Just this last week several of us elders were talking about how strange and sweet preaching is. What other group is sustained over centuries by near hour-long weekly monologues? We couldn’t think of any. But for us preaching is more than just words from a man, but the Word of Christ for us, to us, about us, and even in us. “Him we proclaim,” Paul wrote, “warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Col. 1:28). Preaching is personal and crucial.
I’m writing to give you a lay of the land for the pulpit over the coming months. Typically I’ll spread my time out of the pulpit more evenly across the year with a short break just after Christmas and a longer break in the summer. But given the contours of 2020 and our urgent need for continuity and connection, I’ve felt the need to hold down the pulpit for longer stretches than normal. I am not weary of preaching, but I don’t want to grow weary of preaching. So for your sake, for the development of other voices, and so I can put my attention on other projects, I’ll be doing a bit of tag-teaming over the coming months.
Here’s the plan. Keep this in mind as you prepare to hear the word and as you consider inviting your neighbors to join us.
Continuing on the Path with Mark
We have been in Mark’s Gospel now since the end of March. We picked Mark for a few reasons. We had spent a year in the Old Testament in Genesis and Exodus. Mark’s gospel begins by building off of both of those books: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (1:1). Genesis gives us the beginning, and Mark gives us a new beginning. Exodus teaches us of God’s purpose to bring salvation to the world through his son, Israel. Mark brings us the arrival of the divine and David Son of God who brings that salvation through a new exodus.
We will keep pressing on with Mark until we’re done, but over the coming months we’ll take some strategic detours. Not an exit from our series so much as two flashbacks to enrich our hearing of Mark’s message.
Behold, He Is Coming
On November 1 and 8, Pastor Abe Stratton will preach a two-part series through the book of Malachi, titled, Behold He Is Coming. Mark opens his gospel account with a quote from Malachi, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way” (1:2). That way is the way of the Lord. Where does that way lead? It leads to the Lord’s temple, “And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple” (Mal. 3:1). If you were with us last week, you’ll know what happened when the Lord got there.
Which makes this a perfect time to stop for a flashback to God’s promises made through the prophet Malachi concerning his worship and the need for a pure priesthood. This is a perfectly planned stop, but we should give credit to the Lord for that. I asked Abe when and what he’d like to preach and he picked these dates and the book of Malachi. After this short two-part series, we will return to our series through Mark.
You Are the Christ
In the month of December we will take another break from our series through Mark, but again this is not quite a break but a sidebar. In Mark 8, Peter correctly identifies Jesus with the famous words, “You are the Christ” (8:29). Peter believed Jesus was the Christ promised in the Old Testament Scriptures. But Peter did not fully understand the the mission of the Messiah, who would come to suffer for his people.
Over four weeks in December, Pastor Abe Stratton and Dan Cruver will join me to preach a short series, You Are the Christ, in which we will draw from Old Testament Scriptures to preach the fullness of that confession, even better than Peter knew.
- December 6: “Son of the Woman,” Genesis 3:15
- December 13: “Son of Man,” Daniel 7
- December 20: “Son of God,” 2 Samuel 7
- December 27: “Suffering Servant,” Isaiah 53
After that, I’ll take my annual two-weeks out of the pulpit after Christmas and Dan Cruver will lead us in a short series, which we’ll iron out later.
Join me in praying for our preachers, that they would know Christ in the study and make him known to us in the pulpit.