This coming Sunday is the Second in Advent. Our theme for the preaching series “Here Is Our God” is “God in the World: a New Heaven and a New Earth”. As you look to see the presence of God in the people around you this week can you see God transforming the world even in the midst of Ebola, ISIS, and other depressing news? Can you see the messengers of Hope in the world?
Isaiah 40:1-11 – There is a lot of familiar passages in this reading. I read verses 1-8 at many of the funerals I lead for the word bring “comfort”. We are also reassured with the image of the shepherd feeding his flock and holding the lambs. But do we hear the voice in the wilderness crying out to us that the Lord is coming and is here. God in the wilderness voice; God in the world.
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13 – God’s past forgiveness of the people’s wrongs means that God’s steadfast love will grant salvation (verses 1, 2 and 7) but we must be ready to hear that good news. A few years ago the UCC wanted to remind people that God’s word did not end with Jesus and the bringing together of the Bible. They said it like this: “Don’t put a period where God places a comma . . . The Still Speaking God”. Are we ready to hear that voice in the wilderness, in our neighbor, in God’s creation? Where do you hear and see the presence of God?
2 Peter 3:8-15a – Maybe the most interesting part of this reading are the 3 1/2 verses that follow the reading. Our reading is about the future coming of the Lord. By the time this letter was written the first generation after Jesus was dying off and people were beginning to wonder just when the coming would happen. (They thought it would happen during that first generation.) The writer assures people that the Lord will be coming in the Lord’s own good time, which, by the way, is not measured in our own timings (one day = 1,000 years). This slowness is the Lord’s patience is waiting for all to be saved. While we are waiting we are to be living lives of holiness and godliness and at peace. So, the question is, “Are other people seeing God in you?” When you speak will they hear the voice of God speaking through you?
Mark 1:1-8 – “The beginning of the good news (gospel) of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” With those word, not even a sentence, we are off and running. Mark is the shortest Gospel with, what I feel to be, the most human Jesus. And when Jesus died the centurion declared, “Surely, this man was God’s Son!” (15:39). No birth story and no resurrection appearances (assuming that the original ending was at 16:8). John the baptizer proclaims the coming Savior (4-8) and baptizes Jesus (9-11). Mark states that Jesus was tempted in the desert but gives no description (12-13). And in verse 14 Jesus starts his ministry in Galilee. Mark is in a hurry to tell the good news and you can read the entire Gospel in one sitting.
So, here is my challenge to you: Read the Gospel of Mark by next Sunday and look for the presence and voice of God in the people and in the world. Blessing to you this week!
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor