This week’s Gospel lesson (Mark 1.21-28) is where the message of the kingdom, get is momentum. It is the Sabbath and Jesus is in the local Synagogue teaching. It is not what Jesus is teaching that is surprising people, it is how he is teaching it. He does not refer to other people. He does not have specific prayers, tricks or incantations. What Jesus has, is a simple and direct command to a demon. No bargaining, no pleading. Just the simple command “Stop talking and come out of him.”
Jesus’ teaching is declarative not just deliberative. His teaching declares the nearness of the presence of God and the kingdom and how things are in the presence of God rather than asking the people simply to believe that God cares. Jesus’ teaching doesn’t just talk about peace and healing – it becomes a reality the sight of the nation. Jesus preaching is the kind of teaching that breaks the boundaries of the old system which has benefited another kind of rule and allowed evil to thrive. The presence of God and the preaching of Jesus come to make God’s blessings flow “far as the curse (of sin and death) is found”. God has come in the person of Jesus, to break down all that entangles and ensures us and the rest of creation so that we can grow and flourish as we are created to.
This season of Epiphany is a time for us to look at this very thing so that we are ready to enter into Lent and participate in Christ as he walks, suffers and dies and then rise again with him at Easter time. And because of this, we need to decide whether we can accept the way that life is around us, and live the status quo or if we are going to take the risk and believe in and follow Jesus to the cross; the same Jesus who is commissioned by God to bring the life of the kingdom to the people of God who are in need of it. We are challenged by the message to discover if there is something more beyond what we have become familiar and satisfied with: to figure out what deserves our attention and amazement.
One way to help us do that is to be in worship on a regular basis. We need worship, eucharistic worship to help us to deal with what is going on inside. Worship and prayer are the foundation of how God reorders our lives so that we can be free. The four fold action of the Eucharist (Take, bless, break and give) teaches us the order in which we are to live our lives. We receive and take for ourselves, what God has given – because the Father gives good gifts to his children. We bless what we have received because what is given, life and all it holds is sacred. We break it to savour all that the gift holds for us. Then we share it, because it is a matter of life and death for each and for all of us.
We must learn to live in this fourfold way precisely because when people come to the Church looking hoping for a miracle, leaving frustrated because they think God isn’t listen or does not care. We are his hands, his feet, his eyes and his voice. It is okay to be afraid. It is okay to not have it all down. It is okay to not have all the answers. We are not called to be God. You and I are being drawn in to be witnesses of the power of God’s Message in us and through us, that others might be set free physically and spiritually.
Will you come and follow him?