Sermons 2005
"The One who is coming after me", Advent 2B, 4 December 2005, Mark 1:1-8

Home | "The One who is coming after me", Advent 2B, 4 December 2005, Mark 1:1-8 | "Stay awake. Be alert" Advent 1B, 27 November 2005, Mark13:24-37 | "Black Hat vs White Hat" Proper 26A, 30 October 2005, Matthew 23:1-12 | "Sheep and Goats -- again!" Proper 29A, 20 November 2005, Matthew 25:31-46 | "The Greatest Commandment" Proper 25A, 23 October 2005 Matthew 22: 34-46 | God and Caesar, Proper 24A, 16 October 2005, Matthew 22:15-22 | The Wedding Banquet, Proper 23A, 9 October 2005, Matthew 22:1-14 | The Landlord and the Tenants, Proper 22A , 2 October 2005, Matthew 21:33-43 | "Who will go?" Proper 21A, 25 September 2005, Matthew 21:28-32 | "The Last shall be first", Proper 20A, 18 September 2005, Matthew 20:1-16 | "Forgiveness, grace, and mercy", Proper 19A, 11 September 2005, Matthew 18:21-35 | "But who do YOU say that I am?" Proper 16A, 21 August 2005, Matthew 16:13-20 | "O God, how can we sing to you...." Katrina Relief, 4 September 2005 | "The kingdom of heaven is like...." Proper 12A, 24 July 2005, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-49a | "The wheat and the tares", Proper 11A, 17 July 2005, Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43 | "Ears to listen", Proper 10A, 10 July 2005, Matthew 15:1-9, 18-23 | "A cup of cold water", Proper 8A, 26 June 2005, Matthew 10:34-42 | "Heseth: lovingkindness, not sacrifice", Proper 5A , 5 June 2005, Matthew 9:9-13; Hosea 6:6 | Trinity: A Theological Exploration, 22 May 2005, Matthew 28:16-20 | The Baptism of Parker Benjamin Throckmorton, Pentecost Sunday, 15 May 2005 | "Receive the Holy Spirit" Pentecost , 15 May 2005, John 20: 19-23 | "Unity or schism?" Easter 7A, 8 May 2005, John 17:1-11 | "Abide in me", Easter 6A, 1 May 2005, John 15:1-8 | "The Way, the Truth, and the Life", Easter 5A , 24 April 2005, John 14:1-14 | "Saint Thomas the Doubter", Easter 2A, 3 April 2005, John 20:19-31 | "The Lord is Risen Indeed!", Easter A , 27 March 2005, Matthew 28:1-10; John 20:1-18 | "The Shadow of the Cross", Passion Sunday A, 20 March 2005, Matthew 26:36-27:66 | Raising of Lazarus", Lent 5A, 13 March 2005, Ezekiel 37:1-14; John 11:1-44 | "Who are the blind?" Lent 4A, 6 March 2005, John 9:1-38 | "Water and Living Water", Lent 3A, 27 February 2005, John 4:5-42 | Baptized and Born Again", Lent 2A, 20 February 2005, John 3:1-17 | Temptation and the Kingdom of God, Lent 1A, 13 February 2005, Matthew 4:1-11 | "'Tis good to be here, " Epiphany Last A, 6 February 2005, Matthew 17:1-9 | "Follow me!" Epiphany 3A, 23 January 2005, Matthew 4:12-23 | "Come and See!" Epiphany 2A, 16 January 2005, John 1:29-41 | The Baptism of our Lord -- and Ours, Epiphany 1A, 9 January 2005, Matthew 3:13-17 | Christmas 2A: The Tsunami, God, and our Neighbor", Matthew 2, 2 January 2005 | Next Sunday to be posted soon

Advent 2B 2005 Mark 1:1-8

On first reading, our Gospel passage for today from Saint Mark seems straightforward and simple enough. It begins with what is likely the title of the Gospel. Then follows a quote from the major prophet, Isaiah. And ends with a thumbnail sketch of John the Baptist.

Straightforward and simple until we begin to look more closely and begin to unpack what Saint Mark is telling us and how he is saying it.

Starting with the first verse: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” Mark plunges us into the deep waters of profound complexity. This opening of the gospel is really the key to what happens at the end of it, as we shall see as we move through this year of the Gospel of Mark. As we noted last Sunday, this opening verse, the title of the gospel, is foundational to Christian belief and theology. If only this tile alone were left to us out of all four of the gospels, it would be enough. Fortunately, we have all four of the canonical gospels – and many which are not canonical.

“The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” is a plunge into one of the two major questions Saint Mark is answering, one of the two major themes or foci throughout his Gospel: Who is this Jesus. Jesus himself turns the question on its end in this gospel: He asks, “Who do people say that I am.” And, of course, it is at the end of this Gospel that the disciples find out, when they are faced with the empty tomb of the first Easter morning. And Mark goes about telling this good news of salvation brought by Jesus Christ by narrating the story of Jesus.

Mark’s opening answer and starting proposition is that this Jesus is the Son of God. Above everything, Mark tells his community, you must understand this if you are to begin to understand anything about this world historical figure Jesus, this anointed one who is God walking the earth.

Anointed one, Messiah, Christ. Messiach in Hebrew, Christos in Greek. But much more than that, Jesus is the Son of God. Notice how Mark begins this sentence. The beginning…. There are echoes of Genesis. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…. And there are echoes of this in the Fourth Gospel in the passage from John traditionally read on Christmas morning: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

In a very real sense, Mark is writing from the view point of being in the middle of time – looking back to the beginning of human time when the universe was created, in terms of the Genesis story. And looking forward to the end of time, at the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Who is this Jesus – ‘tis a complex and profound subject indeed, and Saint Mark plunges right into it on both a human and cosmic scale.

And how does Mark go about telling the story? He immediately declares that it is the good news. The Good News. The Greek word is euangellion. It comes into English as evangelism and evangelist. Euangellion is derived from the Greek angellion, messenger, which comes into English as angel.

There is some evidence that corporate America has begun reading this first section of John’s gospel good news. In the US News & World Report dated 5 December 2005, an interesting article in the business section is headlined “Spreading the Word: Corporate evangelists recruit customers who love to create buzz about a product.” Some lifts from the article:

“When Google hired Vint “Father of the Internet” Cerf last September, it gave him the ecclesiastical sounding title of ‘Chief Internet Evangelist.’…Google is only one of many companies, mostly in the technology sector, designating certain employees as ‘evangelists.’…. Some companies, such as Sun Microsystems, have created the overarching position of ‘chief evangelist’ who focuses more on trumpeting core values and vision…. But the job of a corporate evangelist is about way more than preaching the wonders of a company to customers and clients.”

“Evangelism is about selling your dream so that other people believe in it as much as you do”, says Guy Kawasaki, former chief evangelist for Apple Computer and one of the key people for marketing the Macintosh in 1984. “Those people then, in turn, get even more people to believe. Just like Jesus was an evangelist who recruited twelve more evangelists.”

“So evangelism is a way of creating word of mouth advertising or marketing, turning your passionate, influential sales customers into a volunteer sales force…. companies like Southwest Airlines and Build-A-Bear Workshop have used evangelism to increase sales. Many CEOs see evangelism as a way of getting their corporate message through to an authenticity-craving public that seems ever more immune to traditional mass advertising….”

I guess it only took business 2,000 years to catch on to the language and terms of evangelism. And so much for separation of Church and State – I wonder if there will be any ACLU lawsuits brought against corporations over this!

Mark begins to relate this euangellion, the good news, first by his declaration in the opening of the Gospel and its echoes of the beginning of time in the Creation story. Then he turns to the salvation history of ancient Israel in the words of the prophet Isaiah:

"See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
`Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,'"

This section of Isaiah, known as Second Isaiah because it was written during the Babylonian Captivity, portrays God as a divine destiny shaping real presence in the midst of human history, sending Cyrus the Great to restore Israel to the Holy Land. It reflects the belief that all that exists in heaven and on earth belongs to the God who is at their center, and that everything finds its being and purpose in relation to God. It is a bold declaration of the abiding presence of God, moving and shaking the events of human history, a faith that this was so drawn from the depths of the constantly renewed covenants between God and his people.

So, too, for Mark, the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, into the world as a divine destiny shaping real presence in the midst of human history is moving and shaking earthly events.

John the Baptist had waited long for the appearance of this Jesus, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Son of God. As Mark and his community waited, we, too, wait, until his coming again.

Advent. Time to turn away from the lures and attractions of worldly things and toward the things of God. A time to renew our spiritual lives and refocus our efforts toward the work we have been given to do. For our task is live as if he were coming today.


Wicomico Parish Church, Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579