Gospel: Mark 1:21-28
Jesus and his disciples went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
Prayer: Lord, you have promised that when two or three gather in your name you will be present with them. We depend on that promise today and pray that you will move among us. Lord, we pray that have you inspired Mike's preparation, that you will enliven his presentation and that you will empower our application. Amen
This morning is the last in our series: "The Well Within." Next week and the following Sunday we will hear from Bishop Mark Hollingsworth. The Bishop has prepared two Sermons as part of the offerings from the Diocesan Offices for this year's Convocation. So, let us turn our hearts and our minds to reflect on the Scriptures for this morning and how they might guide us to think about "The Well Within." I was struck by the word authority in the Scriptures for this morning. But before I get there I would like to think about another thought.
One of the things I have always found interesting is how people vary when it comes to their ability to follow or remember directions while driving.
When we traveled with Covenant Players we would cover hundreds if not thousands of miles in the region we were assigned. We did that mostly in Ford Transit vans. Every four months we would change personnel and I would find myself having to adjust to someone who may or may not have a "sense of direction.
"When we first came to the States we used those large United States road mapbooks. I believe they were produced by Rand McNally, how many of you remember those? We would use them for getting a general sense of where we were and where we needed to be in a State. Then we would have smaller regional maps and sometimes even city maps. The map box in our van was an almost invaluable source of guidance and direction. But even then some people I traveled with found getting from one place to another challenging. Life is certainly less stressful, these days, as most people have a cell phone and they generally can access map directions. They can then follow the instructions they receive step by step as they make their way to wherever they need to go.
One of the questions that came up in my preparation this week was "what orientates you?" Or to ask it a different way "where do we seek our orientation?" Or where do you go for directions?" What sources or maps do you use?
Maybe a different way to think about that question is to use a different image. For many people in Huron, boats are a vital part of their lives. There are all kinds of boats in this community. Fishing boats sailboats, motorboats, working boats, recreational boats. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. People use them for all kinds of purposes. Now, I have to say I am not a sailor or a boater. The following reflections come from conversations I have had with other people who on those occasions when I have been invited to join someone else fortunate enough to own a boat. But I believe, from my conversations with those people who invited me aboard, that there are two things that all these vessels have in common. One is where they have come from and the other is where they are heading to. I may be opening myself up to some responses and reactions from people who know more about this than I do. But I think I am fairly safe in what I am about to say.
Whenever they start out, on a voyage or journey, they start from somewhere. A dock, a mooring, a launching ramp, or an anchor point. As they begin their journey and during the journey, they orientate themselves from that place. That is their starting point. That is the place that they began. I want to suggest this morning that we all do that in our lives. Particularly in our spiritual lives. We all have, in our minds, that place that we started our journey. We all have that point that we orientate our lives from. Where did we launch out from? Where did we "up anchor" and allow ourselves to seek out new places and experiences.
Before we can do anything about moving anywhere new, before we begin moving forward, we have to understand where we began, we have to understand where we started from? Then the other point that is vitally important, to sailors or boaters, is where they are headed. They will talk about their "heading." That point that the boat's nose is pointed towards. This may vary as adjustments are made because of currents and winds, but the skipper will know what their heading is so that they will reach their destination. Many times they will use this "heading" to orientate themselves. In our lives, we often use these two points of reference as a means to orientate ourselves. We do this, especially in our spiritual lives. Where did we start out and where are we headed for? This becomes particularly important if we lose our way. If, as we are traveling, we discover that we are lost, or that we have lost our way, we need to know where we started from. We need to orientate ourselves. We need to reestablish our starting point and our goal. Of course, we also need to know where we are heading?
Where are we heading?
I have to say this made me think about where do I go for directions or guidance? Or if I tie it into our theme for this particular series of messages: "the well within" what do I see as my source? Where do I would always come back to as the resource for my life? As I consider my life and my spiritual journey where do I draw my inner resource from? "What is the well that I draw from?" "What is my starting point and where am I heading?
"I am going to take just a moment to look at how we do this collectively as well as individually. Later today we will gather, on zoom, for our Annual Meeting. We will have the opportunity to set a course for the Parish for at least the next year. I hope that today we will put in place a plan that will shape Christ Church for many years to come.
I hope that all the meetings we have held over the last two years, all the dreaming and vision casting we have done will find fruitful ground in the decisions that will be made at the Annual Meeting this afternoon. That we will decide to begin to achieve some of those dreams and become more able to reach the people that the Lord will bring our way in the years to come.
The meeting today is an opportunity to state where we have come from and to broadcast where we are heading.
So, getting back to the central point of my message for this morning. As we look at the Scripture readings for this morning there is one word that stands out to me today. Authority. In the Gospel, it is noted that Jesus spoke with authority. This set him apart from the other religious leaders of the time. Then he backed up the voice of his authority by performing a miracle. There is no question that Jesus knew where he had come from and he knew where he was going. He knew where his orientation was.
In the reading from Deuteronomy, the Lord lays out before Moses the authority that the people of Israel should be looking for, that they would recognize, who was a true prophet and who was a charlatan. This would be how the people would know where the prophet's authority came from. Then they would be able to trust what the prophet was saying and where the prophet was taking them. They would know where the prophet was finding their orientation. Then, of course, we have Paul and the Corinthians. A practical and pragmatic application of authority for the people of Corinth in the everyday living of their lives. Basically, Paul is saying: "do for others what they need" so that they may not stumble. If we are assured of the authority, we are living our lives out of, then we don't need to create problems for other believers. When we know where we are starting from and we know where we are heading then that should be enough of a witness to others of who we are in Christ. The collect for this morning says it so well: "Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
"As we go about our lives this week can we take some time each day to remember where we have come from and where we are heading? What is our orientation, or what orientates us?