Damariscotta Baptist Church
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

02/05/12 Sermon

Mark 1: 29-39

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen.

Most of you have heard probably heard the term couch potatoes before.  A couch potato is defined a person who has the reputation of sitting back in their comfortable chair, remote control in hand, lazily watching the world go by on their TV. (I have a feeling there will be a few couch potatoes this afternoon watching a certain football game).

But did you know there is actually a religious cousin to the couch potato? It’s called the pew potato…

In fact I ran across a pew potato prayer that I thought I would share:  Dear Lord, please leave me alone. Just let me sit here in my pew on Sunday, and Lord guard my seat, the last seat here in the back row. Please don't let anyone else try to sit here Lord... You know that's my seat and dear Lord please get me home quickly after the service on Sunday, before these church people try to recruit me to actually do something that I don't want to do. Lord make them understand that I'm happy and content just to show up on Sunday. Heavenly Father, thank you for hearing my prayer but I've got to Go! Kickoff is only a minute away!! You understand Lord. Thanks God for putting some great games on this week and thank you for all sports cable channel. See you next Sunday Lord. Amen.

I bet you wish you didn’t sit on the back pew today!

Now I don’t think there are too many people who actually pray the pew potato prayer.

But I do think our churches can have a few folks who have gotten comfortable in their pews hoping to stay as uncommitted and uninvolved as possible. Instead of being servants of Christ who serve others, something is preventing them from getting out of their pew.

Not in this church of course….But in some churches!

Now in our scripture today we see the story of Jesus who has been healing many people.

And one of the individuals he heals is Simon Peter’s mother in law who had been lying in bed with a fever.   Now this fever could have been physical, emotional and/or spiritual. This culture understood a fever as more than just a high temperature.  But as we read, Jesus heals her from this fever and after he does, she gets up and she serves the others.  This fever was something that had kept her from serving others.

Now a lot of people just assume that after she is healed she just goes about doing what any woman in this culture would do which is to serve the houseguests.

But it’s interesting to see that the word “serve” that’s used here, in the Greek, is the word dee-aka-neo which is where we get the word deacon or deaconess.

It means to minister to those in need; to give food and water, to serve those poor and needy.

In fact this woman is actually recognized by many theologians as being the first true Christian (not the disciples) because she is one who actually understands that upon Jesus’ healing, we are then called to get out of our comfortable pew couches to serve him by serving others.  Remaining in our comfortable pews is not an option.  In fact I read where someone said half-jokingly that churches should do away with pews all together because the idea of Christianity is that you are either on your knees saying "God be merciful to me, a sinner," or on your on your feet saying, "Here I am; send me."  Now that’s basically what we see with Simon Peter’s mother in law. She is healed and as a result she gives herself to service.  And that’s the message that Jesus wants us to hear today. He wants us to receive our healing that we might go and serve in a world where people are longing to be healed themselves.  Even though our churches may be getting emptier, the longing for Jesus isn’t.  In fact I read where a columnist for the Washington Post said that the editors of Newsweek and Time magazine like to put Jesus on the cover of their magazines because when they do their sales go up.  Just as in Jesus’ day, people from everywhere are looking for him. They long for the power of his unconditional healing love.

And so we, as his disciples, are being called to remember and embrace our healings that we might get out of our pews and go about to the “next towns” as Jesus did, to be his vessels of the good news.  We are called to serve others so that they might receive the physical, emotional and spiritual healing that Jesus offers to all people.  Everyone who is a follower of Christ is called to serve.

Still many of us are stuck in our pews. We’ve become comfortable and indifferent to serve and spread the good news----and it shows in both the many who are seeking in our world today that are lost, as well as in our own lives and the emptiness we experience.   

So how do we get out of our pews to be people who serve others instead of being pew potatoes?

Well the first step that gets us out of our pews is the same thing that lifted Simon’s mother in law out of her bed.

 And that—is to receive or remember Jesus’ power in our own healing.  

You know, you and I in some way or another have some kind of fever. 

St. Jerome who preached on this text in Bethlehem in 400 AD described the fever of Simon Peter’s mother in law as the fever of sin.

He said “…each and every one of us suffers from fever. When I grow angry, I am feverish. So many vices, so many fevers. But let us call upon Jesus to come to us and touch our hand; for if he touches our hand, at once the fever flees.”

Jesus heals all sorts of our fevers. His touch is a loving touch that heals the fever of our impure desires, the fever of our discontentment and emptiness, the fever of our bitterness or anger, the fever of our resentment or prejudice, the fever of inadequacy or guilt, the fever of fear or pride or despair.

No matter what our fever is, no matter what has happened or what will happen, the power of Jesus’ loving touch is always waiting on us.

 When we begin to comprehend that Jesus loves us no matter what and that he forgive us and loves us unconditionally, we are restored in a way of wellness that stirs a gratitude that then seeks to serve him by serving others.

So ask yourself today, where do I feel spiritually sick this morning? Where do I have a fevered soul?

Remember that the doctor is in the house! Jesus is the Great Physician and just as his love healed Simon’s mother-in-law, His love can heal you, cure you, lift you up and redeem you. His love can restore you and make you whole.  In faith, simply ask Jesus to touch you and heal you and lift you up.

Now once we’ve experienced Jesus’ power in our own healing it’s important for us to stay out of our pew couches by sustaining our desire to serve others thru a disciplined life of prayer……

You know there are many folks who have experienced the healing power of Christ, but have found themselves right back in their comfortable pews.  They’ve become pew potatoes because they haven’t kept their connection with the One who healed them.

We always remain susceptible to “feverish sins” if we do not keep our connection to God in prayer.  As we read in verse 35 in our scripture, Jesus himself went off very early in the morning, to a desolate place to pray.  Jesus knew the importance of remaining in connection with his Father in heaven.  I find it very interesting that Jesus went off to pray alone after he experienced what must have felt like being a modern day rock star.  In verse 33 we see that the whole city was gathered at the door of Simon and Andrew’s house.  Then when he went off alone we see that Simon hunted Jesus down and said “Everyone is looking for you”.

Jesus must have felt the temptation of the ego and pride. He must have felt the pressure of being a superstar.  When Simon said “Everyone is looking for you” he was carrying the message of expectations from the world.  And in a way isn’t that same thing we face everyday of our life?

Don’t we feel the temptation to please and succeed, to perform and prove ourselves?

Anthony DeMello, in his book titled “The Way to Love”  gives an illustration that speaks to this.  He makes the point that at a very early age, we as children are injected by society with addictive drugs called Approval, Appreciation, Attention, Success and Power.  He says that once we got a taste of these drugs we became addicted and dreaded the loss of them. We’re afraid of the prospect of failure or mistakes or criticism of others.

And so we become dependent on people who have the power to make us happy or miserable.  And as much as we hate it we still find ourselves helpless because we are always attuned either consciously or unconsciously to the reactions of others and their demands.  When we are ignored or disapproved of, we experience a loneliness so unbearable that we crawl back to people to beg for the comfort of Support, Encouragement and Reassurance.

DeMello says to the “fevered mind”, nothing can fill the emptiness except the drug.

Now when we are addicted in this way to people’s approval, appreciation, attention, we cannot freely love and serve them because we are enslaved to them.

DeMello goes on to say that the only way we can be free from this addiction is thru the same thing Jesus did. And that is to go off alone and pray.  It is only in the aloneness and solitude; when we “drop out” of this addictive way that it will die and the capacity to truly love and serve others is born.

You see, when we spend time alone in prayer with God, the lies are exposed and we are able to then hear God’s voice who says,“You are my beloved, with you I am well pleased”.

Jesus heard that voice everyday and it sustained him, restored him and freed him to love and serve others. We cannot truly serve others if we are dependent and enslaved by them.

So ask yourself today, Am I addicted to Approval, Appreciation, Attention, Success and Power? Do I experience loneliness when disapproved or criticized? Am I dependent on people’s Support, Encouragement and Reassurance?

God invites you to get out of your pew and come to him alone in prayer each day so that you can hear his voice and be healed in a way that you might be able to truly love and serve others………………………………

Now once we have experienced Jesus’ power in our healing and we sustain ourselves to serve others thru a disciplined life of prayer we stay out of our pews when we become conduits of Jesus’ healing power to others.

A few years ago in Sweden, a nurse was assigned to an elderly woman patient. This patient was a tough case. She had not spoken a word in three years.  The other nurses disliked her and tried to avoid her as much as they could. Basically, they ignored her.  But the new nurse decided to try “unconditional love.” The elderly woman patient rocked all day in a rocking chair.  So one day the nurse pulled up a rocking chair beside the lady and just rocked along with her and loved her. Occasionally, the nurse would reach over and gently touch and pat the hand of the elderly woman.  After just a few days of this, the patient suddenly opened her eyes and turned and said to the nurse, “You’re so kind.”  The next day she talked some more and incredibly two weeks later, the lady was well enough to leave the hospital and go home! …………………… 

When we get out of our pew couches and reach out with the power of Jesus’ unconditional love, we become conduits for Christ to heal others today.

His power is still healing those who are physically, emotionally and spiritually sick. He heals them as we give ourselves to him---- in service to others.

In closing this morning, we’re being reminded that Jesus wants to heal us and free us that we might be freed in order to serve others.

We live in a world today where many are longing for healing.   People are still looking for Jesus.

The question is whether they will find him thru us?

Ask yourself today---Am I a pew potato? Or am I a servant?

Today let Jesus touch you and heal you. Let him make you whole that you might serve him by serving others…..

 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen