Mark 2: 1-12 NIV 1557
A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
- What a week! — I have felt that the world was on a roller coaster – one of those new modern things that speeds you along greater than 60mph – turns you upside down—has several G’s of force pressing you against the seat or the back and the wind blasting you in your face. Up and down – sideways and twisting – this has been this week.
- Coronavirus has invaded our world. Not in a minor way – but in a huge way that affects the lives of everyone of us.
- I am preparing this message on Saturday March 14th — pi day – 3.14159265359 – I’ve got to add a little humor to lighten up the day. It’s beautiful outside – and the jonquils are in bloom. No sign of a panic around me – other than social media – the news – TV and on and on —
- From early in the morning to this afternoon – my phone has been buzzing with texts, emails, calls about worship service – doctor’s appointments, cancelled meetings – and the list goes on.
- Lynn’s awards dinner has been moved to April, some of Ann’s doctors’ appointments have been rescheduled, The Gathering Table cancelled for a period of time, Longview nursing home and the Westminster Rescue Mission are closed to outside people —schools are closed – the Bishop sent out a notice closing all Baltimore Washington Conference churches, major sports are cancelled or delayed—and the stock market has been rattling our 401Ks.
- Weis supermarket is a nightmare — no toilet paper, no paper towels, hardly any milk and bread and the produce manager is shaking his head – all of the potatoes the were set out in the morning — hundreds of pounds were gone! Most of the fish in the seafood section was gone. Totally.
- You would think that a 40-inch snowstorm was on the way – no it’s the coronavirus pandemic. – Oops panic!
- Interruptions are Messy! – Very Messy!
- Long ago I gave up on coincidental occurrences that just seem to happen. You would be thinking – how did Dick select the title for today’s message – “Interruptions are Messy” — the timing is amazing or accidental – or How? Turns out, as I plan my sermon year, I wrestle with what topics to select for the various church portions of the spiritual year – and Interruptions was one of several that I was considering for Lent. — the thoughts ruminated (steer talk) in my mind for weeks before making my selection about six weeks ago — coincidental? I do not think so. Maybe the Spirit had other ideas – to nudge me and all of us.
- This week’s interruptions are very messy. Our daily life has been dramatically altered for an undetermined time. I believe that we are overly optimistic that we will only need two weeks to control the exponential spread of the virus.
- We are going to have a lot of unplanned free time on our hands. What are we going to do?
- And then we have this morning’s Scripture —- Jesus is in Capernaum – located right on the Sea of Galilee – he is teaching about God’s word to a standing room audience only – actually flowing into the street. Several very creative men want their dear paralyzed friend to be able to hear Jesus and maybe Jesus would perform one of his miracles and heal their friend. So, they cut a hole in the roof of the house and lower the man in – what a neat plan – and it worked. Jesus’ teaching was interrupted – the cutting of the hole had to be messy – probably had to use a Sawzall to cut the hole – and there would be a lot of debris falling into the room – a very messy interruption to Jesus’ teaching. But, as usual, Jesus stopped and spoke to the men and the paralyzed man and he was healed and took his mat and walked away.
- Jesus was able to function despite the messy interruption. His ministry continued. His compassion for people continued. His love continued. What about us at this time?
- We actually have two decisions, don’t we? We can hunker down. We can go to the store and buy dozens of toilet paper –and become a hoarder. We can become depressed and frustrated. We can complain about the government’s reaction to the crisis. We can moan and groan. But what good will it do us.
- There is an alternative. We have some additional time – maybe even some free time. My garden needs some attention. Ann has some stuff she want’s me to do. I have a chance to look at some of the Scriptures for Lent. I can decide that some quiet time in prayer is a gift that I am receiving. Did you see the gorgeous sunrise this morning? It’s Springtime!
- Call your friends. Write a note of appreciation. Help some others that may need some of your abundance. Cut flowers! Pray and look at Scripture – start with the Gospel of Mark.
- Interruptions do not have to be messy. We let them become messy.
- Here is a reading that our
Friday morning Men’s Prayer Group had on this past Friday.
- It’s now clear that COVID-19 is a deadly serious global pandemic, and all necessary precautions should be taken. Still, C. S. Lewis’s words—written 72 years ago—ring with some relevance for us. Just replace “atomic bomb” with “coronavirus.”
- In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb (“coronavirus).”. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
- In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb (coronavirus) was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
- This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb (coronavirus), let that bomb (virus) when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs (virus). They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.
- Please turn to Psalm 46 on
Page 883 of your pew Bible. This is the Scripture that Bishop Easterling
referred to on her letter to all the churches in the Baltimore Washington
Conference of the UMC.
- God is our refuge and
strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
- God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
- 4 There is a river whose
streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
- 7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our
- 8 Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has
brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
- 8 Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.
- 11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
- Look closely at versus 1-3 1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
- This is where our hope for the future is –
- Scripture reminds us, with strong assurance, that no matter what happens, God is our strength and refuge – an ever-present help in trouble – and we shall not fear – though the earth give way. God provides our security in an unstable and shaky world —especially as we seek the solace that God gives during times of calamity.
- Finally — verse 10 — God says, “Be still, and know that I am God.
- In our anxious world, Be still and know that I am God”, In our noisy communities —, “Be still, and know that I am God; In waiting rooms and shelters, “Be still, and know that I am God; In economic troubling times, “Be still, and know that I am God;
- Allow the verse — “Be still and know that I am God rest in your minds as we face the future.
- I suspect it will be a while before we meet again in worship at Pleasant Grove UMC so “Be still, and know that I am God.
- Thanks be to God.