Scripture: Mark 1: 29-39

I’d like to begin this morning with a poem from Irish poet John O’Donohue, For a New Beginning.

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,

Where your thoughts never think to wander,

This beginning has been quietly forming,

Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

                (John O’donohue – https://www.johnodonohue.com/)

When you heard our passage from Mark’s gospel read earlier. Which character were you? Were you Simon’s mother-in-law, sick and in need of healing? Were you Simon, worried for someone who you love, someone who is ailing? Were you one of the other disciples present that day? Were you one of the nameless lost in the multitude of the crowd who came for healing and teaching? Did you see yourself in the role of Jesus, offering healing and love? Or were you a silent observer, watching with keen interest?

Regardless of how you see yourself in this passage, each character shares something in common. For each character, a new beginning has been forming and it emerges in this passage.

For Simon’s mother-in-law new life emerges. Health and wellness, renewed purpose and life. For Simon, who is not yet being called Peter, astonishment and the start of a journey which will have Christ saw “You are the rock upon which I will build my church.” For the other disciples, they emerge as leaders in this new Jesus movement which is happening in the countryside, able and ready participants. The nameless crowd, begins to see new possibilities in the teaching and healing of Jesus. A movement begins to emerge, one that will reverberate through history.

This beginning has been quietly forming,

Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

The ministry of Jesus emerges in the small villages and towns far away from the centre of society in Jerusalem. It forms quietly until it eventually takes Jerusalem by storm. God chose that moment in time, far removed from the beginning words of Genesis, to emerge into the world as flesh and blood. Waiting for a time when we were ready to hear the life-giving words of Jesus.

Jesus starts in the margins and many churches have also served in the margins. When you look at the history of St. Andrew’s and many of its outreach or mission endeavours, they have sought to assist people on the margins. Our soup kitchen continues to serve individuals who are on the margins here on Cobourg. The food insecure, the precariously housed, and the homeless. It’s a powerful ministry which touches the lives of many people in our community on a weekly basis.

Why does Jesus begin on the outskirts, with communities and people who are on the margins? Because that’s where he is from. Remember Philip’s comment, “What good can come from Nazareth?” A small town on the outskirts that until Jesus arrived, no one gave much thought about. The people are being neglected, their ills aren’t being looked after and Jesus is offering an alternative. He’s doing something to address their social and economic location.

In her commentary Chelsey Harmon notes, “Jesus will prove time and again that our curing and casting out is important to him. It is the mission he will send the disciples out on, the kind of things he will continue to give himself and his time to, and healing will become part of the marks of the church.” (Chelsey Harmon – https://cepreaching.org/commentary/2024-01-29/mark-129-39-4/)

There are many ways that the message and mission of Jesus can play out in our lives. We can in one moment be the one offering respite and care, then in the blink of an eye be on the receiving end of that care.

Did you notice in the passage the parallels that occur between Simon’s mother-in-law and Jesus?

She is ill and in need of healing. Jesus provides that healing and “Took her by the hand and lifted her up.” The reference of lifting up speaks to the resurrection. Mark is always pointing forward in his gospel. But note what comes next, “then the fever left her and she began to serve them.” She receives a gift of healing and then provides the gift of hospitality and nourishment to Jesus.

Who did you relate to in this passage?


His mother-in-law?

The other disciples?

Those in the crowd seeking healing?

Or Jesus who offered that healing?

 Which new beginning resonates with your life? How will you impact the world around you? How will you deepen your relationship with God?

Jesus himself is deeply rooted in his relationship with God. He gets up early, while it was still dark, went to a deserted place to pray. A deserted place could easily be the wilderness, Jesus goes beyond the fringes of society and prays. When he returns, he has a sense of renewed mission, he emerges, goes out to other villages in the area and continues to teach and heal.

It’s important to take a moment, to focus on our beginnings of how we emerged. Of how we might continue to emerge renewed and reinvigorated to serve God’s creation. The writer of Isaiah knew that as well, when he writes, “…those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Find time to restore yourself and your energy. Find time to spend alone with God in prayer, in order that we might run and not be weary, walk and not faint.

Find time to align yourself with God’s purposes that we might emerge again and again in new beginnings and possibilities. Amen.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church

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.

St. Andrew’s supports the gathering of community agencies, providing space for the Affordable Housing Committee. Rev. Ellis’ voice is key in advocating for improvements in awareness, empathy and action on key determinants such as housing, income and food security. 

Kristina Nairn

Public Health Nurse, HKPR Health Unit

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Thank you for visiting St. Andrew’s. It’s our prayer that this sermon was helpful to your walk of faith. We would ask you to prayerful consider donating to the mission of St. Andrew’s. You can make an online donation through our website. 

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