Scripture/Sermon of the Day.  February 7, 2021

Isaiah 40:27-31

27 
Why do you say, Jacob,
    and declare, Israel,
    “My way is hidden from the Lord,
    my God ignores my predicament”?
28 
Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard?
    The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the creator of the ends of the earth.
    He doesn’t grow tired or weary.
His understanding is beyond human reach,
29 
    giving power to the tired
    and reviving the exhausted.
30 
Youths will become tired and weary,
    young men will certainly stumble;
31 
    but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength;
    they will fly up on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not be tired;
    they will walk and not be weary.

Mark 1:29-39

Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law
29 After leaving the synagogue, Jesus, James, and John went home with Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed, sick with a fever, and they told Jesus about her at once. 31 He went to her, took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she served them.
Jesus’ ministry spreads
32 That evening, at sunset, people brought to Jesus those who were sick or demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered near the door. 34 He healed many who were sick with all kinds of diseases, and he threw out many demons. But he didn’t let the demons speak, because they recognized him.
35 Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer. 36 Simon and those with him tracked him down. 37 When they found him, they told him, “Everyone’s looking for you!”
38 He replied, “Let’s head in the other direction, to the nearby villages, so that I can preach there too. That’s why I’ve come.” 39 He traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and throwing out demons.

Reflection/Sermon:

I.      Two weeks ago we heard Jesus say in the Gospel passage:
        “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; REPENT, and believe in the good news.”  One of the translations for “repent” says, “CHANGE YOUR HEARTS AND LIVES.” 
        John the Baptist said it too:  “You brood of vipers! — Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”  People asked, “What should we do?”  John said:  “If you have two shirts, share with someone who doesn’t have one, and do the same with food.”

II.     The Bible says we all need to repent — and it describes what repentance is.  Like if I break the law, and the judge asks me, “Are you sorry?”  And I say, “Yes — I’m sorry I got caught” — that’s not repentance. 
        Last week there was of trial in the House of Representatives for a congresswoman who had left trail evidence in social media where, among other things, she said in Facebook in 2018 that the deadly shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 14 students and 3 staff members died, was a “false flag” event staged by gun control advocates. 
        In another post, she “liked” when someone accused the Speaker of the House of wanting more school shootings so she could enact stricter gun control legislation.
        In 2019, also a post on Facebook, someone said “a quicker way” to remove the Speaker of the House would be a bullet to the head.  The congresswoman “liked” that comment.  She also “liked” comments about executing FBI agents who were part of the “deep state” working against the president.
        This congresswoman has a troubling history advocating violence and conspiracy theories, which is why the House had this trial last week — because many believed that someone in her position should not encourage violence and unproven conspiracies.  THEY WANTED HER TO REPENT —STOP IT! 
        But when she said she regretted what she did, it sounded more like she regretted she’d left a trail of her damaging and incendiary tweets and posts and videos and that in the future she will be more careful to not get caught.  SHE DID NOT ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR DAMAGING AND FALSE COMMENTS SHE MADE. She said, “I was allowed to believe things that weren’t true.”  Like — “I was allowed to believe that it would be better if the speaker of the House was shot.  I didn’t want that — but people allowed me to want that!”
        Or — I was allowed to believe the Parkland mass shooting was a false flag operation.  Somebody allowed me to believe that.

III.    The Psalmist told God:  “I sinned against you — I did evil.  And you are justified in punishing me.”  He didn’t say, “I was allowed to do those evil things, O God.  So — punish those awful people who allowed me to do these things!”  But he said.  I did it — I did the evil.   ButI want to stop.  Please help me. — Give me a new heart.”  That’s repentance.

IV.     When we see Jesus in action — as we did in our reading this morning — he shows us the repentance the scriptures call each of us to.  When he tells people:  “Change your hearts and lives!” — HE SHOWS US—
         It’s as if he says:  “Like this — see what I’m doing — healing people with encouraging words and skillful actions that bring peace and hope— and casting out spirits that make peoples' lives painful — this is the repentance God wants from you.  Do what you see me doing!”
        But how can we do that?  We’re not Jesus!
No — we must not say that.  Remember what the prophet Isaiah and Jesus said?  Nothing is impossible for God.
         Verse thirty-five shows us how the impossible becomes possible.  Maybe the most important verse in the whole Gospel. 
        When we put ourselves in a place to be alone and silent with God, we become a channel for divine healing and transformation of life on earth. 
        It’s impossible — and it happens every day in the lives of people just like us.