Change and Challenges – Rev. William Magee
Change and challenges!
Mark 1: 21-28
Change and challenges…
These are two constants that are always apart of our lives and our communities, especially as we begin a brand new year. In my particular community, they are doing a lot of road work at this present time. Much needed roadwork that by the end of this New Year will make driving around here a little easier; I hope. And as I contemplate on the road work being done, I see it as a sign of a changing community. I guess we could say at this point, the “remember when’s” are nice. I mean reminiscing is good and never forget where you came from; but I will advise you to put the heavier emphasis on where you are going.
So it was an eventful day in Capernaum, the day Jesus came to town. With his new way of teaching that probably challenged people to look at their lives, their world, and their communities in a new way? There was a sense of much needed newness in the air; there was a sense of newness in Jesus’ interpretation of God, who God was, and how God acts or engages us and creation. There was a great deal of newness in his interpretation of the scriptures, that which was held very sacred by the people of God.
21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
And the congregation was astounded by this new teaching. Perhaps many of them excited by these new ideas that challenged the people to move forward in a world that was ever changing around them.
Underlying in Jesus message, I’ll bet, was this radical idea of faith. A faith that called the people to not fear the change, to not fear the challenges, because in the end, God is in control. And this God is one of intimacy and love. This God is a God of acceptance and forgiveness in the midst of sinful lives and a sinful world. This God is a loving God who washes, creates, and recreates, who cradles God’s communities like a mother cradles her newborn infant. Unconditional love and protection even in the midst of all of this change, even in the midst of many challenges. Such a faith, given to us as a gift from God through Christ, would have the power to cast out the demons of fear and anxiety that often accompanies a change in our lives, our communities, and our world.
As this New Year begins for you, where do you feel God is calling for change? Where do you feel that you are being challenged? Is the “road work” of your life too heavy for you to bear? Will such “road work,” enlist changes in you life that you feel you’re not quite ready for? Even so, God calls, my friends, and God challenges each of us to move out of our comfort zone and into God’s plan for our lives, understanding that our faith will see us through.
Because it is a faith given to us by God; it is a faith made permanent and strong by Christ, who walks with us every step of the way.
Change and challenges will always be apart of who we are as the people of God. And the demons embedded deep within our human condition will often times bring to the forefront our fears and anxieties when it comes to such change and challenges. But the good news is that Christ is with us; we have been baptized and marked with the cross of Christ forever. The good news is that Jesus is always with us working to cast out the demons of our fears and leads us into God’s plan for our lives. Always remember that such demons do not have the final word, God does, and this my friends is the good news!
It is my hope and prayer that our God of love, life, and forgiveness, will see each of you through another year.
Pastor Bill was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He served in the United States Navy for 11 years. He completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Rowan University and went on to earn his Masters of Divinity from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Pastor Bill took the call for St. Matthias Lutheran in January of 2001.