March 2021 CIA: A Change
The March edition of our church newsletter, Concern in Action, can be read here and our letter from Pastor Shepherd posted below. This newsletter includes information about Holy Week and Easter events at Union as well.
I’ve been thinking a lot about 2 little verses in the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel.
They tell the story of Jesus visiting the home of Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, who told Jesus that Simon Peter’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever. So Jesus went to her, “took her by the hand, and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.” End of story.
Pound for pound, this is perhaps the richest story in the Gospel. The few details we’re given each open a whole world (if we take time to listen). Just picture the scene, as Simon Peter and Andrew welcome Jesus into their home—a home the two brothers share. But it’s clear from the fact that Peter’s mother-in-law is there too that it’s not just a “bachelor pad,” but at least one (probably 2) married men and their wives (perhaps with some kids running around too) and the older generation there as well. At least two, probably three generations under a single roof—that must have been a chaotic house!
Upon entering, the brothers tell Jesus about the unnamed mother-in-law’s condition. Despite never knowing her name, it’s clear she’s important. Why else would that have been the first thing they told Jesus when they entered? Perhaps it was even the reason they’d brought Jesus to the house; after all, they’d just seen him cast out a demon and heal a man in the synagogue. It was either desperation or hope that
compelled them to ask Jesus for help on behalf of this beloved matriarch. Perhaps it was faith.
And what of Jesus in all this? We love to call him a healer, and he certainly does heal Peter’s mother-in-law. But it’s not just that the fever leaves the sick woman; a change comes over her, and she begins to serve the guests who’ve come to call.
During this Lenten season, I wonder how God is entering our houses, taking each of us by the hand. How is Christ lifting us up? What things are leaving, and what change is coming over us?
Perhaps you identify with Peter, hoping to invite Christ into your life and your family, your circle of friends. If so, now’s the time to extend that invitation to people in your life. Share the Sunday Worship video on social media; invite people to watch with you. You can direct Christ to others, so that they can be lifted up.
Or perhaps you feel more like Peter’s mother-in-law—anonymous, unnoticed, suffering in silence. This story has hope in it for you: you can be changed. There are people who care about you, and a God who is gracious and merciful. When Jesus reaches out a hand to lift you up, allow him to do so. You will be changed, and it will be for the better.
We’re all wondering how much the changes of this time will last—whether the “new normal” is now just “normal”—or if some things will remain the same. To that, I say plenty of things will stay the same, even in this time of change. The church is still here: a big, multigenerational extended family that will eventually be able to gather again under one roof. And Christ is still here, coming to us and lifting us up. And when the fever leaves, a change will come, and we will still be called to serve joyfully.
In Grace and Peace,