What do you learn from Jesus' triumphant entry on Palm Sunday? What details fascinate you? What questions do you have? This weekend as we celebrate Palm Sunday, we are confronted with two radically different reactions to Jesus. As we witness the various reactions, we are confronted with our own reactions to Jesus.
Shakespeare wrote in The Tempest, "Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows." Today a common extension of that is "politics makes strange bedfellows," meaning politicians form peculiar associations to win more votes. In Mark's record of Jesus' burial we find a most unusual association: a pagan, women and a Pharisee. What is it about Jesus that draws together people who would otherwise never hang out together (like the one you’re sitting in now)? Let Mark's record help you answer that. We have three weeks left in our year and a half study of the Gospel of Mark. To get daily devotions on these culminating crucifixion and resurrection accounts, sign up at st-andrew-online.org/mark.
Our journey through the Gospel of Mark is about to come to a close. The entire book has been pointing to the events of the next few weeks. We’ve been seeing and following Jesus, learning who he is and what he has done for us! We've seen Jesus heal the sick, give sight to the blind, make the lame walk, and raise the dead. The picture today, though, is that of humility and punishment as he is mocked for not freeing himself. Why did they mock him? Why did he endure it? As we gather today we will hear from Jesus his answer.
In every revolution, the new people in power destroy their enemies. Jesus started a revolution by loving and forgiving his enemies. Obviously, Jesus is a different kind of king. And Jesus’ people bring about change in a different kind of way. We’re glad you’re with us today to hear Mark’s account of Jesus’ trial before Pilate. May Jesus’ few words and his substitutionary life cause a revolution in your heart. We call that “church.”
A Lenten devotion written by Pastor Tom Trapp. Read by Pastor Randy Hunter.
The word judge is volatile. Maybe it’s because we don't want anyone to tell us what to do… not even God. Maybe it’s because too often we put ourselves on God’s throne, hand down a ruling, determine a penalty, and even insist that it be carried out (and more often than not we get it wrong). In our worship today, let God the Spirit show you through his Word the kind of Judge God is. You’ll notice most of our prayers, songs, and talk is from God’s Word. You’re about to experience what God does through it. May he fill your life with blessing…and fill you with trust in surprising judgments.
Welcome to Lent. The word just means “springtime” but it’s more than one of four seasons. It’s a time to prepare for the greatest event in the history of the universe and of your life: Jesus’ resurrection. On Thursdays and Sundays, we keep the Easter theme. On Wednesdays, we gather for brief evening devotions on Jesus’ suffering and death. But this year, our series on the Gospel of Mark brings us into Jesus’ suffering and death even on Sundays in Lent. Today, Peter’s denial. But see it as more than a history lesson of a failed disciple. See it as a lesson drawn from your own failure. And find the same healing Peter found: in the Good News of Jesus. If you want to dig deeper into this text, join one of the Mark Growth Groups and subscribe to receive daily Mark devotions at st-andrew-online.org/mark.
Today we see the heart of Jesus on display. We pause at his transfiguration where he reveals his glory and speaks with Moses and Elijah about what is about to take place. We see his love for his disciples so physically and emotionally exhausted they can't keep their eyes open. And we see Jesus' humanity, pleading for an alternative to what is coming, but humbly and willingly obedient to the Father's will. We journey to Gethsemane to learn of prayer and trust in God.
Betrayers: Just the word probably makes your stomach tighten. Nothing good can be said of betrayal, or of one who betrays. That’s why Jesus’ words to his disciples are hard to hear, but good to hear. A patient who is sick may not like an unhappy diagnosis, but without it he’ll never get the right treatment and get better. Jesus is the best doctor ever. He’s honest about our malady, but only so that he can heal. In the songs you’ll sing today and Word you’ll hear, listen for Jesus’ words of your malady, but keep listening for Jesus’ sweet words of your healing. Welcome to church!
Everything so far in the Gospel of Mark has been leading up to the death of Jesus. This weekend we come to the beginning of what many call the Passion of the Christ. Mark puts two people who knew Jesus in front of us, and we can learn from both. One shows us how it’s possible to know Jesus and not change. The other is totally changed and shows us how our greatest value is in Jesus. Let that make all the difference in the world to you. We’re glad you’re with us today and pray for the Spirit to bless your worship.
Have you become numb to the warnings that surround you? Do you panic when the gas light comes on, or do you see how far the fumes can really get you? How about weather warnings? Are you one who heeds the warning, shelters, and waits for the all clear, or do you dismiss the weather center's warnings as little more important than that gas light from before? We receive so many warnings that sometimes we become numb or apathetic, not realizing the severity of the situation. Today we learn from Jesus the importance of heeding his warning and to keep watch!
You only live once? How about twice? YOLO is catchier than YOLT, but it's not as accurate. According to Jesus, you only live twice. In Mark 13, Jesus gives his disciples some hard words about the future. It's worth putting up with the distress—not because living once is worthless, but because living twice is infinitely and eternally better. We’re glad you’ve joined us today because, if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s this: when Jesus makes a promise it’s worth taking him up on it!
If you hang around students long enough, one of them will think they've come up with a fantastic question that will stump their teacher or parent. The goal is to waste time, distract the adult, and try to show that they are “smarter” than the adult. It usually doesn't go well, as the adult sees right through it and in most cases is able to answer the question with ease. Mark 12 is full of such conversations as one group after another tries their hand at challenging Jesus. While their questions come from unbelief and skepticism, the underlying truth they are challenging is something many still struggle with today. The question before us today really is, "What happens when we die?"
Someone has said, “We tend to hang very heavy weights on very thin threads.” But to do so is a set-up for failure. Jesus offers an alternative: himself. Hang on him what you will. He can bear it. How can you know? He already bore the weight of your sin. There is nothing heavier. In an encounter with people who chose an alternate thread, Jesus claimed something preposterous. It’s so counterintuitive we tend to dismiss it, even see it as a threat. But hear Jesus out. He has done something marvelous. Because of it you can trust his promise. We’re glad you’re with us today. This is what we do here: rehearse Jesus’ promise so we can hang the heaviest of weights on it. And live.
Sometimes it comes too early, that rising sun. Sometimes it can’t come soon enough! Ever since the days of Moses, the Lord has used the picture of a rising sun to help his people anticipate the fulfillment of his promise to save. An old man named Zechariah recalled that image and sang of it at the birth of his son, John the Baptist. John would be the one to announce, “The waiting is over! Salvation is here!” That’s the reality and meaning of Christmas, and we keep right on celebrating it today. Christmas carols might be gone from the airwaves and playlists, but we’re still singing ‘em!
Christmas lights, candlelight, and the warm glow of the fire all bring light to this time of year. But there is a Light that shines like no other. God has sent his Son to overcome every kind of darkness in our world . . . in your world. Jesus is Life and Light that shines in the darkness.
The cradle of Christianity was, literally, in Bethlehem. But within a couple hundred years, "The Way" as Christianity was called, had spread throughout the Roman Empire. By the 300’s AD, a tribe of people known as Celts retreated to the British Isles at the edge of the empire. There they developed their own liturgies, hymns, and prayers. A modern historian describes Celtic Christian theology as, "Trinitarian, incarnational, and cosmic.” You'll notice an emphasis on all three in the liturgy we participate in today. Watch for elements in which we acknowledge God as three in one, as God who took on flesh, and as God who created all things. Our thanks to the members of The Lutheran Ceili Orchestra and its director Joey Schumann for helping us worship this weekend.
Where do you find joy? Perhaps a better question—how do you define joy? Is it an action, an emotion, a feeling? How do we exude joy or experience it if we don't know how to define it? For many, determining a joyful Christmas will mean comparing our Christmas experiences to a Hallmark special, Thomas Kinkade paintings, or our social media accounts. Today we will be digging into what brings God joy and learning from him how to experience his joy this Christmas.