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getting out the WORD - the second sunday of advent
Written by Pastor Bob   
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 15:37

the PRAYER...
Stir up our hearts, Lord God, to prepare the way of your only Son. By his coming strengthen us to serve you with purified lives; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

the READING...
[John the baptizer] proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Mark 1:1-8

the DEVOTION...
I can't, even, begin to imagine what it must have been like. The destruction. The devastation. The scar it left on the soul of the nation. Five, six centuries before Jesus, Babylon had laid siege to Jerusalem. Over the next two years, their grip tightened. But at last, the walls crumbled. The city plundered. The people slaughtered. Jerusalem razed to the ground. The privileged, the powerful, led away in chains to spend decades in captivity. And as if that hadn't been enough, they believed that god had abandoned them. Turned and walked away. Spirit gone. Prophets silent. One generation... Two... Ten... Twenty-five... All the while, they waited... and they waited... and they waited...

But then, John appears in the wilderness! No judgment. No threats. Not in Mark. Nothing about axes or winnowing forks or unquenchable fire. Instead there's only the message! Only the Gospel! Only good news! Even now, John shouts, god is coming! After all this time, god is returning! Lift up your heads! Open your eyes! And look!

Bob Barndt, pastor

 
getting out the WORD - the first sunday of advent
Written by Pastor Bob   
Thursday, 07 December 2017 20:03

the PRAYER...
Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. By your merciful protection awaken us to the threatening dangers of our sins, and keep us blameless until the coming of your new day, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

the READING...
Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in clouds' with great power and glory.

Mark 13:24-37

the DEVOTION...
Back in seminary, the rule of thumb was, "Context is everything!" It matters who says what to whom! When they say it and where! Otherwise, it's easy for the words meaning anything. Like this week's gospel...

From the get-go, we see the words and our minds flash ahead to some "second coming" of Jesus. Sun darkened! Moon obscured! Stars falling from the sky! Sounds like Armageddon, right? But the context might, just as well, point us to something else entirely. You see, these words are spoken not after the resurrection or before the ascension. They're spoken on the Wednesday of Holy Week! The day before Maundy Thursday! Two days before Good Friday! And Jesus' warning to "keep awake" sounds a whole lot like what he told the disciples in the garden, that night in which he was betrayed! Sooooooo...

What if the Son of Man coming with great power and glory isn't hundreds - even thousands - of years in the future. Around the corner. Over the hill. At some so-called second coming (a phrase, by the way, that is never used in the bible). But what if it points us to that Friday afternoon, to an empty hilltop, outside the walls of an old, old city. What if that is the power and the glory? And what if the new beginning we're, so eagerly, looking for, actually, lies behind us?

Bob Barndt, pastor

 
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