Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Sermon Addendum: Mark 7

 This week's sermon was from Mark 8, as we looked at the feeding of the 4,000. You can go back to yesterday's post to watch or listen if you're interested. 

What I feel like I should catch up on here is Mark 7, which I skipped over entirely. Why? Well, I know that some preachers can be interesting while staying in the same book of the Bible for 3 years; others have multiple opportunities to preach, so they can keep one series on the same book for a long time and do other portions of Scripture at other times.

I can't. Truth be told, I get a bit bored my own self, because one of the aspects of sermon prep that I love is background study, and after awhile, you've studied the background and there's not much else to dig out. Unless, of course, you have the budget to load up on an entirely new pallet of resources. Who doesn't love more books?

Still, Mark 7 has some important points. At the end of the chapter, there are two key moments of Jesus teaching and healing among the Gentiles. He's in the region of Tyre and then in the region of the Decapolis, and it is from the Decapolis that the crowd for the Feeding of the 4,000 came.

The first is the oft-discussed encounter with the Syro-Phoenician woman, where we have to wrestle with Jesus appearing to be unnecessarily harsh with a person in need. After all, He initially turns down the request, then seems to call her a dog. At the very least, He accepts her self-designation as somewhat less than a child. Usually, we see this as a discussion of priority in Jesus' mission: He goes first to the people of Israel, she is a Gentile and therefore comes after the children of God. Yet we also see that Jesus readily performs this miracle (and in a parallel passage, commends her faith in a way that never does an Israelite!), so perhaps the bigger point is that neither she, nor any of the Greeks, are a dog. 

They are all children of God.

Then Jesus moves down to the region of the Decapolis (Ten Cities, all around the Sea of Galilee) where He encounters a deaf man who has difficulty speaking--usually considered a deaf-mute, but it just reads slightly odd for that to me. Jesus heals the man after taking him away from the crowd. Jesus sticks His fingers in the man's ears, spits (where, we don't know), and then touches the man's tongue.

And the man is healed. It has to be the oddest connection of actions described in connection with a miracle of Jesus that we see in the Gospels. Why does He do all of this when He can heal at a word? And at a distance?

We have no idea. There are some who think Jesus is hiding meaning in His actions, but it is very infrequent that Jesus does not explain the hidden meaning to someone--like His disciples. All in all, we do not know.

We do know that He can heal. He can make possible the restoration of those things which are lost, whether children or senses or even just our own self-worth: you're not a dog. You're a child of God. Your redemption will be costly, but He would not have you left unredeemed.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Sermon Recap for January 29 2024

 Here is the sermon from January 28 2024. It's weird, out of habit I still tend to start this post with "here are the sermons," when I haven't done two different sermons on Sundays since June of 2020. That was when we started back to in-person services after the COVID pause, and we kept Sunday night as not "in-person." We did a worship service earlier in the week that we then posted on Sunday nights, but it wasn't live anymore.

Then we relocated here to Crossett and they had ended Sunday night entirely during COVID, their pastor left, they didn't bring it back, and, to be fully clear, I wasn't really enthused about bringing it back since it was not happening. I wanted us to find other avenues for Bible study and fellowship and use that time as something other than a retread of Sunday morning. There was a time that churches really did use the Sunday evening for a different focus, but so much of that has been lost in the few decades that it's better to stop the habit and rebuild a new one than continue to hold a line that you can find no use in. It would be like continuing to go down the rail lines here in rural Arkansas that still have old telegraph poles by them and maintaining the wires: true, there's not great bandwidth for the Internet in many of those places, but maintaining the old telegraph wires just because we used to love telegrams and there's no good replacement does not make sense anymore.

Anyway, here's the sermon.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Sermon Addendum for January 21 2024

 This past Sunday, January 21, 2024, I preached on the Feeding of the 5,000 as it is recorded in Mark 6. I thought I'd take a moment here to highlight a couple of things that I didn't draw out on Sunday. After all, the more I draw out, the longer the sermon draws out...

First, we should note that the Feeding of the 5,000 (I don't think the style guide says that should be capitalized, but it's a singular event in history, so that's a good way to be clear) comes right on the heels of Jesus hearing about John the Baptist's death. Jesus had sent his disciples to preach, teach, and heal (Mark 6:7-13), and while they were gone, Herod got worked up. I don't think I made clear in the sermon as well as I should that, while Mark tells of John's execution here, it's clearly something that had taken place farther in the past.

The drive for the Feeding of the 5,000 is Jesus wanting to take the Apostles away from the chaos to rest up after their preaching mission. However, Mark clearly wants to draw a contrast with Jesus and Herod here, so he puts the remembrance of the execution here.

So, the people who have come out to see Jesus, hear Jesus teach, and who eventually eat the bread and the fish are uninvited interlopers in a private meeting. Yet there is no reproach from the Lord Jesus to them for showing up. Instead, they are greeted with compassion, teaching, and feeding. 

How do we manage the uninvited? There are several ways to unravel that knot, but just consider: often, churches have "targeted" outreach. Somewhere, a committee has decided who they really want in church, and then the church designs for them.

What happens when other people show up? People who are younger? Older? Richer? Poorer? More Black, Hispanic, White, Korean, Chinese? More Republican? More Democrat? You get the point.

Do we feed them? Do we have compassion? Do we teach them? Or do we say to them, "You set over there on the floor, these seats are reserved."?

The answers to those questions should come from Jesus, not our marketing experts or denominational gurus.

Second, we should note that the disciples point out that it is already "very late" in v. 35. They've really pushed past the point where anybody will have a good solution to the problem. This isn't the preacher going until 1:30 and the buffets are closed, He's gone until the Taco Bell has closed for the night. There are no good options out there.

The disciples were leaning toward sending the people away in the dark, hungry, to go figure it out when the individuals would have no better luck solving this problem than the group would. The disciples were trying to wash their hands of any responsibility for fellow human beings. Jesus was not going to put up with that. He won't tolerate it from us forever, either.

Third, God does nothing by half-measures. There is no doubt when God works. He is never "just enough." He's always more than--much more. Not a lagniappe but a dozen extra baskets!

Monday, January 22, 2024

Sermon Recap for January 21 2024

 That's right! It's time for another sermon. Mark 6 was the sermon focus for yesterday, January 21, 2024. And, naturally, we had a lovely little glitch as someone (ME) forgot to load the slides and outline into the presentation software.

Which meant that my notes were not there either. So, I looked in my Logos Bible Software app, because that's where I construct the sermon notes, and I couldn't find it here, either. The sermon, therefore, was entirely from memory. That was my habit in times past, but recent years have seen me trying to be more on-topic through the whole sermon, so I try to stick with sermon as-written. (That whole discussion is another post!)

Fortunately, I think multiple rewrites and revisions throughout the week had the basic outline pretty well locked down in my brain. Here's the video and audio players:

Monday, January 8, 2024

Sermon Recap January 8 2024

New year, same me: will I post to the blog regularly, like I did once upon a time?

Not likely. Neither will I likely remember to do graphics or promote it or anything like that. It's more of a public but never-read occasional thoughts repository. 

However, I do need to remember to keep the sermons updated!

Here is yesterday's sermon, and remember that the audio player will cycle through all the previously uploaded sermons.

The YouTube channel has previous sermons on it once you click through to YouTube.


Book: Worship in an Age of Anxiety

  This week, I'm wrapping up reading J. Michael Jordan's Worship in an Age of Anxiety . This isn't an assigned review, but a boo...