Thursday's Thought for Sunday's Service 

January 25, 2018

Dear Friends,

This week’s Thursday’s Thought for Sunday’s Service is based upon Mark 1:21-28:

“They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.”                            (Mark 1:21–28, NIV)

Teachers who’ve left an impression upon me caught my attention and drew me in, and then presented the material in a persuasive way.  By the end of a class session, I would feel deeply satisfied, somehow made better for my presence there.  My mind had been stimulated, my horizons expanded, I had grown stronger and wiser than I was before the class began.  In retrospect, the permission I gave them was expressed by my willingness to listen.  I gave them permission because somehow, I perceived them as teachers who spoke with authority.

This passage speaks of authority described in a way that turns things up a notch or two from what might usually be expected.  Who is this one they call Jesus?  He seems to stick out in a crowd, drawing many… perhaps out of curiosity, perhaps out of need, but what seems clear is all were amazed.

Words to the hymn, Silence, Frenzied, Unclean Spirit (#264 United Methodist Hymnal) are written by: Thomas H. Troeger, 1984.  His poetry deepens our understanding of Christ’s authority…

Vs. 1.  “'Silence frenzied, unclean spirit!'  Cried God’s healing Holy One.  'Cease you’re ranting!  Flesh can’t bear it.  Flee as night before the sun.' At Christ’s words the demon trembled, from its victim madly rushed, while the crowd that was assembled stood in wonder, stunned and hushed."

Vs. 2.  "Lord, the demons still are thriving in the gray cells of the mind: tyrant voices, shrill and driving, twisted thoughts that grip and bind, doubts that stir the heart to panic, fears distorting reasons sight, guilt that makes our loving frantic, dreams that cloud the soul with fright."

Vs. 3  "Silence, Lord, the unclean spirit in our mind and in our heart; speak your word that when we hear it, all our demons shall depart.  Clear our thought and calm our feeling; still the fractured, warring soul.  By the power of your healing make us faithful, true, and whole."

Jesus is impressive.  His word spreads quickly, effectively.  His essence described within the gospel of Mark is one of action.  It advances hope and quickens a connection to what we seek as best within.  It’s like the feeling we get when looking forward to spending time with a cherished friend – one who we love to listen to, and one who will listen to us… an elegant, efficient emblem of a rewarding, real-life relationship with Jesus.


Rev. Richard Wagner