Tag Archives: Gospel of Mark
Jesus says that the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve. And that means that we who are saved by faith in him, and raised to new life by his grace, must allow him to serve us, too. If you know the power of service, you probably know also the mania that can come with it. The passive-aggressiveness–”it’s ok, I’ll just do it myself.” The resentment–”I work and work and give and give and no one thanks me.” If Jesus only wanted us to find the humblest task and do it for someone else, he’d be setting us up for a great deal of misery.
I say all of this as someone who has been on every side of this very human struggle: offending, offended against, passive bystander, participant in a mob mentality. That’s human life. We are always being asked to hear, to judge, to act. And the way we do these things implicates us very deeply. It cuts to the heart of who we think we are. It is painful to cut off that part of us that cannot bear to be wrong.
He shows up with his borrowed parade and his borrowed ride and offers himself to praise or scorn, curiosity or indifference. His manner of coming is perfectly consistent with his message. He moves through the world exactly as he says: blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed that flowers into a great bush, giving shelter to the birds; unless you become like one of these little ones, you cannot enter the kingdom of God. His borrowed glory reveals the true glory that is coming.
I’m guilty of this. Totally guilty of it. I am so captivated by the reality that is before my eyes that I don’t give a whole lot of thought, most of the time, to what my eyes may be leaving out. People in some cultures have taken dreams and visions very seriously. And I think dreams and visions are good but the real action is what I can see. Or, at least, what we can see together.
(Note: I wrote this in October, 2012. I’m republishing it for St. Ansgar’s feast day tomorrow) As [Jesus] was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me […]
But here’s the thing: Jesus, like Moses, did not come before the people as a religious professional. He did not come in special clothing or wielding a special credential. In Mark’s Gospel, which we hear today, there is not even any annunciation to Mary, dream for Joseph, or Bethlehem or wise men. There is only Jesus. His words and actions are not a confidence game. They don’t borrow their authority from anyone or anything. They have their own authority.
(Note: I preached this sermon at Messiah Lutheran Church on the fifth Sunday after Epiphany, February 8, 2015) Sisters and brothers, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. In the morning, when it was still very dark, [Jesus] got up and went out to a deserted place, […]
(Note: I preached this sermon at Messiah Lutheran Church on the Baptism of Our Lord, 2015) Sisters and brothers, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Someone asked me this week if I thought it was possible to really have a new start in life—a fresh start […]
Note: I preached this sermon today for the commemoration of All Saints, which we transfer from November 1 to the following Sunday. Lutherans make a rather peculiar use of this festival, for two reasons: First, our approach to the cult of the saints was not total rejection but modification. For this reason many Lutheran churches […]