Life of Prayer!

Life of Prayer!
Isaiah 40:21-31
Ps 147:1-11,20c
1 Corinthians 9:16-23 
Mark 1:29-39 
34And  Jesus cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. Mark 1:34
Healing Jesus, in your touch the sick were healed, and the chains unbound. Set us on a new path of wholeness, deliver us from all that binds us, and turn us to embrace your life giving love. For you are alive and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Mark 1:29-39 
Jesus Heals Many at Simon’s House
As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her at once. 31He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
A Preaching Tour in Galilee
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ 38He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’ 39And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Tena koutou katoa e te whanau o Te Wairua Tapu.
Well whanau, next Sunday 14 February, we could possibly be returning to karakia at Te Wairua Tapu. The new slate roof is complete, our church is now water tight after waiting 35 years and our team of amazing workers have cleaned Te Wairua Tapu from top to bottom. We will confirm on Tuesday 09 February.
In today’s gospel reading from Mark, you get to see that everyone loves it when Jesus shows up. His presence makes a difference. Things happen. The sick are cured. Demons are cast out. Lives are changed. This is true not only for the people of Capernaum in Jesus’ time but also for us here and now. He comes to our house as surely as he went to the house of Simon and Andrew. I know of many people who have been transformed because Jesus has shown up in their lives. 
But what happens, though, when we wake up to find ourselves in the darkness of life? You know as well as I do that there are times when life is just plain hard. We struggle to get up. We don’t get our way. Things happen that we never wanted to have happen in our lives. Faith is difficult and at times, it’s results don’t seem like it works. In those times it’s as if there is only darkness and Jesus is nowhere to be seen. Some will assume he has forsaken them. They will abandon their faith. They will give up on him and even the Church. So what do we do when Jesus takes off and we feel all alone? That’s the big dark question.
According to today’s gospel that time will come. Jesus will get up in the early morning hours, while it’s still very dark, and go to a deserted place. But this isn’t about Jesus escaping or getting away. It’s about prayer; his and ours. It’s no longer about what’s happening around us or to us but what’s happening within us. Regardless of how dark it may seem Jesus never leaves us. He may withdraw but that doesn’t mean he’s absent. His withdrawing is in reality an invitation for us to move to a new place, to the deserted place. He calls us out of the comfort of the house into the vulnerability of the wilderness. It’s a deserted and desolate place; a place where there is only prayer. There, we are alone with nothing so it would seem.
You see, we all have deserted places in our lives.  For some it’s accepting the limitations that age and disease bring. Others deal with broken relationships. Loneliness and grief are desert places for some. The struggle to make ends meet is a wilderness many are trying to escape. You could each name your own wildernesses, places of hardship and deserts. Most of us don’t like those deserted places. We tend to avoid them. They are empty places that can be scary and dangerous. There is nowhere to hide. We have to face up to who we are and who we are not. We are confronted by things done and left undone. Our sorrows and losses are laid bare in those dark places. There we begin to recognise that our successes, possessions, and accomplishments don’t ultimately count for much. In the wilderness we have to admit we are not in control. Time in the deserted place is a matter of life and death. However, it’s also the place where our deepest healing can happen.
But there is a cost for going to the wilderness. We must trade the security of the house for the risk of the desert. The wilderness prayer of self-surrender must begin to replace the house prayer that only asks for things to happen or change. Wilderness prayer doesn’t ask so much that circumstances will be changed but that we will be changed. Only being in the wilderness makes that change possible. Jesus goes to the dark and deserted places of our lives to draw us there. If he didn’t go first, if he didn’t invite us to that place, none of us would probably ever go there. Yet, the wilderness and desert places of our lives are Tapu and sacred places. In the desert there is only God, there is nothing but God. Jesus is drawing us deeper and deeper into the heart of God. That happens in the very place we thought was barren, empty and desolate.
The deserted places of our lives are the places of Jesus’ prayer. They are the starting point for his message of good news. Good news comes from the empty and desolate places. Jesus will leave this deserted place to go proclaim his message in the neighbouring towns. Before today’s gospel Jesus emerged from the wilderness saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near, repent, and believe the good news” (Mk. 1:15). Before him was “the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord’” (Mk.1:3). Before that the voice of God spoke creation into existence when “the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep” (Gen. 1:2). New life arises from the deserted and empty places. The good news of Christ comes from the wilderness. Like I said almost a year ago, we are in midst of real change, new life and new beginnings.
“Everyone is searching for you,” they told Jesus. Yet Simon and his companions were the only ones to find him. Maybe they were the only ones willing to go to the deserted place. I wonder where the others were searching. The safety of town? The security of their houses? Standing in line at the door? I wonder where we will search when the dark or nighttime of our life comes. Go to the deserted places of your life and it’s there you will find Jesus, praying. Amen
Archdeacon Kaio Karipa

The Venerable Kaio Karipa


The Sydney Maori Anglican Fellowship Church of Te Wairua Tapu

Photo: Feb 2021