Sermons on Mark
If we check in only on Palm Sunday and Easter, we go straight from “Hosanna” to “Hallelujah” and miss so much of the critical journey in between. For that reason, our service will be slightly different today as we celebrate Palm/Passion Sunday. We’ll begin with a Palm Sunday text and conclude with the reading of the Passion or the crucifixion.
What is your “wilderness”? Today we spend time with Mark’s account of Jesus’ baptism and his subsequent 40 days of temptation in the wilderness. It is also the first Sunday of Lent, a season in the church marked by themes of light and shadow, confession and repentance, and frailty and humility.
Today is Transfiguration Sunday in the life of the church. It’s the last Sunday before the beginning of Lent and we travel with Jesus, Peter, James and John to a mountaintop. There they have an experience of witnessing Jesus being changed in an instant. It’s an experience that has the potential to change them, to shape them for the rest of their lives.
Today we spend some time exploring what’s come to be known as the Messianic Secret. We’ll see that Jesus consistently tells not only unclean spirits, but also people, including his disciples, not to tell anyone what they’ve seen or heard in their encounters with Jesus. Why on earth would Jesus do this? How did this play a part in the unfolding of Jesus’ identity? How did it help or hinder him in “keeping on” toward his mission?
Our focus on Jesus as “trusted authority” will guide us into a time of reflection about trusting Jesus as the one who stills the waters at certain times, bringing peace and calm, and who troubles the waters at other times.
In some ways our scripture passage for today is similar to last Sunday’s text. Last Sunday we heard about the call of the first disciples from the Gospel of John. Today we hear of the same events but from Mark’s perspective. The earliest disciples, two sets of brothers, Simon/Andrew and James/John, were hard at work in their trade of fishing. They seemed to drop everything and wordlessly follow after Jesus in response to Jesus’ invitation to, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”
Baptism is an invitation to new beginnings, an invitation to recommit to the light and love of Jesus. We have entered the season of Epiphany, a time to reflect who Jesus is, what Jesus means in our lives, and how we are going to live it out in our daily lives.
Our scripture passages during Advent remind us of important and meaningful preparations during this season…the preparation of our hearts and spirits, our individual lives and our world to receive God once again, incarnate – in the flesh – in the person of Jesus.
Advent is about anticipation. Our gospel reading from Mark encourages us to “keep awake,” to pay attention because God is about to do a remarkable thing.
Our scripture passage for today is the account of the widow’s mite. Jesus was with the disciples outside of the Temple as people were making their donations to the Temple treasury. Many rich people put in a large sum of money, possibly drawing the attention, head nods and approval of others. The widow, placing two small coins in the treasury, was noticed by no one but Jesus. Jesus pointed her out and said that her gift was greater than any other because she gave it out of her poverty rather than out of abundance.