Saturday, February 7, 2015

Takin' Care of Business (RCL Epiphany 5B, 8 February 2015)

RCL Epiphany 5B
8 February 2015

Saint Faith’s Anglican Church
Vancouver BC

Focus texts:  1 Corinthians 9.16-23; Mark 1.29-39

         As I was growing up as a teenager and young adult in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, my knowledge of Canada was limited.  I knew where Canada was, the benefit of years of subscriptions to National Geographic.  I also knew a few Canadians who, like my father, were military personnel stations to NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defence Command.  I even remember the thrill of getting some Canadian money at the store in my change, a thrill because, in those days, the Canadian dollar was worth more than the US dollar.

         But as far as popular culture goes, Canada was a vast unknown to me.  These days I know the many cultural gifts Canada has shared with the world.  But in the 1960’s and the 1970’s Canada, to me, had little to no impact on my cultural life.

         With one exception:  Randy Bachman.  Whether as a member of the Guess Who or Bachman Turner Overdrive, I had a vague awareness of his Canadian roots.  One of his songs was a great hit among my university classmates in 1973:  ‘Takin’ Care of Business’.  For me it was an anthem about going against the grain of contemporary expectations of graduating from university and taking a 9 to 5 job.  Some of you may remember it.

         Here’swhat it sounds like for those of you who may not remember it.  The first verse gives away the spirit of a musician looking at the 9 to 5 day:

You get up every morning
From your ‘larm clock’s warning
Take the 8:15 into the city
There’s a whistle up above
and people pushin’, people shovin’
And the girls who try to look pretty
And if your train’s on time
You can get to work by nine
And start your slaving job to get your pay
If you ever get annoyed
Look at me I’m self-employed
I love to work at nothing all day
And I’ll be

Taking care of business (chorus continues)

         The truth is that this morning’s reading from 1 Corinthians and our gospel reading are really about ‘takin’ care of business’.

         In Mark’s gospel Jesus comes on the heels of John’s prophetic mission and begins his own work by preaching, teaching and healing.  These are all signs that give substance to Jesus’ message that “(the) time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” (Mark 1.15)

         The most dramatic signs Jesus performs are his acts of healing.  For those who lived in Jesus’ time disease and disability, regardless of their perceived causes, were evils that stalked every human being, but especially the poor.  Disease and disability robbed people of the ability to work, children of their parents and aged or widowed parents of the support of adult children.
         By healing Peter’s mother-in-law Jesus does something more than an act of compassion.  Jesus restores balance to Peter’s home and family and gives them a future that her illness threatened.

         And how does Peter’s mother-in-law respond?  She rises up and takes care of business.  There is more than gratitude here.  She rises and tends to Jesus, just as Abraham rose to tend the three angels who brought him the news that Sarah would conceive Isaac.  God has come near to her home in this rabbi from Nazareth and God must be welcomed and served.

         Our old friend, Paul of Tarsus, reminds the cantankerous Corinthians that there is business to be taken care of.  This is the same business that Jesus has begun:  the proclamation that the time has come and the kingdom of God has come near, a time to look at the world with new eyes and believe in the good news of God in Jesus.

         But this will take more work than some of the high-minded Corinthians are willing to do.  To share the good news means being open to people who are different, whether socially, ethnically, culturally.  It means learning how to share the good news in new ways, ways that may seem alien to many in the Corinthian Christian community.  It won’t be easy, but there’s business that needs to be taken care of.  And God, through Paul, has tapped the Corinthians on the shoulder and bid them take up the task.

         “Taking Care of Business’ is an apt description of what you and I are called to do in the here and now of our lives as Christians in the twenty-first century.

These are the ‘end’ times, not the apocalyptic times favoured by religious extremists, but times in which God’s purposes for creation, God’s ‘ends’ for which we were created, are straining to be achieved.

In our time, just as in the time of Jesus and the time of Paul, the kingdom of God has come near.  God is not nor has God ever been far away from us.  The fullness of life God offers us in Christ is meant for the here and now.

This fullness of life comes when we say ‘yes’ to God’s invitation to look at the world differently, to repent as Mark writes.  Every day we are invited to look at our lives, our relationships and our hopes through the lens of the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth.  This lens is not a lens of condemnation and of narrow orthodoxy; it is a lens that expands our world and enlarges our compassion.

When we look at the world in this way, the good news of God in Jesus becomes an object of our love.  To believe has its roots in the German word, belieben, which means ‘to hold something or someone as beloved’.  The good news is not abstract theology; it is the proclamation that we are beloved, every human is beloved, all of creation is beloved by the One who brought all things into being.  To know this, to love this, cannot help but transform us and others who hear this message.

         So, let us take care of business.  Let’s find ways to share with others the good news we have heard in Jesus.  Let’s invite others to share in the life we have found in this community of faith.  Let’s rock this neighbourhood with the sounds of people finding help, hope and home.  That’s a song well worth singing.  Amen.


No comments: