Sermon: Cleanliness and Godliness

Mark07v1to8&14to15&21to23_2The few times Jesus gets mad in the Bible is when he is dealing with the Pharisees. In Mark 7, the Pharisees are criticizing the disciples for eating with unclean hands. Jesus fires right back to the Pharisees, mentioning their unclean minds. And he declares all food clean.

It’s not that Jesus is against religious traditions. But Jesus gets mad when people use religious traditions to cover up their contempt for what God really wants human life to be about. And we’re guilty of that too — individually and as a society.

When we do good deeds to benefit ourselves — like donating to charity for tax deduction purposes or helping a neighbor and bragging about it, we’re no better than the Pharisees who are using God to glorify themselves. We’re emphasizing cleanliness over godliness.

Here’s a challenge for the week: do something good for the sake of being good and don’t tell anyone about it. Reflect about it with God.

How did that feel?

“Cleanliness and Godliness”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23
July 29, 2018

Sermon: Give Them Something to Eat

As Jesus’ ministry grows, so do his crowds. In Mark 6:30-46, Jesus instructs his disciples to feed the massive crowd, but he doesn’t give further instructions.

Like the disciples, Jesus does not want us to limit ourselves and our ability to do good to our human potential. We are to unleash the power of God. Sometimes in progressive Christianity, we leave miracles on the table. Methodists love to see societal problems and organize the hell out of it.

However, God can take our meager efforts and miraculously accomplish good for everyone. We should not rely on own strength to change the world. Instead, we should be living in the power of God.

“Give Them Something to Eat”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 6:30-46
July 22, 2018

Sermon: Won’t Nothing Bring You Down Like Your Hometown

Rejection Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Storm Clouds and Sky.Jesus has to empowered those who are willing to minister in his name, but like Jesus, we will face hostility. And we will face failure.

However, Jesus gives us the freedom to move on and to know when to quit. There are times in our life and the life of church when we say “enough is enough,” and move on to another mission, just as Jesus moved on to different towns during his ministry.

Persisting even when the evidence is counter-productive is called hubris. We may begin to resent what we do, whether it’s lead a committee, teach Sunday School or minister to the undocumented. But Jesus tells us it’s OK to move on, because the success or failure of ministry is not entirely ours to determine.

In our mission work, sometimes we’ll have success and sometimes we’ll fail. But success or failure does not make us who we are.

“Won’t Nothing Bring You Down Like Your Hometown”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 6:1-13
July 8, 2018

Sermon: Asleep in the Stern

In Mark 4: 35-41, Jesus and the disciples were on a boat as a severe storm hits. As the disciples were terrified, Jesus was asleep in the stern of the boat. Eventually, they anxiously call on Jesus, and with one word he silences the storm.

The Bible contains many storms, and when called, God will calm them. Likewise, we have multiple storms in our life that cause us anxiety. We have problems that go beyond the scope of our capability. In these times, we must call on Jesus. He is the only one with the power to calm the storm.

“Asleep in the Stern”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 4:35-41
June 24, 2018

Sermon: The Greatest! Shrub! … of All!

A child cried as her mother was searched and detained in McAllen, Tex., this past week. Credit: John Moore/Getty Images

In America, bigger is always better. But in the parable of the mustard seed, Jesus tells us that God uses what is small, weak and broken in the world, and when the time is right grows it into something big, and with an evasive power.

There are some lessons we get from scripture that are obvious. But in other instances, scripture may be conflicting. Attorney General Jeff Sessions used Romans 13 to justify separating children from their parents, claiming the authority was given to him by God.  But Revelation 13 tells us that government is the anti-Christ — the empire that is crushing the saints. Twisting the Bible to our political will can get us in trouble.

Sometimes we rely on God to fix our problems. But other times God is telling us, “Don’t wait on my to do something, I’m empowering you to do something.” There are times for us to sit in the quiet contemplation of the love of Jesus, and there are times to stand up and go out in the street.

Whether we sit or stand, silent or shout, we look to the will of God. How we go about that discernment is anybody’s guess. But we take heart for the little seeds that God has planted growing up around us and inside us. And when the time is right, we must use that power to fight injustice and spread God’s love in our world.

“The Greatest! Shrub! … of All!
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 4:26-34
June 17, 2018

Sermon: Christ’s career as a home-wrecker

As a Christian, the problems of society can be overwhelming. Children are being separated from their families at the border. War is devastating regions around the world.  White supremacists are staking claim to our country.

Jesus says we cannot solve any of these problems without getting to the root of the issue: evil. Jesus tells us that the world is in need of salvation and the medicine of God is the only thing that can heal humanity.

That doesn’t mean we should sit and wait for change. The Holy Spirit gives us the power  of God to help heal the world. But are we ready to accept this huge responsibility? We have to come to the place in our lives where we have to have the humility to change the place that we live, our life situation, and be transformed by the Holy Spirit.

“Christ’s career as a home-wrecker”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 3: 20-35
June 10, 2018

Sermon: Saving Sabbath

The Pharisees criticized Jesus and his disciples for doing work on the Sabbath. Jesus noted that the Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath.

This isn’t to say that the Sabbath is not important. God gives us the Sabbath as a gift for three reasons: rhythm, resistance and restoration. The Sabbath helps us find rhythm in our lives. It gives us the silence we need to let God in. Sometimes in the salvation of the sabbath we find resistance Just as Jesus broke the law by healing people on sabbath, we should respect the dignity of the children of God over the law and our capitalist society that promotes greed. Finally, the Sabbath gives us restoration.

“Saving Sabbath”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 2:23-3:6
June 3, 2018

Sermon: The Gift of the Spirit

Every year at the end of the Easter season we focus on Pentecost and what it means to be gifted with the Holy Spirit. Often, we recognize the energy and excitement that comes with the Holy Spirit. However, that energy is the effect of the Spirit, not its purpose.

We do need that energy and excitement, but the world desperately needs us to share the spirit — to tell the story of how the spirit has impacted us. If we tap into the power of the Holy Spirit, we can share the life-giving word of God to others.

In our daily interactions, in our conversations with others, we can communicate the role God plays in our lives.

“The Gift of the Spirit”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Acts 2: 1-21
May 20, 2018 • Pentecost

Sermon: You Are My Witnesses

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he called on us to be his witnesses. But what does being a witness actually entail?

Rather than be silent about our faith, we should embrace Christ and not be afraid to share our witness with others. It’s not about boasting, or acting self-righteous or even trying to convert others.  It’s about linking our day-to-day lives and interactions with our faith. And telling people why we act the way we act and why we live the way we live.

It’s not enough to simply witness, but likewise, it’s not enough to simply do good.

“You Are My Witnesses”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Luke 24: 44-53
May 13, 2018

Sermon: Eat and Run

When Jesus comes back to the disciples in Luke 24, he doesn’t command their attention. He waits for them to accept him.

Throughout the Easter stories, we see God’s divine discretion. We have an ability to either invite God in or to let God slip away. Every day this invitation is open to us.

Jesus is always walking with us, regardless of whether we acknowledge him or not. And sometimes God leads us on a journey that we did not intend to take. Just know that wherever you are on your journey, Jesus is with you. Even if you’re walking away from church, Jesus is with you you. In every moment, Christ is here, knocking, asking to be your heart.

“Eat and Run”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Luke 24: 13-35
May 6, 2018 • Sixth Sunday of Easter