Church means many things to different people. But Paul keeps returning the focus of the church to the cross.
But the cross is often used by people use for their own personal gain. Paul warns about this. The cross is not something that can be humanized. It’s a gift from God that allows us to see the world beyond a human perspective.
In the midst of our path in the world, God has placed the stumbling block of the cross. When we encounter it, we might have to do something others deem foolish, but is right in the eyes of God.
“The Folly of the Cross” Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 Feb. 3, 2019
Paul goes to the church of Corinth and finds the Corinthians divided. The cause of their division was over who baptized them.
Although the church today does not argue over baptism, a key issue often divides Christians — political ideology. Many people take pride belonging to churches that claim to be “progressive” or emphasizing “conservative family values.”
What would Paul’s message be us? The same it was to the Corinthians. What divides us doesn’t matter. The important thing is what unites us — the power of the cross. And despite human attempts to take control of the cross and shape its message, the power of the cross is unlike any other. It does not depend on us, it depends on God.
And we have been invited to participate in that power — but we cannot manipulate it.
“What Unites Us” Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby 1 Corinthians 1:10-18 Jan. 27, 2019
Children love to play the game “hide and seek.” Although they enjoy hiding, the true joy is being found by their loved one.
As adults, we become better at hiding from others — even hiding in places where we are supposedly sharing ourselves. On social media, we create an image of our lives that we want others to see. But we typically hide who we truly are.
It can be difficult for us to even understand who we are. We put out different images of us in various places — work, family, friends, church, social media, etc. — that we may ask, “Who is the real me?” The “real you” is the person you are in your encounter with Jesus. There’s no hiding from God, because God knows who you truly are.
To find out who we are — in all our depths and complexity — is something we find out most fully in our encounter with Jesus Christ.
“Come and See” Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby John 1: 43-51 Jan. 13, 2019
We know that standard Christian trope that through Christ we are saved. But what does that really mean? And does that mean that everyone else — even those who never encountered Christ in their life — are damned? Are we just the lucky ones, because we happened to grow up in a Christian family and/or live in a Christian society?
John tells us that Jesus is the true and final light who came into the world for EVERYONE. And salvation does not belong to us. It belongs to God. And the light of Christ shines to all people beyond our knowing, whether they are Christian, agnostic, atheist, etc.
In the Bible, Jesus is constantly healing and feeding people regardless of whether they believe in him. It’s not our job to coerce others to see the light, but rather following the light of salvation that guides our path. Others will see God’s light on our path, and if the light directs us, we can show others that light.
“Witness to the Light” Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby John 1: 6-14 Jan. 6, 2019 • Epiphany
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.
“Mary’s radical vision” Sermon by The Rev. Bonnie Osei-Frimpong Luke 1:46-55 Dec. 16, 2018 • Third Sunday of Advent
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” Sermon by Dr. Jodie Lyon John 1:1-14 Dec. 2, 2018 • First Sunday of Advent
From 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
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
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