Sermon-for the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany

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					Sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany Sunday 5, Time after Epiphany Texts: Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-12, 21c; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23; Mark 1:29-29 Back when I was in Middle School The Beatles introduced A new form of music into our culture I can remember going with my friends To a record store (Yes that was back when music was sold on vinyl platters) To listen to some of the Beatles’ new recordings. I didn’t often buy records But this time, I used my allowance To purchase a 45 record of the Beatles’ latest song “A Hard Days Night.” I have not thought about this song in years But as I pondered this week’s Gospel lesson For some reason the title popped into my head I could not remember all the lyrics, But a quick Google search Provided the words to this once popular song. I won’t attempt to sing this song for you, And I don’t think our choir will be performing this As an anthem any time soon, But the words to this song Put an interesting spin On the interpretation of today’s Gospel lesson. “It's been a hard day's night And I've been working like a dog It's been a hard day's night I should be sleeping like a log But when I get home to you I find the things that you do Will make me feel alright.” If you take last week’s Gospel lesson And add it to this week’s, It is pretty clear that Jesus Has had both a hard day And a hard day’s night. 1

In last week’s Gospel lesson We heard Jesus preaching in the temple And we saw his power and authority In the casting out of a demon. Our lesson this morning begins with Peter inviting Jesus and the guys back to his house for dinner. You can almost hear his dialogue with Jesus Come on Jesus, It’s been a rough day. All those people asking you questions And that demon, boy did he go after you. Why don’t you all take a break And come home with me. My wife is expecting me, And my mother-in-law is cooking tonight. She is a great cook. Jesus consents, Probably hoping for a quiet meal And a little time to reflect With his new disciples. Instead, when they arrive at the house, Not only is dinner not being prepared But the famed cook is quite ill. Instead of relaxing, Jesus once again uses his power to heal. Now in the small town of Capernaum, The news of this second healing Would not stay quiet. One of the servants probably sneaked out, And told everyone About the miraculous healing Done by this strange, powerful man from Nazareth. By the time Simon Peter’s Healed mother-in-law Is finished serving dinner, The three stars have appeared in the sky And the Sabbath has ended.

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The whole city has gathered at the door of Simon Peter’s house. All the sick children, The spouses with incurable diseases And parents suffering from demons Have been lifted, dragged or carted To Simon Peter’s home You can see them: Thronging around the doors and windows, Hoping against hope, That the stories are true. They plead for this man, To cure their loved ones You can hear them: “Jesus, Jesus” Please notice my mother Please touch my child Please, please restore this person Answer my prayers and my hopes. But now, experience this as Jesus does. He is exhausted. He has already had a hard day He has preached, he has taught, He has exorcised a demon. Instead of a quiet dinner, he was called to heal the hostess. Now the “hard day’s night” approaches. Instead of a quiet evening And a good night’s sleep He is facing the whole city of hurting people. A whole city of people Filled with hopes, prayers and needs. He can see them crowding The entrances and the windows of Simon Peter’s house. He can feel the crush of humanity. He can hear them calling his name. He knows that They are expecting him to do the work of healing. He knows that he will have a hard day’s night.

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But Jesus also knows that he has been sent by God, To proclaim the message Of what God is like. His job is to proclaim in word and deed. That God cares for God’s people. Jesus knows that this hard day’s night Will include the work of blessing, praying over, And touching all the hurting and wounded in this city. I see him resigning himself to the work, Opening the door to Simon Peter’s house And slowly moving among the crowd, Talking to and touching each hurting person, Lifting their faces, touching the heads, Or blessing them. Jesus feels the work drain him. This is the hard day’s night, After the already hard day’s work. I wonder if Jesus got any sleep that night at all. Perhaps after the last person left, He was able to fall into bed And catch a few hours fitful sleep. When Jesus wakes the next morning I’ll bet that he feels beat. He probably sees endless days of this work ahead of him. Many of us have had mornings like this. Perhaps a project at work kept us up late And then we had difficulty falling asleep, With all the details of the project plan Running through our heads.. Maybe we were up late with a sick child And then got up several times during the night To check on the child Who is still sick in the morning

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Perhaps a disagreement with a friend Left us feeling exhausted, And unable to sleep. And now we are worried about how to make amends. You know the feeling in the morning. You wake up after the hard day’s night. And it feels like a Mack truck Has run over you. There is the temptation Just to get up, Drag your body to the coffee pot And then to begin to work At the same pace you left off the night before. You know how it goes. As the day goes on You get more and more tired. And crankier and crankier. Jesus modeled a different behavior for us. While it was still dark, he got up And went to a deserted place And there he prayed. Jesus withdrew from the crowds And the responsibility. He did not take his disciples with him. He went off, by himself, to pray. We don’t know what he prayed to God about. But we do know That he went home to God. Without having heard the last lines to the Beatles’ song He knew intuitively That “When I come home to you, The things you will do Will make me feel alright.” Perhaps Jesus asked God to care for the people he had healed Perhaps he asked for wisdom for the day Or strength for the journey ahead. Perhaps he poured out his heart to God.

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There is much for us to learn from Jesus’ behavior. When we have too much on our plate, Or are exhausted from life’s journey, We often attempt to just keep going. With fatigue growing with each step. Jesus’ behavior reminds us That we are not in this life alone. God is there—the ultimate support system. All we have to do is stop And call on God. We do not have to go on and on Trudging forward with no strength. We can stop, pray and talk to God, Who has assured us that he is always with us. If Jesus, the one who died for our sins, Who came to earth to proclaim God’s message, Can stop his work for prayer and restoration, Certainly we also can break out of our hard days’ nights For a few moments of the pause that gives strength. PAUSE To help us experience the power of this strengthening break We will end today’s sermon with the words From a prayer song From the contemplative community at Taize, France, The simple words to “O Lord hear my prayer” Are on in an insert in your bulletin. Lloyd will play this through 5 or 6 times. Ed Olney will sing it for us. After the first two times of hearing Ed sing, If you wish to join Ed, do so. Or you may just sit, pray, and listen. We will conclude with a few moments of silence So that we may talk to God And listen for God’s answer. Lord strengthen us in this time Bring us home to your word While we pray “O Lord hear my prayer.” Amen.

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