Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

Persist Stories

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February 8:

Call:       Isaiah 40: 28-31
Read:   W&S #47
Text:       Mark 1: 29-39
Closing:    1 Corinthians 9:16

                Persist Stories

Today's text is one of those seemingly bland, nondescript stories that we find throughout the gospels
Stories which we might easily dismiss
as just connective tissue
to connect and frame        the "important" stuff.

On hearing it you might well think
    "No intelligent pastor would choose to preach on this."
And when I clear my thought and point out
    That I am about to preach on it
You might respond, "Didn't you hear the adjective I used?"

In fact, this passage might well be used by Christian comedians
as often as by Christian pastors - intelligent or not.

I'll get back to that in a moment.

But first   With that build up
    And     with as much excitement as you can find
For a scripture already described as bland
    Let's hear the scripture.   [Mark 1: 29-39]

I told you that at first glance,
this passage would seem nondescript.

In fact for several years
I thought of this scripture primarily
as the punch line of a joke

Wife:   Why did Peter deny Jesus three times after his arrest?
Husband:    Because back in Galilee,
Jesus healed Peter's mother in law
And Peter finally had a chance to get even.

[Now, I share this joke,
    but should make it clear that while there were times when Marge's mother and I might have annoyed each other,
she was very good to us
and I cared - and still care - a great deal for her.]

But it is not the mother-in-law part of the story that provides the value.

It is the decision Jesus made after that
and how He explained that decision.

What happened is that Jesus had spent the evening
    "healing many who were sick with all kinds of diseases"

But the next morning he sneaked out
And, without telling anyone where he was going
went to a spot where he could be alone in prayer.

Peter and others had no idea where he had gone or what he was doing
    When they finally tracked him down
    I suspect their tone failed to mask the exasperation they felt
        "Everyone's looking for you"

Jesus didn't say,
"I am sorry.  I should have been more thoughtful."
Jesus didn't say,
    "I didn't realize that the people still needed me."
And Jesus did not say,
    Let's go back and see what we can do."

No, Jesus said,
    "Let's head in the other direction.
        To the nearby villages..."

We don't have Peter's response
    Or the response of anyone who was with them.

But when I put myself in their position, I imagine being
Surprised at, and probably critical of, Christ's decision.

But Jesus explained that
    It was "so that I can preach there too."
And added what he thought they should understand
    "That's why I have come."

Jesus came into the world (as the Gaithers wrote)
    "to love, heal, and forgive"
And by doing that, and by preaching what God really wanted
bringing the people back into a right relationship with God.

And so, He needed to reach out to as many as possible.

And so he had to persist in moving forward
    He could not stand still
    He could not stay in Capernaum.

This is exactly the case with churches
    We cannot remain as we have always been.
This is not the 1950s.
    They ended 55 years ago when the "5" turned to a "6"

They ended perhaps most visibly when Kennedy was elected.
    And reminded us that the torch had been passed
        That others were to do the work and make decisions
    And, while admittedly paraphrasing,
showed us that the country needed (as we need today)
            To ask not what our God can do for us
            But to ask instead what we can do for our God

And what we can do for our God is to persist in moving forward
    Sharing his story, love, teachings, and forgiveness
        With others
    By being witnesses (as Christ and the disciples were in Galilee)
    And by making disciples for and of Christ.

Mark in placing this simple event at the beginning of Jesus' ministry
Has set us up for the stories we hear from others about his ascension charge or commission to us.

Our congregation,
    Made up of a portion of Christ's 21st century disciples
        Must move on as well.

We do this by continuing to grow
    Not waiting for Jesus to wave a magic want and say "Grow!"

We do it by deliberately making the effort to move more deeply into our faith.

And we do that,
    By taking seriously the opportunities for mission
        Like today's Global Mission Dinner
        Like our soap and shampoo ministry for the winter homeless in Hernando, FL
        Like our Food for Friends, Our CORC Store Offering, and our Christmas shoe box ministry etc.

We make that effort to be moving rather than sedentary
    By reading
    By participating in Bible Study and other small groups
        Like the Renegade Gospel study
that begins next Sunday

We make that effort by
taking stewardship seriously,
giving worship priority,
setting aside time for personal devotions
and     by making commitments
   like those proposed in the January - February newsletter.

Jesus would have liked the NYS motto
    Does anyone know it?
    It's "excelsior" or "Ever higher"
    It is a motto of movement and improvement..

And here someone returns to the scriptural story and asks
    But what happens to the people in Capernaum
        When Jesus and the disciples move on to other villages?

If we don't know that answer, we are in trouble:
Yes, we are in trouble - if we don't know that answer.

For the answer is that the ones who were blessed by Christ's presence, teachings, and healings
    Are to take on Christ's work and share his love.
DaDa!   That is what the Great Commission is all about!

We the people   are to do Jesus' work.
    We  are to be witnesses
    We  are to make disciples.

Jesus said
    Let's head to other places
    So that my teachings go there too

    "That   is  why     I   have        come!!"

"Don't you know?    Haven't you heard?"
    The Lord is an everlasting God
    Who doesn't grow weary or tired
        And who expects those blessed by Him
        To keep on moving, teaching, loving, and sharing.

Paul knew.
And so our closing scripture
is from his first letter to the Corinthians [1 Cor. 9:16]

Paul was obligated
The people in Capernaum were obligated

I am obligated
You are obligate
We are obligated together
    To persist in witnessing to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

That is a moving role - not a sedentary one
    And it is role that Jesus came to teach us and give us.

Our text is a lot more than the punch line in a mother in law joke.