Proclaiming the Message

A sermon from Mark 1: 29-39

The last thing I want to do after I’ve been sick in bed with a fever is stand up and start making breakfast for a dozen hungry men.  The last thing I want to when I’m interrupted on my prayer retreat is hit the ministry road again.But sometimes, it seems, we’re called to do the last things we want to do in the service of the kingdom of God.  If everything is just a walk in the park, we’re probably doing something wrong.

But that’s not the good news of this Bible passage, with lots of little twists and turns in the story.  That would make a great sermon, wouldn’t it?  Get off your duff and get to work; there’s way too much to be done for slouching around.  But it’s hardly good news.

I see Jesus in this passage recognizing that the hardest parts of his ministry are still to come.  I take heart that he sees the great crowds gathering in Capernaum and finds a few moments to get away and pray his way into some quiet, maybe even rest.  But I also take heart that he sees the road opening up before him and he takes it — “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.”

But what message – we haven’t had a bullet point version since way before he called all those disciples at the beginning of the passage: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

He’s casting out demons and healing people – his words are clearly not as important to proclaim the message.  St. Francis is perhaps incorrectly attributed as saying “Preach the gospel always; if necessary use words.”  But clearly Jesus is teaching as St. Francis taught: “And let them show their love by the works they do for each other, according as the Apostle says: ‘let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.’”

In the ways we live in the world, in the acts of service that we do for one another, we are proclaiming our love, we are proclaiming Christ’s love – we are indeed showing that the Kingdom, the reign, the heaven of God has drawn near – believe the good news.  I believe in these miraculous healings of Jesus; his ability to cast out the demons of our lives with a touch, a word.  It looks so much different for us now, especially as we can’t even touch if we wanted to right now.

But just because it’s different, doesn’t mean it is not real.  Incredibly, we are called to show God’s love and healing in the world right now too – and even for me as a preacher it is so much more than the words we say. It’s in the actions of love we perform.

See the whole message here!