Tag Archives: Mark 8

The Way of the Cross

Biblical Text: Mark 8:27-38
Full Sermon Draft

The first natural reaction to suffering is simple avoidance. Run away from it and anyone associated with it. But life is too tough for such a simple strategy to work forever. And too many people suffer for the spoils of society to go to cowards. The second reaction is more nuanced, more full of wisdom, but I’m not sure it is greatly different. We turn our reactions to suffering into a merit game. The merit going to the one who handles and by their handling avoids feeling the suffering. This is partly what is going on in virtue signalling and victim culture. This also goes on in religion and philosophies as diagnosis of problems turns to recommended paths. The sermon highlights two examples.

This is not the way of the cross. Christ did not seek to avoid sufferings, but he embraced it. He did not come to tell us a path, but to give us the way to walk. Not around Calvary, but with it. This sermon attempts to speak without being trite or overly simplistic about that way of the cross.

Cross Marks

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Biblical Text: Mark 8:27-38
Full Sermon Draft

Luther put the cross as one of his seven marks of the church. Jesus made exactly that lesson out of Peter’s confession. What is the first place you go to if you want to understand the Christ? The cross. Anything else is Satan, or the things of man. This deeply Lenten sermon reflects on that centrality of the cross, and what it means for our lives that God is most clearly seen in suffering, shame and death.

The music on the recording is the Lenten hymn O Lord Throughout These Forty Days sung by our Children’s Choir. (Note here that that congregation sang this same hymn last week. Kids quite young, my Ethan is 5, can participate in worship quite well.)

Happy Thanksgiving

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Here is the message from last night’s service – Collecting the Broken Pieces.

Text: Mark 8:1-9
Introduction

As I looked at the forecast on Monday, one of our staple prayers – “for seasonable weather” – came to mind. And it struck me being a very Christian prayer. It is not for Florida weather in New York, or for Fall weather to continue through Winter. It is for God’s good creation to continue to be good. Lord, for seasonable weather…for things to be as you made them to be.

Trouble in the World

Living in a fallen World – if we aren’t in denial about that fact, if we are at all sensitive to those daily and hourly cracks in creation where it is not as God made it – can sometimes pull us into a spiritual ditch. We can look at the accumulation of cracks in creation and say what a mess. How can God let this continue?
Trouble in the Text

And I think that is part of what the disciples are experiencing in the text we chose. In Mark, there are two mass feeding stories. Jesus has already fed the 5000, not too long ago. Our reading is the second, the feeding of the 4000. The audience is different. The 5000 was a Jewish context. This one is gentile with probably some Samaritans layered in.

To good Jewish boys, like the disciples, they had to be wondering – what is our messiah doing out here. Out here is the problem. Out here is nothing. “How can one feed these people, with bread, here in this desolate place?”
Looking at the cracked world can make one imaging our God is a God of scarcity. It can make us forget the abundance of good that this world, even cracked, still maintains.

Gospel in the Text

But Jesus sets them straight in two ways. First, he gives thanks. Seven loaves…he took them and gave thanks…a few small fish…he blessed them. There is a spiritual resonance…he took, and broke and gave it to them…the very word for thanks is eucharist…but he also fed from what was present.

As Luther wrote, “He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink…and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.”

The creation, even cracked, continues with the Father’s goodness and providence…which we rightly give thanks for.
The second way that Jesus sets them straight is in the abundance. The providence and goodness of the Father are not available in small doses parceled out to specific people. The providence and goodness of God the Father is placed freely before all peoples. “He gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they set them before the crowd…and they ate and were satisfied.”

Again spiritual overtones…God is super abundant in his means of grace. But also something very real. The church comes from all tribes and peoples and languages. The disciples daily set Christ before the nations.
The church daily picks up the pieces of this cracked world. And marvels at the abundance of grace in such broken pieces.

Conclusion

Thanksgiving invites us to see the fundamental goodness of God’s providence that cracks can’t fully obscure, and marvel at how his grace redeems the broken pieces. For things as they are, we give thanks. Amen.