Birth Pangs – Sermon on Mark 13:1-8, 32-33

November 18, 2018

Last week, I mentioned that Jesus and his disciples have been walking near the Temple, and that Jesus has predicted its destruction. The thirteenth chapter of Mark’s gospel begins like this: “As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” (Mark 13:1-2)

This is the final chapter in the year of Mark – all that’s left is the passion story, which we heard at Lent. This is the final ‘regular’ Sunday in the church year – next week is Christ the King, and then Advent begins. It’s no coincidence that we are getting ready to look forward to Jesus’ birth, just as Jesus is telling us to get ready for his coming again. Advent is always a two-fold expectation of Christ’s arrival.

But right now, the disciples have joined Jesus across the valley from the Temple. Continue reading

Two Cents Worth – Sermon on Mark 12:38-44

November 11, 2018

Have you ever given your opinion about something, and then said, “That’s just my two cents worth”? It’s a way of letting the person you’re talking to know that this is just your own opinion, and the listener is free to disagree. When we add our “two cents worth” to a discussion, we let people know that, “yeah, this is what I think, but I could be wrong. I’m no expert. Take it for what it’s worth – not much, maybe.”

Do you remember “sound bites”? We don’t hear about them much anymore, maybe because sound bites have been replaced with tweets. Continue reading

Resurrection Hope – Sermon on John 11:32-44

All Saints Sunday 11/4/2018

Jesus has completed his journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. The triumphal entry into the city is already fading from memory. We’ve jumped from Mark’s gospel to John’s for this celebration of All Saints Sunday, so the timeline might seem a little crooked. But the trajectory of the story is the same: Jesus is getting closer to the Cross.

Since arriving in Jerusalem, Jesus has managed to make just about everyone angry. The shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” have given way to accusations of blasphemy, and threats of stoning. Jesus has gone back across the Jordan River to the place where John the Baptist was baptizing at the beginning of the story. While he is there, Mary and Martha send word to him that their brother Lazarus is sick. They ask him to come immediately, but he stays a couple more days. We can feel the tension building, even if Jesus seems not to be bothered. Continue reading

Walking with Jesus: Blind Faith – sermon on Mark 10:46-52

October 28, 2018

The story of Blind Bartimaeus acts as a bookend in Mark’s gospel. It closes out a long section that began back in chapter eight, when Jesus healed another blind man – only that time, Jesus had to spit twice before the man could see. This whole section has come to its climax here in chapter ten, where we’ve been walking with Jesus this month. The itinerary Jesus and his disciples have been following, as they travel from Galilee to Jerusalem, has been pretty … eventful. Continue reading

Walking with Jesus: Honor and Humility – sermon on Mark 10:35-45

October 21, 2018

I knew a guy once who worked really hard at appearing humble. In public, he was always putting himself down, always declining praise when he’d done something good. But in private, it was a different story. One time he told me of a particularly generous thing he’d done for someone we both knew. And then he said, “But of course, I don’t want anyone to know it was me. Jesus says to give alms in secret.” And I thought, “but you just told me.” Continue reading

Walking With Jesus: Wealth and Sacrifice – sermon on Mark 10:17-31

October 14, 2018

Have you ever held a garage sale? Somewhere in the process of getting all the items ready for the sale, did you ask yourself “How did I accumulate so much stuff?”

Our culture encourages consumerism – advertisers play on our emotions to convince us we really need something that, to be honest, we probably don’t need at all. Mary Hunt, who writes a newspaper column called “The Everyday Cheapskate,” has a saying that many of us could put on our bathroom mirrors to read as we brush our teeth every morning: Continue reading

Walking With Jesus: Broken and Blessed – sermon on Mark 10:2-16

October 7, 2018 (World Communion Sunday)

We begin a new series this week, which will take us through the tenth chapter of Mark’s gospel over the next four Sundays. So let’s set up the context: Chapter 9 gives us the transfiguration, then healing of the boy that the disciples couldn’t help. There are several themes that will be repeated in chapter ten. These appear like threads in a tightly woven tapestry, weaving together ideas that might seem at first glance to be disconnected from each other, but when woven together, they form a perfect image of the Kingdom of God. Continue reading