First Thoughts From The Rev. Canon David Smith: 

Most weeks Fr. David sends out an e-mail with his first thoughts on the upcoming Sunday readings. These reflections are designed to encourage people to consider the readings before they come to worship which we hope will enrich Sunday worship. People are invited to respond to David with their own thoughts and sometimes interesting ideas and conversations occur that end up in the sermon. If you would like to receive these weekly e-mails e-mail David at dsmith@ontario.anglican.ca  . 

Reflections on Isaiah 40:21- 31, Psalm 147: 1-11, 20, 1 Corinthians 9: 16-23, Mark 1: 29-39

Posted by Emily Sanderson on Sunday, February 8, 2015
Hi Everyone,

Once again sorry these thoughts are so last minute. Last Sunday I spoke at great length perhaps at too much length about all the gracious gifts of free meals I received. This week it was a gracious gift of a guest preacher. St. John's Vestry meeting was to be this Sunday but it has been postponed for a week and when I called Dorothy to say that I would be free to preach at St. Philip's, she said, "I already  have my sermon written so why don't I let you have a week off?"  
Dorothy not only gifted me a week without sermon prep. , she also set a good example as I called her on TUESDAY and she had her sermon written. There is probably a lesson there for me in her good example!

So just a few quick thoughts on our readings for tomorrow.
Readings:  Isaiah 40:21- 31, Psalm 147: 1-11, 20, 1 Corinthians 9: 16-23,
Mark 1: 29-39 link to
http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=64

With lent quickly approaching, I am looking forward to taking more time to pray, study and reflect. Sadly it will not take too much time to make it more time than I normally spend but I am really looking forward to it both personally and for my ministry. Our readings today point us to the importance of setting time and space for prayer and reflection. Jesus got
away first thing in the morning to a deserted place and prayed.  Isaiah says that those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. To me 'wait' is another way of saying taking time to pray and reflect to stop the busyness and just wait. I hope our Lent in Marysburgh will be a time of waiting upon the Lord. Of course there will be pulls and tugs upon us to be busy just like the apostles finding Jesus and saying everyone is searching for you, get with it. But I hope the ancient tradition of marking Lent will give us a framework for waiting upon the Lord.

I was at the gym recently and next to me was a young person on the elliptical who, while clearly in good physical shape, never the less seemed to need to be 'lifted' up. This person said, "I need to find a passion for my life".  I tried  to lend  a sympathetic ear but I wish I could have lifted this person up and renewed their strength.

St. Paul in our epistle reading was not lacking in passion and purpose at all. He knew exactly what his passion in life was and that was to proclaim the Gospel; to preach the Good news of God. St. Paul was like the person I imagined a couple of weeks ago in my sermon who barges into the cafĂ© and announces to everyone, I have great news.( I got that illustration from N.T. Wright' s book, Simply Good News.) Paul did not need to receive a reward for proclaiming this news as the joy of sharing it free of charge was his reward. In fact Paul , although he perceived himself as totally free in
Christ, was willing to become like the other so as to reach them. He became
all things for all people for the sake of the Gospel. That is passion and purpose of the highest order. I suppose a worthy question for us to consider would be what is our passion for sharing the Good News. A couple of quotes from Bruce Rigdon regarding the epistle reading, " The church is therefore not a community of volunteers, but is itself a part of the Gospel, the good news. By living out this pattern of self giving, the church is an eschatological sign of what God is bringing about for the whole cosmos, the new creation."" The church is a community that God calls into existence to
incarnate, live out and proclaim this new reality" Feasting on the Word Year B Vol. 1 pg 328

I just tried to be a listening ear without giving any advice to the young person but if the opportunity had presented itself  to give some suggestions I might have said that caring and serving others is a great way to find passion and joy in your life. Rick and Leigh gave me a CD of a preacher named Joyce Meyers. I had heard of her but had never actually heard her before. We would have a different approach to our spirituality but I must say I found her talks on the importance and power of love to be very inspiring. She called her talks Live 2 Love and her basic thesis was to take on a servant attitude and to love as Jesus commanded us to love. In our Gospel reading Jesus heals Peter's mother- in- law and immediately
(as everything happens in Mark's gospel)  she got up and served those in her home. Now this text can be problematic as it could be used to show that women are to serve men and unfortunately  I am sure the text has been used in this way. But I don't think this is what the point is. I think the point is that in response to being made whole by Christ's love and touch we are all called to serve and this woman unlike the male apostles understands and gets it. This is where our passion and purpose is to be found. It is as if Peter's mother- in- law anticipated Jesus' example of washing others feet.

I really like the intimate compassionate description of Jesus taking her by the hands and lifting her up. And in fact unlike our epistle reading where Paul is filled with passion and purpose and strength to do whatever it takes to proclaim the Good News our other readings are about needing a helping hand. They describe a whole people, who like Peter's mother- in- law ,need to be lifted up.

In Isaiah the people are in exile in Babylon. In the Psalm they are back from exile but are a rag tag collection of folks trying to get started again.  Although not identical the two O.T. readings invite the people to remember the power and grace of God  seen in creation and to remember  that God has power over the nations. Therefore do not give up hope because God can and will restore.

In Isaiah we read  these wonderful words of encouragement ,"He gives power to the faint and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary and the young will fall exhausted  but those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles.

The psalm says , The  Lord lifts up the downtrodden.  What a great image for us to consider as we strive to be servants , holding someone kindly and lovingly, and lifting them up. What a great image for us when we feel tired or broken to think of Jesus taking our hands and lifting us up.

I also like the emphasis of the Psalm on praise and singing. Joyful praise and singing is such a great way to remember and recall God's graciousness and to lift up our hearts. Singing and dancing are great ways to lift each other up.

Looking forward to Dorothy's sermon and hope these first thoughts are helpful for you tomorrow in worship.

Blessings'
David