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Show And Tell

The Rev. Joseph Winston

November 15, 2009

Sermon

Grace and peace are gifts for you from God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.1
By this time of the year, kindergarteners know exactly what to expect from
school. They realize they must be out of bed and ready for classes before Mom
starts yelling at them that it is time to go. The children also understand they must
follow all the rules on the playground and in the classroom or consequences will
certainly follow. Once a week, the kindergarteners gather items for “show-and-
tell.” During this class time, the young students find something that they like
and then they describe this item to their classmates. Johnny might dream all day
long about green tractors so he brings in some of his toys to show the rest of the
class. Betty loves her little brother and he quickly becomes the topic of discussion.
Sharon’s pony is her joy. She shares pictures of him during a class.
1
Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians
1:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:2, Philemon 1:3.

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Variations on the theme of informing others what interests you continue through
out your time in school. The only change is how you tell others.
You can guess the topic of discussion during the next few days of school:
Thanksgiving. Elementary aged children are bound to write lists that contain their
favorite Thanksgiving foods. Elementary aged children are going to write a few
sentences that tell us what they are thankful for. Junior high students will describe
in detail the first Thanksgiving held by Pilgrims in 1621.
Teachers like to use the technique of “show-and-tell” since it forces you to
focus your thoughts on a single item. You first must find something to describe.
All by itself, this action takes some time. You just cannot talk intelligently about
any old item you know nothing about. You then need to let others know what
you have. You might start out by telling your audience attributes like color or
shape. It is also possible to compare your object with something else. You could
even contrast your item with another object. This process continues until you feel
like you have made your point. Now your listeners know exactly what you have.
One can always add a conclusion that reminds everyone of what you started out
explaining.
The old saw of “Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then
tell them what you just told them” certainly applies here. That is all that “show-
and-tell” is. It is just a time-tested way of presenting information. Said another
way, “show-and-tell” teaches us to organize our thoughts in a way to convince
others that we know what we are taking about.
The author of Mark knows all about “show-and-tell.” You can tell that by the

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way he writes. He starts out by telling us in the very first verse of the book that
bears his name, “The beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God
(NRSV Mark 1:1).” This one sentence is full of words that we normally do not
use in everyday conversation and need further explanation. What is so good about
this book? Who is Jesus? How is He the Son of God?
A session of “show-and-tell” does not have to be long to be informative.
Kindergarteners can say everything they need in a few minutes. Newspaper au-
thors can bring the point home in a thousand words. The author of Mark explains
the first sentence and answers all of our questions by using about eleven thousand
Greek words. This means the entire Gospel can be read in about thirty minutes
since it is about as long as ten newspaper articles.
Unfortunately, most of the churches around the world no longer listen to the
entire Gospel according to St. Mark in a single sitting. We now hear a little bit
here and then a tiny part from over there. This drags out the Gospel and makes
it seem much longer than it really is. Just to point out how long we stretch out
Mark, the last time we heard the opening of Mark was almost twelve months ago
on December 7, 2008.
There is a cost to our way of doing things. By breaking the account up into
little bite-sized pieces, we have lost the flow of the story. We no longer can re-
member what he is telling us. We have actually forgotten what he is trying to
show us.
Today’s Gospel lesson requires us to remember what has previously occurred.
Otherwise, you will not know what is going on. The clues are all there for you if

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you are willing to go and dig them out. The narrator tells you that Peter, James,
John, and Andrew are with Jesus (Mark 13:3). This is an unusual grouping of
names. The only way you can find this out is by listening to what has already
happened. There are just two times that Mark mentions these four men together.
One time this happens when the narrator gives us the calling of the disciples (Mark
3:13-19). The only other time that the narrator places these men together occurs
when Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law in the first chapter of Mark (1:29).
The question these men ask of Jesus reinforces the observation that we need
to recall the action up to this point. These men do not have a good record of
interacting with Jesus. See what they have already done. Peter argues with Jesus
about what must happen to the Son of God (Mark 8:32). For his bad behavior,
Jesus calls Peter Satan and then He tells Peter to leave His sight (Mark 8:33). A
bit later during Christ’s transformation, Peter once again tries to stop Jesus from
His mission. This time the request is for Moses, Elijah, Jesus, Peter, James, and
John to remain on the mountaintop away from all the problems of the world (Mark
9:5). Of course, James and John have their own issues. They want Jesus to give
them whatever they want (Mark 10:35). They naively assume that Jesus just hands
out favors. Not only did this action on their part upset the other disciples but they
also found out that power in Christ’s world is serving others (Mark 10:36-45).
The request the four disciples make today is for knowledge. These men want
to know when it is going to happen. They want the time when the temple will be
destroyed and one stone will not be left standing on the other (Mark 13:3-4).
Why do they want to see this ancient site decimated? What is their reason for

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wanting to watch the center of the faith wiped off the face of the earth? Why do
they ask this question at all? Maybe they cannot stomach the actions of commerce
occurring in and around the temple. Perhaps they do not like the treatment Jesus
receives at the hand of those in charge. It even could be that they want to settle an
old score. It really does not matter. It seems as if these four disciples want Jesus to
throw His weight around. Their hope appears to be the destruction of the temple
so they can finally be put in charge.
You get a sense of this in the opening words of Christ’s answer, “Beware (Mark
13:5).”2 Watch out, Jesus tells them, you do not know what you are asking.
You know this from what you have already been shown by the author of Mark.
Jesus is not coming with a power that destroys temples, nations, and worlds. Christ
instead comes with a different agenda. He comes to save you. The message that
Jesus consistently preaches in Mark’s account is, “The time is now. The ruler
is here. Change your behavior. This is the Good News (Mark 1:15).” In God’s
world, Jesus repairs the broken, He welcomes the unacceptable, and He desires
the undesirable. You see this right before your own eyes. Jesus brings into the
Kingdom of God all those people crowded out by the rest of the world.3 The
method Jesus uses to welcome all the outcasts into His reign is not one of either
force or oppression. Instead, Jesus sits down and eats with them (Mark 2:16). This
life style of sharing bread and wine continues all the way to the cross.
Nothing moves Jesus from His set plan of service. Even when facing the Ro-
2
For other instances of the imperative βλέπετε in this section see Mark 13:9; 23; 33.
3
Ed Schroeder, Asleep: Mark 13:1-8 Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, (http://www.
crossings.org/theology/1997/theolo87.shtml, 1997).

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man Empire, Jesus never calls down wave after wave of the heavenly army to
protect Him from harm. Rather, He dies all alone on the cross so that we might
live.
It is important for you to hear time and time again of how God came to live
among us so you can once again see how Jesus uses power. Out of all the Gospels,
the Gospel written by Mark is clearest on this one point. Power is not taking the
world by force nor is it ruling the empires of this world with an iron fist. Power
in Mark’s Gospel comes in the form of care for the less fortunate. The primary
illustration of Christ’s power comes in a few more chapters. There He is. Raised
on the cross. Dripping blood on the ground.
The issue set before you today in the thirteenth chapter of Mark forces you to
closely examine your understanding of God’s power. When Christ comes again,
how will He deal with the people that He finds living here on earth? Will He use
force against these individuals or will He provide for their health, welfare, and
maintenance? If the Gospel according to Mark is correct, Jesus will once again
give aid to those who need it the most.
When Jesus tells you of the destruction of the temple, of the wars that destroy
both people and property, and of the natural disasters that harm the plant and
humans, He is simply reminding you what you have done. This is what you have
brought into the world. These forces of death and destruction rain down on our
children and us because you choose to be your own god. You want to have it all.
Simply, this is the story of your sin. Go and see what you do. This is the way the
world works. This is the power that causes the temple to fall.

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Ever so patiently, Jesus tells you in today’s Gospel lesson, “Beware. Do not
leave the narrow path. Watch out. Others might tell you they follow Christ’s way
of life. Test. Not all the people who say they are the Messiah are really one (Mark
13:5-6).”
While this information might be enough for some people, for other of us it is
not. We hope for something we can experience. We need something tangible. We
want “show-and-tell.”
For you that needs Christ to be close, Jesus comes to you in Word, water,
bread, and wine. With these things that He gives you, you can sense God with
your body. His Word enters your ears and warms your heart. He can be touched.
Feel the water of baptism pour over you and welcome you home. Taste the bread
of life. It feeds you for the journey through life. Drink the cup of blessing. The
gift is for you.
The Lord God of the Universe, the creator of the world, the author of salvation
brings you this “show-and-tell lesson.” The King is here. He whispers softly to
you, “You are mine.”
Today we celebrate the baptism of Robin into the church. In this gift of grace,
we see first hand the Gospel. God is here with us. God claims her. This Good
News lasts forever.
“The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and
minds through Christ Jesus.”4
4
Philippians 4:7.

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References

Donahue, S.J., John R. and Harrington, S.J., Daniel J.; Idem, editor, The Gospel
of Mark, Volume 2, Sacra Pagina, (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press,
2002).

Schroeder, Ed, Asleep: Mark 13:1-8 Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Pentecost,


(http://www.crossings.org/theology/1997/theolo87.
shtml, 1997), Last checked on November 14, 2009.