Lincoln, Darwin; the Good of Disobeying God
2012-02-09 by David von Schlichten

In our gospel, Mark 1:40-45, Jesus heals a man of leprosy and tells him to go to the priest. Instead, the man goes and tells others. He disobeys an order from God, and that disobedience seems to be a good thing.

So . . . is the passage saying that, sometimes, it's ok to disobey God? What do you think?

Lincoln and Darwin: These two geniuses share a birthday, February 12, 1809. This Sunday, February 12, it might be valuable homiletically to speak about these two men.

Let's see, Lincoln and Mark 1:40-45. Jesus liberates a man from leprosy, just as God used Lincoln to help liberate America from the slavery. Hmm.

What about Darwin? So many Christians have a negative knee-jerk reaction against Darwin, but there is no need to. God reveals truth about the world through people such as Darwin. Studying Darwin's  ideas can help us to appreciate the magnificence of God's creation. Evolution and Creationism need not be mutually exclusive.

How does Darwin relate to the Gospel?

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

2012-02-09 by David von Schlichten

Leprosies; 2 Kings 5:1-14, Mark 1
2012-02-07 by David von Schlichten

Both our reading from 2 Kings and our gospel from Mark 1 feature God curing lepers, so I find myself wondering, "How are we afflicted with leprosy today, and how does God heal us?"

Obviously, one can literally be a leper, but there is also metaphorical leprosy. If we think of leprosy as a negative condition that makes a person an outcast, what leprosies do we have? There are certain diseases, such as AIDS. There is mental illness. There are addictions. There is poverty. 

What other leprosies are there?

How does God heal us, make us clean? There are support groups. There is medication. Of course there are also the miraculous healings.

Can Sunday worship be a cure for leprosies? On Sunday, we gather to be one. We may have afflictions that alienate us from others, but on Sunday, those afflictions often recede because of the power of the Spirit-guided, Word-infused communion of saints.

What thoughts do you have? Feel free to email me at or to submit a post for possible publication here.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator 

Sermon on Healing and Mark 1:29-39, February 5, 2012
2012-02-04 by David von Schlichten


Sermon on Mark 1:29-39

for St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church,

Youngstown, PA

with Sunday, February 5, 2012,

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany,

with the Reverend Dr. David von Schlichten

(word count: 694)




            Our cat Panda is sick. We had him at the vet from Monday until Thursday last week, and he still is not well. He is unable to urinate, and it is unclear why. Throughout the week, we prayed for Panda to get better, but he is not. He may have to be euthanized. We’re still praying.

            The Bible teaches that God is a healer. But why does God sometimes heal us and sometimes not? How does healing work? There is much to say on this subject, more than we have time for here. Let’s consider what our gospel, Mark 1:29-39, teaches about healing.

            In Mark, Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law, she has a fever. The disciples tell Jesus about her. He takes her hand and lifts her up. The fever leaves her. She gets up and serves them.

            One of the first points about this passage is that it does not mention faith. Did you notice that? The passage says nothing about the faith of Peter’s mother-in-law or about the disciples. The disciples’ telling Jesus about Peter’s mother-in-law suggests that they have faith that Jesus can do something for her, but the passage does not focus on their faith. In many other miracle stories, Jesus says something like, “Great is your faith,” or “Your faith has made you well,” but not here. In fact, the word “faith” does not even appear in the story. Her faith, then, does not appear to be important for her healing. What matters is Jesus’ power, not her faith.

            Often, we Christians think healing is about how much faith we have. We think having strong faith is necessary for healing, and, indeed, given other healing stories, it appears that faith is important to healing. However, this passage stresses that what matters in healing is God’s power, not our faith, and healing can happen even if faith is not strong. In fact, given that God has unlimited power, it is safe to say that, to heal us, God does not need us to show faith at all. Faith is important, but not essential, for God to heal us.

            A second important lesson from our gospel about healing is found in verse 34. Verse 34 says, “And he cured many who were sick . . . and cast out many demons.” This statement indicates that Jesus does heal many of us, but he does not heal all. Many, not all. The verse does not say why he does not heal all. It does not say, “Jesus did not heal the people who lacked faith.” No, we just know that not everyone was healed. Sometimes people are healed, sometimes not. Why Jesus does not heal everyone is a mystery, but the absence of healing is not a punishment and is certainly not necessarily indicative of a lack of faith. We do not know why some of us get better and others do not.

            What we do know is that, even when Christ does not heal the body, he frequently heals us in other ways. For example, when my mother collapsed on December 20, 2010, my family and I prayed for her to wake up and recover. That didn’t happen. We don’t know why. We had plenty of faith, but, in response to our prayers for physical healing, God said, “No.” However, God blessed us with other healing moments. Over the next few weeks, many of you gave us cards and expressed sympathy. A couple people sent fruit baskets. At the viewing, people expressed their sympathy. God did not send healing by healing Mom physically, but God did send healing by sending people to care for us as we grieved. God uses us to help heal each other.

            Indeed, in numerous, luminous ways God heals us. God heals us by comforting and guiding us through the Bible. God heals us during worship. God heals us by forgiving us our sins. Most important, God heals us by giving us eternal life through Christ for free.

            In about twenty minutes, God will offer you healing through the body and blood. “The body of Christ, given to heal you. The blood of Christ, shed to heal you.”


Homiletical Thoughts for February 5, 2012, Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Year B
2012-01-30 by David von Schlichten

Isaiah 40:21-31: This passage proclaims God's greatness. It does a poetic job of reminding us that God is amazing--inexhaustible, supreme, matchless. One could devote a whole sermon to underlining for people how incredible God is.

Just think: the God of the galaxy on the other side of the universe is the same God who cares for your cat.

Psalm 147: God heals, cares for the brokenhearted. How does God help the brokenhearted? For instance, how does God use the Bible, prayer, sermons, holy communion, forgiveness of sins, and the communiuon of saints to heal the brokenhearted?

1 Corinthians 9:16-23: What's the difference between boasting and sharing with others something you do well? Motive seems to be key to answering that question. Our boasting should ultimately glorify God, including by helping others.

The passage also calls for us to be slaves to all, accommodating ourselves to different audiences for the sake of sharing the Gospel. How do we adjust ourselves to our different audiences without selling out? Perhaps the answer lies in fidelity to the Gospel. We can adjust ourselves to others, provided that we remain faithful to the Gospel.

Mark 1:29-39: How does Jesus use us to lift people up and heal people of the fever? How do we comfort people who pray for healing but do not receive it?

What thoughts do you have? Feel free to email me at or to submit a post for possible publication here.

Thinking of groundhogs and of the Steelers being in next year's Superbowl, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

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