Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sermon for Feb 8, 2009 Mark 1:29-39

Feb 8, 2009
Scripture: Mark 1:29-39
Sermon Title: “Unblocking the Gospel”
Rev. George N. Miller

Having a fishtank is one of life’s joys. From Dad’s 20 gallon tank in the basement to the 10 gallon tank in my office, a community of multi-colored fish is a beautiful thing.

The office tank was a gift from Ruth, the fish were purchased by me and various parishioners, and every Sunday the children get to feed the fish.

The tank has required a lot of work and there has been some problems. There’s been overfeeding, overcrowding, algae blooming up and the occasional finned friend who has died and been ceremoniously flushed down the toilet.

One of the biggest responsibilities is maintaining the filter which keeps the water fresh and clean so the fish stay healthy, active and alive. If the filter is faulty the water gets dirty, diseases spread, resulting in death and a poor community life.

For the last few weeks the water wasn’t looking so healthy. The bio-wheel that’s supposed to spin around and around was stuck in place. And there was all this green and brown algae. Not good.

So what to do, what to do? I cleaned the entire filter. Each and every piece was taken apart, rinsed out, algae was scraped away.

Then an idea emerged: I took the filter tube, a u-shaped object like the piping under your sink, took a knife and jabbed it in and ran the tube under the water and glup! A piece of snotty looking stuff came right on out.

Hmmmm.....Again with the knife, digging in side to side, ran it under the faucet. Glup-glop! More pieces of green stuff came whooshing out.

Again and again this was done and more and more of that stuff whooshed out.

Had this been the problem all along? Why the water wheel was stuck, why the tank was looking so dirty, why the fish have been so lethargic?

Was it because for years the filter tube had been clogged with snotty green gunk and no amount of cleaning or new parts would do anything until what was in the tube was unblocked?

Once the filter was reassembled and turned on, suck suck suck went the dirty water up into the filter, around and around the wheel went and the happy sound of fresh running-water filled the room. The tank’s community of was given a new chance of life.

Clean, unblocked life has returned to the fishtank and its inhabitants. All the tank needed for transformation and restoration was the chance to be unblocked of the waste and decay that was trapped inside of it for all these years.

Church: let me hear you say unblocked.

Those present at our Tuesday Bible Study will tell you that “unblocked” was the word of the day. When we gathered to discuss today’s scripture, the obvious topics came up. Do demons really exist? Do we believe in miraculous healings? Is healing less physical and more psychological?

Someone spoke up and said “Jesus unblocks”, giving us a unique way of approaching the healing stories.

Instead of saying Jesus cast out demons, cured the sick, or rid Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever, perhaps what Jesus really did was unblock them much the same way the fishtank filter had been unblocked.

And in the case of Peter’s mother-in-law, being unblocked freed her up to do the work that was needed to get done.

Being or feeling blocked is not a good thing, is it? There are many ways one can be blocked. Got a stuffed nose? You’re blocked from breathing.

Got blocked arteries there’s a chance a heart attack will come your way. Constipated? Now that’s a blockage no one wants.

Writers face what is known as writers block. Kurt Warner was blocked Superbowl Sunday from successfully completing his final throw.

Not too long ago women were blocked from voting and blacks were blocked from lunch counters.

We as a country are experiencing blockage. The flow of money has been blocked by a decrease in purchases, rising unemployment, and everyone fearful of being fired.

I myself have been blocked. Keeping information from you about my health blocked my energy level, creativity and how I interacted with you.

Being blocked is not good. It limits how we deal with the outside world, what our day is like and what we’re able to do.

Take for instance Peter’s mother-in-law. For fun, let’s call her Sunny. As today’s reading tells us, Sunny is not well. She’s got a fever and it’s blocking her.

The fever blocks Sunny from interacting with others as she’s stuck in bed all day. The fever has blocked her possibilities. She can’t enjoy the sunrise, go to market, join the ladies for lunch, or attend worship.

But something wonderful happens to our Sunny. When Peter leaves worship, he brings with him Jesus. Jesus visits Sunny in her room, he takes her hand, lifts her up...and Jesus unblocks her.

Whatever was clogging her filter, whatever was keeping freshness from flowing within her, was somehow, someway, unblocked due to her interaction with the living Christ.

Sunny goes from laying down in bed to becoming Sunny-side UP!

And her response is to serve Jesus and the disciples. God’s Abundance and Grace found in Christ is matched by Sunny sharing Grace and Abundance with her family and friends!

Can I get an amen?

Now some would say that we as a church have been blocked. Our records with pastors haven’t been the greatest. Our infighting and disputes are legendary. And the good kind of green we need to stay in operation is not easily flowing in.

And that has created its own blockage. Blockage that has stunted church growth. Blockage that has pushed people away. Blockage that has limited the service we’re able to provide the community.

But over the last few weeks, hasn’t it seemed that there’s been an unblocking of our church? It’s as if Jesus has brought in a spirit of unblockedness that is motivating a whole bunch of people to get up and to serve.

Have you noticed that people sharing testimonies and prayers during worship has gone up? I have. Attendance for Bible study, field trips and Men’s Breakfast had increased.

Thanks to Leah we have a new mission program. Thanks to Jen we have a great after school program. And Marge has created a beautiful new song celebrating the gifts of women.

Thanks to the grace and love of you, I have a new energy and insight. And I don’t know about you, but I am ready to serve.

Whatever has blocked us is being unblocked. Whatever has been caught up in the filter has been whooshed out, through fresh water and hard work.

Mark tells us Jesus healed, cast out, and lifted up. Our Bible study folk say Jesus unblocks.

So today, I’ll leave you the same way Tammy left us last week- with a question.

How has Jesus unblocked you? And how do we, who have been unblocked, get up and serve our Savior who is busy restoring and transforming us with a fresh spirit coursing through our souls?

All praise be to the Spirit that flows through each and every one of us, through Jesus who touches us right where we are and to God who shares with us Her abundant grace and love.

Amen and amen.

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