Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany  /  February 5, 2006

Text:  Mark 2: 29 – 39  /   Message by:  Rev. Carol Kniseley

 

Hurry Up…and Wait!

 

I can remember the Dean of the seminary coming into one of our preaching classes and asking a question.    In fact, it was such a good question…that it has stayed with me ever sense.   What he asked was this:  why do people come to church?’      After fielding a number of the usual responses, such as ‘to see their friends’…’it’s the only time my wife allows me to eat the donuts’…even to ‘it’s a great way to start the week’…the Dean drew a long breath, and said:  People come to church…to hear a word from God’.       And he walked out. 

 

In the Health Ministry luncheon we had here on Saturday, Parish Nurse Bonnie Hughes said something that I thought hit the nail right on the head.    She said, “People come to church with all kinds of needs.   And it’s our role, even our obligation, as Christians…to try and meet those needs.’      What I hear Bonnie saying is that every single person who enters these doors, has a need that needs to be met.   And for many, as we heard in today’s Gospel story, the need is more likely than not one of personal health and well being.    

 

From a personal point of view, I believe folks come to church…looking for Jesus.   And Mark’s Gospel is bound and determined to help us understand ‘why’.     If there is one thing about Mark’s Gospel that I truly enjoy, it is the pace.   In typical Markan fashion, things happen quickly.   The Jesus portrayed in Mark’s Gospel seems to be stuck in ‘fast-forward’ mode.     There is an innate sense of “urgency to everything that Jesus does.    Something that as a Pastor, one of my greatest fears is that we in the church have lost sense of such a feeling.     

 

Every where Jesus goes, it seems, he is being bombarded with the same mantra:   everyone is searching for you!       In other words, why don’t you stay put Jesus!    There are so many in need…so many that you could help…if only there were enough time.    The problem is…for the world, time is running out, and Jesus knows it.       That is why Mark wants us to know early on, that Jesus is not one that can be pinned down.       Not to one place.    Not to one people.     Not even to one time.   

 

Jesus came, as he said, to save the world and everyone in it.     And he is doing so…one person at a time.      And so the “word from God” that I believe we are to hear today can be summed up in just four words:   hurry upand wait!     Let me explain.

 

Today, we have in our presence, an infant who has been brought here to God’s house for the purpose of being baptized.    Annika Marie Springer.   She is all of 26 days old.   If you get the idea that the parents just might be in a bit of a hurry, well…I’d have to say you are right.     Yet knowing the parents, Sabrina and Khary, I am quite sure that they are here because deep down in their heart of hearts “they know”… that what their daughter really needs above all other needs…is Jesus himself.      And so, whether she even knows it cognitively or not, this child…this infant…this miracle named for graceis looking for Jesus.    Thanks be to God, her parents aren’t letting any grass grow under their feet in enabling her to begin her new life today.     

 

Now wait a minute, Pastor, you might be thinking.    This child has just been born…why in the world would she need to enter into a ‘new life’ all over again?     Because as sweet and innocent as this child may be…she in fact symbolizes what all of us in this world desperately need.    We need to be brought in to the very presence of God…where two very important needs will be met:  

 

1)   our sins will be wiped away

   (those things that separate us from God)

 

2)   and we will be lifted up to a new life in Christ.

 

And as we all know, only God can forgive sins.   And only God can bring about the promise of a brand new life.     So, of course, knowing what God is just waiting to do…why would anyone not want their child to be baptized?    Again, the sense of urgency is a real one.      People come looking for Jesus…who are we to not show them the way?   

 

The other epiphany that this text has to teach us is one that I almost missed.    Understanding the sense of urgency that Jesus felt to go and spread the good news to others outside the local scene…why in the world would we want to ‘wait’?    Well, to begin with, it all depends on how we define the word ‘wait’.     According to the dictionary, to wait means:

 

to stay or rest in “expectation”; to be in readiness mode; to defer;  (and then this one that really got me to thinking…) to act as an attendant or servant to another.  And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.   

 

Jesus came to ‘wait’ on others…or as he said, to serve others.   Puts a whole new light on what it means to be a ‘waiter’ or a ‘waitress’, doesn’t it?     You and I are called to “wait” on one another, to serve one another, because when we do…that’s when the kingdom of God draws near and people’s needs can be met.

 

Now I ask each and every one of us…is that not why we really came here?    Did we not come with a sense of ‘expectation’…as we wait on the Lord to make himself known?   I will confess…that I, too, come here ‘looking for Jesus’.    Thinking that I will hear his voice as the lessons are being read…or catch a glimpse of him somewhere in the music.   But invariably, where I tend to find him every single time…is right where he said he would be.   

 

In the breaking of his body…and the pouring out of his blood…Jesus comes.    In the splashing of the water…or the squeal of an infant wearing a wet baptismal napkin…Jesus comes.    And in these simple acts of gracepromises are being made not only by the parents and sponsors, but by we in the congregation as well.  

 

Why?  

 

Because we believe, beyond a shadow of any doubt, that the world is being savedone person at a time.    Hurry up and wait…it’s an epiphany we in the church are still called to live by.   Thanks be to God.    Amen