Year B Epiphany 5 Mark 1
Everyone Is Looking For You!
Mark 1:29-39

The great architect Frank Lloyd Wright was fond of an incident that may have seemed insignificant at the time, but had a profound influence on the rest of his life. The winter he was 9, he went walking across a snow-covered field with his reserved, no- nonsense uncle. As the two of them reached the far end of the field, his uncle stopped him. He pointed out his own tracks in the snow, straight and true as an arrow's flight, and then young Frank's tracks meandering all over the field. "Notice how your tracks wander aimlessly from the fence to the cattle to the woods and back again," his uncle said. "And see how my tracks aim directly to my goal. There is an important lesson in that."

Years later the world-famous architect liked to tell how the experience had contributed to his philosophy in life. "I determined right then," he'd say with a twinkle in his eye, "not to miss the things in life, that my uncle had missed."

Frank Lloyd Wright saw in those tracks what his uncle could not: It is easy to let the demands of life keep us from the joys of living.

We all recognize that any goal in life worth achieving demands a great deal of our energy. If you are a doctor you must spend vast hours alone and in residency studying the human body. The life of your patient demands it. If you are a teacher you must live in the library researching and preparing for your lecture. The mind of your student demands it. If you are a carpenter you must patiently measure the building before you drive the first nail. The integrity of the structure depends on it. If you are a mother you must sacrifice your life for another. Your children require it.

We could not live if we did not set goals and work to fulfill them. No sane person would argue otherwise. But here's what young Wright discovered at the tender age of 9, and what some don't learn until 59: The objective in life is not the goal but the journey on the way to the goal. The whole city had gathered around the door, pressing in to see Jesus. The demands on him were already piling up. He cured many, cast out demons, and taught constantly. And his disciples didn't help matters. When he left in the morning early to pray, they went searching for him. And when they found him they said, "What are you doing, everyone is searching for you?"

How do we enjoy the journey when everyone and everything is searching for you, wanting a piece of you, and demanding your time?

  1. Hard Work Is Required.
  2. Do Not Let Others Define Your Goal.
  3. Remember to Pray!

Jesus Is Contagious!
1 Corinthians 9:16-23

Here's a startling image for this wintry Sunday morning. You may have seen it already.

Picture a man in a tacky, grey, "rat suit" - ears, fur, tail, the whole deal. The rat-suited man is writhing on a public sidewalk, pretending he is gasping for breath. Next to this "rat-man" is a hand-lettered placard declaring, "Cyanide is in cigarette smoke - the same as it is in rat poison."

This image is currently a public service announcement on PBS stations.

But here's the real kicker. The "tag line" that underscores this yucky image is this: "Knowledge is contagious . . . Infect!"

February is not a pleasant time to talk positively about the benefits of "infections." I'll bet if you look to your right, then look to your left, one of you pew-mates has some kind of communicable wheezing thing: a cold, the flu, bronchitis, walking pneumonia, winter allergies . . . or maybe just the dreaded ennui of winter SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) syndrome.

Whatever is gnawing away at you this mid-winter morning I doubt if it is an "infection" you would like to share.

But "sharing" is a trait that is hugely human. We share good things. We share bad things. No matter how private and personal, singular and solitary we might like to think of ourselves, we all feel compelled to "share" some things.

If you liked the recent "24" installment, can you refrain from sharing your enthusiasm?

If you liked, or disliked the newest Starbucks drink, can you refrain from sharing your opinion?

Some sharing is unintentional, and not just colds and the flu. You share information about yourself whether you like it or not, or whether you want to or not.

*The grocery clerk who doesn't know your name, knows you buy extra soda and chips on Wednesday because extra kids are coming over.
*Local UPS delivery drivers know what kinds of packages you get, and from where.
*The kid at the video store knows the movie tastes of all regular customers.

The more "intentional" sharing we do is with those to whom we feel emotionally close. We share hopes and dreams with our spouse. We share history and historic battles with our brothers and sisters. We share love, guilt, and anger with our parents. We share everything about our spouses, our siblings, and our parents, with our friends (the "family" we get to choose).

But even with those with whom we feel closest, what "big things" do you share? What do you pass along? What are you an evangelist for?

The truth is we don't share nearly enough... presents Leonard Sweet