Sermons

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171126sermon.mp3

Text: Matthew 25:31-46

 This is the last Sunday of the lectionary cycle, meaning we’re at the end of the church calendar.  Next week is Advent 1, the beginning of the new church year.

This is called “Christ the King Sunday,”or “Reign of Christ Sunday.” In closing out the year, the lectionary goes all in with it really being the end.  It gives us a judgment scene, the story that Jesus tells in Matthew 25, commonly known as the sheep and the goats.  Or, commonly known for the phrase “the least of these,” which becomes the surprise criteria by which people are judged.  “Whatever you’ve done to the least of these, you’ve done to me,” says the king/judge/son of man/human one/Jesus.

It’s an important line for social justice minded Christians who believe faith has to do with how we live in this world, especially toward vulnerable people.  Yet the scene of a gentle and sacrificial savior turned eternal judge also has its own problems.  They are problems that the story itself begins to raise, as the sheep and the goats both talk back to the king, questioning why such an arrangement has been made.

I invite you to listen...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171112sermon.mp3

Texts: Proverbs 9:1-6; Matthew 11:28-30

There is a house with a table, set for company.  On this table is a feast: Wine and bread and meat.  Everything that makes for a good meal.

The doors of this house open wide, always unlocked, ready to receive whoever walks in.

It’s not a secret.  It’s not a hidden place, tucked in some out-of-the way grove.  There are no fences or gates, no passcodes.

The owner of this house is Wisdom.  She built it.  She set up the posts, leveled the beams, designed the way this room flows into that one.

Wisdom has built her house and gives an open invitation.  She walks through the city, calling out.  She cruises the countryside, searching for takers.  She opens her contacts and selects “Send All.”  Wisdom has issued an invitation:  Come to me, feast, rest, learn.

Even better, the house that Wisdom built will come to you.  Look for it, and there it is.  Occasionally it shows up when we’re not even looking.

A few weeks back I had one of those all too rare moments where I may have briefly stepped inside this house and glanced around.

Back in the spring when...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/20171105sermon.mp3

Text: Genesis 21:8-21, Revelation 3:7-13    

 

The Hebrew Scriptures trace the story of the people of Israel from their beginnings, into and out of slavery in Egypt, into and out of their desert wanderings, into and out of nationhood and kingship, into and out of exile, and the diaspora that follows.  This is the story of peoplehood into which Jesus and his early followers were born.  It’s the one that non-Jews like us get adopted into.  The story begins with a couple, Abram and Sarai, who miraculously have a son in their old age.  The lineage of the people of Israel is traced through that son, Isaac, the child of promise.

But one of the endearing and enduring features Scripture is that it also includes stories that don’t fit so well into that main narrative.  Some of them are even shameful, or at least embarrassing to tell. The story in Genesis 21 about Hagar and Ishmael is one of those.

Ishmael was the oldest son of Abraham, born through his slave woman Hagar.  It was Sara’s idea to give Hagar to Abraham.  Sara was unable to have children, and so a child through Hagar would serve as...

Worship Theme: Sanctuary People
Text: Luke 14:25-33

Did Christ count the steps between the crowd and the cross?
Did he calculate profits, cross reference with loss,
Adding the numbers, subtracting the costs?
For where he was headed, how much should he gloss-

Over the fine print.
Eyes that are blind, squint.
Hide from the shine; glints-
Of light he’s been tryin’ to hint
At all along. 

We shift focus instead to foot-prints.
Sandy witnesses, silently assuring us Jesus shoulders our struggles.
“That’s where he carried me” we softly whisper to soothe our sleepy souls
But Christ turns to the crowd and confronts us with the truth that that set of solitary footprints,
That’s where we turned back,
Like wandering Israelites pining for Egypt’s security,
trusting our lives not to the necessity of Truth,
but to the stuff we think will sustain us.

Did Christ count the steps between the crowd and the cross?
Did he number the feet that would fall away, step by step?

Knowing when each one
Would decide that it was too
Much to hold on to that...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/20171015sermon.mp3

Texts: 1 Samuel 21:1-6; Mark 2:23-3:6

 

Let’s take a field trip in our imaginations.

On this field trip, we’re heading out of the city.  We’re going away from dense populations of people are toward dense populations of corn and beans.  On this trip we’re traveling not just through space, but also through time.  This is a magic school bus kind of field trip – if anyone’s familiar with those children’s books.  We’re traveling back a couple thousand years to 1st century Palestine.  As we get closer to our destination we notice that the agricultural fields and the places where people live aren’t as segregated as they are now.  There are small fields at the edges of villages and towns, with public paths running through them.  We get out of the bus and start walking.  We find one of these paths and notice that we’ve left behind the crops of the new world and are surrounded by barley and wheat – crops first domesticated in the Ancient Near East.  The wheat is fully mature.  The head of grain is heavy enough that the top of the stalk is bending under its weight.  It’s harvest season.  We veer off...

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