Category Archives: Mark

Kingdom Memory, Kingdom Walk

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Biblical Text: Mark 9:38-50
Full Sermon Draft

The Gospel of Mark, per the early church, is the memories/sermons/stories of Peter written down around the time of his death. And I tend to think at the close of sections, like today’s text, you can see just the way memory works. The big story about a point is told, but there are a bunch of smaller sayings and stories that rush into the mind afterward. Those other stories and sayings are important, you can’t imagine the full story without them, but they are footnotes or modifiers on the larger points. After being put in their place about status positions this text modifies just how disciples are to walk with each other. The main modification is an acceptance that the Kingdom is something larger that one tribe or expression of it. But that modifier deserves a second, a don’t let your brains fall out. While you can find joy in an expression of the Kingdom that isn’t yours, the church still has boundaries. Those boundaries involve sin and truth. The church is a community of truth and as such is calls out sin. It doesn’t just accept it as a different expression of church. And the teachers of the church have a scary role in that that could end in millstones and deep water.

The sermon attempts to have an artistic flair. Parts of a one man show, the remembrances of Peter. And those remembrances are brought forward in application to our situation. I’ve succeeded if you’ve heard the voice of the Apostle.

Music Note. I left in the recording our hymn of the day which is in my top 5 hymns. My guess is that you wouldn’t here this one in many churches and definitely not in the local mega-church. Mainly because it is a little slow do develop and has a strong poetic structure. The first three verses get darker before the last three speak of our reality in God. It fit with my understanding of these verses. Yes, we will all be salted with fire, but that is as the living sacrifices. We walk toward truth and peace which is with Jesus and heavenward all the way. Even in the midst of trial. I Walk in Danger All the Way, Lutheran Service Book 716.

Faith over Fear

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Biblical Text: Mark 9:14-29
Full Sermon Draft

Fear is just not a permanent facet of the Christian life. It is not that we don’t feel it. It is not that we are spared the type of experiences that bring it forward. But the big difference is our belief in the end. The Christian both believes in an author of history, a providential God, and he believes that this providential God loves us and does all things for our benefit. We may fear for a night, but the steadfast love of the Lord is forever. This sermon examines fear, the response of faith with overcomes fear, and how the Christian lives out of that faith instead of fear. As we started Sunday School today, special emphasis is given to that roll of teacher.

Be Opened – The Kingdom Inbreaking in Unexpected Ways

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Biblical Text: Mark 7:31-37
Full Sermon Draft

This sermon is based on a “level 2” reading of the Gospel of Mark. What I mean by level 2 is that to make the connections necessary you have to look at the locations, characters and actions of what is being told and assume that the writer picked this story specifically to carry meaning. The deaf and mute man was chosen because his disabilities and their healings are symbolic for what the Kingdom of God is doing on a larger level. The first part of the sermon hopefully establishes at least the plausibility of that level 2 reading. The second attempts to apply it to our situation.

Doctrinally this puts me in the realm of election and sanctification. The sermon is about the tension or specific actions that these doctrines call for.

God Passes By

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Biblical Text: Mark 6:45-56
Full Sermon Draft

(Recording note: Sorry I forgot to start the system, so I didn’t start recording until the gospel text. The OT and Epistle lesson of the day which I usually include are missing.)

The text might or might not be the familiar episode of Jesus walking on water. In the Gospel according to Mark the story is a little shorter and has a little different purpose than Matthew. Matthew has Peter getting out of the boat. Mark is about Jesus “passing by” and deciding to get into the boat. The two main points from both are: 1) this Jesus is God and 2) trust him, but with different context. The trust in Matthew is more a focus on Peter and hence our ability to trust Jesus in or out of the boat. When we get out, Jesus will put us back in, more like the lost sheep parables. In Mark we have Jesus deciding to get in the boat and those inside deciding how to react to God being with them.

What this sermon does is examine two common reaction to God passing by and the third that he text desires you to do – trust Jesus in calm and in storm. This is looked at in the context of how we pass through life. We have a tendency to sand of the edges and use euphemisms to avoid dealing with the really bad stuff. What Jesus does is not bid us to euphemize ourselves, but to “be not afraid”. The Christian calls a thing what it is. They life in trust that Jesus has this.

Beginnings and Endings – A Cruciform Existence

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Biblical Text: Mark 6:1-30
Full Sermon Draft

Under the biblical text I put the full text I was drawing from. The reading is only Mark 6:1-13, but I think that cuts off a significant element of interpretation. What we see in this text is Jesus marveling at his rejection by his hometown because of what they “know”. They don’t really know anything, but what they “know” gets in the way of actually seeing. What this represents is the start of the hard opposition and rejection of Jesus. His ministry which has been one of crowds and superficial acceptance up until this point makes a turn toward the cross. At the same time he sends out the twelve. This is the beginning of their ministry. So we have the beginning and the beginning of the end in the same story.

What that highlights for us is the nature of Kingdom growth. The Kingdom grows not because of any individual ministry, but it grows through multiplication, through death and resurrection. A seed falls to the ground and produces a hundred fold. Jesus’ successful ministry healed people one at a time. We he was nailed to a tree, he healed the entire world. God’s power is revealed most sure in weakness, in the midst of the trial. And that is what the stories the church tells, the lives of the saints reflect most clearly.

Recording note: The hymn left in is Fight the Good Fight (LSB 664). The lyrics and the music reflect that cruciform nature of discipleship in this world. Success is not about the outward appearance, but about Fighting the Good Fight, Keeping the Faith, because God’s definition of success is found in Christ.

Sweet, Pure and Costly

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Biblical Text: Mark 14:1-11, Mark 14:53-65, Mark 15:1-15, Mark 15:25-37
Full Sermon Draft

The appointed texts for Palm Sunday have morphed into The Sunday of the Passion. The introduction to the passion story in Mark is the story of the woman who breaks an alabaster jar and anoints Jesus with perfume worth a year’s wages. This sermon uses that as the main text with the two trials of Jesus as the supporting texts. Its focus is upon the human fascination with Justice and what these trials have to tell us about our justice. The woman’s beautiful act or good work marks Jesus response to our calls and his alternative. We can always do justice. What we have we can do. But calls for justice miss the instruction of the passion of Jesus. The better path is mercy – sweet, pure and costly.

Musical Note: The season of Lent to me has the best Hymnody (which I know could just be because of the inherent drama), and it really ends on Palm Sunday which has a huge stable of great songs. All Glory, Laud and Honor and Ride on, Ride on in Majesty are two of them. What I left in the recording here is a modern hymn that is climbing my personal favorites – No Tramp of Soldiers Marching Feet (LSB 444). Many of the Palm Sunday Hymns reflect the irony of the triumphal entry being followed by the passion, but this hymn makes that its central theme. In the service it makes the perfect transition hymn from the festivity of the Palm Procession to the Passion Readings.

Transcendent – Sign and Reality

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Biblical Text: Mark 9:2-9
Full Sermon Draft

One of the things I think is constant in our experience is a desire for the transcendent. I’ll use as a quick definition of the transcendent something that is larger that we are. Augustine recognized this in his phrase “we are restless until we find our rest in you”. The biblical text is the Transfiguration, a direct experience of the transcendent and the reaction of Peter. What the sermon attempts to do is first demonstrate that we aren’t any different. We long for transcendence and we cling desperately to its signs. It does this primarily by looking at pop music which in my head expresses openly our common longings. The second step is to point out what actually happens on the mountaintop. Jesus is left alone and the voice says listen to him. Instead of clinging to the fleeting signs of transcendence, we have the reality, Jesus Christ. And his words tells us where we can find him. We are restless until we find our rest in him.

The hymn of the day captured in the recording points at one of those places we see face to face: Lutheran Service Book 631 – Here, O My Lord, I See Thee Face to Face. All the words and some history of the hymn are here. Here is the LSB link which has an extra verse and is set to an interesting/different hymn tune compared to the most standard.

That is why I came…

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Texts: Mark 1:29-39, 1 Corinthians 9:16-27, Isaiah 40:21-31
Full Sermon Draft

The collection of texts assigned for today stuck me this week as wanting to talk about preaching. Jesus confronts himself with a question, what is the chief purpose of his ministry? And his answer set the paradigm of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not one that is advanced as the kingdoms of this world. Instead it is preached; it is proclaimed.

So, this sermon is a basic statement of the power and purpose of preaching. And the source of all preaching which is never the preacher, but the one who commands the message.

Celebrity Jesus

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Biblical Text: Mark 1:21-28
Full Sermon Draft

The text is Jesus’ exorcism of a unclean spirit in the midst of the synagogue. But the tension in the early part of the gospel of mark is between the reality of the messiah and the fame. Every time after Jesus expels a demon or does some work of power his fame spreads. This sermon playfully looks at this exorcism at a meeting of celebrity. It then juxtaposes our fame mentality against the reality that Jesus chose – the cross. That fame mentality seeps into our lives deeper than we think. And the freedom of the cross is more real and costly than we imagine.

Recording note: I have left in two hymns. The first is the introduction hymn which if you are asking what the real “Reformation Hymn” was I have to put up Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice (LSB 556). A Mighty Fortress is what we think of, but Dear Christians reads like Luther’s testament. Listen for all the demonic/Satan/spiritual evil language which seemed appropriate for a lesson with an exorcism. The Listen for Luther’s proclamation of the gospel. The second hymn is our children’s choir with an Epiphany Hymn Come Thou Bright and Morning Star. Within the sermon there is a play on words with Star (Celebrity), Morning Star (Lucifer) and Morning Star (Jesus). Come our real morning star.

Three Comparisons

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Biblical Text: Mark 1:14-20
Full Sermon Draft

The text is the emergence of Jesus after the arrest of John the Baptist and his calling of disciples. This sermon looks at three sets of comparisons encouraged in the text by their juxtaposition: Jesus and John the Baptist, Andrew/Peter and James/John, and Jesus and his disciples. Each comparison increases our knowledge of God and the path of discipleship. The sermon explores those especially the role of courage in the life of discipleship.

A note on the recording: I’ve included a couple of musical pieces. Our Choir sang an infectious newer hymn, LSB 833 Listen, God is Calling. It has a dramatic African Call/Response structure. I’ve been looking for about three years for a chance to get it into the service. It is just not something that a congregation can take on cold, but the choir sounded great. The second hymn is LSB 856 O Christ, Who Called the Twelve. It also is a newer hymn with some amazing depth paired with probably a familiar tune, Terra Beata formally, but I know it as This is Our Father’s World. (And I am still convinced that the theme song running throughout the Lord of the Rings movies is inspired by this hymn tune. At every moment of near despair, Frodo or Sam remember the shire and this theme plays in the background.) Both of these hymns are great additions to a Lutheran Congregation’s Hymnbook.