Sermon: The Need For Saints in These Troubled Times

4.2.7

Saint Oscar Romero

Today (Nov. 4), churches all around the world are celebrating “All Saints Day” in worship and service. While we celebrate and recognize the lives of past saints, the world today needs new saints. Who is God going to send?

You and me.

We are being called to be God’s saints. We are being called to follow Jesus. We are being called to lay down our lives for love, justice and peace — in the world, in our country and in our community. We are being called to stand up against sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, etc.

We cannot give up on the love of God, because God hasn’t given up on us. We are today’s saints.

“The Need For Saints in These Troubled Times”
Sermon by Dr. Robert Foster
Psalm 24
Nov. 4, 2018

Sermon: The Beggar’s Banquet

Jesus really shook up the social structure in Luke 14: 12-23 when he told banquet guests to not sit according to their social status, telling people at the back to move to the front. He also offered unwanted advice to the host, telling him to invite people he dislikes to parties, including those considered social outcasts.

This went against the norms of society in Roman times, and it still does today. In society, gratitude is often transactional. It’s easy to see it at the political level — a billionaire gives money to a political candidate with the expectation of receiving political favors later. But it’s also in our personal lives — we act nice and show gratitude to that person who may play a hand in a later promotion, we are nice to the neighbor that has season tickets in hopes we can cash out someday, we hang out with that family with kids expecting them to take in our children one night so we can enjoy a date night.

But Jesus implores us to think of gratitude differently. God has provided us with everything we need, so we are free to show genuine gratitude to others.

“The Beggar’s Banquet”

Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby

Luke 14:12-23

Oct. 20, 2018

Sermon: The Gift You See is the Gift You Get

The “Parable of the Talents” (Matthew 25:14-30) is often one of the stories people who are disaffected with Christianity use to criticize our faith. And at a surface glance, that criticism is warranted. What kind of master gets mad when his servant attempts to save and preserve what is given to him?

But the parable is not about saving or producing wealth. Rather, the parable is about how we see God. In the story, the master does not get mad at his third servant until the servant communicates his mistrust and fear of the master. How do we see God? Do we see God as vengeful master, or as a loving Creator?

How we use God’s gifts relies on how we see God.

“What You See is What You Get”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Matthew 25: 14-30
Oct. 14, 2018

Sermon: We’re One But Not the Same

The past two weeks have been difficult for our country. It has opened up wounds and showcased the divisiveness of our politics. People on both sides of the fence demean and degrade the other side. Many of us surround ourselves in “echo chambers,” where we only hear opinions that support our own beliefs.

This runs counter to God’s call to the church. In Ephesians 4:2, God tells us to lead a life of “humility and gentleness, patience, love and unity.” On this World Communion Sunday, churches from all over the globe are demonstrating such unity. Our differences are not  a weakness, but rather our strength. The church is a diverse global body — formed by God — and knit together by the Holy Spirit.

Let’s work to show the humility by honoring the human dignity in each person. Demonstrate gentleness by showing kindness to each other. Show patience by loving and understanding those with whom we disagree. Showing humility, gentleness, patience and love will lead towards a unity of all people.

“We’re One, but We’re Not the Same”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Ephesians 4: 1-16
Oct. 7, 2018 • World Communion Sunday

Sermon: The Great Commandment(s)

unnamed-1080x380

Jesus is very clear in Mark 12:28-34 what is the greatest commandment, “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” But he doesn’t stop there. Even though the questioner was asking for the “greatest commandment,” Jesus adds another law: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love is a word that is used so often that it often loses its value. But it is the central word that Jesus uses — “Love your God. Love your neighbor.” If we’re loving genuinely, we will constrain ourselves beyond the stated law. If we’re living in the love of Jesus, not only will we not steal from our neighbor, but we will make sure our neighbor has adequate food.

One aspect of love is listening, even those with whom we disagree. In society today, it’s so hard to constrain our own opinions for even a moment. “Love constrains us to be quick to listen and slow to speak.” If we are to hear Jesus, we must hear others.

The love Jesus commands us to practice is not a love of convenience. But through God and with the love of God, we have the power to practice such immense love.

“The Great Commandment(s)”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 12: 28-34
Sept. 30, 2018

Sermon: The Shouting Outside

As Jesus and his disciples were heading to Jericho, a blind man stops Jesus and asks for healing. The disciples are frustrated with the man and “rebuke” him.

Why would the disciples be so upset? By this time, they should understand how Jesus operates, healing all who need healing. They are focused on the destination, but Jesus is focused on the path.

We are much like the disciples. How often do we ignore human suffering that gets in the way of our path? Walking by the homeless person in the way of our path to work? Not listening to the person of a different political bent who gets in the way of our path to like-minded discussion. Ignoring the person who needs emotional support who gets in the way of our daily tasks.

God calls us to follow the path of Jesus. But it’s not an easy path. It’s a path in which we will encounter pain and suffering. Will we walk the path like Jesus?

“The Shouting Outside”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 10: 46-52
Sept. 23, 2018

The Way Forward: Discussion of supporting change in the church for LGBTQ persons

by Carter Vest

On  Wednesday, Sept. 26, Oconee Street’s UMW (United Methodist Women) will meet for a 6:30 supper at 717 with discussion of A Way Forward. All are welcome to come, learn and reflect together.

RSVP to cartervest@gmail.com so we know how much to prepare.

Background for consideration: 
The Way Forward concerns possible changes to language in the United Methodist Book of Discipline concerning “homosexual practices”, ordination of homosexual persons and marriage of non-heterosexual persons within the church. Over recent decades, efforts to change this language at General Conference has led to impasse after impasse. There are many members and churches who do not think thy can be true to their understanding and remain in the church with expanded roles for LGBTQ+ persons. There are many members and churches that cannot abide the use of faith language to deny full participation to all children of God.

General Conference in 2016 approved the Commission on a Way Forward proposed by the Council of Bishops. Methodists representing all jurisdictions and a range of perspectives were appointed to examine and consider revisions to the Book of Discipline provisions regarding human sexuality and to identify options that might maintain unity within the church.
A Special Conference will occur in February to consider their report which proposes three plans: the One-Church Plan which is supported by the Counci of Bishops, the Connectional Conferences Model and the Traditionalist Plan.  You may want to  consider:
– A summary of the Minnesota Annual Conference Summary Way Forward (3 pages) provided by the Minnesota Annual Conference which includes “gains and pains” of each plan.
– An Simple Plan Overview – final that was coauthored by our own Sally Askew who spent many long years serving with the United Methodist Church Judicial Council in addition to her leadership in the Women’s Division and her years as a clergy spouse
– Furthermore, there is another option which was not included in the Way Forward report but may possibly be proposed from the floor of the Conference in Feb. It is supported by the United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus and their Simple Plan Overview – final includes their commentary.
I hope many of you will join us next Wednesday for what I hope will be an enlightening and meaningful chance to respectfully share about an issue that is crucially important in our communal faith lives.

Sermon: Head of the Class

As James and John were walking with Jesus, they asked him if they could sit at his left and right . At first glance, it appears selfish, but what their desires come from a natural human instinct — ambition.

We all have ambitions, especially in our professions. But there are two types of ambition. One type of ambition involves us achieving fame, financial success and glory. If we pursue our careers for this type of selfish ambition, it will undoubtedly leave us empty.

The other type of ambition involves us pursuing what we love to inspire others, to help our community and in our little way, change the world. This is the type of ambition that God wants us to pursue. The type of ambition with which Jesus lived his life.

“Head of the Class”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 10: 35-45
Sept. 16, 2018

Sermon: Shoving Camels ’til Kingdom Come

Jesus tells us to give up all our possessions and follow him.

It sounds severe, but what does it really mean? Are we really supposed to give up everything? Perhaps we are to use our talents to do good, not to make profit. Perhaps we are to use our money to do good, not to selfishly spoil ourselves. For true wealth comes in our power and ability to help others.

But even those small steps is a radical change from our capitalist society. However, the possessions we are encouraged to keep — the clutter we continue to gather — is keeping us from following Jesus. It’s impossible to have a selfish view about money and wholeheartedly follow Jesus.

Fully heeding Jesus’ words will ruin our life. But it’s the best thing that can happen to us.

Note: Due to technical difficulties, the first three minutes of sermon, including Gospel reading, were not recorded.

“Shoving Camels ’til Kingdom Come”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 10: 17-31
Sept. 9, 2018

Click to listen to The Word in Song, “Come Unto Me