Sermon: Annunciation

Terrible things happen, and sometimes they happen for no reason. But something else is just as true — sometimes goodness cannot be stopped.

Jesus was born into this world against all odds, but couldn’t be stopped. He lived his life and was even killed, but he still could not be stopped. And if we want to follow Jesus, nothing will stop us. This is the miracle of the human heart.

It can easy to believe that our failings are too enormous to be overcome. But God is doing something bigger that we can imagine within us. Every one of us is called, every day, to believe that we are expressions of God.

The good news of “love beyond measure” walks side-by-side with the violence of society.

“Annunciation” by The Rev. Beth Long

“Annunciation”
Sermon by The Rev. Beth Long
Luke 1: 26-38
Sunday, Dec. 9

Sermon: God With Us

As the Advent season begins, it’s a good time to reflect on how we see God. Early Gnostics struggled to see God with human qualities? Humans are so messy, limited and full of fault.

As a human, Jesus transformed the image of God, but it was still difficult for many to grasp — and still is to this day. How can Christ be both human and divine? It leads many people to “Christian-splain” things — creating images of God and how God would act in certain situations.

But it’s really not that complicated. When we look into the faces of other people, we look into the face God. I can only imagine that when Mary kissed the face of Jesus when he was born, she was in awe and curious as to how he will change the world. We should feel that awe in each encounter we have with others.

“God With Us” by Dr. Jodie Lyon

“God With Us”
Sermon by Dr. Jodie Lyon
John 1:1-14
Dec. 2, 2018 • First Sunday of Advent

Listen to the Choir Anthem: “Come, Emmanuel!

Sermon: Let the King Come Down

IMG_0326From the beginning of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus gives a one-sentence sermon, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”

For centuries people have been attempting to interpret these words from Jesus, speculating on the kingdom. And these misinterpretations have sometimes been disastrous, like the crusades of the 12th Century, the Salem witch trials of the 17th Century and the rapture movements of today.

While all these misinterpretations are rooted in the words of God, they all get it wrong. When thinking about the kingdom, it’s best to take a journalist’s approach and think about the who, what, when, why and where. The key is to look at the kingdom as Jesus did — a relationship between God and us, in heaven and earth.

Who is the kingdom? It’s God and us.
What is the kingdom? It’s God’s glory through our work.
When is the kingdom? It’s both now and in the future.
Why the kingdom? For both God’s glory and our benefit.
Where is the kingdom? It’s within us and in heaven.

Look for ways in your life in which you can draw on something and be vindicated by God. Try to discern the will of God and act out that will to the best of your ability. Discern what God is doing and bring the love, mercy and will of God into every situation.

“Let the King Come Down”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 15: 1-25
Nov. 25, 2018

Sermon: The Stone Left Standing

The temple in Jerusalem was an architectural masterpiece. It certainly had significant religious significance for those of the Jewish faith, but additionally was a massive structure that dominated the landscape. So when Jesus goes to the temple and says that it will be destroyed and he will rebuild it in three days, it was a bold proclamation.

We now know that Jesus didn’t mean he will literally rebuild the physical structure of the temple, but rather the structure of the church. And at the heart of the rebuilding is us — the people of God.

It’s important to recognize that although we have each been given the of God, Jesus still wants us to be the church.  The community of believers is integral to our faith — calling out our sinfulness, lifting our spirits and collaboratively impacting change in the world. We are the church. We need the church.

 

“The Stone Left Standing”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 13: 1-8
Nov. 18, 2018

Sermon: The Need For Saints in These Troubled Times

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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)

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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