PASTOR BRAD'S PAGE
1st Sunday in Lent yr. B, February 21, 2021
New Covenant, Mark 1:9-15
“Urgent, So Urgent”
Father Michael Renninger tells the story, he says, “Once upon a time, Satan called a meeting of all the demon advisors. Satan told them, ‘Come back tomorrow with an idea for the best lie we can tell human beings.’ The next day, they return and Satan says, ‘So, what ideas have you come up with?’ A demon’s hand goes up and says, ‘I think we should tell humans there’s no such thing as, “Right.” Because, if there’s no such thing as “Right,” they won’t be inspired to do good.’ Another demon’s hand goes up and says, ‘I think we should tell humans there’s no such thing as “Wrong.” If no one thinks their wrong and everyone thinks their right, it’ll be chaos.’ ‘Great idea,’ Satan responded. But then, the little demon apprentice in the back said, ‘I think we should tell human there’s no such thing as, “Hurry.’” Satan paused and said, ‘That’s the best lie of all. If they believe there’s no hurry, then they’ll think that there’s plenty of time to change.’”
How often do we believe that? There’s plenty of time to change, plenty of time to do better, to be better? Plenty of time to stand-up for justice? Plenty of time to take better care of God’s creation? How often do we listen to that lie and say, “What’s the hurry?” I’ll be more generous, someday. I’ll volunteer more, someday. When we are convinced there’s no hurry, someday rarely comes, because there’s no hurry. We feel no need to do it, today and we fail to do today, what God calls us to do, today.
Our lesson in Mark this morning indicates that there is urgency. “Right away,” as Jesus came up out of the water, he saw heaven split open. “At once,” the Spirit forced Jesus into the wilderness. After John was arrested, Jesus announced, “Now is the time, here comes God’s kingdom.”
Mark and Jesus indicate that, “Now” is the time for him to fulfill the prophecies about him. He’s baptized. He’s tempted. He begins his ministry, “Right away.” There’s no delay. There’s urgency. Jesus doesn’t waste any time. He responds to God. He responds to the movement of the Spirit, immediately. Not tomorrow, not later, not someday, but right away, at once.
Likewise, now is the time to focus on fulfilling our own callings. Likewise, now is the time for us to respond to the movement of God’s Spirit. Not tomorrow, not later, not someday, but right away, at once.
We may be saying, “I know there’s injustice and inequality in the world, but the time isn’t right. We’ll get to it someday.” We may be saying, “I know the climate is changing, but the time isn’t right. We’ll get to it someday.” We may be saying, “I know I should be less jealous and less judgmental. I know I should be more generous and more forgiving. I’ll get to it someday. But the reality is, the more we say, “I’ll get to it someday,” the less likely it’ll be that someday will ever arrive.
The message from our passage this morning is that God is saying to us, “There’s work to be done, ‘Now.’” It’s urgent, so urgent that we respond, now! Right away! At once! Now is the time to stand up for justice and equality. Now is the time to protect God’s creation. Now is the time to welcome the stranger and protect the vulnerable. Now is the time to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and shelter the homeless.
Jesus experiences temptation in our lesson this morning. We also face temptation, the temptation of putting off until later the things that God wants us to do now. May we too respond with the same urgency as Jesus to the movement of God’s Spirit. “Now is the time, here comes God’s kingdom.” Amen.
Rev. Bradley A. Walmer,
a 2008 graduate of Lancaster Theological Seminary, where he received his Master of Divinity degree and was awarded the 2008 Rev. Delores Berry prize for preaching. He was ordained into Christian ministry by the Lebanon Association of the Penn Central Conference of the United Church of Christ on June 1, 2008. Prior to beginning his pastorate here at New Covenant on August 1, 2015, he served as the pastor of St. Paul’s Summer Hill UCC in Auburn, Pa (located southeast of Pottsville, PA).
Pastor Brad and his wife Michelle were born and raised in Lebanon County and now reside in the area with their dog, Barkley.