It was clear to me last week as I pondered the lessons for today that I was drawn to the post flood scene of God speaking to Noah and his family. After the violence, destruction, terror, and death of almost all of humankind and creature kind, this moment with God is tender and, perhaps flowing with regret.
God was so disappointed about what had happened to God’s creation. The Garden where God walked in the cool of the afternoon with Eve and Adam is devoid of the couple.
Abel is dead. As the population increases so does wrong doing.
God is especially outraged with humankind’s corruption and violence. Those are the words…corruption and violence.
In sadness and rage, God decides to drown what God has made.
The ark is constructed; the people and animals go aboard and the torrential rain devastates the earth.
What does a pastor offer on this day named “Transﬁguration?” What do I offer you today in this moment in time when we journey from the last and fading joyful voices, festivities and wonder of birth at Christmas, New Year and Epiphany and begin crossing this 72 hour threshold to Shrove or Pancake Tuesday into Ash Wednesday and Lent? What indeed?
I have crafted sermons for this day, here and there, for 40 + years. I knew, each and every time, that I was close (and a time or two or three not even near) to the power, message and meaning of this day.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the service my sermon offering for today gives focus to HOPE. We are in desperate need to be reminded and assured of the hope that is the core of our faith journey and that hope is an outgrowth of what we have noticed in the gospel readings from Mark…following our Lord, Jesus.
A modest detour first…which may seem disconnected from hope…and this detour is not a disconnect.
Jesus and his not yet complete retinue of disciples come to Simon’s home for lunch. Bad luck…Mom is sick with fever…maybe the flu…and there will be no lunch. No problem…Jesus takes her by the hand, lifts her up and off to the kitchen she dutifully shuffles. Jesus heals so that he and his band of followers will be fed…as if they are incapable of making a sandwich or even set out a bit hungry.
Bad theology! Terrible interpretation! Self-serving anti-misogyny cherry picking. We need to know that this is Mark reporting. We need to be aware that the Greek verb rendered “…[he] lifted her up.” is the same verb Mark will use in other healings of “lifting and raising” and most dramatic of all, the verb used in the Garden on Easter morning…of Jesus being raised from the dead! All healing is resurrection!
It is in Mark that all of the healings, the raisings, the recoveries are always in the context of returning the healed ones to their families and their communities. All of the healings in Mark point to and reference our Lord’s resurrection from death. Jesus’ healing work in Mark is not primarily about an individual recovery. Simon’s wife’s mother is healed so that her family and her community might return to wholeness. Continue reading Hope, a Sermon by the Rev. Robert W. Wohlfort, Th.D., February 4, 2018
For a couple of weeks we have been living with Mark’s Gospel and we will continue that relationship for some time in the future. Mark has a unique and significant perspective on the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Our Lord. I believe it will be helpful for us to know that perspective so that we go home today with a deep appreciation of Jesus’ moment in the Capernaum synagogue
Before we ponder and wonder about the baptism of Jesus and reﬂect about yesterday, January 6…Epiphany, I want to relate a dream from 10 days ago.
[This portion of the sermon was delivered at the beginning of the worship service]
I was in a large college dorm room clearly occupied by a number of us given the mess all around me and the number of beds that were scattered about. I alone was in the room. I was frantic!!
Within an hour or two I was to be on stage in my role as a major character in a play! (Why in all the world am I doing that? I have never been in a stage production before!) I did not know my lines; I could not ﬁnd the script no matter how hard I searched. I was alone and there was no one to assist me. Gratefully, I woke up before I learned my fate.
At ﬁrst I associated the dream with my occasional condition that I have named, ”All that schooling ruined my psyche.” I believe that there are quite a few of you who have been tormented by this type of dream:
-there is an exam next period and you have not prepared;
-your major report for the class is due today and you do not even have your topic selected;
-the ﬁnal exam is tomorrow and not only have you not studied…