[The following is from the sermon I preached on March 12, 2017 at Saint Peter’s Church. It is based on Mark 1:29-39, and the audio can be found here.]
For the whole year of 2017 so far, and now in the season of Lent, we’ve basically been talking about following Jesus: how to be with him, do what he did, and, as a result, become like him. Moreover, we follow him in community with others, and this following and community happens in the presence and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
For the first Sunday in Lent, we heard about Jesus’s most basic requirement for following him, which was this: if anyone wants to be my disciple, he or she must deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow me. It’s a discipline of self-denial and self- renunciation. It’s requires a certain kind of self-imposed suffering, in other words — suffering on purpose, you could say, so that suffering on accident doesn’t overtake us. So that we can remain who we are in Christ, and live like him, even when life becomes overwhelming.
And the Christian way of doing this and preparing ourselves for this is through the regular practice of various spiritual disciplines. And not surprisingly, to learn what those disciplines are, again — we look to Jesus and ask how we can do what he did. So this morning we’re getting very specific and asking about one particular practice Jesus observed.
It tells us in Mark 1 that
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
In other words, Jesus had a regularly rhythm not only of prayer in his life — it does say he went to pray, of course, and we could talk about prayer — but prayer is something we do talk about fairly often.
It also tells us that Jesus had a regular rhythm of moving into silence and solitude. Two things we don’t tend to talk about as much.