Eat a Pita! Reflections 1-31-18

 For Sunday February 4, 2018
 5th Sunday after Epiphany

 Isaiah 40:21-31
 Psalm 147:1-11
 1 Corinthians 9:16-23
 Mark 1:29-39

As soon as [Jesus and the disciples] left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told [Jesus] about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

I am a child of the 70’s. Swirling around my growing up years were all kinds of social movements and political protests like “the second wave of the feminist movement” (the 1st wave resulted in voting rights for women in the 1920's).  This second wave in the 60’s and 70’s first focused on anti-discrimination laws focused on workplace inequality then morphed into “personal is political”.  That phrase encompassed relationships, sexuality, birth control and abortion, clothing and body image, and roles in marriage, housework and childcare. Somewhere in there were radical folks accused of burning bras (fake news). I was a little too young to have experienced the surge of workplace rights and a little to old for Title IX to support my education or athletic aspirations. But, women’s rights were a part of my values formed long ago.

Plus, we are experiencing another wave of feminism (4th or 5th?). The Women’s March last year, the metoo hashtag of the fall, and the recent TimesUp demand has brought a lot of these issues back to the spotlight. Political involvement by women is blooming. People are being held accountable for sexual harassment/assault. Women’s rights are front and center. 

That whole mini-bio and social commentary is to explain why my first reaction to this coming Sunday’s Gospel is “Really? She’s healed from some dreadful illness and has to jump up to serve the guys?? Why not suggest she take it easy, have a cup of tea, and assure her ‘we’re fine w/out supper’”. 
Munch on pita for the love of Pete….

Really, that is my defense for being initially suspicious and cynical as I viewed this seemingly repressive patriarchal scene.  I need to take a deep breath.

Another piece of my life comes into play: I’m a deacon. My call is to serve, care, comfort all people and do all I can to support the followers of Christ as they follow Christ. 

The reason that fact plays into this is because the Greek word that is used for serve in this text is the same word as deacon. It is used earlier in that chapter to show how angels came to Jesus in the wilderness to care for him. It is the same Greek word that is used when Jesus tells his disciples that they are servants of all …  and most significantly, says that he himself did not come to be served, but to serve. 

Patriarchy aside, Simon Peter’s mother-in-law is healed, raised up (yes, as in the resurrection) and demonstrates how a follower  reacts to Jesus' life-transforming presence. This is not a woman who is just following cultural expectations. She is not just showing her thanks for the pick-me-up. Instead, she reveals the response of someone who heard “follow me” and does.

Mark portrays the disciples in his Gospel as ones who just don’t get it. They need all of the good examples they can get. And look how early in the story they were shown what that means by this woman servant/deacon!

So, having been humbled by my overreaction to the setting, I have moved to being inspired by this nameless woman’s discipleship. May I go and do likewise! 

Have you ever thought that you understood something only to discover your view was skewed? 

Can you look back on it to see God at work?

What do you think about your own call to be a servant?

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245