Calvary FMC Newsletter
Happy New Year, Calvary Free Methodist Church! As we begin this new year, we also begin a new series on the gospel of Mark which I intend to carry us right up through Easter Sunday. I have thought a number of times while I was pastoring a church that I would like to preach such a series, a series that would move from Jesus’ birth right through his death and resurrection. I don’t know why I have felt such a desire. After all, Jesus’ life from his birth until his death was more than 30 years in duration. And even if we begin with his ministry and not his birth as Mark does, we still have a period of time in excess of 3 years. Why I have felt a need to condense that down to a period of a little over 3 months of sermons, I don’t know, but I have. Maybe it’s a desire to put the entire picture together into one continuous flow. So, that’s what I am going to attempt to do.
I would caution, however, before we even begin that even by picking the shortest of the gospel accounts, we are still going to have to leave a lot of things out. For example, Mark only gives us hints of a ministry in Judea and Jerusalem prior to the last week of Jesus’ life. One has to go to John to see that Jesus was moving back and forth between Galilee and Judea quite often during his ministry. Yet the gospels do have this view of a progression of Jesus, a movement from Galilee to Jerusalem that is more than just geographical in nature and Mark will help us to understand just what that means.
Mark begins his gospel by telling us that Jesus is the ‘Son of God.’ But while Mark readily announces to his readers this truth, we see throughout the book that Jesus himself is reluctant to accept such declarations. It is not that they are not true, but such ascriptions as ‘Son of God,’ ‘Messiah,’ and ‘Son of David’ carry with them expectations and political baggage that Jesus neither desires nor is willing to accept at this time. Indeed, a major focus of the book of Mark is that this ‘Son of God’ has come to suffer and to die. It is only following his crucifixion when the centurion has seen Jesus’ suffering on the cross that the centurion’s own cry, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’ becomes acceptable. Jesus is the ‘Son of God’ but it is the suffering Son of God that people must accept.
Moreover, those who choose to follow this ‘Son of God’ are called not to sit on thrones beside Jesus in an earthly kingdom but rather to take up their own cross and follow in a similar path of persecution and suffering. The disciples for a long time cannot see this. When they are asked who Jesus is and Peter responds that he is the ‘Christ,’ we might think this a good thing. But Jesus immediately warns them ‘to tell no one about him.’ Why? Because they themselves do not understand what this means. When Jesus tells them he must suffer and die, Peter rebukes him. How can the Messiah free Israel from the Romans and establish the nation as the center of the world if he suffers and dies? And so Jesus must chastise this one as a tool of Satan who has just recognized him as Messiah.
As I begin this series, I myself sense a need for a change. Though I am and have been a follower of Christ for more than 40 years, I believe that in this book of Mark Jesus calls his followers to a much more radical commitment to him than I have to this point made. I am thus looking forward to the challenges to my own life that I feel this book will bring, and I hope you will join me in this search for greater truth and a deeper way to live in Christ.
So,come and join us for this important sermon series as well as many other exciting events at CFMC.
- Adult Sunday school each Sunday @ 9:00 in the Living Room followed by fellowship time @ 10:00
- Sunday worship @ 10:30
- Study & Prayer–Wednesday nights @ 6:30
- If you haven’t joined us in the past, or if you haven’t been with us in a while, I encourage you to join us! Wednesday’s are always a great time of inter-generational discipleship. Right now we are in the midst of a study on the life of the prophet Elijah.
- Community Potluck–3rd Sunday of each month, following the service.
- Serving Meals at the Hope Center the 2nd Wednesday of each month @ 5:00
Blessing on your week,