If you’re prepping to preach in Lent, I’ve outlined a variety of ideas for sermon series, including:

In addition to these, a new sermon series – Mark My Words – is outlined below.

Sermon Series: Mark My Words

Using readings from the Gospel of Mark – largely from Year B of the Revised Common Lectionary, filling in where the RCL varies to other Gospels – each sermon in this series focuses on a particular Markan quotation of Jesus (or to Jesus).

1. “You are my Beloved.” (Mark 1:9-15)

An assurance we all need to receive: “You are beloved. You are my beloved.” Especially at the moment of baptism – that holy brush with death, that reminder of sinfulness and frailty – we need the promise that we are still loved. Did Jesus need that boost of assurance, too?

2. “Get behind me, Satan.” (Mark 8:31-38)

Peter tries – politely, discreetly – to advise Jesus against undermining his cause with talk of death. But Jesus has a compelling clarity about his cause from which he cannot be dissuaded. How often do we hedge on clarity, trying to massage it for palatability?

3. “Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:17-22)

“Then” comes second. Before “then,” there is “first”: “First do X, then do Y.” Or sometimes before “then,” there is “if”: “If X happens, then Y happens.” The rich man wants “then” to come first, without any “if”; he wants the good stuff (eternal life) without first having responsibilities. Sound familiar?

4. “Have faith in God.” (Mark 11:20-26)

I always feel sorry for the fig tree, cursed and withering. But the disciples’ reaction is less about the tree’s wellbeing and more about the power of the curse – and the power of faith undergirding that curse. Faith’s power can curse or it can free, it can build up or tear down. How do we use that power?

5. “Beware!” (Mark 13:1-8)

We are overawed by grandiosity – buildings, egos, wars – and we love to speak with authority on the grand. (We’re quite entertained to opine on the not-so-grand, too). But faith doesn’t call us to certainty. Faith calls us to inquiry, asking, “What is unfolding, and what is needed?”

6. “Surely not I?” (Mark 14:17-26)

A familiar question for the start of Holy Week, and a very human question that we hold at our existential core: “Surely I’m a good guy, right? Surely my time in this life has a cumulative impact for good, doesn’t it?” Do we, like the disciples, hope Jesus will resolve this doubt for us?

7. “Do not be alarmed.” (Mark 16:1-8)

Perhaps a young man, perhaps an angel, perhaps a prophetic vision, perhaps an unnamed do-gooder, but regardless of the identity, “Do not be alarmed” (or “Fear not”) is a holy greeting that permeates scripture. What if we greeted each other in this way?

Hymn suggestions to accompany the “Mark My Words” sermon series:

  • Beautiful Jesus (Fairest, Lord Jesus)
  • Ask Me What Great Thing I Know
  • Jesus Calls Us O’er the Tumult

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