Sunday 7th February 2021

An act of worship at home

Reading     Mark 1:29-39

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’ And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.


The healing of Simon’s mother-in-law is a classic healing story. It’s all fine and good. It’s what Jesus does. It’s what he’s good at. But there is something sort of disturbing about this story that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with healing. “Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.”

What? She’s healed so that she can serve? Whom? Did she want to? Didn’t she have any other aspirations? If you are brought back from the edge, from almost death, or from the brink of what you thought your life had to be, shouldn’t there be something else for you, some sort of new vocation, new career, new identity? And she served them? As if that was what she was expected to do. As if that was the only thing she thought she could do. As if that was the only thing she could do?

Actually there’s an extraordinary arrogance to my questions, as though serving others is the lowest of the low. What if the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law was bringing her back to be the mother she always was and that she always wanted to be? And in being brought back to who she was, she became a disciple, called to minister, to serve, like Jesus himself who did not come to be served but to serve?

Have you ever felt like God has brought you back from the brink … to yourself? That you were called back from a place that was not fully you, to be you?

Jesus lifted her up. What if resurrection is being raised up to be who you always were and were always meant to be? That it won’t be hilltop houses, driving flash cars or bathrooms you can play golf in  but the radical, emotional, incredible feeling of being you. That being raised up is not just some sort of spiritual future but your present reality, here and now, to truly live as you. Your mind, spirit, body, everything together, everything that you were always meant to be. The story of Simon’s mother-in-law tells us that God does not call us to be something we are not but is in the business of restoring us to who we really are.

Of course, most of the time it’s easier to live on the brink, to surround ourselves with people and projects and performances that allow us to pretend this is who we are, that let us avoid the feelings and frustrations and fears that come with acknowledging what is important in our life. It is hard to live as who we are. As someone put it, “The world is full of people who will go through their whole lives and not actually live one day. I do not intend to be one of them.”

I think a lot of us spend a good part of our lives living on the periphery of ourselves.

The healing of Simon’s mother-in-law (wouldn’t it be good to know her name) is God being, living who God is. God called Jesus to be who he was. That’s what the incarnation is all about. Jesus didn’t go around pretending to be something that he wasn’t. “Please, please, let this cup pass. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” are not laments about what should be but the truth about what is.

Being human is what God was committed to in Jesus and therefore, being who we are is what God wants us to be. God brings us back from the brinks of our lives, from despair, from disease, from desperation, to live. Because then, maybe, we will actually know, feel, and get that we are a part, that God needs us to be a part, of what’s at stake for God when God decided to become one of us.

Jesus will take you by the hand. God will raise you up. When you are brought back from the edge, from the brink, your question will be that of Simon’s mother-in-law, “What am I doing here?” What will your answer be? “I am ______ me.” That’s who God wants me to be. This is who I am. Thank you Lord.


Lord of love,

we lift up the world in our prayers and ask your blessing on all who are suffering today.
Lift up those who are bowed down by debt and poverty; lift up those struggling under the weight of broken relationships. Lift up those bearing the burden of pain and illness… Lift up those whose hearts are heavy with grief… Lift us up, Lord, and use us in your service, today and every day.
We thank you, Lord of the crowds and Lord of the quietness, for a time and place when we can be alone with you. Take hold of my hand, Lord Jesus, as you took hold of Simon’s mother-in-law, and gently bless me with the courage and the confidence to step out from my fear of failure to offer all that I am in the service of others. Thank you. Amen.


Just as I am, without one plea

but that thy blood was shed for me,

and that thou bidst me come to thee,

O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about

with many a conflict, many a doubt,

fightings and fears within, without,

O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;

sight, riches, healing of the mind,

yea, all I need, in thee to find,

O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, thy love unknown

has broken every barrier down;

now to be thine, yea, thine alone,

O Lamb of God, I come.

Just as I am, of that free love

the breadth, length, depth and height to prove,

here for a season, then above,

O Lamb of God, I come.


Lord Jesus, may we know you with us this week.
Help us to remain focused upon you and to be the person you created us to be, ourselves.

And so may we know your blessing this day and forever more. Amen.

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