Saturday, February 04, 2012

Pain Meds

I am preparing this is pain. None of us like it. All of us want to avoid it. None of us like being ill but illness is very much part of the human story. Some illness is pretty trivial - yes sorry chaps, man flu is pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things. Other illnesses are significant on a global scale - I heard on the radio yesterday that scientists think they have underestimated the number of deaths from Malaria by at least half. In other words, we now think that some 1.24 million people die from it each year. Us Brits spent around £2 billion on over the counter medicines back in 2001. Painkillers alone cost the NHS £442 million a year. We don’t like illness. We don’t like pain. We want rid of it.

Jesus leaves the synagogue, where he has been to worship and to teach. As he leaves, he is told about Simon Peter’s mother in law who lies ill with a fever in the house next door. He is told about her, he sees her need and heals her. She gets up and begins to serve them.

Simon Peter's house where the miracle took place

Friends we meet the same Jesus in worship today. Like then, he longs to meet us in our very real need, like in times of illness.  Yet all too often, as Christians we take the gift of healing from the hands of our Lord and place it exclusively in the hands of the medics. We pray for the sick, as will do in a little while in our worship, but do we really believe that Jesus will meet them in their need as He met the needs of Simon Peter’s mother in Law and countless others that day? We all too often pray for strength for people who are sick to cope with their afflictions. Did Jesus? No, through Him, people were healed.

The healing ministry of the church is a long an ancient one; one that follows our Lord’s command to His disciples to live and act like Him. But if we really believe prayers for healing don’t really work, then to whom are we praying? Jesus caused great controversy in the synagogue and at the house that day by healing. Acting as if He were filled to overflowing with the life and power of the Creator God. Denying Christ’s ability to heal then, and to heal now, denies His place as Lord in our life, or worship and our Church.

Before Jesus ministered He spent time with His father. In this section of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus has been to the synagogue to teach, but probably also to worship. At the end of the day, having cured many he must have been physically, emotionally and spiritually drained. So in the morning He goes out to a deserted place to pray.  When Jesus acts, He does so rooted in the love and power of His Father, a relationship resourced through prayer and worship.

We worship God because it’s our natural response to who He is. Like Jesus Himself, our worship should resource and renew us in our relationship with God. Through it, we root ourselves in the power and love of the creator.

After an encounter with Jesus, Simon Peter’s mother in law’s life was transformed - she began to serve them. The word for serve is diakonei from which we get the word deacon - who who assists in  worship and who brings the love of Christ to the community in very practical ways. We should come to our worship of God expecting the same sort of transformation - encountering Christ in our worship should lead us to to be diakonei - people who seek to serve Him and others in very practical and loving ways.

Christ transformed the world physically, emotionally and spiritually of many on that day in Capernaum. But Jesus Christ is not just the name of a character on the page of history - he is the same Jesus Christ present with us today as we worship, present amongst us veiled in bread and wine and reigning from the altar of our hearts. He sees the need in us and in our community still and wants to act.

As Jesus spent time alone in prayer, renewing and resourcing Himself, His disciples searched for Him, the hunted for Him. I wonder, do many in our community hunt for Jesus because of what they see Him doing in and through our lives?  Do people see the life of Jesus Christ in us, our lives being transformed by Him after encountering Him in worship? Is our natural response having fed on Christ in the Eucharist and having our souls renewed, to go and make a tangible difference for the Kingdom of God amongst those whom we live or work.

Friends, the Jesus who healed at Capernaum, in whom people saw the life of God the Creator, and who longed for more, is here. He longs to see you freed from illness or suffering or to transform whatever is holding you back to living a life of loving and serving him. He longs for you to know Him in new ways that so transform your inner world that you can’t help but live out His love in simple acts of loving service. His desire is for our lives to be such that people hunt Him out, through us, so that we can be the ones through whom the love, life and power of the Creator God is shared.

Let us pray:

Living God,
draw us deeper into your love;
Jesus our Lord,
send us to care and serve;
Holy Spirit,
make us heralds of good news.
Stir us, strengthen us,
teach and inspire us
to live your love
with generosity and joy,
imagination and courage;
for the sake of your world
and in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

No comments: