Sermons

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/20140504sermon.mp3

 

Text: Luke 24:13-35

The most difficult part of preaching a sermon on the Road to Emmaus story isn’t finding something to say, but choosing what not to say. The passage has so many entry points and sub-themes that it can be a little overwhelming choosing which part to zoom in on and which to keep at the periphery. This is exactly as the gospel writer intends it to be. This story occurs in the final chapter of Luke and serves as something of a summary of Luke’s entire gospel message. It’s his way of bringing his message to a climax and conclusion, and it’s also the gospel itself in miniature: We are on a journey, confused and disoriented. Jesus comes and walks alongside us, only we don’t recognize him for who he truly is. The scriptures are opened and illuminated. Hospitality is extended around a meal, the bread is taken, blessed, broken, and given. We, the travelers, have our eyes opened to Christ, are transformed, and go and share it with others.

There it is, the gospel in one narrative sweep.

Today we are welcoming five people into membership in our congregation. It’s a day I’ve been...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/20140420sermon.mp3

Texts: John 20:1-18; Psalm 118:1-2; 14-24

 

Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!

“Easter is late this year.” I’ve heard this said many times over the last number of months, and have said it a few times myself. A late Easter affects worship planners and pushes back spring breaks for some schools. It would normally mean that the early signs of spring would already be starting to look like the full greenery of summer. But it just so happens that spring is also late this year, so it actually feels like we’re about on track.

The date for determining Easter is complicated enough that it can’t be stated succinctly in a few sentences, especially since it has changed a few times throughout church history. In Western Christianity it involves a combination of factors including the spring equinox, the full moon, and the date of Passover. Sun, earth, moon, all hurling through cosmic space; and the commemoration of ancient Hebrew slaves liberated from the captivity of empire. When everything aligns, Easter has arrived. For us Easter can be as early as March 22 and as late as April 25, so today, April 20th is pushing the back...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/041314sermon.mp3

Texts: Matthew 21:1-11, Isaiah 50:4-9 

“You are a peculiar people.” We know each other well enough by now that I can say that, right? This is actually how the King James Version of the Bible translates a line from the letter of 1 Peter written to a group of early Christians. It comes at a place where Peter is offering different phrases to tell these folks just what kind of people they are for choosing to follow the Jesus way of life. “You are a royal priesthood, you are a holy nation, you are a peculiar people.” Peculiar isn’t a word we use much anymore, so it hasn’t made it into the more recent English translations, but it still has a nice ring to it. Peculiar can mean that one is distinctive and belongs to only one master, such that we are peculiar in belonging only to God. But peculiar can also simply mean strange, odd, not fitting in to the ordinary pattern of things. Most of us already knew this about ourselves – that when you get right down to it, we’re all pretty strange. But Peter is speaking this to a collective personality, the church, the...

https://joelssermons.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/20140330sermon.mp3

Audio picks up after the initial story

Text: John 9:1-41

 

This is a story passed on to me a while back by Nate Toland, told by Peter Rollins, who’s from Northern Ireland, and he told it as if it were a story that actually happened, so that’s how I’ll tell it.

In Ireland they hold these public competitions which people find quite entertaining and a few years ago they held a competition for who could build the largest sheep pen. There were three competitors: an architect, an engineer, and an old farmer. They were each given the same amount of lumber and they had the same amount of time, to build their sheep pen.

So the architect went first and being an architect he knew how to build the fencing so it maximized efficiency and strength and he worked away at it, and when his time was up the judges came and looked it over and tested it out and it was able to hold 100 sheep. Well done.

And the engineer went next and she had the idea that if she could cut each of the boards down the middle lengthwise, if she could...

No audio available

Texts: Exodus 17:1-7, John 4:3-26

 

A month ago Dan H. sent me an email asking if I was aware that this weekend, March 22, yesterday, was United Nations World Water Day. I wasn’t, and replied back that it is a happy coincidence that the readings for this week also include water as a central theme: water from the rock in the desert for the Israelites, water from the Samaritan well for Jesus, and living water from Jesus for a Samaritan woman and villagers.

The genre of sermon can be characterized as the proclamation of gospel, good news, but the news from World Water Day is mostly bad, or, at least, cautionary. The combination of population growth (seven billion and counting), increased global development, and climate change, is putting major strains on finite water supplies. The United Nations estimates that about 1 in 10 people do not have access to an improved source of drinking water. If there are 160 people here, that means 16 of you are out of luck.

This year’s focus for World Water Day is the connections between water and energy. Key messages they are promoting are 1) Water requires energy and...

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