When Jesus was tempted by the devil, he could’ve easily given into the temptation. After fasting for 40 days, Jesus was famished. The devil offered him everything, from food to power to glory, and even used words from the Bible to reinforce his point. In the end, Jesus did not give into the temptation.
We are tempted by “the devil” many times in our life. Our belief in the literal interpretation of “the devil” does not matter. We are all faced with key decisions in which we can ignore God’s call for us and focus on the tempting forces of selfishness, greed and power. Are we going to give into the temptation? Or are we going to walk the path of Jesus and make decisions based on what is good for all God’s people?
“Dangerously Tempting” Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett Luke 4:1-13 March 1, 2020 • First Sunday of Lent
Water plays a major role in God’s relationship with us.
Through baptismal waters, we are reborn into God. We are also born into connection with all people of God. We are no longer alone — we are all connected through water — the lifeblood of all beings on earth. Our connection with each other and God requires us to think about others.
Our baptism connects us with all humanity.
“Water Washed and Spirit Born” Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett Matthew 3:13-17 January 12, 2020
Mary had everything going against her. She was carrying a child, walking hundreds of miles while pregnant, forced to give birth in a manger … but despite all these difficulties, Mary believed. And Her song echoes down the corridors of time to challenge us to pay attention to what God is really up to in the world.
Who is Mary’s song for? It’s for the mothers in Honduras torn by extreme poverty, the mothers in Syria and Afghanistan where war has token its toil, the mothers in the United States among the immigrants who are so far away from home who find themselves detained and separated from the children that they love. These are the ones for whom Mary’s song are good news.
The ones who are seated in the high places have too much at stake to want to sing along — their world is collapsing in the justice of God’s mercy. The ones at the bottom can hardly wait for Mary’s song to begin. Mary’s song defines for us what it means to be a faithful follower of God.
“Mary’s Song” Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett Luke 1: 47-55 Dec. 15, 2019 • Third Sunday of Advent
The parable of the rich man is perhaps the most difficult story in the Bible for Christians to accept. Jesus tells a rich man that in order to truly get into heaven, he should give all his possessions to the poor and follow Jesus.
Several interpretations of this verse try to avoid the fact that this is about money, or that it doesn’t apply to us. But if we are seeking to follow Jesus, we can be thrown off too easily by money and material things.
Our money should not get in between us and God, but should be used as a vehicle to do God’s work. The ultimate question for all God’s followers is “What are you willing to give in order to pass through to the kingdom of heaven?”
“Holding On and Letting Go” Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett Mark 10: 17-27 Nov. 10, 2019
Through Jeremiah, God was trying to reconnect with his people, who lost touch with God. Through tears of sorrow, God was showing his sincere sadness that people were forgetting about God. They were not heeding God’s call to serve others, to take care of our planet, to put God at the center of all our actions.
Is God crying tears of sorrow today?
“Tears of Sorrow” Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 Oct. 6, 2019
When Jesus is invited to a banquet by a prominent Pharisee, he is critical of the seating chart and who was invited to the party. Jesus notes the seating is specially designated so prominent guests sit towards the head of the table, and that only the elite — those who could return the favor — were invited.
If the church invites the world to a banquet, who would Jesus expect to see there? And where would they be sitting?
“Take a Seat” Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett Luke 14: 7-14 Sept. 22, 2019
The message in Luke 12:49-56 can be difficult for Christians. Jesus tells his followers that following him will cause division among their families and within society. He makes it clear that it will be difficult to live in the world as a follower of God.
Jesus is longing for a community of followers who ground their identity in God, rather than the powers of this world. Because following Jesus means we will be shaking up the power structures, speaking truth and challenging power.
Following Jesus means we will have to make people uncomfortable, because Jesus says that anyone who stands in the way of the love of God needs to be exposed — whether it’s on the streets of Jerusalem, in the halls of Congress or even in our church pews. Tribal loyalty can’t be our highest loyalty if we choose to follow Jesus.
Are we going to let our world shape our loyalty to Jesus? Or are we going to let our loyalties to Jesus shape our approach to the world?
When Jesus teaches us how to pray, he gives us what is now known as The Lord’s Prayer. The prayer emphasizes three things:
God is a member of our family.
There are three requests we are making — bread, forgiveness and deliverance.
We should trust that God will provide.
Most Christians are comfortable with the idea of God as family and trusting that God will provide. And our for the most part, our requests for bread, forgiveness and deliverance are easy to comprehend. However, when it comes to forgiveness, The Lord’s Prayer commands us to forgive those who have sinned against us, just as God forgives us when we sin against God. Jesus tells us that forgiveness received is forever linked with forgiveness given.
Jesus is clear: prayer is effective and God responds. But it’s most effective when a prayer is paired with our willingness to act lovingly in relationship to others … all others.
Homework: Every single person here has someone they need to forgive … Forgive them, reach out and pray for them.
“Praying for God’s Future” Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett Luke 11: 1-13 Aug. 4, 2019
In Luke 10:38-42, Martha expresses frustration that while she is doing all the housework related to hosting a guest, Mary is talking to Jesus.
Martha asks Jesus if this bothers him? But rather than empathize with Martha, Jesus says Mary is doing exactly what she needs to be doing by listening.
This is pretty groundbreaking for Biblical times, because rabbis typically didn’t preach to women, but Jesus was talking directly to Mary. But he didn’t criticize Martha for what she was doing, either. Because in faith, we need both “being” and “doing.” Our challenge is to find the balance.
Homework: Make some notes to yourself about how much time you spend “being” and how much time you spend “doing.”
“Finding Balance” Sermon by The Rev. Elaine Puckett Luke 10: 38-42 July 28, 2019