URC Daily Devotion 2 March 2023

Thursday 2 March 2023

St Matthew 17: 14 – 20

When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, and said, ‘Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.’ Jesus answered, ‘You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.’ And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’  He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there”, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’


Summit fever is a real condition, and it can apply to any situation where enormous time and resources have been spent on achieving a goal that you grow mentally or physically ill.  An experienced sherpa for climbers to Mount Everest says: “Most people don’t die on the way up the mountain or even at the summit. They die on the way down.” This is because most climbers don’t know how to conserve energy; there is much more energy needed on the way down than the journey to the summit.
Perhaps this is what the disciples are experiencing.  I sometimes wonder if the disciples who had gone up with Jesus had time to tell the others what they had just seen.  About 30 years later Peter would reminisce about the transfiguration in his epistle; but right now, perhaps they were all still trying to process the experience.  I can attest to that: some pastoral situations that clergy and laypeople encounter can blow our minds and overwhelm us, no matter how much “religion” we have in us.
Perhaps the worried father of the epileptic child was expecting too much from the disciples, believing they could do what Jesus could do. We can all attest to that too, as the Church too often fails to live up to Jesus’ reputation.
It’s a powerful moment to process – the disciple’s trip back to reality. The whole story comes with a staggering life lesson. There are some who think that their spiritual experience warrants their authority. However, any religious experience that has no interest in reaching people and building community is, as Jesus articulates, not driven by faith.
Some use religious experience as an attempt to capture God, even hold God hostage. But God is always moving, so whatever we bottle up about God will always be surpassed by the new thing God is doing. True faith doesn’t merely believe but believes enough to act, to bear witness, to get angry at injustice and imagine justice.

God give us enough energy to use our experience with You in the world. May our encounters with you never blind and deafen us to the needs in the valley. Amen.




Today’s writer

The Rev’d  William Young, pastor Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ, Washington DC



New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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