sermons, songs, etceteras
This sermon was originally preached on January 7, 2024 at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Hopkins, MN. The livestream of our contemporary and traditional services may be viewed here and here.
Read today's gospel text (Mark 1:4-11) here.
Breath and Water.
The two elements apart from which we literally cannot survive are the primal roots of today’s text. And with these two elements, time begins to collapse, as Mark invites us into Jesus’s story through his rebel cousin John, who is the radical and revolutionary fulfillment of Malachi and Isaiah’s ancient prophecies. A crazy man who lives in the wilderness on locusts and wild honey, clothed in camel hide and leather, and whose head will eventually be delivered on a platter to King Herod’s stepdaughter. Were he born in our era, he’d be the kind of revolutionary you might hear preaching on a street corner or leading a protest for revolution. He lives his life on the margins, preaching radical transformation of people and culture, ritualized in baptism. And, as God’s messenger and the forerunner of Christ the Mightiest, John has traction with “all the people” joining him at the Jordan from throughout the land of Judea and Jerusalem.
Which I say to underscore the simple, if implied, fact that there is a significant socio-political & cultural shift in progress that makes John’s radical presentation and message attractive and enthralling to “all the people.” We know from other texts and histories surrounding Jesus’s birth and early life, including his mother’s own song in Luke 1, that Palestinian Jews like Jesus and John lived under the harsh and heavy boot of Roman occupation.The occupation was so cruel, in fact, that by just a few decades after Jesus’s death and resurrection, Jews rose up in violent rebellion against the Roman Empire waging the first of three major Jewish-Roman wars. Point being, revolutionaries rise when revolution is needed; radicals rise up when roots need tending. And both John and Jesus are among the rising.
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