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Sermon Sunday February 4, 2024 Fifth Sunday after
Epiphany
Lessons: Isaiah 40:21-31
Psalm 147:1-11, 20c
1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Mark 1:29-39
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Spirit. Amen.
When my husband and I first got married, there was no way
that I was going to fall into the stereotypical of the
traditional woman. That is, I was not going to be serving my
husband his lunch or dinner plate, warming the tortillas, and
getting his beverage before I served myself my own plate of
food. He could darn well get his own food, his own stuff!
Yes sireee Bob! And I told him so too!
Still, as the years have gone by, I learned an awful lot from
the Mexican culture. I came to realize that the ability to hand
my husband his plate of food, tortillas, and beverage before I
had gotten my own food, was a sign of my love and respect
for him. It is a way that I can serve, by putting someone else
before me. It is not a sign of giving into the role of a
subservient woman in a male dominted culture. I think my

husband got the idea when I said to him that I was born a
Hudak and I am going to die a Hudak, so I would not be
changing my last name when we got married, thank you
very much! Miguel deeply appreciates the fact that I serve
him first and always asks me what about you Anita? He also
takes care of me, like when I was recently ill, shoveling
liquids and hot soup down my throat whether I wanted it or
not!
Our Gospel from Mark is a familiar one that has Peter’s
mother-in-law as one of the people in it. She has been ill
with a fever. Fevers in the time of Jesus were thought to be
more than a sign of a physical ailment. They were thought to
be a sign of a spiritual malady as well.
Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Jesus arrive at Peter and
Andrew’s home. Jesus then proceeds to cure Peter’s mother-
in-law of her illness. The unnamed mother-in-law
immediately jumps out of bed and start sto serve Jesus,
Peter, and crew. And that little part of the Gospel is what,
for years, used to get my dander up! Just like a cursory
image of me serving my husband his food first used to! I
mean, come on! The woman was just apparently on her

death bed, and now she is expected to take are of the needs
of a house full of Peter’s friends! Good heavens!
At least that is the way that I used to look at this Gospel
passage. I would get all huffy, ruffle my feathers, and deny
being able to gather even the slightest message of good news
from this lesson!
But wait! Upon doing some further research a number of
years ago, other points of view about this lesson began to
emerge from some very thoughtful commentators.
What if Peter’s mother-in-law was so overcome with
gratitude upon her restoration to health that the best way that
she could express that would be by serving Jesus and the
disciples who had come into her home? Maybe her jumping
out of bed and immediately serving the men was not a sign
of a woman responding to her place in a male dominated
society? Oh…I never thought of that! Get the chip off your
shoulder Rev. Katie!
Because how could we accuse Jesus of prolonging
inequality between men and women when he continuously
broke those boundaries? We have the example of Jesus
engaging in conversation with the Samaritan woman at the
well! This was an unheard of action in those days, that is, for

a male to engage an unknown woman in conversation. WE
also have Jesus intervening on behalf of an adulterous
woman, who by law, could have been stoned to death. Jesus
has as two of his closest friends two women in Mary and
Martha. There were women who also were Jesus’ disciples,
such as Mary Magdalene.
So, could it be that this reading could possibly have as some
of its messages the themes of gratitude and service? Jesus
was about service and giving thanks. The two greatest
commandments boil down to love God and love your
neighbor. An in that love be thankful to God for all that we
have because it is from God and not really ours, and in that
love serve on another.
After we have had a long illness, the possibility of doing
something, doing anything seems like pure privilege, pure
joy! And what better way to express that joy than to do
something of service to and for the person who has been
instrumental in restoring us to health? In many ways, this
passage makes me pause and wonder how often I have not
expressed my gratitude to God and others along the way.
How have I not shown my gratitude for all God has given to
me? How have I not shown gratitude for all of the people

that God has allowed to cross my path, whether those
interactions have been what I would call positive or
negative? What have I learned from these that has made me
the person that I am today? The opposite of these questions
are worth contemplating as well. How do I show God and
God’s creation gratitude through my service?
Last week we had our annual meeting and had a chance to
reflect on all the things we have done both as a faith
community and as individuals over the past year. We have
seen where the Spirit moves in us and through us. But these
questions move us to dig a little deeper. Does my service
reflect my gratitude? Does my service come from that deep
well of wanting to express that gratitude to God, my fellow
humans, creatures, and God’s creation? Does my service
come from that great desire to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?
Does my service come from my great expression of thanks
for Jesus’ love of us?
This Gospel passage brings to mind the words of a song that
we sang at my eighth-grade graduation. (And no, I am not
going to sing it!) I believe it was based on a quote from Dag
Hammarskjold who was the Secretary General of the United
Nations for what seems like forever and a long time ago.

The words go something like this:
“For all that has been thank you.
Yes, to whatever may be.”
Talk about gratitude when we don’t know what God may
have in store for us! Yet we know we have been given a gift,
a might gift. Like Peter’s mother-in-law we are so grateful
we wish to give our service. And that service can be in a
smile, a word of welcome, serving on a Board of Directors,
in the food pantry, preserving the habitat of the humming
birds, preserving the Big Bend dark skies, or serving our
significant other(s) a plate of food before ourselves. We look
beyond the superficial appearance of who and how we serve
to unearth our gratitude to God. May we always be thankful
in our service. Amen.