Old Problems and New Beginnings
The sermon will be a post on our Facebook page. Please click on link to view sermon.
By now the last of the leaves have likely fallen from trees in northern climes, and any still holding on look dry and dead. Snow has arrived, and its thick blanket shows the stains of city filth and grime, reminding us of the waste we are pouring over the land and into the water. This is the season we begin a new year in the life of the church and, as with our worship, we begin with a confession of our participation in the world’s suffering.
Heavy hearts and burdened consciences will relate to Isaiah’s confession, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isa. 64:6). Then, just as the cold nights in the northern hemisphere reach their longest, Mark addresses us with promises that the signs of the coming of the Son of Man will include the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars. Hold on, there is hope!
The promise of Advent is that God is always at work in the world, bringing new beginnings and a new creation to people and powers long bent on destruction. Yet, because we live in the generation that exists between the “already” of Christ’s resurrection and the “not yet” of God’s full restoration of the creation, we cannot know when that final day will arrive. Instead of becoming preoccupied with the end times, we are counseled to live our lives in a state of preparedness—trusting that our home is God’s home and that God is coming once again to dwell with us. That trust is the strength that sustains us as we “wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7).
Gospel: Mark 13:24-37
Jesus encourages his followers to look forward to the day when he returns in power and glory to end all suffering.
[Jesus said:] 24“In those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
25and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
28“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
32“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”