Sermon Epiphany 4 B

“He taught them as one having authority” “A new teaching—with authority!”

Authority. Who gives it? Who has it?

A DEA officer stopped at a ranch in Texas , and talked with an old rancher.
He told the rancher, “I need to inspect your ranch for illegally grown drugs.”
The rancher said, “Okay , but don’t go in that field over there…..”, as he pointed out the location.
The DEA officer verbally exploded saying, ” Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me !”
Reaching into his rear pants pocket, he removed his badge and proudly displayed it to the rancher.
“See this badge?! This badge means I am allowed to go wherever I wish…. On anyland !!
No questions asked or answers given!! Have I made myself clear……do you understand ?!!”
The rancher nodded politely, apologized, and went about his chores.
A short time later, the old rancher heard loud screams, looked up, and saw the DEA officer running for his life, being chased by the rancher’s big Santa Gertrudis bull……
With every step the bull was gaining ground on the officer, and it seemed likely that he’d sure enough get gored before he reached safety. The officer was clearly terrified.
The rancher threw down his tools, ran to the fence and yelled at the top of his lungs…..
“Your badge, show him your BADGE…….. ! !”

(Need Your help)
Where does the authority come from? Jesus, the Holy One of God!

Where does it come from? How did Jesus claim it or not?
In our Gospel reading from the first chapter of Mark the word ‘authority’ comes up twice in these few verses. After calling disciples, who were fishermen, along Lake Galilee, Jesus now travels to Capernaum on the north shore of this lake. Both this passage from Mark and next weeks’ take place in this location, an important, newer city at the time. That Jesus did ministry there is mentioned in all four Gospels. Mark calls it ‘Jesus’ own City’. It was where he began his public ministry outside of Nazareth and some scholars consider this scripture, along with next weeks a snap shot of what Jesus did in a single day of ministry. Here he goes into the synagogue to preach and his teaching grabs their attention for he teaches ‘with authority’. I find it fascinating that here, instead of Jesus’ authority being questioned before he acts, in Mark he is judged to act with authority after they see him act. They respond to what they experience and the word that captures that preaching and teaching is authority. Part of this response is a man with an unclean spirit recognizing who Jesus is. He cries out “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” At this point, (remember we are early in Mark, only chapter 1!) isn’t it amazing that not the disciples, but the one with the unclean spirit knows more about Jesus and who he is? And Jesus wants to keep it this way, a secret. Here we have for the very first time a theme of the Gospel of Mark. Jesus, rather than claim this authority, does not want it out there who he is. Instead, Jesus says, “Be silent, and come out of him!” Then the man convulses and the spirit leaves him and all are amazed at this.

Where does the authority come from? Jesus, the Holy One of God!

Now, I don’t know if you noticed, but music directors usually do not get to preach that often. So I am blessed with this privilege, this opportunity today and glad to do it. But, there is something else here that has happened for this to come about. I am not just a music director, but I went to Seminary, took classes, studied theology, worship, trauma, Christian Education, and even preaching! And after all of that, I might have been ready to preach some place, now and then. But I really had no authority to do so. Just the good will of some people in Sacramento or Lodi who wanted to give me a chance to see if preaching could be a gift I could use and perhaps even improve, so their openness to letting me develop this gift gave me a chance to develop it. But still, I had no authority to insist I should preach anywhere. But something else happened and I was ordained a Transitional Deacon last June 28 and I was glad to see many of you there. Now I have a title and maybe a reason to preach. Well, not really. Deacons can preach, but many do not relish the idea. Instead, we are dependent on others to give us that opportunity to do it. It is by the authority of our Priest in Charge, Mother Elaine, that I am given the chance to do this, and for that I’m grateful. However, to take time, ponder scripture and think about what I am going to say, that comes from another place. It doesn’t happen easily and I hope as I prepare it happens devotionally. But it could fall flat, so as I pray and ponder the scripture and hope for inspiration and ideas…

Where does the authority come from? Jesus, the Holy One of God!

That is all well and good, but I have to tell you we do not believe in only the authority of Jesus long ago or the authority found in the Holy Scriptures, the Bible. No, Jesus and followers like Paul make it clear to us that the ability to change the world, to make a difference, to push demons out, comes not only in the past, but comes now and in the future from the community who claims to follow in ‘the Way’ of Jesus. So when we pray for someone, as many of us did this week, for people we know in the hospital or when we pray for this troubled world, please know you are working with the same assurance, the same authority as Jesus showed in this passage. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” And when we send people out with the Eucharist today, at the end of the service or spread the need to pray around to the whole congregation, not just to a few, we are tapping into that authority. Notice that the people sent are trained, but are everyday people sent from who we are, sent with a heart and a passion for serving others. And this is what drives the authority of those who go and serve in this way. I would certainly say these people are gifted to do this, have a love and passion for others, but if I asked you…

Where does the authority come from? Jesus, the Holy One of God!

For you see, Jesus did not just object to the being recognized because he was modest, although you might have heard that in Bible School. No, Jesus knew that someday, some where, his followers, not he, would be binding the wounds, praying, taking out the bread and wine for others. The love he inspires, the love that I like to call the Love of Christ or the Love of Jesus comes to us from reading the scripture and knowing him. But we know it first when it comes to us from others, from being in community. We are dependent on this fact, that love is from person to person and we are dependent on each other to make this place we call St. John’s a place of his love. That reaches out to others, to make it more than just a safe haven, more than to share that love in this space. For as it says in (2 Cor 5:18:) “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; ”
Yes, we read a passage from Mark like this Gospel today and wonder what does this mean for me? How can I be involved in this teaching and preaching, with authority, that seems to come from Jesus? If you have prayed for others, for their healing, you are involved. If you have visited others and prayed with them or for them, at home, in the hospital, away on a trip, you are involved. If you want to make a difference in this world through the healing of Christ, through this ministry of reconciliation, of healing, of love, find a way get involved in some ministry at St. John’s. Get involved in our upcoming backpack ministry. Sign up to on the ministry table to carry a backpack once they are put together or contact a committee member to see how you can help, once you have read the newsletter article that is coming out.
Authority is important, but through Christ, we have already been given the mandate and the clearance to go out and exercise the healing, loving power of Christ. Will we need some direction or training to do so? Of course, but the important thing is to begin. So when your leadership asks you to move out in love, to hear the call of Jesus, we ask you not to do it for us, but because that love, that healing can only come from him. And

Where does the authority come from? Jesus, the Holy One of God!
Amen.

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Posted on 02/02/2015, in Liturgy, Worship, Episcopal, Lutheran. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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