The Hours of the Day
The Hours in the Day
An important question that our passage today considers is how do we care for other people and ourselves? In his gospel account, Mark doesn’t identify these two issues with these words, but they are embedded within the text. It is important to remember that Jesus did not do his work alone, the disciples were there with him. We must also remember that we have been called together to form a community.
Special thanks to Diana Carr, Janet Leadbeater and Trevor Gillman.
Scripture: Mark 1: 29-39
We will be holding our annual congregational meeting on Sunday February 28 at 11am. The meeting will be held using Zoom videoconference and you can find the details to join the meeting below. We recognize that not everyone has access to the technology, and we have an option for people to join the meeting by phone. You will find those details listed below as well. Over the coming month we will share a bit more about how the meeting will unfold and we hope that you are able to join with us that morning.
You can join the meeting using Zoom Video Conferencing. Zoom can be downloaded to your computer or phone. The link below will connect you to the meeting:
You can join the meeting by phone by dialing: 647-558-0588
You will need to enter the meeting ID and passcode which are below/
Meeting ID: 830 8012 7038
There aren’t enough hours in the day! A common expression used to indicate that we have too much to do and not enough time to do it in. Over the past year many of us have perhaps felt the opposite of this, that there is more time in the day than we know what to do with as we are no longer able to participate in our normal activities. Others will have found that the past year while dealing with the coronavirus has led to a loss of free time due to heightened responsibilities, having children learn from home and other changes to routines and patterns.
As he begins his public ministry Jesus finds life changing around him. Suddenly people are seeking him out, not just for his wisdom in teaching, but for his healing as well. Just after leaving the synagogue where he healed a demon possessed man Jesus visits Simon’s mother-in-law who is unwell. He heals her.
“Not long after people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases.” (Mark 1:32-34)
A question we might ask is what does it mean to be demon-possessed? This isn’t language we use today, we don’t talk about evil spirits possessing people. Sure, they make movies based on this theme, but we don’t talk about it much and I suspect most of us might doubt this idea of demon possession because we don’t see it. I would suggest that what we read in scripture as being ‘demon-possessed’ is less about a red devilish figure with horns and pitchfork and more about something far more common.
In his commentary for our passage last week, which also dealt with a demon-possessed individual, Prof. Osvaldo Vena writes, “The demons that I am talking about are those who possess us as a community, as a nation, and as members of the human race… Naming the demons is a way to recognize that they exist. We start with the big one, Unbelief: losing one’s faith in God, in life as a sacred force, and in our fellow human beings. It is the feeling that nothing can be done to solve our problems. Then, springing from this one, come the others in fearful company: homophobia, racism, sexism, classism, religious and ideological intolerance, violence at home and at school, poverty, militarism, terrorism, war, greed, extreme individualism, globalization, out-of-control capitalism, media-infused fear that leads to paranoia, and governmental manipulation of information. To name just a few.” (Osvaldo Vena)
In this light, demons become more than just an evil spirit. Now, please understand I’m not making light of Satan or the forces of evil in the world. But I think it is helpful for us to be able to name our demons. Those things that control us as individuals and as a society. Vena provides a very good list of ideologies which have demonized society and to which the church is able to speak to in profound ways. If only we will let the truth of the gospel free and not use it to reinforce our own bias. On an individual basis we might look at those things which haunt us: past choices, vices and our fear for the future.
During our present time we are dealing with the coronavirus and we are in the second wave. This virus has been labelled a pandemic, however there is another pandemic which we are currently dealing with. I believe it has always been with us, but the situation with Covid-19 has brought it to the surface, and this is a mental health crisis. Our inability to socialize, exercise, travel and interact in the way we are accustomed is having a severe impact on us.
I believe that when the sick and demon-possessed were brought before Jesus and he healed many who were diseased, that much of this was accomplished through some sage advice, a listening ear, and a gentle embrace.
I think it is important to pause here and consider one very important aspect of this gospel account. Jesus did not heal everyone, he healed many but not all. Matthew and Luke tell us that Jesus heals everyone, but not Mark. In Mark, Jesus heals many, but not all. At the end of the evening there were those who were unable to have a firsthand encounter with Jesus, there are those who might have left unsatisfied as their loved one wasn’t healed, their particular worry was not addressed.
It seems that even Jesus had a limit to his capacity. We might find this odd, Jesus is divine, Jesus is God who we would think could heal all, but Mark tells us it wasn’t all, just many. I suppose we could diverge here and talk about unanswered prayer and the nature of suffering. An important topic and one which we have addressed in the past and we will look at again in the future. However, today I want to appreciate the wider context of where Jesus was, who Jesus was with while these encounters occurred.
Jesus has just called his disciples; he has just publicly taught for the first time and he has just performed his first public healing. Later Jesus will send the disciples out to continue and carry on this work. After his death the disciples will gather and continue the ministry that Jesus began. The church will be founded.
This passage teaches us two important things:
- We need one another, our communities are important.
- That even when we are gathered as a community, we may still reach our capacity to help.
Prof. Vena writes about this passage, “It’s an argument for the necessity of the church and recognition that we have limits.” (Osvaldo Vena)
I share these thoughts in light of the very real and important discussion about mental health. For ourselves, our families, and our friends. I believe and pray that we are approaching the end of this time of isolation. That within this coming year we will experience the opportunity to gather with one another again and that within the time between we will need to care for and support one another to ensure that we are all healthy on the other side.
We will need to rely on one another to ensure we are taking appropriate measure for self-care and that we are also caring for others. Within our community of faith and outside of it. Elders, the pastoral care team and myself continue to pray for the congregation and to make phone calls to touch base as we are able. I encourage you to do the same, to reach out and connect with your church family. And when you need it, because this time can be overwhelming, to also do as Jesus did. Retreat to your own ‘solitary place’ to ensure that you are caring for yourself well. To recharge your batteries.
Ensure that during the hours of the day you are caring for yourself, along with those who you love. During this time of increased anxiety how we care for ourselves and one another is extremely important and we can look to the example that Jesus sets to understand that we have limits and it is alright to acknowledge them, indeed that we should respect them. Amen.
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Cobourg is part of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The congregation was established in 1833 and continues to serve the community.
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