Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

Epiphany 5

“A Feast in the House of Simon the Pharisee” by Peter Paul Rubens; c. 1618

No services will be held on Sunday, February 4 due to dangerous ice buildup.  So I am using our website to share the prayers and readings appointed for today, an announcement and my sermon. Enjoy and see you soon!!

Prayers and Thanksgivings 

In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer, we pray for The Anglican Church of Burundi
and The Most Reverend Martin Nyaboho Archbishop of Burundi & Bishop of Makamba.

In the Diocese of Montana, we pray for All Saint’s, Columbia Falls and the Rev. Bradley Wirth, Rector.

We also pray for those on our prayer list: Betty, Bill, Brenda, Casey, Coriene and McKenzie, Cotton, Daisy and Nelly, Dan, Jana, Kelly, Kerry, Linda and Chris, Lindsey, Mazie, Merrill, Pat, and Sue.

Prayer for the Diocese during the Search and Transition Process

Loving God, raise up for the Diocese of Montana a shepherd who will lead with compassion, with courage and with comprehension of the needs of all your people, that we may be led by a bishop who is committed to ministering from the mountains to the plains, from cities to rural areas always remembering the poor, the marginalized and those with no voice.  This we ask Father in the name of your Son, Jesus, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Announcements

Ash Wednesday will be commemorated Wednesday, February 14 with service in Miles City at 5 pm and in Forsyth at 7 pm.

Readings

Isaiah 40:21-31 (NRSV)

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to live in;
who brings princes to naught,
and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.
Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows upon them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
To whom then will you compare me,
or who is my equal? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see:
Who created these?
He who brings out their host and numbers them,
calling them all by name;
because he is great in strength,
mighty in power,
not one is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
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.
He gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted;
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 faint.

 

1 Corinthians 9:16-23 (NRSV)

If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.
For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

 

Mark 1:29-39 (NRSV)

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

 

Sermon

Dr._Strangelove_poster

  • This film came out in 1964, in the aftermath of one of the bleakest moments in the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis
  • I won’t get into the details of the plot other than to say that it did a marvelous job of highlighting the absurdity of the nuclear arms race and the idea of actually using such weapons
  • One of the key concepts discussed in that movie and throughout the Cold War was M.A.D. – Mutually Assured Destruction – that is probably the best and most appropriate acronym in history
  • Anyway… Mutually Assured Destruction is the doctrine that both the Soviet Union (or Russia) and United States had (and have) the ability to destroy each other (and the rest of life on earth) many time over and that if one launched a nuclear attack on the other, then the other would almost certainly respond in kind. This would lead to the destruction of both sides (and all life on earth) … so destruction of both sides was assured.
  • MAD was a crazy idea, but it kept the leaders of these two nations from destroying humanity for fifty years
  • MAD worked, and I use that term loosely because it really was a mad idea, because of the first word in the term – Mutual
  • Mutual means having a relationship with another, having an understanding of where he or she is coming from
  • MAD worked because both sides came to an understanding, both sides knew that they had a role to play

 

  • Mutuality is also a key theme in two of our readings today
  • First, we heard Paul tell the church in Corinth about the role of the apostle
  • Proclaiming the Gospel is an obligation, not something to boast about
  • It should not be done of one’s own will, it should be a commission that one is entrusted to
  • The gospel is to be free of charge – open to all people
  • Paul is a slave to all because he is free to all
  • He believed he must become like those to whom he preaches
  • Powerful closing lines… “I have become all things to all people, that I might be all means save some.”

 

  • Pride or arrogance have no place in proclaiming the gospel
  • Being a prophet is an obligation given to one by God, but that shouldn’t lead to pride, its simply service
  • Paul asserts his rights as an apostle here, but freely choices to give some of them up
  • Paul viewed the way of the prophet, the way of the apostle, as being like that of the cross – humble and sacrificial

 

  • He felt the need to be connected to people in order to evangelize to them
  • He knew that the same thing wouldn’t work for all people because people are different
  • We connect to others by getting to know them, to understand them… through mutual relationships
  • Paul sought to be free of all but also slave of all… just as Christ was
  • The strong must identify with others, especially the weak… that is part of Paul’s message
  • How do we treat others? How do we relate to those different from us? That is a measure of how well we are living out the Gospel
  • Paul saw his service as being dedicated to the poor and the weak
  • To identify with others to the point that we become like them… to be all things to all people
  • Paul isn’t calling on the strong to become slaves of the weak… he isn’t calling for all people to be the same – he is calling for people who disagree to see the value of each other and to compromise for the greater good

 

  • Mutuality is also an underlying theme of our reading from the Gospel of Mark
  • The reading picks up where last week’s ended with Jesus and his first four disciples in a synagogue on the Sabbath
  • Jesus and disciples go to home of Simon and Andrew
  • Jesus goes and heals Simon’s mother in law and she begins to serve them
  • That evening lots of people bring their sick or possessed to the house to be healed
  • Jesus cured many
  • Next morning Jesus goes off by himself to pray
  • The disciples hunted for him and then found him
  • Jesus doesn’t care that people are looking for him…
  • He tells the disciples that they must now travel around “so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do”

 

  • This is a passage about mutual service that begins with Jesus serving Simon’s mother-in-law by healing her and then she serves him literally
  • The woman is healed and immediately begins to serve, that is who she was and how she lived out her faith
  • Service to others is what is being lived out here and the disciples don’t get it yet and won’t for some time
  • But the healed woman got it and she shows it through her service
  • This healing and those that follow it take place in a home, one of the most ordinary of settings… and that is where the church really started, in people’s homes

 

  • Here we also have another powerful story of Jesus doing the unexpected
  • He healed Simon’s mother-in-law and then many others, but… then he goes off to pray by himself, the disciples come to him, tell him that many others are eager to be healed there, but…
  • Jesus isn’t interested in that
  • Simon and the disciples with Jesus wanted to stay and keep doing what they were doing, but Jesus knew his mission was more than that
  • Jesus didn’t want to simply be a miracle worker, he wanted to change the way people related to each other and to God
  • He didn’t want to be limited to one thing, to one place… he wanted to be all things to all people

 

  • And so, today we are being called on to try and “become all things to all people”
  • No that doesn’t mean that we must do the impossible or give up what we believe in or cherish
  • We are to proclaim and to live out the Good News
  • That means we must serve one another live mutually
  • We must relate to others where they are, try to understand them so that we can better serve them and reach them
  • Must live in relationship with those we disagree with

 

  • About a year before Strangelove came out in theaters and less than a year after the world almost ended in the Cuban Missile Crisis, the President of the United States spoke of his hopes for peace
  • His hope for peace was based on recognizing what we share with the other
  • “For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
  • And so, let us remember what we as Christians are called to do, to “become all things to all people, that we might be all means save some.”

One thought on “Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

  1. At 4:15 am EST today, I read your verses & sermon points with great interest.
    A little over a year ago I was one of the few privileged to attendyour ordination & next day your 1st church services as an ordained priest.
    I’m glad to see that you are continuing to inspire through your good works & leadership. God Bless you Father Day & your congregations. I hope the ice thaws soon!

    Like

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