Sermons That Work

Well, There I Am, Epiphany 5 (B) – 2000

February 06, 2000

Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once.

Well, there I am. You people have a saying about everyone having their 15 minutes of fame. This is mine. Right there in the Gospel written by that boy Mark. It doesn’t tell you my name, of course. Or my daughter’s name, either. But it was my girl that was married to the big fisherman, Simon he was called when we first knew him.

My husband Jesse and Simon’s father John made the deal. In those days we believed that parents knew what was best for their children. Jesse was worried about his health; he wanted to have our Rachel settled before he died. Oh, he had a few qualms about Simon. “He’s a good boy, but so impetuous!” Jesse said to me. “I only hope that he’ll grow up a little more and learn to think before he speaks.” But I hushed him. “Your trouble is that you wouldn’t think anyone was good enough for your little girl,” I told him. “There’s nothing to worry about. We’ve known Simon since he was a child. He comes from a good family. He’ll be a good provider, and he’ll be good to our Rachel, you’ll see.” And he was. He even took me into his home after we lost Jesse.

But of course that was before he took up with that man Jesus. I couldn’t imagine what had gotten into him. He just went off and left his fishing boats on the shore, and so did his brother Andrew and their friends James and John. I didn’t understand it. Simon was a fisherman, like his father, and his father’s father. The men in that family were all fishermen. And now here he was, following around after some kind of a street preacher. He wasn’t himself, Simon wasn’t. Something, or someone, had changed him. And oh, he was full of enthusiasm for this Jesus, and the things he taught. That was all very well, I thought, but where did the man think his livelihood was coming from? And then too, I didn’t think the Romans who were occupying our land would be too pleased with some of what this man Jesus was saying. For that matter, neither were some of our Jewish leaders. I didn’t know what this might all lead too. Of course it wasn’t my place to say anything, but I couldn’t help being worried. I was a mother, after all.

And then came that day, the one you had the reading about today. I was sick in bed with a fever. I felt miserable. First I would be burning up, and then I’d have chills. And I ached all over. Rachel brought me cold wet cloths to put on my forehead. She was a good girl, my Rachel. And now here were all these men coming into the house, and only Rachel to serve them. I wanted to get up and help her, but I was too sick.

And then it happened. They had told him about me. He came to my bedside at once. He took my hand. He looked into my eyes. Oh, those eyes! It was like he was looking deep into my soul. I felt that he could see all the thoughts and feelings that I had kept carefully hidden for my whole life. In that instant he knew things about me that I had never told anyone; not my parents, not my children, not even my husband, Jesse. Some things just weren’t to be spoken-but I didn’t have to speak them to him. He saw the frustrations I had experienced. He knew of my love for my children, and how I could never seem to stop worrying about them. He saw how I still grieved for Jesse. He even saw that I wasn’t very happy about my son-in-law, Simon, leaving his fishing boats and running off after him. In that moment, he knew me through and through. And it felt good! When he took my hand and looked into my eyes, I knew that there was someone who understood ; that he knew everything there was to know about me, and he loved me, and it was all right.

He took my hand. He smiled. He lifted me up. I forgot about my fever. I forgot about my aches and pains. I forgot that I was worried about Simon. I just wanted to do something for this man who had touched me in a way that no one had touched me before. I had to make some kind of response to his love. So I did what I best knew how to do. I got up and I served him; yes, and his friends, too.

I know you have heard that my son-in-law Simon-Peter, Jesus called him-and his brother Andrew, and James and John and their other friends, were called “disciples of Jesus.” Well, let me tell you something. They weren’t the only ones. From that day, I was his disciple, too. There were a lot of us, women whose lives he had touched. Some were healed of sickness, like me. All of us experienced his understanding, his overwhelming love. Most of us aren’t mentioned by name, but that doesn’t matter. He had transformed our lives, and we wanted only to give back to him, to serve him in whatever humble way we could. Peter and the rest played their part-and yes, my husband was right, that boy really did need to learn to think before he spoke! But he had a good heart.

Yes, as I say, he played his part, and so did Andrew, and James, and John, and the rest. But so did we.

Sisters and brothers, we’re separated by 2,000 years, but you know that with Jesus time and space don’t really matter. I wonder if you’ve been touched by him the way I was. For you know that he is present with you just as he was in our home that day. He can take your hand, and smile into your eyes, look into your soul and know your needs. And you can know his love and his healing. And your life can be changed like mine was. In fact, every time I encountered him, I experienced his love again. So can you. And I know that each time you encounter him, you’ll want to respond. You’ll want to get up and serve him, and serve those whom he loves. I found my way to serve him. And I know that you’ll find your way, too. Just let him take your hand, and lift you up.


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Christopher Sikkema


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