Sermons

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/20160424sermon.mp3

Text: Acts 11:1-18

 During the Easter season we’ve been talking about different conversions.  Not just a one and done experience, but a series of experiences that convert us toward the overflowing love and grace of God.  We looked at Thomas, then Saul, the artist formerly known as Paul, and last week Chris talked about Oscar Romero.  With Peter up this week I’m aware that makes for four men in a row, so I’m glad to report that next week the lectionary features Lydia, the seller of purple cloth, and the week after that, Mother’s Day, we’ll meditate on the Divine feminine.

As I looked at this Acts 11 story, which is one of Peter’s many conversions, I was reminded of a model I’ve found helpful in thinking about spiritual growth.  We’ve included an image of that as a bulletin insert.  It’s a pretty simple model, based on concentric circles, or in this case concentric hearts.  Rather than being linear, it starts inward and moves outward, from egocentric, to ethnocentric, to world centric.  And then there’s a fourth ring which for some reason isn’t in this image.  It’s sometimes called cosmo-centric, or being-centric, or Christ-centric.  I’m not even sure...

Text: Psalm 23

Speaker: Chris Pedersen

I don’t know about any of you, but I really enjoy always being right. In fact you could ask any of my family members, girlfriend, or close friends, I am always right. There’s really only one rule to always being right, never admit your wrong. There’s a few easy ways to sidestep any attempts people might make to force you into admitting you were wrong. All you need to do is say ‘alright, you were right.’ And then quickly change the subject. There’s also nothing wrong with being on the losing side! Being on the losing side doesn’t necessarily mean you were on the wrong side. Just ask any Cleveland Browns fan! I’m sure this is there year! I will admit I hate loving the Cleveland Browns. But enough about me and the Browns being awesome, we should talk about church stuff.
So, what makes a Christian, a Christian? Is it the way they act? The way they think? The way they spend their Sunday mornings? Is it based entirely on an inward change? An outward change? Maybe a bit of both? Depending on who you ask, it could be any of these...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/20160410sermon.mp3

Text: Acts 9:1-19a

 

The first time we meet Saul he’s a part of a dramatic and violent scene.  He’s overseeing the stoning of a man named Stephen.  This is the end of Acts chapter 7.  Stephen has just given a lengthy public speech, a sermon, highly critical of his own people.  The individuals listening are agitated to the point of transforming into a mob.  In the words of Acts, “with a loud shout they all rushed together against him.”  Outnumbered and overpowered, Stephen is dragged out of the city and stoned to death.

Had everyone there paused, surrounded Stephen’s lifeless body, and posed for a photograph, it would have looked remarkably similar to the many pictures of lynchings from within our own country.  In 2015 the Equal Justice Initiative published a five year study recording 3,959 such lynchings of black women, men, and children that occurred in the US between 1877 and 1950.  A number of these lynchings included a congratulatory group photo, duplicated as souvenirs and postcards.

Stephen is remembered as the first Christian martyr.  Saul of Tarsus, who we also know as Paul, as in the Apostle Paul, as in St. Paul, is remembered...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/20160410sermon.mp3

Text: Acts 9:1-19a

 

The first time we meet Saul he’s a part of a dramatic and violent scene.  He’s overseeing the stoning of a man named Stephen.  This is the end of Acts chapter 7.  Stephen has just given a lengthy public speech, a sermon, highly critical of his own people.  The individuals listening are agitated to the point of transforming into a mob.  In the words of Acts, “with a loud shout they all rushed together against him.”  Outnumbered and overpowered, Stephen is dragged out of the city and stoned to death.

Had everyone there paused, surrounded Stephen’s lifeless body, and posed for a photograph, it would have looked remarkably similar to the many pictures of lynchings from within our own country.  In 2015 the Equal Justice Initiative published a five year study recording 3,959 such lynchings of black women, men, and children that occurred in the US between 1877 and 1950.  A number of these lynchings included a congratulatory group photo, duplicated as souvenirs and postcards.

Stephen is remembered as the first Christian martyr.  Saul of Tarsus, who we also know as Paul, as in the Apostle Paul, as in St. Paul, is remembered...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/20160403sermon.mp3

Text: John 20:19-29

 

The disciple we know as Doubting Thomas is referred to in John’s gospel as Thomas Didymus.  Didymus is Greek for “twin.”  Thomas the Twin is famous for having missed seeing the risen Jesus.  He believes only after he is able to place his hand in the side of the wounded Christ, who appears a second time.  With our Easter focus on Conversions, I wondered this week how Thomas’ life might have been different had he never gotten that second chance to touch, and thus believe.  This is a story of that possible alternative path, starting with the biblical narrative, and soon veering off into pure fiction.

The conversion of Thomas: A fictional alternative OR A parable about doubt and doubles

Thomas the Twin, as we was called from birth, rested in his home on what would be the final day of his life.  His body frail, but mind still sharp.  As people tend to do when they know death is near, he began to mentally review his life.

He thought back to that day he had revisited so many times before.  He was once again in the house with the shut doors in the...

Pages