Sermons

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,...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/20180909sermon.mp3

Mark 3:7-15; 19b-22; 31-35

 It’s the first week of Sabbatical, the morning of the first Wednesday of June.  Our family is up and out of bed.  The energy level is well above average for this time of day.  School is out, my email auto-reply is on, our bags are packed up, and we’re about to be off.  Our flight to Guatemala departs in just a few hours.  Among the many things on the pre-departure checklist was putting a hold on newspaper delivery, starting…tomorrow.  Might as well have something to read at the airport.

On our way out, I grab the paper off the front porch and open it for a sneak peek.  I’m not expecting much worth dwelling on.  But there on the front page of the Dispatch was something to dwell on:  A large image with the heading “Too much to bear.”  It was a picture of a grieving mother, in, of all places, Guatemala.  The caption noted that her name was Lilian Hernandez, and that 36 of her extended family members were presumed dead after the eruption of the Fuego volcano three days prior.

We’d known that the Volcan de Fuego, the Volcano of Fire as...

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