Walker Chapel UMC

Sanctuary Open for Prayer: Sunday, 9:00 am
Adult Study: Sunday, 9:30 am
Worship: Sunday, 10:30 am
Children's Sunday School: Sunday, 10:45 am



February 2018

Suggested reading: Mark 1:21-28

As this story of Jesus’ healing a man with an “unclean spirit” helps illustrate, it’s one thing to be given authority as, say, the scribes of Jesus’ day were given authority to copy and interpret the Hebrew Scriptures; it’s another thing entirely to live as one with authority as, say, did Jesus. When the scribes spoke, they spoke as persons who had been trained to interpret scripture, whereas when Jesus spoke, he spoke as one for whom the scriptures had been written. In fact, you may recall how when it was Jesus’ turn to serve as liturgist in the synagogue at Nazareth, he stood and read from the scroll of Isaiah where it says:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
     because he has anointed me
     to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
     and recovery of sight to the blind,
     to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

You may also remember how—upon rolling up the scroll and giving it back to the attendant—Jesus said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

More importantly, it was what Jesus did, not just what he said, that set him apart from the scribes, for he also quickly became known as one who could cast out demons and heal the sick.

Now it could be argued that Jesus’ authority was utterly unique. He was, after all, as we Christians attest, the God-man, God-in-the-flesh, the Word of God incarnate. There had been no one like him before; nor was there ever likely to be anyone like him again. Yet there is ample evidence in the scriptures to suggest that some similar authority is intended for all who believe in God and who are Jesus’ disciples, including even you and me.  The gospel writer John, for instance, wrote: “But to all who received him [Jesus], who believed in his name, he [Jesus] gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” And in his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote: “When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ It is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.”

So not only is it possible for Jesus to exorcise our demons and heal our infirmities, the scriptures also makes clear that God wants you and me to have this authority as well.

But I can hear you saying, “Well, that was then and this is now.” Who among us, besides physicians, nurses, and psychiatrists, has the power to do such things? Here is where we should not sell ourselves short.

In a letter I received just this past month, for instance, Elizabeth Bebber ,who is the Executive Director of Christ House in D.C., told me the story of a man named Vincent who had been sent to prison as a young adult. After he was released, he could not find stability. He neglected his health and did not receive the crucial mental health support he needed. As a result, he fell into addiction. All of this resulted in even more reckless behavior that could have led to his re-incarceration. But in a moment of what must surely have been divine intervention, Vincent was sent to Christ House to be healed of a serious infection.

When he arrived, Rev. Bebber said, Vincent needed and received the physical and emotional care he needed. Christ House staff started him on medicine that calmed him and improved his outlook on life. The medication team helped heal his infection. And over a period of several weeks, Vincent was able to come to the point in his life when he could voluntarily enroll in an addiction recovery program, so that after a great deal of time and effort, his case manager was able to secure for him an apartment, a small income to help him purchase essentials, and to connect him to a mental health provider for ongoing care and support.

Now I know our first reaction might be to say that all we at Walker Chapel did was to donate $1,040.52 last year for the support of Christ House’s ministry; we personally didn’t do anything. But I would counter that we did inasmuch as we helped provide the resources necessary so that Christ House staff could do their ministry. What’s more, Rev. Bebber’s letter was just one of numerous letters I have received over the past few weeks from agencies Walker Chapel supports telling similar stories. You helped make those stories possible.

So you and I have been given spiritual authority, and it’s important to claim that authority so that we might use it for the common good. Two coming events that will give us more opportunities to do this are February 6 and March 10. February 6, Walker Chapel will host the American Red Cross’ area blood drive from 12:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. March 10, we’ll host another Rise Against Hunger event from 10 a.m. until noon. I encourage you who can to participate so that we at Walker Chapel might continue to engage God’s work in the world.

Yours in Christ,