Second Encounter: Servanthood and Sight
Text: Mark 10:32-52
Speaker: Joel Miller

Jesus is on the road to Jerusalem.  At this point, he’s walking ahead of the others.  Mark writes: “they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid.”  Amazed, perhaps, because Jesus had just told a wealthy man that in order to follow him he had to sell everything, and redistribute his wealth to the poor.  Afraid, perhaps, because Jesus keeps telling them – now for the third time – that once they arrive in Jerusalem, the Human One will be handed over to the authorities and killed…and after three days rise again. 

Jesus was walking ahead of them, but James and John break away from the group and come forward to Jesus with a request about being Jesus’ right and left hand men – places of honor, power, and succession, perhaps. 

With the other 10/12ths of the disciples now listening, quite upset at James and John, Jesus says this: “You know that the ones who...



First Encounter: Wealth and Letting Go | 18 February 2024 | Lent 1
Mark 10:17-31
Speaker: Joel Miller

On February 24, in the year 1208, a young man sat in a chapel listening to a sermon.  It was based on Jesus’ instructions to his disciples as he sent them out to spread his message:  “Take no gold, nor silver, nor money in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff…whatever town you enter, find someone in it who is worthy, and stay with them till you depart.” 

The young man was the son of a wealthy cloth dealer.  He had already begun to question the smooth, comfortable path he had inherited.  As his earliest biographer, Thomas of Celano tells it, that day, in that chapel, was the decisive moment.  Hearing Jesus’ words as a direct personal calling, he discarded his shoes and walking staff.  He began wandering the countryside and villages, preaching Jesus’ message to anyone who would listen.  We know...


A Way of Seeing | Chris Walker

Scripture: Mark 8:27-9:8

This is a day of favorites. This morning at breakfast, Debbie and I heard one of our favorite birds, a redwing blackbird—the first of the season. Arriving at church this morning, I saw my favorite dog—a basset hound.

And I’m up here this morning because full year ago, Pastor Joel preached on the Transfiguration, I commented to him after worship that that was my favorite passage from the Gospels. Joel was curious why, and we talked a bit.

Fast forward eight months, to last October. I check my email, and there's a message from Joel. He says, “Hey, I’m wondering if you would be interested in preaching on February 11. It’s Transfiguration Sunday. I think I remember you saying at one point that the Transfiguration is your favorite gospel story, so, I mean, you can't really turn this down.”

And of course, I couldn’t. Anyway, thanks to Joel’s remarkable memory, I’m happy to be up here to


Dreams of Our Youth, Calling of Our Community
Text: Genesis 37:1-28
Speaker: Joel Miller

Let’s talk about dreams.  Dreams, let’s face it, can be pretty weird.  They’re usually this bizarre collection of people and places.    If we remember them at all, it’s often for how strange they are.    

Sometimes dreams can be vivid.  Maybe one scene in particular, or even just one thing someone says or does in a dream can stick with us for days or even years. 

People have been dreaming for a very, very long time.  And for just as long, we’ve wondered what these dreams of ours can mean, if anything.  In the ancient world, dreams were often seen as a way of receiving messages from the gods. 

Closer to our time, there was a psychologist by the name of Carl Jung who understood dreams as a window into the unconscious.  That’s the part of reality we’re not aware of, but which wants to be known.  Carl Jung used the analogy of a ship on a great sea.  The ship is our consciousness – our awareness of things within us and around us. ...



“We Are Many” 
Text: Mark 5:1-20
Speaker: Joel Miller

Where, oh where to begin?  This story of the Gerasene Demoniac is at times troubling, puzzling, and probably profound if we could only cut through the layers of cultural distance and hear it like Mark’s original audience 2000 years ago.  Or maybe they were just as baffled as we are.

Speaking of 2000, Why not start there?  

If you’re an animal lover, or just paying attention, it’s hard to get over those 2000 pigs rushing down the bank of the Sea of Galilee, drowning in the lake.  One minute they’re feeding peacefully on the hillside, the next they’re dead in the water.  All this with the seeming approval of our dear, precious, kind Jesus, who agrees to the plea bargain of the unclean spirits to possess the pigs rather than be cast out of the country.  If you’re a pig farmer, or grew up around pigs, you might be further scratching your head, knowing that pigs are excellent swimmers. 

Or, we could start a bit after that, with that wonderful phrase about this man post-possession -...