February 12, 2023: 7th Sunday of Epiphany

Let us pray: Dear Savior, in the midst of winter both our bodies and our souls tell us that we’re not infallible, nor immortal.  We all suffer with pain—physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual pain.  And because of that we’re all tempted to transfer our pain to those around us and take our pain out on them.  But, You have a better way!  You are the Great Physician Who heals all pain.  So, today empower us to give You our pain and have it replaced with healing, love, compassion, and forgiveness.  Amen


TEXT:  Mark 1: 29-39

Fellow Redeemed Sinners: 

          There was a small town in New Mexico that decided to host a community auction to raise funds for a new community center.  The townsfolk were excited and rummaged around in their attics for items to donate.  All sorts of stuff, from white elephants to trinkets, were donated.  On the day of the auction the auctioneer would hold them up and ask for bids.  Toward the end of the auction, one last item remained.  It was a dirty, dusty violin that had been in the back of someone’s garage for years.  The auctioneer yelled out: “What’s your bid?”  The answer was: silence.  “Come on,” he said, “Bid something.”  Finally one person said: “Fifty cents.”  And everyone laughed.  Then the auctioneer asked an old man sitting in the front row whom he knew played the violin to come up and try it out.  The old man did and soon wonderful, melodious sounds came forth.  He handed the violin back and when the auctioneer resumed bidding, it soon went from $100 to $200 to $400 on up.

          The point is: we’re all a lot like that old violin.  What becomes of us depends on who plays us.  And what becomes of our sickness depends on who plays it, too.  For some, sickness (either their own or another’s) is only a tragedy without purpose or meaning.  But when Christ plays our life, not only our health, but our sickness has a different sound to it.  Such is the tone of this prayer by the famous philosopher, Blaise Pascal: “I ask Thee for neither health nor sickness, neither life nor death, but that Thou may dispose of my health and sickness for Thy glory, for my salvation, and for the good of the Church, and of all Thy saints.”  So, today, I ask each of you:



          Our lesson takes place at the beginning of Christ’s ministry.  Although it is recorded by Mark, remember that Simon Peter dictated to Mark what to write.  So, this is a first-hand account of what happened to his mother-in-law.  “As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the  home of Simon and Andrew.  Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever (a serious thing in the days of no antibiotics), and they told Jesus about it.  So, he went to her, took her hand and helped her up.  The fever left her and she began to wait on them.”

          We’re not told here that Christ said anything, as in some other cases.  No, in this case there was only a touch.  A loving touch.  A healing touch.  And it took her fever away instantaneously because it was the Savior’s touch–the touch of God’s eternal Son.  Jesus heals.  He came to take away pain, just as He does right here.  I’m reminded of the verse of the Bible—from 1st Peter: “Cast all your anxieties upon Christ, because He cares for you.”  How true! 

          Later that evening, more people brought others to Jesus who were either sick or demon possessed.  We’re told the entire town gathered at the door—Word spread quickly of Christ’s healing power.  And Mark/Peter tells us: “Jesus healed many who had various diseases.  He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.”—Yes, He wasn’t there to solicit demonic praise.  He wasn’t there to whip the crowd into an emotional frenzy.  He was there to compassionately heal.  To play those hearts and souls and create Godly music.


          So, what about you?  Do you think these various sick people looked their best when meeting God’s Son?  Do you think the demon-possessed were externally handsome or beautiful?  Of course not.  Their faces and their bodies showed the inner pain they all felt.  Just like them, you and I show the ravages of sin, as well. 

          One of the things that comes with experience in the ministry is the ability to look at people and see their pain.  Usually I can tell on Sunday morning how you feel without even asking.  The strain of an illness, the heart-ache of a upset marriage, the pain of children who disappoint, the anguish of financial worries, the inner guilt over unloading on someone near and dear—all that is visible if you are attuned to it.  In fact, I saw aspects of those kinds of hurts when you walked in this morning.

          Of course, the problem is: more often than not we let those pains play us.  In psychological terms we call it: transference.  Kind of like: if you’re upset with your wife you take it out on your dog.  We let our pain play us to the point that we never really deal with the source of it, nor seek help to really solve the problem.  Like all good Americans we’re proud and we think we can “tough it out” alone.  But, in doing so we’re really relying on our frail flesh which as Christians we know will always fail.  So, who plays you?  Yourself?  Someone else?  Circumstances?  Or, Christ?   

          One of the most vital reasons for attending church each week is to alleviate your inner pain.  That takes place when we confess our hurts, pains, and the “woe is me” attitude that accompanies them.  Yes, after the confession of sins, something stupendous takes place!  Christ heals you!  Christ forgives you!  Christ reminds you that He has carried Your pains to the cross and when He died there, so did your pain!  Yes, His voice touches your heart.

          O, I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking: “Yes, Pastor, that sounds good but my joints still hurt, my bills still remain, and my kids are still doing lousy in school.”  Ah, you’re forgetting something!  Christians have the wonderful privilege of confessing this truth from the heart: “Thy will be done!”  and meaning it!  We know that God will not test us in life beyond what we can bear.  We know that all things work for good to those who love God.  We know that His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  We know that we can do all things through Him who strengthens us.  So when we know that we’re forgiven, or right with God, everything else will fall into place.  It’s that simple and that profound.

          Instead of crying about your inner pain, let the Savior heal you.  Take His words to heart when He says: “Son, be of good cheer!  Your sins are forgiven.”  And then get up, like Peter’s mother-in-law, and serve the Lord with gladness.  Let Him play you and you really will make melodious tunes of joy and thankfulness.  After all, if you’re busy being thankful over what He provides, you won’t have time to think about your pain any more!!!  Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox

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