Lectionary Year B
December 1, 2002

Mark 13:24-37
Contemporary Address

Step VI - Contemporary Address

A. Goals

(JFC) This fascinating part of God's Word might give some insight into prioritizing some activities busy people might feel necessary to try to get done by December 25th.

B. Describing the Audience

(JFC) The congregation is in a county seat 18 miles from the capital city of Kentucky, where I preach frequently. The people are exceptionally well educated, even for Presbyterians, with many educators, several family therapists and one cognitive therapist recently certified. The pastor preaches outstanding sermons and gets off ten Sundays annually for promoting books she writes, etc. The church is healthy but not without disagreements bordering on conflicts. The Session has been accused of lacking leadership, they have only recently begun to try some new-member-recruiting-evangelism, a Season of Prayer listening for God's will to be revealed therein and some dealing with a rather ineffective questionnaire that was poorly reported/published saying that a much needed building renovation was not going to get done presently.

C. Address

(JFC) A sermon, entitled, for this working draft, "Planning For Advent"

How many shopping days till Christmas? How many things to do by then? How are we to prioritize them? First, we need to keep alert, to stay awake and to remain aware. Since today's Gospel Lection tells us we cannot know much, we might need to observe more closely and try to ratchet up our beliefs that what Jesus calls us to do we can try to do, with His help and examples, of course.

I. Watching for The Son of Man
A. Some think Jesus is talking about Himself as the long awaited Messiah here. "The Church is in daily expectation of the return of its Lord; cf. I Thess 5:6, I Cor 16:22, Rom 13:11, Rev 22:20," as well as Matt 24:42 and Lk 12:40, says V. Taylor. Do we expect it?

B. Jesus knows Himself. Remember one of the first things we learned in Philosophy 101? Plato admonishes thinkers to "know thyself". Jesus did. He presents Himself as the new center of faith and life, replacing the Jewish temple, which He predicts in the first verses of this chapter to be about to fall into ruin.

II. Remaining Aware of His Accomplishments
A. Coming is the primary thing this passage says of Jesus. His coming is what we are preparing for, waiting to celebrate, looking forward to believing more than ever before.

B. Sending angels, teaching the urgency of the significant times. These are significant times of the first order, significant times par excellence, significant times supreme.

III. Staying Awake to Do Our Responses
A.As Individuals, perhaps our first response to this text is to learn what it says to and about us. Jesus came teaching that God's Kingdom (Luke 21:31) is near. It is in us. Jesus teaches by the parable of the fig tree. Remember, in Mark 11:12ff, Jesus curses the barren fig tree, while in our text at hand, He proclaims that we have hope in its blossoms.

B. Corporately, we are God's messengers, another word for the angels God sent to work with Jesus to gather scattered people. Evangelism, anyone? "In Daniel 7:13f, the Son of Man appears as a symbol and personification of the people of God. . . 'the servants in charge, each with his work' . . . applies the parable to the whole Christian community. . .", says Fuller's Preaching the New Lectionary. One of our main jobs is to effect the in-gathering of those scattered outside the church. This re-unification brings great and joyous benefits to all, cf. Mt 5:9, 8:11 and 13:30, Mk 2:19 and 14:58, Lk 16:9 and 22:29f, just to cite a few examples of celebrations thereupon.

"The major emphasis for today is on waiting for the divine intervention," says Fuller's Preaching the New Lectionary. As we wait, expect and become aware of its realization, let us realize He is here with us, within us, for us and for others, too.

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