Ash Wednesday invites us to begin the season of Lent by reflecting on the condition of our hearts and our relationships with God. While examining the traditional Psalm reading for Ash Wednesday, Psalm 51, Pastor Paige asks people to consider how they want God to change their hearts and help them develop new habits of faith during the 40 days of Lent.
Just how good is God? Do our shortcomings, our failures, or even just our plain human limitations prevent us from experiencing God’s presence and goodness? Or, instead, could they be the very places where we experience God most powerfully? In the story of the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-9), we see a new vision of God’s glory, and receive good news of hope and joy.
Jesus’ ministry is a whirlwind as he casts out demons, heals, and preaches the good news of God’s kingdom. In today’s gospel reading from Mark 1:29-39, Jesus heals Simon Peter’s mother-in-law from a fever. She immediately rises up to serve Jesus and the disciples. Jesus set her free from sickness to serve. Pastor Paige asks listeners to consider the showdowns they’ve experienced in their lives, and how God has helped them prevail, rise up, and use their freedom and their gifts to serve.
What have you given authority to in your life? While Americans are usually suspicious of authority (we say things like, “You’re not the boss of me!”), most of us have, knowingly or unknowingly, given a lot of authority to voices, people, and forces. And those powers are killing our souls. But what if One has come who has true authority, and uses it not to bind us, but to set us truly free? In this sermon based on Mark 1:21-28, we hear Good News about Jesus and his life-giving authority.
Today’s reading from Mark 1:14-20 highlights a key verse that will shape Jesus’ ministry: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” Pastor Paige explores what Jesus’ announcement means for us, as well as what it means that Jesus called humble fishermen to be his first disciples. Jesus didn’t worry about their skill level or experience. He simply called them to come with him and do the same work he was doing in the world. We get to be on Jesus’ dream team, too.