Waynedale United Methodist Church
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December 3, 2017 Sermon

“Christ Will Come: Be Prepared!”

Mark 1:1 – 8

Ted Jansen  December 3, 2017  Waynedale UMC

 

1.)        “Lights, Camera, Action!”  Those are the traditional words you hear when a film scene is being started.  The sequence ends with “action!”  

            Mark’s Gospel is a book of action.  In Mark’s 16 chapters the words, “immediately,” or “at once,” are mentioned over 40 times.  Mark wants to get the reader focused on action.    

            Mark’s Gospel was written for the Gentile audience, those who did not have a Jewish background.  One commentator mentioned that this book was written specifically for the Romans, who were the ruling power at the time.      

 

2.)        As we discover the first chapter of Mark we notice Mark does not mention anything about the birth of Jesus.  Mark begins by writing about John the Baptist.         

            Mark mentions that John’s role was mentioned in the Old Testament as a messenger.  This message is going to be important.     

            John spoke to the people and told them that they needed to repent and be baptized so that they would know their sins were forgiven.  The people came from all around because they had a need in their hearts.

 

3.)        People in the day of John wanted to be forgiven.  They traveled away from their homes to see and listen to this man and allow themselves to be washed in the Jordan, a baptism that would bring about forgiveness and a new start.  

            The people needed to repent, turn around, choose a different direction.  They people needed forgiveness, to be washed clean.  They needed to say, “I am sorry.”    They needed to hear, “You are forgiven.”   Things were not right in their heart and John brought them hope as he spoke the truth to them.  

 

4.)        As John was baptizing the people John then tells them, “someone is coming that is greater than I.  I am not even worthy to clean His feet.  The one who will come will baptize, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit. 

            The first time we read about Jesus in Mark 1:9 – 15 is when Jesus came and was baptized by John.  He was filled with the Holy Spirit then led to the wilderness.  After 40 days Jesus began His ministry with a message that was similar to John’s message.  It was this; “Repent and believe the good news.” 

            The people that were most open to Jesus in His ministry were those who were willing to repent.  They acted on turning from their own path and life to follow Jesus and His path. 

People repented, turned direction and allowed God’s gifts of grace come to them.        

 

5.)        The Advent season is a time to prepare, a time to wait with expectation.  The word, advent means, coming.  So, we focus on the truth that Christ will come again as we look at how Mark describes His first coming.  We celebrate Christ by hearing the truth that Mark is conveying. 

 

6.)        a.)        The truth is that we all need to repent from our sins, we all need to allow the Holy Spirit to be at work in us and we all need to have the assurance that our sins are forgiven.   That is our need regardless of how old we are or what status we have or how we think of ourselves.      

           

b)         The truth is that we all need forgiveness.  We have sinned.  Sin is a hard thing to face.  We live in a culture that appears to focus on a particular sin or wrongdoing and highlight the wrong behavior, and expect some consequences.  We want justice.  Why do we wait until we are caught?  Why does this make news?  Why do we invest lots of time in doing investigating one another?        

            What if we had an object that if held it in our hands it would reveal all of our sins and project them on the screen?  Everyone would see our sins, mistake and failures.  Wow.  That would be embarrassing. 

What if every bad attitude, every sin, every time my thoughts were not pleasing to God, every action that expressed sin was projected for all to see?  That would be hard to watch.       

            We are thankful that we don’t have that but we have images that are projected on our brain that at times we can’t turn off. 

We need to say, I am sorry.  We want to hear, You are forgiven.      

 

7.)        Repentance is a gift.  The gift means that you can turn around, you can turn away, you can move in a different direction.  We need to hear that.   It is a gift to be able to say, “I am sorry,” and know it deep within our spirit.  

We are not programmed to only move one way and never change.  No, we can repent, we can turn around, we can decide to do something differently.  Repentance is a gift. 

 

8.)        Forgiveness is a gift.  This gift that God first offers to us is when we come with a humble and sincere heart.  We come, not with the cameras on, but with our heart wide open to God.  We come and we wait and allow grace to find us and wash us all over.  A new beginning, a new start awaits us. 

Forgiveness from God involves more than God offering grace to us.  Forgiveness involves us asking forgiveness from others.  Forgiveness involves us forgiving others.  Forgiveness involves us forgiving ourselves.   Forgiveness is a gift. 

            There is a website called, “Forgiveness Project.”  It has stories of people, along with their pictures of how they experienced forgiveness.  I read a few of the stories and they are powerful.      

 

9.)        Would you be willing to offer a gift to someone in Advent?  Not a gift you can buy and wrap up.  I am talking about the gift of forgiveness.  Will you allow God to forgive you as we celebrate Communion?  Can your forgiveness journey begin today as you come with a heart that expresses repentance and changes direction?  God has a gift for you to receive and to share. 

 

10.)      Come with a humble heart and an honest heart as you bring all of your sins before God.  To prepare for Communion I invite you to come with a thankful heart that you can repent, turn direction, and allow forgiveness to be known.  May the Holy Spirit fill us with assurance.  May the Holy Spirit make us restless until we go and ask forgiveness from someone God has put on our heart.  May the Holy Spirit lead us to tell someone that we forgive them.