New Chapters

Jesus has exorcised an unclean, demonic spirit from a man within the synagogue.

Afterwards, Jesus and the newly called disciples enter into the home of Simeon (Peter) to find his mother-in-law is in bed ill. This means that Simeon (later Peter) was a married man, who would leave his home, career, parents, spouse, and possibly children behind to follow Jesus.

Jesus does heal his mother-in-law, who responds appropriately with gratitude in service.

As we might imagine, the news of the exorcism and this healing ripple through the small town. The community begins to bring their loved ones who have demons for exorcisms and their ill for healing. Although Jesus does exorcise and heal many, he does not exorcise and heal all of them.

In the night, Jesus escapes to pray. The disciples will encourage him to return and continue exorcising and healing, but Jesus shares that the time has come to end this chapter and begin the next.

This narrative, especially paired with our Isaiah, Psalm, and 1 Corinthians scriptures, is simple but offers profound teaching about the divine character of the Triune God, our appropriate response, and the next chapter.

Our Scriptures include an over-arching truth, God desires life that is truly LIFE for all; and thus, God is life-giving. God is merciful, slow to anger, steadfast in love, and according to our Psalm and Isaiah scriptures it is experienced as:

  • God gathers,
  • God lifts the lowly,
  • God binds up wounds,
  • God heals the broken-hearted,
  • God rebuilds,
  • God sustains,
  • God provides, and
  • God protects.

Within our Christian tradition, we experience this life that is truly LIFE through baptism.

In baptism, we experience a death to the Old Adam, our old selves, or the ending of a previous chapter.
This includes an exorcism through renouncing all forces that defy the Kingdom of God to Come.

In baptism, we are raised as a new creation into this new life and the new chapters ahead.
This is a healing or restoring of our souls through forgiveness, mercy, and of course grace.

Our appropriate response to this new life is to strive for the Kingdom of God that is here in glimpses now, that is near, and that is not yet fulfilled with gratitude in living further and further into our Baptismal vocations:

  • To proclaim Christ in thought, word, and deed through imitation,
  • To seek justice and honest peace,
  • To act with compassion and mercy, and
  • To love and to serve all people, especially the vulnerable.

Unfortunately, this is NOT easy.

We fail. We easily become weary, faint, and eventually exhausted and over-whelmed in faithful service.

When we are weary, faint, and exhausted, it hinders our ability to recognize the creative power of God, which is on-going and sustaining activity fostering the life that is truly LIFE, and our envisioning of a new creation that is the next chapter and beyond.

But, fortunately God does not fail. God does not become weary, faint, or exhausted.

And thus, we can and must rely on the sustaining grace of God.

And so, Jesus and the disciples continue into their next chapter of proclaiming the good news, exorcising demons, and healing people beyond Capernaum and eventually beyond Galilee.

Meanwhile, those who have been exorcised or healed are left behind to continue expressing their gratitude in faithful service through proclaiming Christ, acting with compassion and mercy, while loving and serving especially those whose demons and illnesses remain. Those who were exorcised and healed have been freed to boldly serve the “other”, similarly the baptized have been freed and are subject to the Triune God alone. According to the Apostle Paul (and Martin Luther), this freedom enables us to become servants who boldly serve all persons, grabbing ahold of and expanding upon the glimpses of the Kingdom of God that is here in this time and place. That is their next chapter. That is our next chapter.

May we embrace the life that is truly Life offered by the Triune God.

May we embrace our appropriate response to serve with gratitude
in accordance with our baptismal vocation.

May we embrace the next chapter and beyond.

Scriptures were Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-11, 20c; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23; and
Mark 1:29-39.

Originally preached 7 Feb. 2021 for Trinity Lutheran Church (Union City, Indiana).

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