Sermon 02/21/21: “The Time Has Come,” Jesus Said. (Lent I)

At this time, due to surging Coronavirus rates, many are not quite ready to return to face to face worship. If this includes you, please click on the link below to watch the entire worship service as a video on your home computer, tablet or smartphone:

Link to Video

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/514792302

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/crnrcvSSLI

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If you would prefer not to view the video, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of the Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition: 

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

HYMN Faith, While Trees Are Still in Blossom 508
Faith, While Trees are Still in Blossom
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ5G0A7oZ7M

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Children of the Heavenly Father 141
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1Le7-y9xVI

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: “The Time Has Come,” Jesus Said.
Text: Mark 1:9-15
Series: The Journey Through Lent To The Cross

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

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SERMON NOTES

Mark 1:9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. 14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

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HYMN Oh Love that Will Not Let Me Go
Oh Love that Will Not Let Me Go – Music Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGAPkKXBQKI

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

(If you wish, you can listen to this prayer being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

The true Christmas story is moving along. But it’s moving along from Act One to Act Two. Your typical move, your typical television drama, your typical situation comedy, there will be three acts. The story is divided into three parts. There is the beginning part where you get to meet the people in the story. But then there is a longer second part where things begin to happen to those people. Act two is when things get busy. Act one of Christmas, Jesus is here. There’s mangers, and shepherds, and angels, and wise men. But it’s at the beginning of Lent, it’s in Act two that Jesus begins to do his work, that Jesus begins to fulfill his purpose, that Jesus begins to demonstrate why he was sent here. And Jesus is not only here, Jesus invites us to join him in his work.

Howard Thurman wrote a beautiful poem that he called The Work of Christmas. And here’s how it goes.

“When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and the princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flock,
the work of Christmas begins.”

What is that work?

“To find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among brothers,
to make music in the heart.”

This is what begins to happen in Act two. But you know what most of us do? Act one happens and then we take down all the Christmas decorations and we put them in a box till next year nestled into the foam, protective sheet supports so that nothing bad can happen to that beautiful Christmas in the manger with the angels and the shepherds. And we go on to other things.

It was my proposal this year that we leave Christmas up all the way to February and Kim said, “No. That’s not how we do it in our house.” But just imagine what this is like. Your favorite movie, somebody comes in and turns it off after the first 20 minutes. What good is that? Your favorite situation comedy, 30 minutes long, somebody comes in 8 minutes into it, turns it off. Don’t you want to get to the rest of the story? Don’t you want to get to the place where things actually begin to happen?

Because it’s in Lent that Jesus begins to act. The waiting is over because Jesus is ready.

Let’s look at the scripture. Mark 1:9. At that time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The way they baptized in those days, and most people are unfamiliar with, the person would kneel in the water and they would make a sign of submission that you would to a Lord or a King. And as they did this, they would bow down, go under the water and come up to experience new life as a servant of the Lord. This is how they could baptize 2,000 people on a single day. Baptism is an act of submission to God’s will. It is a way of saying once, for the rest of your life, “Thy will be done.” It’s part of the preparation for act two.

Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. The Holy Spirit comes to make his home in your heart and life and empower you to fulfill God’s will.

Verse 11. And a voice came from heaven. You are my son, whom I love. With you, I am well pleased. These are things that prepared Jesus for his ministry. They prepare us also to serve.

At once, the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness and he was in the wilderness 40 days. Jesus was fasting for 40 days like Moses fasted for 40 days. And it is no coincidence, brothers and sisters, that Lent lasts for 40 days. Jesus is getting ready to act, and times of prayer and fasting are part of getting ready. And they’re a very important theme in Lent.

Now, any time you turn away from the world to turn your eyes upon Jesus, what immediately happens? The world tries to drag you back. The minute Jesus goes into the wilderness to spend time with God, the devil shows up to tempt him to do something else. As it says in the scripture, being tempted by Satan, he was with the wild animals and angels attended him. After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee proclaiming the good news of God.

And what is the good news of God? Here it is. The time has come. Those four words, to me, are the heart of what we’re talking about at the beginning of Lent. The time has come, Jesus said. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.

So up until the beginning of Act two, Jesus is getting ready. Well, first, he needs to be born. But then there’s baptism, which is submission to the will of God. There’s being filled with the Holy Spirit, which is to be empowered to do the will of God. Then there are 40 days of fasting and prayer. Then there are temptations, three of them which we still struggle with. But then, finally, Act two is ready to start. Jesus returns proclaiming the good news of God. Jesus is now ready to do what God has brought him into this world to do. “The time has come,” he said. “The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent.” We all need to repent. “And believe.” We all need to believe. And what do we believe? “The good news.”

Pastor Dave, what is the good news? Well, the good news is every single thing that Jesus said and did in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But if you wanted to summarize it, there it is on the screen right there. And the good news, honestly, I would suggest to you is this, the time has come. It’s no longer time to sit in your La-Z-Boy recliner. It’s no longer time to lose yourself watching reruns on TV. It’s no longer time to play endless games of solitaire on the computer. It’s no longer time to wait because the time is now.
As it says in Hebrews, “Today is the day of salvation.” Are you ready?

This is the time that I’m a little worried about because that La-Z-Boy recliner has gotten awfully comfortable. And whatever you do to pass the time, and whatever I do to pass the time, that’s gotten awfully comfortable. Are we ready to get up, and to follow Jesus into the new world that he’s calling us to?

You see, what happens right after this, he’s walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and he says to Peter and Andrew, “Follow me.” It’s no longer time to fish. It’s time to follow me.

He says to James and John, the brothers, “Follow me.” It’s no longer time to mend your nets. It’s time to get up and get going. It’s time. Are you ready? Because the time has come. And I want to tell you, with all of the honesty that I possibly can, I am ready because I am so tired of this.

I am so tired of wearing my Birkenstock sandals and walking over to church and getting snow on my toes. It’s just wrong. Some of you have heard me say this. I have an irrational belief that if I dress like it’s summer, summer will come sooner. So far, it’s not worked very well. Not as bad as Texas, but not all that great!

I am so tired of all this waiting and being prevented from doing what I want to do, being hemmed in like there’s barbed wire around the house and you can’t do anything.

Oh, and by the way, are you like me? I am so tired of this (coronavirus). Because ever since March, it’s like I can’t do what I want to do. And my church can’t do what the church wants to do. And my church people can’t do what their hearts most want them to do. I am so tired of limitations, and as a result, I’m ready. I’m ready for Jesus to get us started. I am ready.

Now, here’s a couple of things to know about getting started. There’s a way we used to do things before the coronavirus happened, and there’s a way we used to do things before Jesus came. When Jesus gets us started, He’s not going to take us back to the same old, same old. He’s going to open a door into a better way to live. The Lord of the sheep, the Good Shepherd, does not lead you to green pastures that are worse, but He leads us to a better life.

And what that means, when Jesus calls for us to rise up and get going and start doing is, we’re going to leave the comfort zone of the way we’ve always done it before, and Jesus is going to lead us into a place where the magic happens because the same Jesus Christ that healed people back then is alive with us now. The same Jesus Christ that set people free from demonic oppression back then is still here to set us free today. The same Jesus who was here centuries ago to teach us the truth about God is still in the pages of the Bible, teaching us today. The same Jesus is ready to lead us into new life.

Let’s not be like the people of the nation of Israel in Moses’s day to where we were willing to change, but the change we wanted to do was to go back to Egypt, to go back to the way things were before. No, Jesus says, “Come follow me, and we’re going to go into the kingdom of God.”

Up in the top, right-hand corner of the picture there, you see one of those little cups? I remember– I don’t even know if they still do this, but years ago, I went to Wendy’s and paid for my hamburger. And all of a sudden, there was a rattle of coins into a little cup, and there was a sign above that that said, “Please accept your change.” Jesus Christ is asking us to go with Him into something new. I know you don’t want a repeat of the coronavirus. I know you don’t want a repeat of this last blizzard. But please accept your change. Let Jesus lead you into a new life, whatever that means for you, because He desires that love and joy and peace would become our new normal.

This has always been a part of the Christmas story. Do you remember singing this: “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes–“ … Jesus comes. Jesus comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found, healing and change and God’s love and grace is going to flow out from the center where Jesus is, to fill the whole earth. That’s the true work of Christmas.

Are you ready for that to happen? Are you ready to experience new life? Are you ready for spring to follow winter? I know I am, and so God says to us– Jesus says to us, “The time has come. It’s no longer time to procrastinate, it’s no longer time to retreat, it’s no longer time to nap our way through the week. The time has come.” Jesus said, “The time is now.”

Now, if you look at the screen, you see the word repent. It’s followed by a semicolon. You see the word believe? We all know we’re supposed to believe but it’s followed by a semicolon. And then follow me, that’s followed by a semicolon.

Have you ever seen someone with a tattoo of a semicolon? Do you know what that means? Now, I’m not encouraging anybody here to go out and get a tattoo, but if you want to take a magic marker and put a semicolon on your wrist, you’re welcome to do that. You’re okay if you want to take some kind of ashes, perhaps, and put a semicolon on your forehead. Do you know what the semicolon means (as a tattoo)?

It’s becoming a sign among people who are struggling with addiction, who are struggling with problems, who are struggling with mental illness, and the idea behind the semicolon is this, “My story is not over as if there’s a period. I’ve had a hard life. But the point of the semicolon is my life is changing as I move into the future. The point of the semicolon is there’s a story that goes on beyond the old story because God’s not finished with me yet.”

And brothers and sisters, God is not finished with you, and God is not finished with this church, and God is not finished with this community. But as Jesus rises up and says, “Follow me.” Will we be willing to leave our net, and our La-Z-Boy recliners, and our computer games, and get up off our comfortable pews, and go with Jesus to where the magic happens?

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, we are sick and tired of the snow but that doesn’t mean that we’re sick and tired of lying around the house. Lord Jesus, we are sick and tired of the coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean that we are ready to follow you, and to do your will. Lord Jesus, we are sick and tired of all the limitations we’ve had to live with but that doesn’t mean, Lord, that we’re willing to let you forgive us, and set us free. And like the Good Shepherd in the 23rd psalm, it doesn’t mean that we’re willing to follow you, and allow you to lead us into a beautiful new life which you called the Kingdom of God. Help us, Lord, to understand now that when you began your ministry with these words, “The time has come,” you were asking people to follow you and join you. And Lord, I pray that you would help us to hear that call, to be with you, and to be your servants during this season of Lent. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

EPILOGUE: a few words after the hymn:

I’d like to tell you a little story before we finish with the benediction. For almost six and a half years now, you’ve been looking at this bicycle, and we’ve been finishing the service in this way, because there was a sermon six and a half years ago that made a point about physics. And here’s the point. And you can practice this if you want to go home today and find a bicycle. You cannot balance yourself on a bicycle that’s not moving forward. Did you know that?
Yeah, I do. I learned that the hard way. [laughter] You learned that the hard way, too? Okay.

And there was a sermon six and a half years ago that said, “Friends, the church only stays in balance when it’s moving forward because it’s just like a bicycle.” And that was only meant to be in there one Sunday … but Steve Fox liked it so much, he put it in there every Sunday, and now it doesn’t hardly seem like church if we don’t end our worship this way.

But it’s the same thing as the message today was talking about, we can only live in balance … We can only avoid an accident … if the church is moving forward. May we all move forward together. There is no peace, there is no safety, there is no stability in this crazy world by staying still, we have to move forward.
So now: May the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the love of God, the Father, and the presence of the comforter, his Holy Spirit, be with us all now and forevermore. Amen.
Amen.
Now, don’t just sit there, don’t just stand there … Do something!
Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.
 

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