1st Scripture Reading: Isaiah 40:21-31 & Psalm 147
This time of year can be kind of depressing, can’t it? Everything is wet – soggy with rain. Last year’s green has turned to brown and black, rotting back into the earth. Mud squishes up around our boots where we walk in the trails or in our gardens.
But I am grateful – grateful for the abundance of water that enriches our landscape – the water that is recharging our lakes and aquifers – water that is life itself. From the tiniest amoeba to the giant cedar trees, all life on this planet is completely dependent on water.
So water is an appropriate metaphor for the flowing energy that charges our spiritual lives. We call it “living water” the omnipresence of the Divine in which we live and move and have our being. Just as the fish that swims in the ocean probably knows little about this fluid environment in which it lives, we humans pay little attention to the invisible energy that is as critical to our existence as water is to all life.
Both the prophet Isaiah and the psalmist remind us that we are not in charge – we owe reverence and awe to the Creator, the Power that permeates all our reality and gifts us with this life on earth.
So, drink deep the source of life, drink deep and know, that living water sings, and living water brings, the love that makes our spirits grow.
Hymn #87 MV “Water Flowing from the Mountains”
2nd Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:16-23 & Mark 1:29-39
Paul says he has become all things to all people for the gospel’s sake. I don’t think he meant that he was a phony, or that he spread “fake news”! I think he meant that he could meet people on their own ground, without judgment, and without a lot of proselitizing. When we act like we know it all, and the person we have just met has it all wrong – then, guess what? They don’t usually want to listen to us.
But there is heart-centered place where we can all meet. There is a place where love is alive and well in every one of us – for we are all children of the same God – the God of Love. To be accepted the evangelist must first find that place – he or she must speak the language of Divine Love.
Even the demons that Jesus so famously cast out, even they knew about that place. They knew they couldn’t win against God’s great Love embodied in Jesus. The demonstration of the healing power of Love was a huge part of Jesus’ ministry. But he didn’t want all the attention focussed on his healing power. That power comes from God, and there have been and still are other healers who know how to tap into that energy.
Jesus didn’t want to become a cult healer – a star performer, if you like, who had no time to do anything else. And so he had to move around – take his ministry to many different places, healing yes, casting out demons, yes, but always pointing the finger past himself to the God of his understanding, the power from which his own power came. Always proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God – the dimension in which God’s will is obeyed and peace and justice thrive under the primacy of the Law of Love - Jesus moved from town to town spreading the gospel and using his healing work to establish his authority to do that.
I don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth ever wanted to be worshipped. Rather he wanted to be emulated – copied if you like. He brought to humanity a paradigm shift away from the rule that might is right, to a new rule, a rule of non-violence, non-retaliation, and acknowledgement of the oneness of all creation – an acknowledgment that can only result in understanding that we are all children of a loving God, and must learn to love one another as we are loved. Thus will God’s kingdom be established here on Earth, based on the new pattern brought to us in Jesus. After all, did he not tell us that we are all branches of the true vine?
As he embodied the Law of Love, so we are to attempt to the best of our ability, to also embody that great Law. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, strength and understanding, and love your neighbour as yourself.” “Love one another as I have loved you.” As followers of Jesus we are called to live into this paradigm shift – in spite of ridicule and persecution and disbelief. But we must accomplish this mission without losing sight of the goal, and without falling into old patterns of violence, hatred, and revenge. We will find strength in our communities of faith, in our scriptures, and in sharing our stories of success and of failure, as we support one another in the common purpose we share to realize God’s kingdom here on earth, right now, in real time.
Hymn # 154 MV “Deep in Our Hearts”