All in the Name

It is a name never found in any baby book. It is not a name that circles round into popularity after years not in use. No one chooses this name because all the best ones have been taken. It is a name that once mentioned requires nothing else be said. The name is “Judas.” Little is said about Judas in Scripture, especially in Mark’s Gospel. He is a tragic enigma. Matthew, Luke, and John will flesh out his story a bit, but even then, we know little about him. As Mark tells the story, Judas, one of the twelve who followed Jesus, betrays Jesus with a kiss. It was a sign he had set up with the authorities, as if Jesus were a man in hiding. So, soon after Passover dinner, Judas walks up to Jesus,

A Second Try

Text: Mark 1:9-15 It was nearing Christmas and time was at a premium. She dashed into my study and assured me that she would not need much of my time. I was the first research stop for her religion paper that was due two days later. She was interviewing a group of Christian leaders. She wanted to know: “Who is God for Presbyterians?” and “How do you understand the person of Jesus?” and “What difference does it make if you follow Jesus or not?” Though she asked for little of my time, I soon realized she was asking questions that few of us ever answer in a lifetime. Then, she asked the toughest question by far: “What is the central message of your faith?” By the time that question arrived, I

Listen With Eyes Wide Open

The ninth chapter of Mark is a visual feast. As the camera zooms in, we see Jesus, Peter, James, and John climbing a mountain. When they reach the top, Jesus does not change clothes but the clothes he is wearing change, dramatically. Before their stunned eyes, the disciples see what the Greek says is a “metamorphosis” of Jesus. And before they can adjust their eyes, there is yet another stunning sight. Moses the lawgiver and Elijah the prophet join Jesus atop the mountain. While the Transfiguration Story in Mark is visually spectacular, it is a story as much about hearing as it is seeing. It is about listening to what God has to say about Jesus and listening to Jesus above the din of every c

Sermon: The First Deacon

The First Deacon Text: Mark 1:29-31 (Gary W. Charles, Cove Presbyterian Church, Covesville, VA, 2-4-2018) Every profession and trade, sport or hobby, has its own particular language. Spend time with a lawyer, a doctor, a carpenter, a plumber and you will hear unfamiliar words that ring odd to the ear. The church is no exception. Most people outside the church can manage quite well without ever hearing, much less understanding, such words as “narthex” or “vestibule,” “chancel” or “nave.” The word “deacon” is one of those particular churchy words. For former Baptists, “deacon” conjures up images of those who govern the local church. For former Roman Catholics and Episcopalians, it conjures u

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