Sermon: Mary’s radical vision

When Mary trusted God to bear Jesus, she was taking a major risk. Mary was defying family, community, religious and government standards, but had faith in God that she is doing what is right.

Mary initiated a radical new vision of what her life and our life could be — God in flesh among us. Her whole life prepared her to say “Yes” when God asked her to do something important. Mary teaches me to wonder, “What is holding me back from bearing God into the world?”

God invites each of us in each moment, relationship, and heartbreak in the world as it is, to participate in the world as it should be — transformed in God’s word. We cannot stop it.

Sermon

“Mary’s radical vision”
Sermon by The Rev. Bonnie Osei-Frimpong
Luke 1:46-55
Dec. 16, 2018 • Third Sunday of Advent

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: Watch for the Hook

The American idea of “hope” is a concept that people use like a sweet jam, spread ever so lightly, over the bitter bread of injustice. We use sentimental language about the hope of the future as a way to ignore the injustice and oppression of the present.

If we want to be honest about Scripture, we will not participate in that brand of sentimentality, and be willing to look oppression, evil and sin square in the eye and say, “Yes. We have a problem here.”

But using human-made weapons like violence and power will never work. Throughout the Bible, there are stories of God using imperfect people to do God’s work. Today, God will use people like us and uses our weakness to make God’s power made known. Yes, there is hope. But we have to follow it up with prayerful action.

“Watch for the Hook”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Isaiah 59
Dec. 24, 2017 • Fourth Sunday of Advent

Sermon: Rebuilding the Ruins

The book of Isaiah is the story of how the Jews dealt with the collective trauma of their exile. Isaiah consistently reassures his people that they will be restored by God, and promises that there would be a servant who one day would restore creation.

The Spirit of the Lord never leaves us alone and is always searching the land to restore what we have broken. God is calling us to participate in what God is already doing. In the midst of darkness, do not despair — there is a hope more radical than anything our human minds can conceive of.

The problems of our world can be overwhelming, but we are called to rebuild this world. America is littered with institutions that are ruined. There is something each of us can do — right in our own community — to help.

God is looking to us to help rebuild this city. How will we respond to God’s call?

 

“Rebuilding the Ruins”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Isaiah 61: 1-11
Dec. 17, 2017 • Third Sunday of Advent

Sermon: Love on the Way

We all have the ability to love. But the difference between our love and God’s love is that our love comes and goes, while God’s love is constant.

When we recognize that our ability to love comes from God, then we will be able to practice constant love with humanity. God wants us to love every member of our family, and that extends beyond our immediate family to our community and the world.

Our love must extend to the Syrian refugee, the war-torn family in Egypt, and the immigrant separated from his children due to deportation. That is the only we can get our family back together.

 

“Love on the Way”
Sermon by Dr. Robert Foster
Isaiah 40: 1-11
Dec. 10, 2017 • Second Sunday of Advent

Sermon: Despite Appearances

People who “pray in the runs” tend to get desperate when they pray, and sometimes it may feel like God doesn’t answer our prayers. We may feel that God is not with us.

There are a lot of times in Scripture where God’s presence is obvious to the reader, but the attention of the people is elsewhere. When Jesus was born, many people saw him as just another refugee child.

For us to see God today, we must slow down. Instead of asking how can God appear to us, we need to do ask ourselves what can we do differently to see God.

“Despite Appearances”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Isaiah 64: 1-9
Dec. 3, 2017 • First Sunday of Advent

Sermon: We need to be a little more like Joe …

joseph-father-of-jesus-2While Mary gets a lot of attention for her role in the life of Jesus, Joseph often gets overlooked. However, Joseph is a model of “spiritual attentiveness.”

A righteous man who followed the law, Joseph was willing to change paths and adapt to God’s will. He knew that there was more than life than following a bunch of religious rules — he lived in the spirit . There is no rulebook that will completely cover your life.

God is calling us to be open, like Joseph, and to be attentive and listen to the change in the world. God is calling us to be open, to be attentive, to listen to the change in the world. In the new year, consider what habits and practices you’d like to cultivate to be open to God.

Sermon

“My Real Daddy”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Matthew 1:18-25
Dec. 18, 2016 • Fourth Sunday in Advent

VIDEO: “The Work of Christmas”

The Oconee Street UMC Chancel Choir performed “The Work of Christmas” to more than 150 audience members on Dec. 6, 2016 in the sanctuary. The choir performance, directed by Amanda Martin, featured 11 instrumentalists, six actors and a narrator. Click here to see photos from the event.

PHOTO GALLERY: “The Work of Christmas”

The Oconee Street UMC Chancel Choir performed “The Work of Christmas” to more than 150 audience members on Dec. 6, 2016 in the sanctuary. The choir performance, directed by Amanda Martin, featured 11 instrumentalists, six actors and a narrator. Click here to watch the performance.

All photos by Jaydon Dennis