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Sermon and Worship Resources
Fifth Sunday after Epiphany (B)


Prayer by St. Augustine

let my whole heart
be inflamed with love for you;
let nothing in me belong to me
and let me have no thought for myself;
let me burn
and be wholly consumed in you;
let me love you with my whole being
as one set on fire by you.




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Sermon Excerpt:

Joy of Serving
a sermon based on Mark 1:29-39
by Rev Tom Hall

I love to eat out. So do most of you according to the latest statistics about American eating habits. Recently my family took me to a restaurant for my birthday. The custom at this restaurant is that the waiters and waitresses sashay out clapping and carrying a birthday cake. Personally, I’m not one to make a big deal about getting a few more wrinkles. But their noise alerted every dinner guest in the restaurant that someone was celebrating a birthday. So once they’d embarrassed us, they placed a sombrero on my honored head, snapped a picture and sang a beautifully off-key rendition of south of the border "Happy Birthday." As they wove their way back caterpillar-like to the kitchen, I vowed that I’d never turn a year older.

Being a waiter or waitress is no easy task these days. They work for less than minimum wages in the hope of making it up in gratutities. Tips. These modern servants try to make the diner feel comfortable, take their order, serve their meals, and act civil throughout. The payoff, of course, comes at the end when the customer leaves a tip for them. If the dining customer is pleased the tip may be sizeable. But if the tip is meager-someone better improve their serving skills.

I have a special place for food-service servers. Worked my way through college working tables. On one occasion I was doing a grave-yard shift when a huge, drunk cowboy stumbled in for some coffee. One of his friends teased him, pointing to me and telling him, "That waiter over there just called you a big, drunk cowboy!" I knew I was in trouble when he hoisted me heavenward. I once took some karate, but I had never practiced on a big drunk cowboy before. Only with great encouragement and a lot of intervention did the guy lower me back down to planet earth. I discovered that night that being a server can sometimes be the most dangerous job in the world. So I entered the ministry. And that’s where we enter the gospel lesson this morning.

No inebriated cowboys here, but an incredible story about a waiter and a waitress. The young preacher is a celebrity. News about his sermon and healing of a deranged man fans the flame of rumor throughout the neighborhood. But the young preacher moves from the synagogue to a private home. Like most of the peasants of Palestine, this dwelling is an extended household. A young married couple share a small house with both their parents and lots of brothers and sisters. Now the preacher enters with the young man who with his wife has just moved in.

"Why’s everyone whispering?" the preacher asks. Peter nods to an entry way closed off by a thick blanket. "My wife’s mother is down bad with a fever. Never seen anyone so hot. Please take a look at her.

The young preacher picks the corner of the blanket that walls her off and enters. A small oil lamp flickers in the draft of a crack in the wall. Its light reveals an womyn lying motionless on the floor mat. He squats down near the womyn. Carefully, slowly, he moves his fingers across the length of her forehead. Beads of sweat, like large raindrops that splatter and form tiny rivulets, runs off her forehead into the streaked hair along her temples. The heat pulsates and throbs inside the old womyn’s head. Her face contorts as if someone had reached down inside her head and was squeezing and twisting her brain like a sponge. The young preacher’s forehead wrinkles and his eyes narrow, yet he speaks no words and she hears nothing.

 . . . . .

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