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Sermon Ideas For Mark 1:9-15 Part 3

New Christians are often struck by the proximity of Jesus' baptism and the immediacy of his wilderness experience. But life seems to be somewhat consistent in presenting us with highs and lows, as Eleanor of Aquitaine finds in James Goldman's, The Lion in Winter, when King Henry seeks an annulment, refuses to relinquish the throne to any of her sons, and tells her that he will wed and bed a young lass to gain an heir. Sometimes we must just absorb our disappointments and toss them off as she does with an acerbic, Well, what family doesn't have its ups and downs? Other times, we need something much stronger.
At the beginning of the season of Lent, this Baptism/Wilderness story is often used to prepare us for a journey. But I believe that the crux does not lie in the wilderness ahead, nor the ministry beyond that, but is rooted in verse 11b: You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased. This is the model of good parenting. These are the words every child wants to hear from their parent(s.) For Jesus, these words are both the assurance that God loves him and the foundation for his ministry, his death and resurrection. The importance of love and acceptance for us humans is critical. In this text from Mark we can see that it is also important to the human Jesus.
Chicken Soup for the Soul, a collection of stories written and compiled by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, has sold so many copies that there is now More Chicken Soup. In the first volume is a great story about a man who is given a ribbon with the instructions that he pass it on to someone he cares for as a reminder that they are loved. He ponders all day and finally decides to pin it on to his teen-age son. Some time later, his son tells the father that he was poised to kill himself on the day that the father had given him a simple ribbon and told him that he loved him.
John Curtis Chapman sings a song about "A Baseball Game" in which a little boy plays baseball routinely at a neighborhood field. At the end of each game he sees his dad in the outfield, walking toward him to pick him up after the game. One day he has played particularly well, and is so proud when his dad comes to meet him after the game. The Dad walks toward him, sweeps him up in a grand embrace and says, "I love you, son, let's go get some ice cream!" The next game doesn't go as well. Discouraged and disappointed at the end, the little boy is not looking forward to greeting his dad in the outfield. Yet here comes dad, who walks toward him, sweeps him up in a grand embrace and says, "I love you, son, let's go get some ice cream!" That's the kind of love God shares with us.
In the great Victor Hugo classic, Les Miserables, the main character Jean Valjean has been imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread. Upon his release he is taken in for the evening by a priest, who invites him to share his table. When the priest retires for the night Valjean steals the silver and escapes into the darkness. He is quickly apprehended and dragged in front of the priest, who gently chides him for forgetting the rest of the gift he had given, a pair of silver candlesticks. Valjean, deeply moved by the grace shown him, turns his life around and becomes a hero and savior of many others.
Amore vincit omnia. Love conquers all.
Susan Langhauser