Sermon Journal / On Slowing Down

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On Slowing Down by Ryan Pryor

Lectionary text:

Mark 1:29-39 Common English Bible (CEB)
Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law
29 After leaving the synagogue, Jesus, James, and John went home with Simon and Andrew.
30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed, sick with a fever, and they told Jesus about her at once.
31 He went to her, took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she served them.
Jesus’ ministry spreads
32 That evening, at sunset, people brought to Jesus those who were sick or demon-possessed.
33 The whole town gathered near the door. 
34 He healed many who were sick with all kinds of diseases, and he threw out many demons. But he didn’t let the demons speak, because they recognized him.
35 Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer.
36 Simon and those with him tracked him down.
37 When they found him, they told him, “Everyone’s looking for you!”
38 He replied, “Let’s head in the other direction, to the nearby villages, so that I can preach there too. That’s why I’ve come.”
39 He traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and throwing out demons.

Notes:

Jesus was concerned with bringing about human fullness and flourishing life to all people.
In this scene, Jesus risks being ritually unclean again by taking Simon's mother-in-law by the hand. She’s healed and becomes the first archetype of resurrection in the gospel. She "serves" after being raised to new life. The word used indicates that "she ministered" and the Greek word is where the English word "deacon" is derived. Women were integral to the life and ministry of Jesus and the movement of human flourishing in the Kingdom of God.
Jesus’ mission was also concerned overcoming the oppressive realities that kept all human life from flourishing. Roman occupation prevented the flourishing of people, and Jesus was birthing a fundamentally different reality into the world that encompassed all people and commissioned them into the world for life. Jesus reacquainted people with their humanity. 

Homelessness:
In 2013, there were 39,463 men, women and children in 2013 counted as homeless. In 2014, that number rose to 57,794, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority or LAHSA.
Homelessness rose in LA county in 2017 to 58,000 — a 23% from 2016.
Many would argue that as a society we have to fundamentally change the way we view homelessness and allocate resources for homelessness. A 2014 report  from the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness study indicating that the region spends $31,000 a year per homeless person on "the salaries of law-enforcement officers to arrest and transport homeless individuals — largely for nonviolent offenses such as trespassing, public intoxication or sleeping in parks — as well as the cost of jail stays, emergency-room visits and hospitalization for medical and psychiatric issues." By contrast, getting each homeless person a house and a caseworker to supervise their needs would cost about $10,000 per person. By implementing a model known as Housing First, Utah has reduced the chronically homeless from nearly 2,000 people in 2005 to fewer than 200 in 2015.

Rosa Parks was born February 4, 1913, 105 years ago today.
When she was forty-two, Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, to a white passenger, which at the time, the law required of African-Americans. She was arrested for her act of civil disobedience and worked with others from the NAACP to start the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The resulting integration of city buses in Montgomery ignited the civil rights movement in the United States and inspired nonviolent movements for social change around the world.

Preaching & Bringing Good News:
For Jesus, preaching is not standing on the corner with a megaphone or in a church, rather it is the holistic work of bringing the good news (See Luke 4:18-19) of God’s reality, which demands a flourishing life for all people. Jesus called this flourishing the Kingdom of God and it arrived on the scene. For Jesus, this involved healing, boundary-crossing, teaching, and politically dangerous declarations that demanded there is a better way for all people. 

Quotes: 

“The Sabbath is the day on which we learn the art of surpassing civilization.” 
- Abraham Joshua Heschel

“If you really stretch the time a bit and go deep into something, it gets more and more interesting the deeper you get into it.”
- Thomas Hellum

“Let him who cannot be alone beware of community... Let him who is not in community beware of being alone... Each by itself has profound perils and pitfalls. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and the one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair.” 
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Resources: 

Slow Church by Christopher Smith

Slow TV by Thomas Hellum

Questions:

What might it look like for us to look at the conditions of our world and community with this perspective?
How might we be called or gifted to heal, bring hope, or end oppressive systems?

Spiritual practice of the week:
Find one hour to retreat to a “deserted place” with no agenda or intention.