Next Sunday (December 2) is the first Sunday of Advent. Although I am a Baptist by conviction, I am a liturgist by affection. The longer I live (yea verily now I am in my 40th year–or in biblical metaphor, this is the year I kill an Egyptian) the more I see the need to emphasize over and over again a Christian view of time and to seize back our precious holy days from the marketplace. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter belong to us! Take that Target, Wal-Mart, Sears and Amazon! Ha!
For at least the past 15 years I have used the four Sunday’s leading up to Christmas (otherwise known as Advent) to emphasize either doctrinal aspects of the Christian life or to teach about the role of Christ in the world today. This year I am focusing on Jesus’ work from the Gospel of Mark as he launched his ministry with confrontation in Mark 2. There are five accounts of confrontation:
- 2:1-12–a confrontation about forgiveness
- 2:13-17– a confrontation about mingling with sinners
- 2:18-22– a confrontation about fasting
- 2:23-28– a confrontation about the Sabbath
- 3:1-6–yet another confrontation about the Sabbath that leads to the desire to have Jesus killed
I hope to emphasize the work of God in our world today in these sermons–how Jesus would confront both the culture around us, but also, how he would confront the church and its ways. We who go to church each weekend and say our prayers regularly resemble far too much the Pharisees and other factions who opposed Jesus at every opportunity. I just don’t think the biblical Jesus would have the same priorities that most churches or Christ-followers have now.
What I haven’t decided yet is whether or not to finish the series in 4 or carry the last confrontation over into another sermon on the 30th of December. Right now I am leaning toward lumping the two Sabbath offenses into one sermon. We will see, though. I always reserve the right to change my mind. Here are the tentative sermon titles:
December 2–The Day They Discovered Exactly What Jesus Was Up To (2:1-12)
December 9–The Day They Learned that Jesus Really, Really, Liked Parties (2:13-17)
December 16–The Day They Complained that Jesus wasn’t Religious Enough (2:18-22)
December 23–The Day Jesus Proved He Knew The Days of the Week, and Oh By the Way He Knows Some Theology Too (2:23-28 or 3:6?)
I’ve been in the Old Testament the last two and and a half months, it will be great to get back into the New Testament again.