Grace Episcopal Church



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Epiphany 5b 2015
8 Feb.
Isa. 40:21-31; Ps. 147:1-12, 21c
I Cor. 9:16-23; Mark 1:29-39
Jack Hardaway


I like books.  I used to spend a great deal of time trying to find books that were often out of print or hard to find.  Sometimes I spent years.  As a teenager I literally did spend years looking for a story by Jules Verne called Clipper to the Clouds.  I eventually found it by accident wandering through crowded stacks at a book store on Manhattan.  I danced down the street.   After seminary I even had a professional book finder who helped find me several forgotten theology books.

Things have changed.  I can find almost anything in a matter of seconds on the internet.  I still feel like I’m cheating when all I have to do is click the mouse and what would have taken weeks, months and years is done in an instant.  It makes me smile.

What once involved searching and hunting is now merely… shopping.
Searching for the elusive sometimes we settle for merely shopping, we displace that unease and longing and fill it with something more readily at hand.

The Gospel lesson today is crowded.
It uses the language of searching and hunting to find Jesus.
There are crowds in need of healing, of exorcism, of liberation from the demonic.
And for those who are able to find Jesus, who get close enough for the touch, for the words, they are lifted up, they are set free and they in turn become servants of God.

It seems like Jesus would just stay put and make it easier to find him.  But he is always on the move, on the way, proclaiming, healing, casting out the demonic and stealing moments for solitude and prayer.  Ultimately only the cross could hold him down, but even then for only three days.  Jesus is elusive.

We try to make Jesus as convenient as going shopping, as clicking the mouse on the computer screen, but at the end of the day our consumer philosophy just isn’t up to searching for the one who brings liberation and calls us to the life of serving God.

We want the consumer Jesus but the real Jesus is more than we can fit into our shopping carts.  We want solace and comfort but who we get casts out our demons, lifts us up and compels us to serve others.

Do we really want healing and liberation and the drive to serve others?  To suffer for others?  It’s an all inclusive package, it all comes together.  We don’t get to pick and choose.  Who we get is the whole Jesus, not the partial Jesus of my shopping cart.

What are we searching and hunting for? 
There is something else going on in the Gospel lesson today.  I think we see Jesus searching as well, searching for the broken and the lost, searching in prayer, and searching for his death, for his cross.  Proclamation, healing and liberation from the demonic are all part of who Jesus is and wherever Jesus is those things happen, but the reason he is here is to suffer and die.

He isn’t some spiritual guru with all the answers or a victorious revolutionary, he is here to suffer and die for the sake of others, and those who follow him in some way experience his passion.

We all die.
Do we search for ways to hide from that fact?
Or do we search for a good death?  A life lived for the sake of the other?

Jesus reveals the fullness of God, not partial but full.  That is the inconvenient Christian Gospel.  And the God that we come to know in Jesus is the God who lives and dies for the other, and in that strange death of God a power has been let loose in creation that even the powers of death cannot stop.  The bright burning mystery of the Resurrection, it is a glory so bright that it hurts, that won’t let us settle for death, that sets us free, that compels us to serve.

Searching for death.  Searching for life.  Searching for God.
This Gospel is crowded.   

Sermon Archives

(These are Microsoft Word documents)
2-08-2015 Epiphany 5b 2015
1-25-2015 Epiphany 3a 2015
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