Guess Who’s Coming to Church?
Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “what have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destory us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “be silent and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.
(Mark 1:23-26, NRSV)
Two people showed up and disrupted the nice, perfunctory Sabbath service the people likely expected to experience in their synagogue. The first was Jesus, who came bringing a “new teaching with authority,” yet it seems his message wasn’t the one the people wanted to hear. It’s the second disruptive visitor, in fact, who names Jesus the “Holy One of God.”
People sometimes misconstrue churches as rest homes for the saints, places where those who are truly good get to go and sigh deeply of the contentedness that comes from a life of zero bad decisions. Those who participate in churches, however, learn quickly that, far from any sort of rest home, a church is a hospital for sick sinners who keep trying to get better but can’t seem to do it on their own. So we keep showing up on Sunday mornings, now a little easier, maybe, since no one can see us in our bathrobes and unbrushed hair. We show up to, we hope, be made whole once more with a welcome word from the Lord.
We are reminded in this reading, however, that when Jesus shows up there’s no telling just what he’s going to preach. We all love Jesus the Prince of peace, the healer, the unblemished Lamb of God… but what about Jesus, the rebuker, the one who calls out that which is dead and harmful and rebukes it in front of the whole church? Eek. He shows up some Sundays, too, praise God.
I’m struck that this person, afflicted and tormented, was in the synagogue in the first place. It seems he knew it was a hospital, after all. Because he was there, because he couldn’t hold back the speech that would get him seen, and because of all of this, he was healed. We need Jesus to see us in our full broken beauty sometimes, too, in order that in being seen we can also be rebuked and brought into the full life and love of God once more.
And so, church, we pray, that Jesus will once again show up, and that we will be strong and brave enough to hear what he has to say to us and therein find a foretaste of the life of the world to come. What a beautiful thing it is when guests show up – even when uninvited and disruptive – and help remind us of who we are in the first place.
Grace and Peace,
Continuing Coffee Hour Over Zoom
Laura Newton will host a weekly time of conversation and connection at 11:30 am after our worship service each week. Login available at 11:15am or conclusion of worship, whichever is later.
Here is a link to that time –
If you have questions or need help, you can ask Pastor Ben or Laura. Don’t be shy, you are missed and a part of this church family, too!
Offering Envelopes and Upper Rooms are Available in the Church Office
If you received a box of envelopes last year, we have one for you again this year. Your name is even already on it. If you would rather not receive envelopes anymore, please let us know so we can repurpose them for someone or something else.
The Upper Room Daily Devotionals are also available now. If you’d like to pick yours up, Gretchen is in the church office from 9am-noon Tuesday – Friday each week. Please call ahead so she can set whatever you are picking up out for you.
You will find every newsletter, worship service, devotional, and additional material posted to our Facebook page:
Even if you don’t use Facebook, you can access everything we have there. If you do have a Facebook account, “like” to follow our page and be notified when new things are posted or when videos are about to go live so you don’t miss anything.
Coffee Hour is a time of sharing after Sunday morning worship hosted by Laura Newton at approximately 11:30am. All are welcome!
If you have any difficulties accessing any of those links, please reply to this message or call the church office at (908)782-1070 and we will get you connected right away.
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