"Immediately" by Pastor A.J. Houseman
The last congregation I worked at in Iowa had a preschool in it and one of the selling points was the emergency response time. When they would do drills and set up emergency procedures with the local police and fire department , they consistently had an emergency response time of right around 2 minutes. Imagine that. If a child got hurt, or we had a fire, they could be there immediately.
That’s what we all want right? When we or a loved one are in need of emergency services, we want them to be there immediately. Unfortunately this isn’t true for everyone. Folks that live in rural places often see much longer response times.
And even more unacceptable, right here in Baltimore city, depending on where you live you will not get emergency response immediately.
I personally was involved in a situation a few years ago where 911 was called for a child being actively beaten (hurt) by a parent. But because they lived in west Baltimore, it took over an hour for emergency services to respond.
No call me a crazy unhinged liberal, but I believe that every human being should be entitled to equal immediate emergency medical treatment regardless of their race, nationality, gender, age or neighborhood. Immediately.
In the New Testament the Greek word, Eutheos, Immediately, is used 59 times, and of those 59 times, 41 of them are in the Gospel of Mark. In our Gospel text for this morning, we hear Eutheos twice, translated here as “as soon as” and “at once”.
Immediately, Jesus went to heal her. Immediately, he called the disciples. Immediately, Jesus spoke. Immediately.
The Gospel of Mark would like us to recognize that Jesus is doing ministry as though it's a state of emergency. He responds as though it is an immediate need to heal. It is an immediate need to teach and preach. It is an immediate need to share the love of God. Immediately.
Jesus immediately and urgently goes out into the world to bring the good news of God’s gracious love. Within a 2 minute emergency response time.
And friends we are living in a state of emergency. One where folks in places like west Baltimore are still fearful that they will get the response equitable to others if they need medical attention for this virus. Asking questions about their access to the new vaccine. And do their lives matter to those who are making policies.
They do, and we all do, need the Eutheos as Jesus showed us how. Eutheos of equitable healthcare access. Eutheos of safety. Eutheos.
Jesus works to manifest the kingdom with Eutheos.
Sometimes I think that for the writer of Mark, the things that Jesus did were equally important to how Jesus did them, immediately. Jesus never hesitates. Jesus always acts immediately.
For those of you that haven’t heard me talk about the kingdom much. Or Kin-dom, as you may hear, rejecting the monarch language… but that’s a whole different topic we can dive into another day.
There are two theories on the kingdom of God. The first thought is that in the Bible when Jesus and others talk about the kingdom of God, its heaven, the life after this one. And others take Jesus’ verb tenses and Jesus’ incessant nagging about this kingdom come that it refers to something a bit closer.
The closer thing is this kingdom manifesting here on Earth. That that is the point. That we are to strive to bring into being this kingdom of God.
See the authors of the new testament books, both the gospels and the other letters lived either during Jesus’ life and after and they expected the return of Jesus to be soon.
Like in their lifetimes. Thats also important to know when reading the New testament and their talk about the kingdom come. They believe they are striving to make these things happen like ASAP for the return of Christ in like 10 years or so.
And my personal theology is that it's both. Particularly, I come from a Lutheran lens. And Lutherans are very clear, we are not doing any of these things to earn our way into heaven. Jesus has bought that for us through his death and resurrection on the cross. No. The kingdom to come is already ours. Take a deep breath, release that tension. Ok, now, Martin Luther would say, is where the work begins.
To manifest the kingdom to come on Earth. The kingdom Jesus speaks about in the Beatitudes of Luke. Blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of God.
But think about it… to all of God’s beloved children: does God want us to suffer? ...That is actually an incredibly profound question each of us needs to wrestle with. But if you come down on the side of “of course not!” like I do, then wouldn’t it make the most sense for God to want this relief of suffering manifested before our deaths?
So if Jesus is teaching us through all of his parables, and healings, and casting out demons to love others and relieve suffering in this life…. That seems like a pretty good indication to me of what manifesting the kingdom of God on Earth should look like.
Ok, now that I’ve given you all a well reasoned, what kind of sounded like a legal argument, let's get back to the point.
Jesus shows us and teaches us to love all and relieve suffering….. Immediately.
Imagine what the world would look like if we got the help we needed when we needed it immediately. But if someone was hurt or in danger they got help immediately. but if emergency services in social services all over the World acted with eutheos. That is a little more like Jesus.
When we talk about the kingdom of God manifesting on earth we always talk about the things to do but never how it’s done.
Because the thing is… for people in this kind of desperate need. People in fear for their lives every time they encounter the police… for people without access to equitable emergency response… for people separated from their children at a border wall …. For people terrified in their homes of the pandemic… for people living without access to fresh water or food… blessed are they, for theirs is the kingdom of God….
They need the kingdom to come immediately. Eutheos. Amen.