the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Sunday 01/22/06 Year B - Epiphany 3

Jonah 3:1-5,10
Psalm 25:4-9
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Mark 1:14-20
Liturgy Alive Worship Liturgy
The Shadow of the Cross

Our text begins "...after John was arested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God."

In the midst of chaos in the lives of the men and women of Palestine, John the Baptizer burst on the scene, preaching repentance. "Behold I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare the way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."

All four gospels preface the beginning of the ministry of Jesus with the story of John the Baptist. His preaching is one of the few constants of the Gospel message. Why do you suppose the ministry of John was so important?

John baptized Jesus. John announced the coming of Jesus. Jesus, himself, was probably a disciple of John in the very beginning. During this dicipleship the young man, Jesus, was formed into Jesus the messiah. During this formation Jesus was baptized by John and the spirit of the Lord decended upon him. Following his baptism, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, fasting and contemplating what kind of messiah he would be. During this time of introspection Jesus was tested by the temptations of the world. In responding to these temptations Jesus relied on the wisdom of scripture to help make the right choices for his calling.

Then John, his mentor, his teacher, was arrested. The band of John's disciples were left without a leader. Paul tells us in Galatians 4:4: "...when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son..." Now was the time. And Jesus came from the wilderness of Judea to Galilee, preaching the gospel of God.

Our word "gospel" is a derivative of an old Anglo-Saxon word "godspel" it meant good news. The word used by Mark in his writing was the Greek ευανγελιον. This is a word that means good news. It is from this word that we get our English words: evangelist: one who spreads good news, evangelism: the spreading of good news and evangelical: being characterized by the spreading of good news. This word is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament as well. In Isaiah 40:9, the prophet writes:

Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of glad tidings;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news,
lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
"Here is your God!"

The essence of the good news that Jesus was spreading was "The Kingdom of God is at hand." What the crowds were expecting, and what they wanted to hear was that this Kingdom of God would be a political Kingdom. They wanted God to drive the Romans out of the land and set up his rule. And the Messiah, as the righful heir of David, would be their king. The central theme of Jesus' preaching was that God was establishing his kingly rule, but not a political kingdom. Jesus' message was that the Kingdom of God was a spiritual kingdom and he said "the Kingdom of God is among you and it is within you.

The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 1:5 that "Our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit." Here Paul means that the gospel is not only a message of words, but a set of actions that are supported by the power of God and led by Holy Spirit. Luke tells us in his Gospel that Jesus further defined his gospel and his mission by reading these words from the prophet Isaish:

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly,
to heal the broken hearted
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;

Jesus' gospel was not a gospel of intellectual activity, it was a gospel of physical activity. In his first letter to the churches in Asia Minor, John the Apostle writes:

We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us-- and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?

The Apostle John, not to be confused with John the baptizer, tells us in his Gospel, that some of Jesus' disciples had formerly been John's disciples. Andrew was one. He brought his brother Peter to Jesus before Jesus began his ministry. But after John was arrested, all of his disciples fled back to their homes. Jesus then made the rounds gathering his own disciples to himself. In our text today we read where Jesus went to fetch Andrew and Peter, and in the process found James and his brother John.

Remember that John, the Baptist, had been arrested. The Greek text literally means "handed over." Mark will use the same word for Jesus being betrayed and "handed over" to death. It is the same word he uses for Jesus' followers being "handed over" to persecutors in chapter 13:9-13:

Watch out for yourselves. They will hand you over to the courts. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will be arraigned before governors and kings because of me, as a witness before them. But the gospel must first be preached to all nations. When they lead you away and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say. But say whatever will be given to you at that hour. For it will not be you who are speaking but the holy Spirit. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.

The shadow of the cross stretches back to John and forward to all followers of Jesus. Jesus says to each of us, "If anyone will follow after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Andrew and Peter, James and John gave up their life of fishermen, they gave up their homes and their families. They gave it all up for Jesus, but not to sit back and watch the world go by. They may have been slow to learn. They may have been afraid at first, but when the shadow of the cross fell across them they stepped up to do the bidding of the Master. When the shadow of the cross fell across them they were ready to be "handed over" to a world of hate and evil for the telling of the good news of Jesus Christ.

Has the shadow of the cross fallen on you? What will you do? Will you run and hide? Will you escape into the confines and safety of your church? Or will you step up ready to be handed over for serving Jesus as he calls you?

Remember, we all stand in the shadow of the cross.
A random thought, I got this from MertonFan75
To be a disciple of Christ: This is enough for the Christian. Friendship with the Master assures the soul profound peace and serenity, even in the darkest moments and the most difficult trials. When faith goes through dark nights, when one no longer "hears" or "sees" God's presence, friendship with Jesus guarantees that, in reality, there is nothing that can separate us from His love. (cf Romans 8:39) ~ Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus 01-15-06.


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