As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possesed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and wehn they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else-to the nearby villages-so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. Mark 1:29-39 (NIV) Read the whole chapter.
That was wonderful. Both songs. The first one had a nice beat to it, the second one is such a beautiful song. I was almost going to interrupt you in the middle of that song, because of that song... I think it's skewed. I think the second song of giving thanks as a part of that, that misses a whole core of people. If you notice when you're singing ‘Let the weak say’ and ‘Let the poor say’, so what about the rich and what about the strong? They get off the hook in that song. Do the rich people never feel poor? Do the strong people ever feel weak? In other words, it's like the weak are the ones that we focus on and tell them, ‘Well, you can be strong.’ The poor people, ‘Well, you get your act together, you can become rich.’ There are so many rich people, there are so many strong people who miss out on God because they're caught up in so many other things. The first time I heard that song that struck me, and I've carried it with me for probably 20 years now.
So I finally get a place and a time to usher my complaint here. Okay, is there an amazing how we find things in life that hit us? And we hang on to them and we get stuck with them. It's almost like a grievance, isn't it? It's a complaint. It's an issue that we have. And we hold on to those. Every day, something happens that sparks their heads to get stuck in a judgment that's hard for us to let go of...Grievances, complaints, judgments. What those due to us... What they like this thing up here today, it's like wearing almost... Sometimes we get so resentful and grudge-bearing and unforgiving that it's like almost wearing a straight jacket, we find ourselves so only focused on that, that we can't see beyond that issue or that concern that we have with what's going on and what's happened to us from feeling slighted, from feeling left out. From becoming jealous. And on and on, we can go with that. In this morning, with all of the things we're gonna talk about, all this grievance and complaining and issues and judgments, and the thing I love about the Epiphany season is one word, it's light. The Epiphany season is about light. Arise, shine, your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you, Isaiah chapter 60. In the midst of the darkness of the World, For century after century after century, all of a sudden this man named Jesus comes on the scene and moves people beyond that narrow, rigid, hard, fast vision that they have. It's time to wake up. Jesus comes on the scene today, he goes into the synagogue and he preaches, and the light shines, and what He says last week with Pastor Tom...
That was in the synagogue, and they were amazed at His authority. In fact, Jesus spoke so clearly, it aroused the demon in a man, and Jesus then took the Light and cast the darkness of that demon on or that man... And today, he goes and lifts up Peter's mother in law now, then he comes in in the evening and outside, wherever he is, it's like a hospital ward, they bring the sick, they bring the demon-possessed, they bring those with various diseases, and Jesus heals them all. And then he goes off, really in the morning to a solitary place, and the disciples are all excited about this new mission, the new thing that's happening, so the disciples... I love where it says that they hunt him down, it's not how they look for him, they hunt him down. We got something here that we want, we got something here that is all-powerful. So they hunt him down, but they wanna keep Jesus, they wanna hold him there, and Jesus says, That's fine, but I got a mission, I got work to do. You're not gonna domesticate me, we're gonna move on. And
Then they go to the next place, and Jesus does the same thing again. They bring the sick to him, he preaches, and then He heals them as well. It's expensive, it's broad, it's a new light that comes in, it's new hope in the midst of the bound of darkness, that it's there in people's sickness in their demon possession and in their thoughts and in their lives, and Jesus comes with a message of good news that breaks those bonds.
And what kind of substance does darkness have... What is darkness actually? Simply the absence of light isn't it? Darkness has no essence of itself, it has no substance whatsoever. Once the light comes, what happens boom? It's gone, the darkness disappears. And
So sometimes the darkness that we feel feels so horrendous and so strong and so powerful, and yet there really is nothing to it except a light needs to be turned on.
Not only in the room that's dark, but I like to turn on appear.
One of my favorite writers, Pam Grout, in her book, a CIM Experiment, she has this to say, she... “The material world, as it is currently configured, is based on fear, it's based on a belief that everything is out to get us... The Democrats are out to get a Republicans, the Republicans are held to get to Democrats, our food is out to get us our bodies, which we examine yearly for breakdowns in a regular check-up. Other countries are out to get us, even our those who love us, family partners, spouses, who we've been warned to examine for signs that they're just not that into us. Every news report, every commission, every political speech, every self-help book is based on our unending fascination with what's wrong.
We buy energy drinks, we twist ourselves into yoga poses, we chant, we meditate, we pray in a fruitless search to correct all that's wrong in our lives, or the wrong that we've been warned is gonna come, the result by treating, analyzing and working so diligently to annihilate problems, we end up giving them the power to rule over us. By exercising such extreme efforts to avoid our inevitable demise, we actually facilitate the very demise. We're hoping to avert.”
Because that's all this thing is thinking about up here, isn't it, the fear, the hate, the sorrow of the loneliness, the anxiety, the depression, the lows, all of that come so much as a part of our lives, and in the midst of all that comes this Epiphany, Jesus shining His light, revealing the Kingdom of God. Repent, the Kingdom of God, Jesus says is at hand, and He preaches that message with them, and then all of a sudden actualizes... I like that word. He actualizes what he preaches because in the midst of them is Peter's mother-in-law who is there with a fever and suddenly and swiftly and surely, immediately Jesus takes him by the hand and lifts her up and completely effective, she then perhaps a meal for them. The light shines. The light shines in the midst of our darkness,we are loved by Him, we are claimed by Him, we have a new identity in opening ourselves to that life of Jesus, we have a new way of thinking, we have a new mind, we have a new way of thought, Paul says in Romans 12, Don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
The Renewing of his mind. It's a new way of thought, becoming aware of the darkness, wanting the light, and what gets us hung up, it's what happens out here. Isn't it?
My father worked in a chemical factory in downriver, Detroit where we grew up south of town, Trenton area was a chemical factory called and chemicals, and the boats would bring limestone down from the Duluth area, Superior, Wisconsin, and they would take that limestone and put him in huge calcite and process it, and he turned into a white power called soda alkali.
My dad worked there for 42 years, every day he came home from work in his khakis and his shirt, there was this white powder all over his clothes, all over his face his neck. And now, when my dad would go to the bathroom to get cleaned up, he didn't look in the mirror and see this white powder and then start rubbing the mirror to get that power off of him, did he... Hey ladies, when you're mascara smudge, you don't look in the mirror and say, Oh, I gotta get rid of this mascara here. Okay. The problem's not out there. Is it... The problem is right here, right? My dad would take his sink bath, clean himself off. This is pre-shower days, Sink, bath, and same thing, what you do is you take a smudge off your eye as well.
Our problems with this are not what's going on out there, but what's going on in here... In other words, what people do to us, what happens in this world in which we live? It's not that determines, this appears shouldn't. It's how we feel about that. And asking for the new light that we have in Christ, the problem is not out there, it's in here, this is what needs to change, this is what needs a new perspective, and it's not something easy that we can do... I don't know if any of you ever watched a movie with Dwayne the Rock Johnson, huge actor, muscular strength, the rock, right? Don't mess with The Rock
Way. Now, how... And it's almost like we've got a Dwayne Johnson up here.
Whenever we start wanting to change, whenever we have it, looking at it differently, whenever we want a new way of seeing things, it's like the Dwayne Johnson comes in as a bouncer and buying... Throws it away. Oh, you can't do that. That's not gonna work out. You're a failure, and what you do, you're a loser. It's that whatever the things for us with that Epiphany light, when we wanted to change, it's like Dwayne Johnson comes in and boom balances that thought out of us.
Out from us. And so what do we do? If we are holding grudges if we are stuck in being bound in what other people have done if we find ourselves in our... Stuck in our sorrow and sadness, if we find ourselves stuck in our hatred, if we find ourselves worried, living in fear, constant fear, when those thoughts go through, the first thing we need to do is to identify that feeling... What's going on here? It's plain and simple fear, and then we ask the Holy Spirit to give us help. Holy Spirit, we need you to shine a light on that darkness that I'm feeling right now, the revenge that I have now wanting to get even the otherness that I feel inside right now towards that person. Holy Spirit, help me in the midst of this. Surrender our stuck thought. And ask God to help us, ask the Holy Spirit to help us with it.
As we do that, we will find ourselves becoming more free from the limitations that we have, and then a new kind of loving reality can come gushing into us into our minds to overflow that stuck feeling that we have. And then finally, when we do everything we can to get rid of those feelings that we don't like, those thoughts that we don't have... I love the image today where Jesus comes to Peter's mother-in-law and takes her hand and lifts her up, and maybe if there's something that is constantly repeating itself in our mind for not only days and weeks and months, sometimes at last years. My family had some conflict grudges that lasted for 30 years, between two people, 30 years, and I thought, what if one of those people would have said, Jesus, lift me up. Set me free. Take my hand, like Peter's mother in law, set me free, to be healed. Okay, I want that new life. I wanna live, I wanna live free. Identify the feeling, ask the Holy Spirit for help. And put an image of your mind of Jesus taking your hand, lifting you up, and saying, Enough of the old, let this Advent shine bright and that Epiphany light can lift us up and experience the newness that we need.
There was a woman who had a neighbor who was Chinese, and her mother came and visited her from China, and they enjoyed going out for walks in the neighborhood, the mother, her Chinese mother, no English whatsoever, except she had memorized two phrases, So whenever they'd run into neighbors on the street walking that the daughter would carry on a conversation with the neighbor and the mother would just stand there with a smile on her face, and when there's a conversation, we have a break, she would say, I love you, and they would talk some more and then the conversation would stop. And then she would say, I love you. And then when they were done walking away, she would say, Thank you, everybody, that they met me... Whenever the conversation stopped is, I love you, I love you, thank you. And I thought to myself, with what our minds get bogged down with, what we struggle with, what we hurt with, just let a whisper in your mind in your ear say, I love you. I love you, I love you. Let God do His work. Amen.