Summary: 2nd Sunday in Advent, Year B

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Mark 1: 1 – 8 / The Beginning of the Good News

Intro: A young American engineer was sent to Ireland for 2 years by his company. He and his girlfriend determined they would save money and when he returned they would get married and start their life together. However, as time dragged by, the girl became worried about the engineer’s ability to resist the beautiful Irish ladies. In a letter he swore his faithfulness to her. In the next mail, he received a package. It contained a note from the girl and a harmonica. She wrote, “I’m sending this to you so you can learn to play it and have something to do to take your mind off those girls.” He wrote back, “Thanks for the harmonica. I’m practicing every night while thinking of you.” At the end of the 2 years, the engineer was transferred back to the U.S. He took the first plane to the Kentucky home of his sweetheart. As he rushed forward to embrace her, she held up a restraining hand and said, “Just hold on there a minute. Before any serious huggin’ & kissin’ let’s hear a tune on that harmonica.” (Adapted from Bits & Pieces, 10/15/92)

I. Just as playing a tune on the harmonica was a sign of the fidelity of the engineer, Mark’s introduction of his gospel with the character of John was a sign of God’s faithfulness to God’s promises.

A. Some think it strange that in his “no nonsense” abbreviated gospel, Mark takes the time to describe what John wore and what he ate.

B. The Jews believed that Elijah would return to herald the coming of the long-awaited Messiah. A camel’s hair robe with a leather belt was the exact same outfit worn by Elijah 800 years before.

C. It wasn’t just John’s attire that drew people to him. He was the messenger, and his message lit him up like a bonfire in the wilderness. He offered them hope, a chance to come clean and start over again. He served as a sign or symbol of God’s faithfulness and God’s promises.

II. We all know the importance of signs or symbols. They point us in the right direction, give us instructions and help us avoid making mistakes.

A. Mark says, VS. 1 – “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

B. He goes on to give people a sign --- JOHN. who does what is promised by the great prophet, Isaiah. Now is the time to “prepare the way of the Lord.”

C. John urged the people to repentance because it was TIME.

III. What time is it for us? Is it the time for the beginning of the good news of Christ Jesus?

A. I have said repeatedly that you may be the only gospel some people may read. Our mission statement says that we are to make disciples for Christ. How well and hoe often do we do that?

B. You can’t pump water from and empty well. All you are going to get is air. You must first receive before you can give. I believe our problem is that we want ONLY to receive and we either don’t want to give or we don’t know how.

C. We come to this table during these sacred days to receive spiritual food to sustain us in the making of disciples.

Conclusion: We have baptized Ethan and in doing so, we have promised to see that he is raised into discipleship. It is for Ethan, the beginning of the Good News.

For any church there are only three ways to stay alive and viable:: 1) encourage the members to give to balance the budget, 2) do fundraising or use endowment funds to balance the budget, or 3) bring new members to help support the budget.

Balancing the budget is not why we exist. The gospel of Christ Jesus begins with each of us committing ourselves to the work of bringing others into the saving relationship we enjoy with Christ Jesus. It’s about making new beginnings.

At this point, we are faced with 2 questions:

1) What will it take for us to live out our mission statement?

2) Should we change our mission statement to match what we are actually willing to do?

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