 1 March 2006, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | ""Nanny McPhee' and transfiguration", Epiphany Last B, Mark 9:2-9 | "Jesus, leprosy, and the law of Moses", Epiphany 6B, 12 February 2006, Mark 1:40-45 | "Healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and love", Epiphany 5B, 5 February 2006, Mark 1:29-39 | "Haints, Unclean spirits, and demons" Epiphany 4B, 22 January 2006, Mark 1:21-28 | Epiphany 3B, 22 January 2006, "God's Call -- and Our Response", Mark 1:14-20 | Epiphany 2B, 15 January 2006, "Call and Response", John 1:43-51 | Epiphany 1B, 8 January 2006, "The Baptism of our Lord -- and Ours", Mark 1:7-11 | The Holy Name, 1 January 2006, Luke 2: 15-21

Epiphany 5B 2006 Mark 1:29-39

Saint Mark has hardly begun his report of Jesus ministry on earth and already we have been on what seems and feels a roller-coaster ride pell mell through one significant event after another. John the Baptist appears on the scene, and then baptizes Jesus, and then the Holy Spirit descends and then God pronounces his benediction, and then Jesus is driven into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan – our lectionary for this year passes over that event and we didn’t read it – and then John is arrested and imprisoned, and then Jesus begins preaching the Good News that the Kingdom of God has come near – and we’re only up to verse 15.

Whew! Time to pause and catch our breath. Clearly this roller coaster ride is going to continue.

And next Jesus starts calling his disciples who immedialtely leap up and follow him, and then Jesus goes directly to the synagogue and then astounds and confounds everyone there, and then is confronted by an unclean spirit, a demon who knows who he is and then Jesus casts the demon out of the possessed man. And then Jesus orders the demon to keep silent – to shut up -- and then the demon obeys. Now we’re up to verse 28, but still in the same first chapter of Saint Mark’s gospel. The wild ride continues.

And when Jesus goes with his disciples to catch his own breath at Simon Peter’s house, his hostess is down with a fever and then Jesus heals her simply by taking her hand and then pulling her up. And then she’s well enough to fix supper for the five of them.

Good thing Jesus was able to have a little food and nutrition because and then immediately afterward the people of the town brought to him everyone who was sick and/or possessed by demons. And then Jesus healed them all.

And then, and then, and then, and then. That’s the pell mell sense and feeling and texture from the New Testament coine Greek in which Saint Mark wrote his gospel.

And we’re still in Saint Mark Chapter 1 with yet next Sunday to go before we are in chapter 2. No wonder Jesus was tired and tried to get away for a little quiet time by himself the next morning. It makes our own heads spin when we stop to think about it. It makes us wish we could be as excited about the good news as was Saint Mark when he set down this very first gospel to be written. And then, and then, and then.

It also leaves us with several serious things to consider and contemplate. What can we say – more importantly, what can each of us really believe about these miracles and this casting out of evil spirits. Indeed, it forces us ultimately to address what it is we believe about Jesus himself – the ultimate question of the Christian faith.

In our own English language the words “healing,” “health,” “wholeness,” “wellness,” and “holiness” all share the same ancient root words, hal and or hel or heil from the old Saxon and Norse. In general these words meant “full” or “complete.” Or “whole”, more importantly. Hal givesus hale as in hale and hearty; heil gives us whole and holy. Heil comes into modern German for holy, as in Heilige Gheist, Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit. The Romance word from the Latin Sanctus meaning holy comes into French and the American cocktail circuit toast as health: a votre sante and Spanish place names such as San Antonio and Santa Fe.

Consider the intersection of faith and miracles. Consider Lourdes. Most of us are familiar with Lourdes, the shrine in southern France at which the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a saintly young woman named Bernadette a century and a half ago. Pilgrims today continue to make their pilgrimages to the shrine, hoping to be cured of their ailments. Over the years, unknown thousands have left behind their crutches and braces as silent witnesses to the Lord’s power to make them well. This sort of thing is of course nothing new. From the shrine and burial place of Saint James the Apostle, Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain, to the most important medieval place in England, Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk to holy sites in our own land, pilgrims have made their way to sacred temples, grottoes, and hillsides throughout the ages in hopes of finding healing and wholeness and strength and even holiness. (1)

It is easy to dismiss such journeys of faith as a false piety especially inappropriate and unnecessary in our age of medical and psychiatric therapeutic advances. Surely the energy and money and time would be used better in visiting medical experts and psychiatric therapies, the way we moderns exorcise our physical infirmities and mental and spiritual demons.

Still, healing and wholeness and forgiveness and love are at the very heart of the good news. And especially, healing is an essential and central element of the Gospel message. Christians of all persuasions and of every age have treasured the healing stories found throughout both Hebrew and Christian Scripture. Surely, the Lord will not disappoint those who today come seeking his power and favor in their own lives.

At whatever stage of life we may be -- whether child, adolescent, middle-aged, or older -- we are always somehow aware of our own weaknesses, deficiencies, our emptiness and lack of completeness and wholeness. We know and feel our need for something or someone beyond ourselves. We need the Lord’s strength not only to make us well, but also to make us whole.

The ministry of Jesus began with healing. As soon as Jesus had called his disciples to his side he cured a man with an unclean spirit. Then, leaving the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon and Andrew only to find Simon’s mother-in-law in bed with a fever. Our Lord took her by the hand and lifted her up. The fever left her, and she got on with her life.

Whether they were close to him and his disciples like Peter’s mother-in-law or whether they were perfect strangers gathered on the street outside the door – for all of them healing meant a second chance and hope where there had been no reason for hope. In our Lord’s hands, healing brought physical curing as well as inner change and transformation – spiritual healing. No wonder “the whole city was gathered” around Jesus’ door. It wouldn’t have seemed much different from the crowds of pilgrims at the Lourdes of the past century and a half.

But healing was never an end unto itself for Jesus. In his very first words, as recorded by Mark, Jesus proclaimed, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near.” Healing heralded the coming of a kingdom that transcended the human world of pain and death. And best of all, this kingdom was not in some far off place. The kingdom of heaven was within anyone’s grasp, anyone who would abandon the strict confines of self and reach out to grasp it. It offered lasting spiritual wholeness and completeness in a world of human weakness and doubt.
And it still does all those things.


Parts of this sermon adapted from The Rev. Dr. Frank Hegedus, Selected Sermon for Epiphany 5B, worship that works,

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Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579