Recorded on January 10th, 2021
Living life as the status quo often leaves us feeling empty and hollow. Listen as Pastor Rothschild talks about ways that you can engage with God and find something different to go after.
Transcript of Sermon:
Today we are going to be going through the book of mark together the gospel of mark together we have not done the whole breath of the gospel together we are going to start at mark one work our way through as the spirit moves us and today’s journey we are going to be work of john the baptist which we did a narrative of during the advent season but today we’re going to be looking um god just really moved and that was isn’t i also hate we think that we’re all going to be challenged today encourage us to open our hearts to see what that challenge means for us mark 1 1-8 the beginning of the good news about jesus the messiah the son of god as it is written in isaiah the prophet i will send my messenger ahead of you who will prepare your way a voice of one calling out in the wilder appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins the whole judean countryside and all the people of jerusalem went out to him confessing their sins they were baptized by him in the jordan river john wore clothing made of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist he ate locusts and wild honey and this was his message after me comes one more powerful than i the straps of whose sandals i am not worthy to stoop down and untie i baptize you with water but he will baptize you with the holy spirit this is the word of god for the people of god thanks be to god joe do i need to stay here okay well we’re going to try if i need to move back i will we’ll see we have a new microphone the church got a grant and we’ve been using that grant to change everything from joe’s equipment to the church’s owned equipment and we are using a new microphone today because of that and maybe that was part of our issue but we’re working on it so we’ll see if i have to go back joe will let me know and i’ll come back so let me tell you it has been an interesting time since the middle of march don’t you think it’s been beyond surprising i would not have thought at the beginning of 2020 that 2020 looked the way that it did i would not have thought at the beginning of 2021 that 2021 would look the way that it does in fact some of my favorite things that i’ve seen this year have been memes and if you don’t know what a meme is it’s a picture with some funny sayings on it but some of my favorite memes have been about people who have put 2020 and 2021 together in in funny ways and made some jokes about it because we wanted 2021 to be better we wanted 21 21 to be different than 2020 and so far not so much it’s been a lot of the same it’s been a lot of chaos it’s been a lot of different it’s we’re still not in church where we want to be right here in this place together but right now the virus is still out there and it’s still in out there in such a way that it’s dangerous and so we want to love our neighbor we want to be cautious we want to be part of the solution we want to help our health care workers we want to help those around us we want to allow kids to be able to go to school by making it so that we are not here by making the transmission not spread as much as we can and it’s hard it’s been so hard because what feels good to us as people who like to be in a church building for most of us is being here together at 11 o’clock on sunday singing songs together singing them loudly without a mask on connecting together instead of passing the piece virtually passing the peach by hugging each other shaking each other’s hands that feels good it feels right it feels normal and for many of us the cry has been for me the cry has been i just want to get back to normal i just want to get back to the way things were but i believe that god has been trying to do something different in us not just during this time of pandemic and chaos and division as i look back and as the holy spirit has been moving in me as your pastor as i look at the work god has been doing in us and through us during this time of change i realize that perhaps god has been trying to encourage us to do something different for quite some time yet the only way we were able to get out of our comfort zone was being forced out of our comfort zone so as we look at the book of mark today and the life of john the baptist what we’re going to see is that something different is often the thing the thing that god wants for us the thing that god wants for creation and that something different is the place where transformation happens so let’s look at the life of john and see how we can translate that to our life as believers in our life as a church community because we are a church community and one day i believe we will be back in this building together but what will that look like and how can we learn from what scripture tells us well let’s take a look the interesting thing about the book of mark is that it doesn’t start with a narrative about the birth of jesus you know a lot of us think that all of the gospels talk about jesus being born in a manger first off but not the book of mark the book of mark starts by the good news being prepared being laid way for by the work of john the baptist now john the baptist was a man who grew up in a very priestly home his parents elizabeth and zachariah were both in the priestly world their entire lives zechariah was a priest who worked in the temples now when i talk about the temples we’re talking about judaism they were jewish people their whole lives their entire lineage and not only were they jewish people who lived the jewish life but they were so incredibly rooted in that tradition that they were in the priestly format they lived in the temple courts they they lived the temple life zechariah was a priest and and led people in the temple rituals his mother elizabeth came from the lineage of aaron and the family of aaron were the priestly family so all of her heritage was in the priestly line so not only were they jewish and used to the rituals and the traditions and the customs of a jewish life but they were also priestly so everything about the temple life was normal to them it felt right it felt true it felt normal just like church at 11 o’clock on sunday here singing together feels right true and normal but what we’re told about john the baptist is that he came and his purpose specifically from the moment he was conceived in his mother’s womb was to prepare the way for jesus to make a path for people to find jesus and so as john grows older out of his teenagehood into his manhood he excuses himself from the temple life and moves into the wilderness which is a really interesting thing because that’s not normal that’s not what is typical for a jewish boy to do especially a jewish boy who grew up in a temple household his normal life would have been to continue in the jewish tradition especially if you think that he’s called to prepare the way for jesus you would think that he would be studying in the temple he would be studying the priestly life hood be studying ways to increase his work in the temple but instead he retreats to the wilderness and we’re told here that in the wilderness he eats nothing but locusts and wild honey and then he wears clothing made of camel’s hair with the leather belt wrapped around his waist now these aren’t just adjectives put in the scripture to give us some mental picture of what he looks like no they’re told to us for a specific reason we’re meant to pay attention to this because it’s something different something different than the status quo john retreated to the wilderness and in the wilderness living differently living off the land living in a way that allowed him to connect with god john then began to baptize people in the jordan river and in this baptist baptism and in this work in the jordan river john takes the work that is normally done in the temple the transformation that is normally happens only in the temple that is only allowed to happen in the temple and he moves it to the river can you imagine the kind of chaos that this created in the jewish world in that local area where they’re hearing about it you can only imagine the temple people imagine what zechariah and his mother elizabeth thought about this because when we moved from being in person to online only there were a lot of people not just at our church but church all over the world who struggle with whether or not that was holy with whether or not that was within god’s goodness so you can imagine what it must look like for john as he moved the work of the temple to a river wearing not priestly clothing but the clothing of the wilderness not only that but john was saying things that had nothing to do with anything they’d ever talked about in the temple john was telling people that he was preparing the way that he was baptizing them that he was giving them freedom from their sins preparing them for the work of one who is going to come after him all of this was something different different than the status quo and this is what prepared the way for people to be able to have a relationship a transformative relationship with jesus you see you and i get so caught up in what is comfortable for us what is normal for us that we start to think that it is the only way it is the right way for us to do church for us to reach people for us to do the work of god and we start to forget that there are other ways or other ways of doing the work of god that god often we kept the same forever in fact did god’s most amazing works outside of the status quo when there was change happening god asked john to do things diff her god create i do not believe the chaos that we are experiencing in the world right now but i do believe with every fiber of my being that god is using the chaos of the world that we are experiencing now to force us to see the world differently to force us to consider how church could be done differently because the reality is is that the majority of people are not at church on sunday mornings you and i are here but there’s so there are so many who are being left out of that process there are so many who have not experienced the kingdom of god here on earth there are so many who haven’t experienced freedom from sin the peace of a father and i can’t tell you how many times i’ve heard or maybe even i’ve said what is wrong with these people that they won’t come to church what is wrong with these people that they won’t prioritize coming to church what is wrong with the world but we’re not asking the right question you see jesus didn’t come to build buildings and ask us to come sit in pews at the same time every week to sing the same songs to go through the same liturgy every week jesus came and asked us to go out into the world not to ask the world to come to us jesus said come go go into the world and share the good news and when we get forget about the going part because we love you so much and it doesn’t make this piece bad it doesn’t make sunday mornings at 11 with our friend bad it means that it can get in the way because we allow it to we get so comfortable in the status quo that we stop letting it be a road to transformation for others and i believe god is inviting us to in this chaos is to consider what needs to be different what we can do you and i to help invite people to jesus what can we do because what i have seen happen what you have seen happen is that people who would never step foot into church doors are getting to see and hear about jesus because we as churches not just this church but churches across the globe are doing a better job of getting the message out online we are focusing more on that and we are focusing on how we can do a better job of getting the word out you guys are are hosting parties on facebook as you’re watching we’re thinking about how we use different platforms online to share the word of god to reach the people who won’t come into these doors instead of asking why are they so bad that they’re not coming here we’re saying how do we get the word out to where they are questions i believe we could have easily asked way before this pandemic but now we’re asking them because something is different we’re moving from the temple to the river and that’s not bad that’s where transformation happens both for us and for those who haven’t gotten to hear of the gospel our job right to share the good news of the gospel john was meant to pave the way to jesus you and i are meant to pave the way to jesus we make transformation happen we don’t create change in people’s lives we simply make path to jesus and if we can’t make the path lead right into these doors then we have to find a path that will lead to jesus and the interesting thing that happens here is that jesus comes paved the way people were baptized they started to change the way they thought they they engaged in this process people who had disconnected from the temple yet they engaged in this process and then when jesus what jesus did he didn’t go back to the temple he stood the river with john we’ll see that next week jesus also disturbed the status quo jesus came and changed everything that was normal for people in the jewish life they expected a messiah who would look one way and he came looking a completely different way and so what i’m guessing what i’m trying to say is that for you and i when we look at what’s going to be normal for us when we come back together we have to think that normal can’t look the same anymore you and i need to spend time in prayer considering what it is god wants us to be as a church who it is god wants us to be as a people and how we can continue to do this work of paving away to jesus as we come back into this place that is comfortable for us but maybe not so for other people because our work is not to come and sit in a building our work is to go and share the good news of the gospel so how do we do both how do we come back and enjoy the comfort of each other while at the same time going and sharing the gospel how do our transformed lives lead to the transformed lives of others john the baptist came and changed the status quo you and i are living in a time that is full of chaos and i believe god is asking us to use this time god is encouraging us forcing us out of our comfort zones on purpose for a purpose how will you and i commit ourselves to doing that work and not just going back to the way it was before because it can’t go back the way it was before can you and i commit to being okay with that can you and i like john commit to doing the work that we are called to do john’s father zachariah right before he was after he was born said this said a prayer to god and here he is talking about john and he says and you my child will be called a prophet of the most high for you will go on before the lord to prepare a way for him to give his people the knowledge of through the forgiveness of their sins because of the tender mercy of our god by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in the darkness and in the shadow of death to guide our feet in the path of peace our job is a lot like john’s our job is to go and to prepare a way for people who need jesus for people who are living in darkness in the shadow of death for people who need to be able to walk on the path of peace you and i find comfort here how can we help others find comfort and transformation with jesus so the challenge for us is to consider how we do both how we continue to grow in our relationship with each other as a church and how we go out into this world and create paths that light the darkness let us pray god i thank you for encouraging us to do the work that john has done and paving away to jesus to the good news where salvation can be found where lives can be changed god help us to be willing to let go of what is normal for us what is status quo to accept something different because that something different leads to transformation both for us and for others god give us the courage to step outside of our norm and into what it is that you are asking us to do it’s in the name of jesus we pray amen.