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 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

Sermon: Head of the Class

As James and John were walking with Jesus, they asked him if they could sit at his left and right . At first glance, it appears selfish, but what their desires come from a natural human instinct — ambition.

We all have ambitions, especially in our professions. But there are two types of ambition. One type of ambition involves us achieving fame, financial success and glory. If we pursue our careers for this type of selfish ambition, it will undoubtedly leave us empty.

The other type of ambition involves us pursuing what we love to inspire others, to help our community and in our little way, change the world. This is the type of ambition that God wants us to pursue. The type of ambition with which Jesus lived his life.

“Head of the Class”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 10: 35-45
Sept. 16, 2018

Sermon: Shoving Camels ’til Kingdom Come

Jesus tells us to give up all our possessions and follow him.

It sounds severe, but what does it really mean? Are we really supposed to give up everything? Perhaps we are to use our talents to do good, not to make profit. Perhaps we are to use our money to do good, not to selfishly spoil ourselves. For true wealth comes in our power and ability to help others.

But even those small steps is a radical change from our capitalist society. However, the possessions we are encouraged to keep — the clutter we continue to gather — is keeping us from following Jesus. It’s impossible to have a selfish view about money and wholeheartedly follow Jesus.

Fully heeding Jesus’ words will ruin our life. But it’s the best thing that can happen to us.

Note: Due to technical difficulties, the first three minutes of sermon, including Gospel reading, were not recorded.

“Shoving Camels ’til Kingdom Come”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 10: 17-31
Sept. 9, 2018

Click to listen to The Word in Song, “Come Unto Me

Sermon: Savoring Peace

Jesus shows a different side of himself in Mark 9:42-50, talking about judgement and describing hell. His “fire and brimstone” words here often drive people away from the church. But why is Jesus so angry?

Prior to these events, Jesus talks about children being the most pure of heart, and the most holy. And anyone who gets in between a child and God will suffer the most dire consequences.

Even in this day, we see people using God to manipulate and abuse children. We see children suffering from war, genocide and persecution. And Jesus’ words of judgement are necessary for those suffering persecution.

But what can we do? One, we need to pray for those suffering. Two, we need to reach out to those who are suffering, and give them the connection they need to find peace and the true love of God.

“Savoring Peace”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 9:42-50
Aug. 26, 2018

Click here to listen to The Word in Song, “If God Be For Us.”

Sermon: Transfiguring Vision

When the disciples see Jesus for who he really is, God tells the disciples to listen to him.

That voice of God also encourages us that God will not leave us alone in the valley.

Down in the valley of the Twitter-verse, the 25-hour news cycle, there’s so much information, but very little truth and wisdom. If we don’t have it on a much larger framework to hang on — an idea of the world as love — then all that information is worthless.

“Transfiguring Vision”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 9:2-10
Aug. 19, 2018

Sermon: The Right Question

In an era of political tension, it’s easy to misuse the Bible for political gain. As the events at Willow Creek church demonstrate, you can preach Jesus Christ every Sunday morning and still use it for demonic purposes if your focus is on yourself, and not God. Jesus says anything that is standing in the way of salvation is demonic.

We go through life thinking other people owe us the debt of being what we imagine them to be. That’s a lie. Paying attention is one of the most important skills in life, and it’s only possible when Christ helps us find our true self and abandon our selfish self. If you truly want to follow Jesus, you’ll have to deny yourself. You’ll have to go through life not having it your way. You’ll have to bear other people’s burdens and be transformed by their problems.

“The Right Question”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 8: 27-38
Aug. 12, 2018

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: 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