March 14, 2021
The Fourth Sunday of Lent
(Ephesians 2:4-10; John 6:4-15)
It's Sunday. The Sabbath. Day of rest. The Lord's Day.
Time for war.
Getting right in Jesus' face, he screeches, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?"
Hey buddy, it's the sabbath.
"Have you come to destroy us?"
Chill out, friend. This is our day of rest.
"I know who you are," he thunders, "the Holy One of God."
Okay. Time for war.
Jesus reprimands and rebukes the demon, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" And the unclean spirit, convulsing the man and crying with a loud voice, comes popping out like a fumbled football. Jesus exudes such authority that even demons obey instantly. Jesus possesses such poise that even evil forces know that he is the Holy One of God. Jesus is pumped up with such power that even unclean spirits know that his arrival on the field marks the end of the Super Bowl for them, the end of their season of domination over men and women.
Jesus, in another words, takes control of the chaos. There's no doubt about the chaos today. Covid-19 and politics have been causing chaos for more than a year.
There's chaos in the synagogue, too. A man of uncertain comportment staggers into the synagogue like a streaker running across midfield of a football game. Jesus takes control.
A conversion is a life-changing event, and whether you are talking about that conversion which first crafts you into a committed disciple of Jesus Christ, or the conversion which later calls you to reorder your priorities, you probably need to do two things. First, be quiet -- and listen to the authoritative voice of God. Second, "Come out of him" -- that is, break free, let go, get rid of something. Something's always got to give.
Be silent and come out of him.
So often in prayer we ask for what we want. Jesus is waiting for us to ask Him what He wants for us!
When we follow the command of Jesus to be silent, we spread our branches to the sun and soak up the light of God's love, forgiveness and peace. When we hear God's still, small voice, we are like silkworms spinning the silk of a sanctified life. When we listen for the guidance of the Lord -- really listen, instead of telling the Almighty all about what we are convinced we need to achieve -- we rediscover that our most precious treasure is the God-breathed soul that each of us has from the very beginning of life, a soul that we really should remember to take with us into all the splendid surprises of each day.
Such insight requires a certain amount of simplicity ... and silence.
But hey, don't quit after you've found quiet. Jesus goes on to say, "Come out of him!" -- meaning break free, let go, get rid of something. Something's got to give if you're going to get to where Jesus wants you to go. That is what Lent is about; breaking free and letting go of something you do not need or hinders you from getting closer to God.
Nothing puts us in an "Onward, Christian Soldiers" mode faster than a threat to the health of the church. Our blood starts rushing, our wrath starts rising, and our passion starts to push us into a rampage of righteousness. But as natural as this burst of aggression is, it doesn't seem to be terribly Christ-centered. After all, our Lord is the one who broke tradition by breaking bread with sinners, who loved the one lost sheep as much as the 99 in the fold, and who came to call "not the righteous but sinners" (Mark 2:17).
Jesus commands, "Come out of him!" -- meaning break free, let go, get rid of something. Break free of the natural desire to beat your enemies into submission. Better to submit yourself to God, and to let your good works show the world the awesome power of the Christian life.
Let go of your craving for worldly success, a hunger for food that can never truly satisfy. Better to feast on Scripture and the still, small voice of God, and to let yourself be filled by the satisfaction of a sanctified life.
Get rid of the competitive spirit that forces people to end up as either winners or losers, the victors or the vanquished. Better to welcome the Holy Spirit, who wants everyone to win by discovering and accepting the salvation of our gracious God.
Something's got to give if you're going to get to where Jesus wants you to go.
God Love You +++
++ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Chapel
San Diego, CA
As we remain closed due to the Covid-19 virus, we see some hope around the corner. I encourage you to give what you can to help us keep the church alive, especially until we can open again and worship our God as Jesus dictated at the last supper! And so, we remain beggars. God Bless you all!