December 10, 2017
Sermon Message by Rev. Dr. Parrish Bridges
"The Voice in the Message"
Call to Worship
Leader: Christ is coming! Prepare the way of the Lord.
People: What must we do to make ready?
Leader: Repent and seek God’s forgiveness.
People: We confess that we are not worthy to untie Christ’s shoelaces, but we come seeking God’s mercy.
Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 40: 1-11 (NIV) New International Version
Comfort for God's People
1) Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
2) Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
3) A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
4) Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5) And the glory of the Lordwill be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lordhas spoken.”
6) A voice says, “Cry out.”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
“All people are like grass,
and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
7) The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the Lordblows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
8) The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”
9) You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
10) See, the Sovereign Lordcomes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
11) He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
New Testament Reading: Mark 1: 1-8 (NIV) New International Version
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1) The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah,1:1 Or Jesus Christ. Messiah (Hebrew) and Christ (Greek) both mean Anointed One. 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 —
3) “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’ ”
4) And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5) 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. 6) John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7) And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8) I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
The Day and Hour Unknown
32) “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33) Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34) It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
35) “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36) If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37) What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ”
Prayer of Confession
Lord, we are getting ready to celebrate that day when Love came to dwell among us. Even as we make our preparations to mark the power of love made known to us in Jesus Christ, we must confess that we have failed to love others as we love ourselves, and we have neglected to choose service to others over show and selfishness. Help us as we seek to be the people Christ freed us to be, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.