Wednesday, January 24, 2018

We have an important message live and share

Maybe you know the saying, “the only thing evil needs to succeed, is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke. Then it is also true that “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” Perhaps this is what is going on in this week’s Gospel Lesson (Mark 1.21-28). Jesus and his disciples (Simon, Andrew, James, John Philip and Nathaniel) went to Capernaum together. A few Good men who were proclaiming God’s good news and learning to correctly handle the word of truth.

They went to Jesus’ base of operations and his home there. Capernaum was located on near the headwaters of the Jordan River. It was rich farming land and was know for its good fishing in the Sea of Galilee.

He began to preach and to take advantage of the invitations to preach in the local synagogue. He would leave them astonished, in awe, in wonder and at least from time to time, in fear. The recognized him as a man who had a different kind of power and authority – not like the other religious leaders, and in particular the Scribes. Jesus spoke on his own authority, of the kingdom and of his Father. He backed up what he was saying with deeds of power – making the blind to see, the lame to walk up right and the deaf to hear; exorcisms, turning water into wine, raising people from the dead.

The mission seems clear: The Father wants to bring his own back to himself and we, in Christ, are going to work at making that happen. But we need to stop a recognize that if there is a path forward, there is going to be a collision of kingdoms first – and that means there is going to be heat and friction, some tearing up, breaking away and some falling apart. To us it might look like disaster and the end, but it has not been… not yet at least.
As Saint Paul would remind us, For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6.12-13)

This brings us back to the Gospel and to the encounter with personal evil. While teaching and preaching on sabbath in the Synagogue in Capernaum, is confronted with a man who had a demon. The encounter is often portrayed as a battle to silence the other. Only one problem with that – no devil or devil is the Strong one. God is above and beyond his creation. God has no equal. Think of it this way. It is a bit of a numbers game. You have probably heard that the sign of the enemy is “666” but have you considered why? “777” is the number that defines the perfect revelation of God and who God is. “666” is the revelation of a created being trying to reveal himself as God – the created being always falls short.

And did you notice that the demon, in addressing Jesus, taunted and insulted him, telling him that there was no business between them while at the same time admitted to Jesus’ identity – that he is the Christ. “Be quiet! Come out of him!” was the stern response. The people were amazed that the unclean, evil spirit had to obey Jesus.

What does all this mean for us? Well, first we want to clean up this world. If you don’t believe me, the next time you go to a store, say Wal Mart, or a grocery store, check out the cleaning products aisle and all the different cleaners for the different places and spaces we inhabit. Then ask yourself this question: “What will make me clean up my act where God is concerned?” Is it nothing but the blood of Jesus?

The kingdom of God comes in contact, and clashes with our kingdoms for a purpose – so that the holy can reclaim the unholy and reanimate it with new life, with eternal life. That means that God wants to come into your life and offer his for yours so that you can live like him and with him in the life, in the world that is to come. And if that is true then there is something important about the preaching we participate in. If what we have is real; if what we have is true, and if hat we have is lifegiving, then it is a big deal. This means we cannot afford to preach a no biggy Gospel. God’s message needs to be declared with power and in love.

If Jesus and a few disciples can lay claim to a single life in the middle of a sermon, what can this Church do this week? It will make a total difference, not just in the life of one person but in every life that is in this community. Isn’t that worth something, to God and to us?


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