Do not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34)

In a few weeks time, I will be stepping down from my role as the Coordinator for Horsham Churches Together. I’ve done this job for just a couple of years. There have been challenges, but I’ve met and worked with some wonderful people and it’s been an incredible privilege to serve local Churches and Christian leaders in this way.

Moving on undoubtedly brings me closer to retirement. That feels like a big thing for me. I don’t feel ready to retire, and I have very mixed feelings about stepping down, but in my heart, I know it is the right thing for me to do.

Last night, I went to a worship and prayer service which brings together people from many of the 31 Horsham congregations.

As I walked to the meeting I was reflecting on my role with and my small contribution to the life of Horsham Churches Together over the last couple of years. Those mixed feelings rose again in my mind. Who is going to take over? What will it look like without me? How’s it going to work?

Then, as I walked up North Street, past the Old Council Offices, God spoke. ‘This story,’ He said, ‘is about me, not about you.’ There was a gentleness to these words, yet a profound directness. Stop worrying about the next stage of the story for HCT. It seemed to say, the future of HCT is part of God’s story. Not mine.

Later, at the service, I found myself praying on my own to one side of the auditorium. I was prayerfully reflecting on my own career – my own story. I have done many jobs – paid and voluntary. If a book were written about my life, I thought, each of them would be a chapter in my story. I have so often been deeply conscious of His presence at so many important points in my life. The start, and the closure, of each chapter has invariably involved a sense of His direction and leading. So, I found myself prayerfully asking God what was next for me. In an instant, in my mind, was the phrase ‘How much better will it be if you let me write the next chapter.’

“6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” Philippians 4:6-7 (NRSV)

“6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” Philippians 4:6-7 (NRSV)

A man with the power of God: Mark 1:29-31

Three verses. Four sentences. So much going on!

29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30Simon’s mother in law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her.

Here’s a reason to read and reflect on a few verses at a time. I have read these verses so many times, but there is so much here that I hadn’t noticed before.

First, Mark gives us such a simple, yet such a profound image. Jesus, leaving the synagogue and just walking up the street with a small group of friends. It’s an ordinary, authentic moment. Here is Jesus, Son of God, Lord of Creation – wandering up the street with a bunch of mates. In those few words, you are confronted by the absolute humanity of Jesus.

Next we learn about this household, living together in one or two rooms. Simon and his brother Andrew share the house. This is their family home. It is likely that they group up in this place with their fisherman father Jonah (i). Simon is married, and (as would have been entirely normal) shared his home with other family members including, not just his brother Andrew, but his wife’s mother. This is not life changing stuff, but it’s a glimpse into the life of these young fishermen.

Simon’s mother in law is sick. She has a fever. There is no health service. No paracetamol. No antibiotics. A fever is serious. The lady is very sick. It’s natural that when a visitor arrives at the house, that they would be told about the suffering of the woman at the heart of the household.

31So he went to he, took her by the hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

I recently suffered a bout of Covid. Several weeks after the infection I still have some lingering symptoms. The idea of leaping out of bed at the height of the infection and getting straight back to work sounds like some kind of medieval torture. Make it a sick woman, being turned out of bed to serve the men and it smacks of abuse or even slavery. But something very different is going on here.

Jesus, the man, moved by compassion for a sick woman in the household of a friend. Jesus,   taking her by the hand – offering the healing touch with the power of God.  In that instant, at His touch,  the fever is gone. This lady doesn’t just feel a bit better – she is healed. She is cured. No lingering symptoms here. In an instant, her health is fully restored. Absolute healing.

Right next to an image of the true humanity of Jesus, here is an image of the supernatural and generous healing power of the Son of God. The very healing power of God. Jehovah-Rapha (ii).

Her immediate return to work doesn’t reflect some kind of prematurely forcing back into service. It demonstrates her complete healing. It shows her readiness to step straight back into her cherished role of providing hospitality to her guests. Her desire to serve Jesus is a reflection of her gratitude for his grace.

Jesus, in his humanity. Jesus, with the power of healing. A woman, responding to the encountered with His grace.

Three verses. Four sentences. So much going on!

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(i) See Matthew 16:17,
(ii)Jehovah Rapha (more correctly Yahweh Rapha) is a name attributed to God in Jewish tradition, which means ‘The God who Heals’