Sermons on Mark

Matrix

Preached FCCW October 21, 2018

Mark 10:35-45

 

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In the gospel message I just read, we find Jesus and his disciples thinking and speaking in cross purposes, so that Jesus has to clarify some of the language they are using to get them all on the same page. He redefines for them words like greatness and glory, service and sacrifice. And the meaning of Baptism.

One of the first things they teach you in seminary is that, when it comes to understanding what the Bible has to say, do not assume that every written word you read means what you think that it does.  The Bible’s original language, after all, is not English. It has been translated from Hebrew and Greek. Not all words translate from one language to another very precisely.

My in-laws speak Creole, and occasionally they will have trouble explaining to me exactly what a Creole word or phrase means in English. There just aren’t perfect equivalents and something gets lost in translation.

Stumbling Blocks and Millstones

Preached FCCW October 14, 2018

Mark 9:38-50

 

 

In 2003, Aron Lee Ralston became famous for surviving an ordeal that can best be described as most people’s worst nightmare. While hiking by himself in southeastern Utah, Ralston literally became caught between a rock and a hard place when a dislodged boulder pinned his hand against the wall of a narrow canyon. Isolated and alone for six days, faced with the certainty of his own dying there, he realized that his only hope of freeing himself — and living — was to amputate his own right forearm with the dull pocketknife he carried.

After surviving his ordeal, Ralston landed appearances on Ellen, Leno and Letterman. He was interviewed by a number of network news reporters. And his story became the subject of a Hollywood movie titled “127 Hours.” In other words, Ralston’s claim to fame came by his literally giving his right arm to go on living.

Beyond the Steady Edge of Your Life

Preached FCCW, September 30, 2018

Mark 10:17-31

 

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard my wife Sue, instruct her yoga classes to find the “steady edge of their stretch,” when getting into a yoga pose. But, I do know that the “edge” she wants us to find, is the threshold of sensation each person encounters as we stretch the muscles, tendons and joints of our bodies to the edge of what they’ve been accustomed to. You might say that the steady edge is the moment of truth when your body tells you what is, and is not possible for it to accomplish.

The Greatest

Preached FCCW, September 23, 2018

Mark 9:30-37 and James

 

Many people have been recognized by the world for their greatness.

Occasionally, someone comes along and claims to be The Greatest at whatever it is that they do.

Muhammad Ali proclaimed himself to be The Greatest boxer.

Kanye West declared himself to be the Greatest rockstar on the planet.

John Lennon once commented that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.

Ironically, one person who never self-proclaimed himself to be The Greatest was the one person who actually qualified for the title.

Jesus.

Who Do You Say He Is?

Preached FCCW, September 16, 2018

Mark 8:27-38

 

Does anyone watch the game show, “Family Feud”? If you do, then you know that the questions put to the contestants are first asked of a studio audience. The object of the game is to try and guess what the audience responses were. Success in the game depends not on original thinking, but in thinking like the crowd.

After the contestants give their answers, Steve Harvey turns to the board and with a wave of his arm calls out, “SURVEY SAYS!” and the results of the audience poll are revealed, determining the success or failure of the contestant’s answer.

The gospel lesson for today reminds me of that game show.

Kryptonite

Preached FCCW July 8, 2018

Mark 6:1-13

 

Jesus came to his hometown of Nazareth.

And he could do no deed of power there, except he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.

 

Let that statement sink in for a moment.

 

Curing even a few sick people by laying hands on them would rate as pretty impressive for most people.

But Jesus wasn’t most people.

 

Up to this point in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus had already been building a resumé of miracles that included subduing a raging storm at sea,

healing sick people, paralytics and lepers,

casting out demons, and even raising the dead back to life.

Proclaiming Ourselves

Preached FCCW, June 3, 2018

2 Corinthians 4:5-12 and Mark 2:23-3:6

 

Whenever we gather at the table of Communion, as we do this morning, we pause to be reminded of a few things. You could say that this is when we “set the table” for the meal we are about to share together.

We begin with an acknowledgement of whose table it is. It is not ours. It is the table of our Lord. Next, we are reminded of why we are invited to this table. Not because we are fulfilled, but because we are empty and in need of being refilled with God’s grace. Thirdly, we hear again how we are to approach this meal. That this is not an occasion for expressing our opinions, but a time to seek God’s Presence and to pray that we might come away from this table with a renewed spirit of service to others in Christ’s name.

The Rest of the Story

Preached April 1, (Easter Sunday) 2018

Mark 16:1-8

In the British comedy film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are on a quest to locate a sacred relic, the Holy Grail, the cup that Jesus used at the Last Supper. Their mission brings them to an underground cave where they discover mysterious words in Aramaic carved into the cavern wall.

A monk is summoned to translate the writing in hopes that it holds a clue to the whereabouts of the Grail. Their hopes are raised as the monk translates the first words: “These are the last words of Joseph of Arimathea” because they know that Joseph of Arimthea’s tomb is the place where, according to the Gospels, Jesus was buried.

The Herald of Peace

Preached FCCW, Palm Sunday 201825

Mark 15:16-32

The title of this sermon comes from a very old Epic tale from Estonia.

It tells of an Estonian king who wanted to wage war on Finland.

Which might have just made everyone here of Finnish descent sit up a little straighter.

The King sent his four sons out to the corners of Estonia to gather an army for the invasion.

Zebra Stripes

Preached FCCW, February 18, 2018 (Lent 1B)

Mark 1:9-15

 

Jesus did many things that we, his followers and disciples will never do. Walking on water, bringing the dead back to life and turning water into wine are a few that spring quickly to mind.

But, I can just as easily name two things Jesus did that most, if not all people in this sanctuary today also have done. And, they are both found in the passage from Mark’s Gospel that I just read.

One is being baptized. The other is facing temptations.

Granted, our baptisms, if we can remember it at all, most certainly lacked the drama and spectacle of what Jesus experienced when he emerged from the waters of the Jordan River.

Listen Up

Preached FCCW February 11, 2018

Mark 9:2-9

 

Two men were having a conversation one day. One of them said, “My wife talks to herself a lot.” His friend answered, “Mine does, too. But she doesn’t know it. She thinks I’m listening.”

When you eavesdrop on conversations Jesus had with his disciples, you have to wonder if sometimes he must have felt like he was talking to himself. They just never seemed to be really listening to him, especially when he tried to tell them about things they would rather not hear.

More Than Words

Mark 1:21-28

Preached FCCW

January 28, 2018

 

The breaking news coming from the city of Capernaum was that the Jesus train was gathering steam and picking up passengers.

In the short space of just the first half of the opening chapter of his Gospel, Mark traces Jesus’ rise to recognition from an opening endorsement by John the Baptist at the Jordan River, to a grass roots movement of gathering disciples in Galilee, to his breakout preaching engagement in Capernaum.

Net Work

Preached FCCW, January 21, 2018

Text Mark 1:14-20

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near;repent, and believe in the good news.”

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen.

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

Luke 1:5-7 and Mark 1:1-8

Preached FCCW, December 3, 2017

Friday morning, while posting the daily UCC Devotional to the Church Facebook page, a post in my news feed from the Westminster Police Department caught my eye.

It wasn’t the usual warning about telephone scammers, an Amber Alert or even a traffic advisory.

This post announced that Santa Claus is coming to town.

That’s right! He’s coming here to Westminster!

The announcement listed the times and places where he would be, and detailed instructions to follow if you wanted to meet the jolly old elf in person.