Sermons

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/20181021sermon.mp3

Text: Mark 10:35-45

Servant leadership – it’s an old idea.  The phrase itself was made popular in the US in the second half of the 20th century by Robert Greenleaf.  His writing became something of a movement that impacted how corporations and governments talked and thought about leadership.

Greenleaf worked for AT&T for forty years.  Over those decades he became weary of the authoritarian type power he experienced in US institutions.  So he took an early retirement in 1964 and committed himself to researching and writing about leadership ethics.  He wrote a highly influential essay that was called “Essentials in Servant Leadership.” It included these words:

“The servant-leader is servant first… Becoming a servant-leader begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first… The best test, and the most difficult to administer, is this: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?  And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least...

Texts: Job 23:1-9, 16-17; Mark 10:17-31

Speaker: Rachael Miller

In a crowded bazaar in Cairo vendors sell their wares, the dusty desert air warm and dry.
Tables of merchandise - statues, clothes, bowls. The clamor of voices, the back and forth banter of the barter:
“15 American dollar.”
“I’ll give you 10.”
“That’s way too low! 14 dollar, this is quality. I give you a good price.”

I was in Egypt with my seminary class,  and in this moment I was not comfortable. This is not my preferred method of procuring items. I like to keep things simple. Give me a price, we make an exchange, we go our separate ways.

A classmate and I talked about this bartering thing that is both common practice and expected.
They explained: it’s about relating and relationship.
I reflected: perhaps in America, where we largely no longer barter, we’ve exchanged relationship for convenience. I had my mind set on the exchange of goods: What do I give? What do I get?

In our reading this morning, Job came from this same mindset.
He gave: devotion, offerings, right living.
He got: home, family, food, livestock -...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/20181007sermon.mp3

Text: Matthew 11:25-30

There’s something freeing about admitting you don’t have a clue.

Two of the most significant epiphanies in my life have been not flashes of profound insight but rather flashes of profound ignorance.  The first one happened after my two years at Hesston College.  I was taking a year off school with four friends.  We were living in Atlanta for a year to see how the “real world,” really worked.  My goal for the year was to learn about what I had identified as the four C’s of independent, adult male living, about which I knew next to nothing.  Construction, Cars, Computers, and Cooking.  I got a job at a construction site of town houses.  One day I was taking a lunch break, eating by myself in a house that had been framed, but had not been drywalled.  So all the electrical and plumbing in the walls was visible.  I specifically remember that moment of looking up at this complex network of wood, wire, copper, and plastic, and realizing I didn’t understand anything.

This flash of profound ignorance encompassed not just home construction, but also the entire human constructed environment I was in.  Construction, Cars, Computers,...

Texts: Leviticus 19:18,34; March 8:34-37; Galatians 2:19-20

Speaker: Joel Miller

After four months, we’re at the end of this theme.  That’s a long theme.  We’ve been listening for how we’re Called In to different parts of life.  Called in to the World.  To our City.  How we’re called in to this Congregation and how this congregation calls us in.

And, Self.  Called to be our deepest, truest selves.  Which is another way of talking about how the Spirit wakens us to our participation in the life of God.  Which is love.  Which is life leading to more life.  We’ve got these spheres, these widening circles, where self is both the smallest one, and the one that can transcend all the others.

Thomas Merton calls this “the most important of all voyages.”

This is what he wrote:

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous. ( “The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century”, p.11.)

Thomas Merton talks...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/20180916sermon.mp3

Texts: Jeremiah 29:1-7; Revelation 21: 9-14, 22-25

It’s been observed that the Bible begins in a garden and ends in a city.

If you want to get a little more technical, the Bible begins in the formless and void, and ends with a warning that if anyone changes any of the words in the book of Revelation that God will bring on them the plagues so vividly described within.

But if we’re willing to treat the first chapter of Genesis as something of an introduction, and if we’re willing to bracket the very end of Revelation as a bit of first century copyright language, theologically aggressive as it may be…and if we set aside that rather than being like a single book, the Bible is more like a library of books, representing a tradition that evolves over a period of several thousand years, now bound together under one cover that we might consider how we carry forward this evolving tradition in our time…If we can go with those parameters, then the Bible does indeed begin in a garden, and end in a city.

From garden to city does make for an intriguing narrative arc.

The garden, of course,...

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