Sunday LinkUp – 03December2023



Today is the first Sunday of Advent.

Traditionally, Advent is a season of expectation and waiting, preparation and anticipation.  Our RCL scriptures for this Advent season also include some apocalyptic texts, ones that disrupt our usual way of viewing Advent and the Incarnation.  They encourage us to watch for God to be revealed in our world now, adding a new layer of insight about the Christmas season.  Emmanuel – God with us – is here now and will come again.

This Advent, we are re-orienting ourselves to thinking about and living in time differently.  Instead of having a future focus, we anticipate God’s presence in the present.  Rather than thinking we must be prepared or ready for God to enter the world, we have the hope and assurance that ready or not, Jesus has come, is present by his Spirit, and will return in glory.

The theme for this week is Jesus will appear again.

  • Psalm 80:1-7,17-19 is an acknowledgement that often God becomes decentered from our lives, and it invites a prayer for restoration, a recentering in God.
  • Isaiah 64:1-9 recounts times when God appeared in the human world, doing “awesome deeds that we did not expect.”
  • 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 Paul writes to believers in Corinth that their strength comes from Lord Jesus Christ, and as we wait for his return, he continues to strengthen us with spiritual gifts and fellowship.
  • Our sermon text, based on Mark 13:24-37, helps us understand the ever-present, divine, and risky love behind the Incarnation and Second Coming, as well as what we should be watching for.



From the TRANSCRIPT … 

Advent – Hope

In a world filled with uncertainty and darkness, we find ourselves journeying through the season of Advent.  This sacred time of waiting and anticipation reminds us of the profound significance of hope.

Isaiah 64:1-3 in the New Revised Standard Version reads:

“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence — as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil — to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence!”

As we look around, we witness the struggles of our world — a world yearning for divine intervention, just as Isaiah did.  We see nations in turmoil, hearts in despair, and lives shattered by adversity.

But Advent whispers a promise — a promise of hope.  It calls us to prepare our hearts and open our eyes to the light breaking through the darkness.  The hope that transcends our circumstances and points us to a Savior who comes to heal, redeem, and lead us into wholeness.

In this season of Advent, let us kindle the flame of hope in our hearts.  Just as the prophets of old cried out for God to rend the heavens and come down, we too cry out for God’s presence to be known in our midst.

In our gatherings, in our prayers, and in our actions, let us be bearers of hope.  Let us be the hands and feet of Christ, demonstrating love and compassion to a world desperately in need.

Isaiah reminds us that even in the darkest of times, we have a God who hears, a God who cares, and a God who brings hopeThis season, let us embrace the message of Advent and let the hope of Christ’s coming fill our hearts with joy and expectation.

As we journey through Advent together, may we be the living embodiment of hope, shining God’s light into the world’s darkness.

As we await and long for Christ’s arrival, may hope be our guiding star, illuminating our path and filling our hearts with the promise of a love that knows no bounds.




Are You Watching While Waiting?

Mark 13:24-37



Mark 13:24-37 NKJV

32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning — 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”   


That’s what the passage says … WHAT DOES THE PASSAGE MEAN? … What can/should we take away?

Before we start our exposition … I want us to note something from the lectionary notes sent out by our Home Office

To begin our exploration of this text, we need to understand the characteristics of apocalyptic literature and the context for this passage in Mark.   

Characteristics of apocalyptic literature

Apocalyptic literature tends to be dualistic, contrasting good with evil and picturing in vivid terms the ultimate victory of God’s good purposes.  In Greek, “apocalypse” means “to reveal,” so the symbolism and imagery used in apocalyptic literature is not intended to be a puzzle, but an opportunity to gain perspective and clarity about God within the world’s chaos.  Apocalyptic literature in the Bible often asks the tough questions, such as “if God is all powerful, then why do believers suffer?”  Its intention is to convey hope for God’s deliverance, and stylistically it does this through imagery, poetry, and dream-like visions that were familiar to the audience of that time period.  Mark’s gospel adopts some of these stylistic elements of apocalyptic literature.   

Context of Mark 13:24-37

Barclay’s Commentary calls Mark 13 “one of the most difficult chapters in the New Testament for a modern reader to understand,” explaining that the Jewish history and thought found in the chapter would have been familiar with readers in that period, but completely foreign to today’s readers.  Jesus used his audience’s familiarity with apocalyptic literature in the Old Testament, coupled with its language and imagery, to convey the hope of the Second Coming.   

For the immediate context of Mark 13, it is helpful to consider that Mark wrote his gospel around 70 CE after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, and that event shaped his telling of the gospel story.   

    • For example, Mark knew what happened with the temple, so he chose to have Jesus prophesy about the temple’s destruction as a means of establishing his authority as the Son of God (Mark 13:1-23).    

We’ll look at two of the themes in Mark 13:24-37the second coming and keeping watch.


That said, let us proceed to see what the Spirit is telling us …

Mark 13:24-37 NRSV Updated Edition  

26 “Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.  27 Then he will send out the angels and gather the elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.  

    • What do you think is the time frame for this passage?
    • Do you think it’s referring to something that happened … or is going to happen?
      • Again, I want to refer to something from the lectionary notes …
        • By using the imagery and language his audience was familiar with, Jesus foreshadowed the significance or greatness of the Second Coming, as well as his crucifixion. 
        • His point was not to focus on specifics, such as the order of events, but on the significance, hope, and certainty that he would return.  

28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he[b]  (NKJV – it) is near, at the very gates (NKJV – doors).  30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.   

    • According to the NRSV, v.29 says “you know that he is near” … but, according to the NKJV, v.29 says “you know that it is near” … Which do you think is correct?
    • (According to Strong’s, the Greek word is eimi, which means I am; I exist)
    • In Mark 13:29, what do you think “these things” refer to?
    • In Mark 13:30, what do you think “these things” refer to?
    • Which “generation” is being referred to in Mark 13:30?
    • So … how do you understand the first part of Mark 13:30?
    • How do you understand Mark 13:31?  Did it sound as if Jesus knew what was going to happen?

32 But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son, but only the Father.  

    • Which “day” and “hour” do you think Jesus is referring to in Mark 13:32?
    • Does it sound as if Jesus knew what was going to happen on that “day” or in that “hour”?
    • Do it sound as if Jesus knew when it was going to happen?
    • What message do you take from that?

33 Beware, keep alert,[c] for you do not know when the time will come34 It is like a man going on a journey (NKJV – to a far country), when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.   35 Therefore, keep awakefor you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening or at midnight or at cockcrow or at dawn36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.  37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”  

    • What, for you, stands out in this passage?
    • Why should you keep alert?
    • Why should you keep awake?
    • Which “time” is being referenced in Mark 13:33?
    • What is the danger that Christ is warning against?
    • What does the phrase “asleep when he comes” mean to you?





  • Don’t become complacent … Don’t fall asleep on the job.
  • Stay awake … Be alert.
  • We don’t have to know WHEN Christ is returning … BUT we should know that He is returning … and WE MUST BE READY for His return.
  • To see what William Barclay took away from the passage … note what is posted in the “Sharing Time” section below.













1.  Barclay’s takeaway from today’s passage …

There are three special things to note in this passage.

(i) It is sometimes held that when Jesus said that these things were to happen within this generation he was in error. But Jesus was right, for this sentence does not refer to the Second Coming. It could not when the next sentence says he does not know when that day will be. It refers to Jesus’ prophecies about the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple and they were abundantly fulfilled.

(ii) Jesus says that he does not know the day or the hour when he will come again. There were things which even he left without questioning in the hand of God. There can be no greater warning and rebuke to those who work out dates and timetables as to when he will come again. Surely it is nothing less than blasphemy for us to enquire into that of which our Lord consented to be ignorant.

(iii) Jesus draws a practical conclusion. We are like men who know that their master will come, but who do not know when. We live in the shadow of eternity. That is no reason for fearful and hysterical expectation. But it means that day by day our work must be completed. It means that we must so live that it does not matter when he comes. It gives us the great task of making every day fit for him to see and being at any moment ready to meet him face to face. AH life becomes a preparation to meet the King.

We began by saying that this was a very difficult chapter, but that in the end it had permanent truth to tell us.

(i) It tells us that only the man of God can see into the secrets of history.  Jesus saw the fate of Jerusalem although others were blind to it.  A real statesman must be a man of God.  To guide his country a man must be himself God-guided.  Only the man who knows God can enter into something of the plan of God.

(ii) It tells us two things about the doctrine of the Second Coming.

(a) It tells us that it contains a fact we forget or disregard at our peril.

(b) It tells us that the imagery in which it is clothed is the imagery of Jesus’ own time, and that to speculate on it is useless, when Jesus himself was content not to know.  The one thing of which we can be sure is that history is going somewhere; there is a consummation to come.

(iii) It tells us that of all things to forget God and to become immersed in earth is most foolishThe wise man is he who never forgets that he must be ready when the summons comes.  If he lives in that memory, for him the end will not be terror, but eternal joy.

2.  Re-launch of our Sunday church meetings … December 24, 2023 (Christmas eve)

3.  Volunteers needed … for ministry teams … for upward, inward and outward ministries

4.  Contributions needed … for refreshments at the re-launch

4.  Prayer updates

5.  Prayer request(s)

  • Members meeting next Saturday … for good attendance and member participation
  • Re-launch to be successful … members of Sunday church to start inviting relatives and friends … for persons to be moved to contribute to our Sunday re-launch


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