What’s your point? This isn’t usually really a question. It’s often more of a put down. As someone raised in an environment of sarcasm, put downs, and power struggles expressions like that can come out of me, all too easily. To pause instead has become a practice. It will be a lifelong endeavor to let go of some of the ways that I observed as a child. St. Paul writes about putting away our childish ways. Prayer has been part of the practice ,so that I can pause and become clearer about the purpose of such a statement. This week we hear of how Jesus practiced taking time to pray.
Jesus took time to pause and to pray. Pausing and praying can help us also get very clear about our purpose- our point. Faced with increasing demands as his deeds of healing, the power of his teaching, and the word that is being spread about him as one who can call out the demons- Jesus pauses. He was clear at the outset of his ministry, it’s “go time”. Jesus has come to proclaim the good news.
From the start he is clear about his purpose. He takes time to pray. He has the power to call disciples to follow him, speak as one with authority, heal, and cast out demons. Time to go off to a quiet place to pray will be part of his journey. Seeking God’s will for how to use his power and keep true to his purpose are part of what I imagine he seeks in his prayer. As we come to the end of the season of Epiphany I encourage you in your own prayer life. What powers has God given to you and for what purpose?
This music video tells a story. To rise up each day to be of service in love is a calling for each one of us. As we explore our own purpose, our particular passion and calling, one might ask, “What gets you up and out of bed in the morning?”. In the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law she is “raised up”, she is gotten out of her bed and the fever leaves her.
Sometimes there is scoffing at Simon’s mother-in-law being cured of her fever only then to rise up to serve those gathered. That word for serving in Greek (diakoneó) is the word that also translates as “minister”. It is the root of the word “deacon”. She is healed so that she can minister to them. Simon’s mother-in-law serves, she is a deacon.
This is the same Greek word used for the angels “ministering" to Jesus after the temptation in the wilderness. This is the word that Jesus will use about himself, his point and purpose. In Mark 10:45 Jesus says, “I came not to be served but to serve and to give my life as a ransom.” This is the point, this is the power, this is purpose of God coming in the flesh in our own form to serve, to minister, to preach the good news.
To serve, to minister- for this Jesus has come into the world. His call to each one of us to to be ourselves. This song was introduced to me when we went together to the ELCA National Youth Gathering in 2018. And even though I would have told you “show tunes” aren’t “my thing”, it is one of the beautiful things about the way we can influence one another. May that song encourage you this week to be the very you, the particular, unique, and wonderful you God has created.
Take time this week in prayer, in time away to get clear; what is your purpose? What has God called you to do? Take to heart that when God calls you for a purpose God will equip you with the power to fulfill that purpose. Over the course of our lives we may come to know that we have been gifted and graced with a variety of purposes to share. The purpose we all have in common is to freely share what we have been given. - will you take this as an invitation of discipleship?
Together we follow in the footsteps of Jesus taking time to pause and pray, tapping into the power we have each been given and getting clear about our purpose. For this God has come to dwell with us. Jesus proclaims the good news. The good news sets us free to freely share what we have freely been given. That’s the point.
ps- the point of that photo at the top of this post? The joke about what are Jesus' two favorite sports? Volleyball and Tennis- in both of them you get to serve :-)