By

Gospel of Mark 1:29-39
As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew,
with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in- law was in bed with a fever, and
they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her
up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with
demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many
who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not
permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was
still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.
And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to
him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the
neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I
came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their
synagogues and casting out demons.

As we address the sacred texts, we must remember that scripture includes
symbolism. Also, it’s good for us to recall that a main theme of Mark’s Gospel is
liberation.
This morning we have a story from Mark about Jesus visiting the home of
brothers Peter and Andrew. Peter’s Mother-in- law was sick and in bed. Jesus
went to her, took her hand, helped her up and the fever broke. Jesus liberated the
woman from her illness. And, he liberated her from more than that.
You see, a first century woman like Peter’s Mother-in- law was seen as
having very little value. More than likely, she was a widow presumably living
with her daughter and her daughter’s husband. Older Jewish women were of value
to society only by serving and caring for their Families.
Jesus liberated Peter’s Mother-in- law from her illness so that she could
resume her role and embrace, once again, her value. Now, Jesus knew the woman
was of much more value than just serving her Family, and you and I know that, but
the norms of first century Palestine were very different.

Jesus valued everyone. He would not allow any type of demon to prevent a
person from experiencing liberation and wholeness. There are many stories in
Mark’s Gospel of Jesus healing those with demons.
Last Sunday, I posed the question: From what oppressive powers have you
or someone close to you been released?
This Sunday, I ask you: From what do you need to be released?
I had the privilege of serving a parish in Philadelphia that was part of the
Underground Railroad. Of course you know the story of Harriet Tubman, risking
her own life to secure freedom for others in slavery. Over a 10-year time frame,
Ms. Tubman made 19 trips to the South. She escorted over 300 people to find
freedom in the North.
Church of the Crucifixion in Philadelphia had a sub-basement which was
connected to the Delaware River docks via the sewer tunnels. Many former slaves
came through those tunnels and into the sub-basement of the church.
Those dear people feared being caught and returned to their former salve-
owners. But at the Church of the Crucifixion, they were fed, clothed and
comforted in the safety of that sub-basement, until operatives came, taking them
undercover to abolitionist sympathizers and finally to their freedom.
It was a great privilege to serve a parish so actively involved in liberating
God’s children.
What a Savior we have! Jesus Christ, desires to liberate us today from
anything preventing us from living in wholeness and embracing our value as both
God’s creative handiwork and God’s precious and adored children.
Let the power of God’s healing love given through Jesus liberate you each
and every day.

 
St. Paul's is located at 33 W. Dixon Ave, Dayton, OH 45419; phone: 937-293-1154; fax: 937-293-3723 Office hours are Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.