TEXT:  Mark 1:1-8
THEME:  Looking to the past in repentance, let us be empowered by the Holy Spirit to live lives of response to God.

TITLE:  "A Commencement Celebration"

Series B
Second Sunday in Advent
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
December 8, 1996

INTRODUCTION

 

(H.S. graduation details...Advent:  time for John's commencement address...In the midst of the cultural storm leading up to Christmas we pause for Advent - a counter-cultural event:   Merchants count down days until Christmas, but we relish  the preparation days as treasures unto themselves...gifts of God given to us!

 

  1. COMMENCEMENT CELEBRATIONS HAVE THEIR ROOTS IN THE PAST.

    1. A.  Mark begins his commencement address differently than other Gospel writers.

      1. John was theological... "In the beginning was the Word..."

        1. He spoke about the eternity and deity of Christ.

        2. He spoke of the rejection of the light by the forces of evil and unbelief.

      2. Matthew was genealogical.

        1. He carefully traced the family lines of Abraham to Jesus.

        2. He wanted to complete the long awaited string of anticipation that had come through the ancient of days to the promise fulfilled.

      3. Luke was chronological.

        1. He notes that his careful investigation of the claims of Christ had revealed the order in which things had happened.

        2. So beginning with Zechariah and Elizabeth, he lays out the exact order in which the events of the birth, life and ministry of Jesus unfolded.

    2. Mark roots his readers in the past using Isaiah's prophesy.

      1. The Messiah would have a most unusual "Advance Man."

        1. He would preach a message of repentance ...look to the past.

        2. John's message was a commencement address about the Messiah... here he looks toward the future.

        3. The Jews, however, didn't get the Messiah they expected:

          1. A Savior in a poor man's clothes?

          2. A Savior who ends up dead on a cross?

      2. John is asking the crowds and us, how we have responded to God's love.

        1. Did we miss opportunities to serve Him?  A kindly word? A helping hand?  Loving compassion?  Natural Christian resp.

        2. Actions always speak louder than words.  (Mt. 25:37-40)

        3. Can we face our failures with honest hearts, or do we continue to hold on to them, cover them up, etc.

        4. We need to remember where we have been and confess our failure to God.

  2. COMMENCEMENT CELEBRATIONS ALSO LOOK TO THE FUTURE.

    1. Repentance is a call to rearrange our future so it doesn't look like our past.

      1. A life of repentance is a life of living in the forgiving grace of Christ.

        1. We constantly need to look to the past to a death on a cross.

        2. Behold the new life Jesus has obtained for us.

        3. See our sins in the divine life of loving forgiveness.

        4. But we cannot live in the past only, there is also a present!

      2. Luther understood the new beginning of repentance.

        1. Look to the past to your baptism where our sins were washed away.

        2. Daily apply that washing to our old sinful selves.

        3. Daily repentance needs a daily re-commencement response.

        4. The power of God in Christ transforms our lives to reflect His glory!

    2. John's commencement address concluded that the Messiah would come after him.

      1. The Messiah would come with the power of the Holy Spirit, and things would change dramatically as a result.

      2. We are the recipients of a revolutionary faith and revolutions always overthrow the status quo.

      3. How is our revolution reflected in our daily lives now?

    3. In this Advent season, we can survive the cultural blizzard of Christmas.

      1. Our words, actions and personal priorities can speak volumes.

      2. Their need can be seen through our willingness to share our need for Christ...LET IT COMMENCE!

 

CONCLUSION

 

            Live in the celebration of the Christ of Bethlehem.
           
Live in the revolutionary changes He wants to create in our lives.
           
Live in the bright and sure hope of His final return.  Amen.  

 

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