I don’t know about you, but when I read Mark 1:29-39 I immediately think of the multitudes of demons in my life, that I want Jesus to heal. Do you believe demons are real? Mark invites some real contemplation about where you stand on demons. Are they mental illness or bodily infections or disabilities or real evil rampant in the world? One thing is certain. Mark takes evil seriously, and we ought to as well.
I don’t really know what to do with Smon’s amazing mother-in-law who goes straight to work. In a United States that is currently valuing work over wellness, I feel like this could be a whole different sermon about valuing healing and wellness over work.
Back to what I want cured though. I’m not sure where I stand on demons, but I do believe that there is evil that needs to be named and cast out: racism and lies and elitism. Also, after almost a year of sort of quarantining, I hunger deeply for Jesus to come and cure the pandemic. Especially now, as we realize the more we let coronavirus run rampant, the more possible it becomes for it to mutate.
Another real possibility to contemplate in Mark is, does evil ever come alone? When I discover someone is being oppressed, it is not because of just one thing, but a multitude of things. The idea that being poor and being a person of color and being someone who is queer are each difficult things to deal with is hard enough, because somehow we humans think that certain people deserve oppression. Somehow, we humans feel that it’s “ok” if bad things happen to certain people. The fact that these realities often intersect, and so the oppression is squeezing from many different directions makes me feel like evil is the most nefarious when it manifests in many different ways.
I believe Isaiah 40:21-31 is very apropos right now. The bone deep weariness, contrasted against the brevity of life is compelling. We may not officially be in Lent yet but the demons we wrestle with, the exhaustion of crises and the touches with death set us up well for a season of watching and waiting for the Lord. A theme that Isaiah 40 emphasizes.
Psalm 147 is a very count the stars, and God knows each of them by names sort of text. Reminding us that God designed the world for all things to work together for good. The goal remain lofty and important: building up, gathering outcasts, healing the brokenhearted and binding up the wounds. Do we emphasize enough that Jesus is a heart a healing Christ? It’s a complex theme–and one to be wary of ableism in, but it is still vital to know that Jesus loved to heal people. All kinds of people. This is why Jesus gets up to visit and preach and heal to his neighbors in the end of the Mark passage. Also, this is the crux of 1 Corinthians 9:16-23 healing cannot be hoarded. Good News is not meant to be kept away. What can we do to extend healing and the good news beyond our own communities, I wonder? Where is the growing edge for giving health and joy to one another?
What are you wrestling this week is it demons or healing or some other theme. Let us know where you are as we prepare for Sunday together.
Katy Stenta is a solo pastor at a tiny Presbyterian church that is bigger on the inside in Albany, NY since 2020 and blogs prayers & Narrative Lectionary at http://www.katyandtheword.com She is also the co-founder of the fledgling TrailPraisers inclusive Worship. When she is not dreaming up projects and ideas, some of which creep into the church, she plays with her three boys-boys or goes and visits her husband at the library, while he works, to read.
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