St. George's Anglican Church

The following sermon was preached as part of a series from the Gospel according to Mark. We have been following Jesus through the story Mark gives us of Jesus’ life from the perspective of one of his disciples, the followers and learners of Jesus.

The most recent installment in this series, “Blind Discipleship” comes as the last healing Jesus performs in Mark’s Gospel. Also, it is a rather unique account since we know this person’s name, Bartimaeus and his public confession of Jesus of Nazareth as the “Son of David” comes before the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem that we celebrate each Palm Sunday.

And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out…

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Last week’s St. Patrick’s Day Sermon

St. George's Anglican Church

This past week our Church community at St. George’s continued our journey together through the Gospel of Mark. We have been traveling with the first disciples (those early followers and learners of Jesus) through the story that Mark gives us of Jesus’ life and ministry. Our guiding question that we have been sitting with comes in Mark 8, “who do people say that I am.” As we journey with this question and hear the many responses from the masses, “Jesus is … a healer, one with a unique authority, prophet, teacher, the Holy one of Israel … and on and on it goes to the present day”, we find ourselves challenged with the follow-up question that Jesus gives us, “But, who do YOU say that I Am?” To live into these questions, we have been following the biography of Jesus’ life that Mark gives us. This past week we began…

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Thomas Merton Reflects on Modern Education and ‘Life’

“The danger of education, I have found, is that it so easily confuses means with ends. Worse than that, it so easily forgets both and devotes itself merely to the mass production of uneducated graduates – people literally unfit for anything except to take part in an elaborate and completely artificial charade which they and their contemporaries have conspired to call ‘life’.”

Thomas Merton in “Love and Living.”

A sermon preach on March 3rd, 2012 from Mark 3:13-19

St. George's Anglican Church

The following sermon was preached Saturday, March 3rd by Rev. Ryan M. Kocak, the Rector (Sr. Pastor) and lead church planter of St. George’s Anglican Church in Medina.

The Text of the sermon was from Mark 3:13-19:

The Twelve Apostles

And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

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Letters for Lent, a Pastoral Challenge

*originally written for the church plant I serve on our blog – , but thought the challenge may be extended here*

Lent is a lengthened season of preparation. Historically, Lent was a period of time where a believer would prepare for their baptism into Christ’s body. This meant they would study Holy Scripture and Church doctrine, undergo healing and exorcism, fasting, and giving money and gifts to the poor. Lent was also a season where those who were already baptized into Christ’s body (ah-hem, that’s you Church), would fast in preparation for the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of our baptism.

This Lent I am sure many of you are devoutly abstaining from sweets, coffee, meat, fast food, TV, movies, social media, or food altogether. These practices indeed can be a good thing in and of themselves, but in practicing the good do not neglect practicing the best: intimacy with Jesus Christ.  After all, we don’t abstain from the good gifts of creation (like pizza) in order to be grumpy, tired, or even pious before unbelievers.

We cease so that we may abide in God’s peace.
We save so that we may give to the least.
We fast so that we may feast.
Christlikeness in us increase

This Lent I challenge you in the midst of fasting to make your relationship with God a priority (and please hold me personally to this challenge as well).  As you fast from worldly desire, also fill yourself with the Word of God. In both the Old Testament and New Testament people are encouraged to “eat the scroll”. The Psalmist says that we are to “hide the word in our hearts that we may not sin against God.”

This Lenten season I am challenging you to read ALL twenty-one Letters in the New Testament and memorize seven versesI’m not challenging you to performance. No gold stars or red markers here. I am simply calling you to be people of the Word, listening to the Letters of St. Paul, Peter, John, and others as they reveal the mysteries of God to you. Now some of these Letters are long (Romans, Hebrews, I Corinthians) and others are very short (Philemon, Jude, Titus), so plan accordingly and do not rush, take your time. Marinade your soul in the Word of God. Here are some pointers:

  • Make sure you have adequate time to read one or more of the Letters.
  • Be in a space where you can encounter God (whether a coffee shop or a quite bedroom).
  • Read the letters aloud (these letters were originally written to be read audibly, so read them aloud like the first hearers would have experienced them).
  • Read in one sitting. These letters (especially Paul’s) advance an argument or story and are best understood as a whole.
  • Mark your Bible as you read and go back AFTER you finish to look deeper into the marked verses.
  • When you finish reading, attempt to summarize the entire letter in a few sentences or even a few words.
  • Write down key verses from each letter and attempt to memorize them.
  • Interact with others with what you read. Ask questions, share learned lessons, spread the Word.
  • If you commute to the work, try listening to the these on CD or get a bible app and listen to them on your smart phone.
  • FYI – the 21 Letters of the New Testament are: 
    • Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude.

I will be writing short (if the Lord gives me brevity) summaries and reflections from each of these letters as I go through them. Feel free to post questions, comments, how the Lord has touched you as you read them, or what verses you are memorizing. For extra reading, save the Four Gospels for Holy Week and Acts and Revelation for Eastertide. 

May we all feast this Lent on a healthy portion of God’s Word, allowing it to be made flesh in us, so that the world may come to know in our words and deeds the Christ we proclaim. World without end. Amen.