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: Missed By Nine Miles

The wise men were just nine miles off the mark of finding the location of the birth of Jesus. Their astrological knowledge led them to Jerusalem, where they naturally thought the “king” would be born. However, when learning Herod had know knowledge of a new king, the wise men consulted Scripture, which led them to the humble town of Bethlehem.

The wise men demonstrate an important lesson. It’s not enough to follow your human talents to seek out God. You need Scripture as well. Likewise, it’s not enough to only rely on the Bible. You need to be aware of the world around us, and utilize our God-given talents to change the world into God’s image.

There are many “religious” people in society who bury their nose in the Bible, while ignoring the suffering of those around them. They ignore and even criticize the work of scientists, doctors and journalists. Those people are not fulfilling God’s word, and are only fulfilling their self-righteous conception of Christianity. Jesus called out this hypocrisy, and we too, should be careful not to become self-righteous.

A Christian should have a Bible in one hand, and a newspaper in the other, and use both to do God’s work on Earth.

“Missed by Nine Miles”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Matthew 2: 1-12
Jan. 7, 2018 • 2nd Sunday After Christmas

Listen to The Word in Song, “Jesus, What A Wonderful Child.”

Sermon: The Hostipitality of Christ the King

WITHOUT BORDERS SAN DIEGOJesus makes it clear that eternal life depends not just on what we believe, but also what we do. He tells us to be hospitable, but this isn’t about inviting friends over to dinner.

Hospitality accepts the limits of hostility. Genuine hospitality is an openness to those people and ideas to which we are hostile. Practicing this type of hospitality is incredibly difficult, but we could look to the life of Jesus as an example.

Jesus lived a life of being a stranger while subsequently being the host. As he reached out to the outcasts of society — the poor, the sick, the imprisoned — he himself was being rejected by religious leaders of the day.

We can reconnect with Jesus, the host and the stranger, by reading Scripture, receiving Holy Communion and participating in worship.

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To listen to The Word in Song, “I Just Want to Thank You, Lord,” click here.

“The Hostipitality of Christ the King”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Matthew 25: 31-46
Nov. 26, 2017

Sermon: Love Calls Us to the Things of This World

Jesus was often accused by church elders of violating Jewish law — for instance,  healing on the Sabbath. This should not be interpreted that Jesus did not support laws. In Matthew 22: 34-40, Jesus said the two most important laws are to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. If these two laws are followed, then everything else will fall into place.

However, unlike the Beatles song, love is not all we need. Loving one another must go beyond love. It has to be supported by action. Our love for one another is not just an idea — it’s manifested in how we take care of each other. And through church, we can consistently see the face of the neighbor and be challenged to demonstrate our love through our stewardship.

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Choir anthem: “Come Dwell in Solomon’s Walls.” (Click to listen.)

“Love Calls Us to the Things of This World”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Matthew 22: 34-40
Oct. 29, 2017

Sermon: Apparel Oft Proclaims

In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14), Jesus tells the story of a king who ordered his servants to go out and invite anyone and everyone to a wedding banquet for his son. However, when the king finds one man at the party not dressed in the attire provided him, the king casts him out.

Just like the wedding feast in the parable, Jesus tells us that the invitation to the kingdom of God is wide, however, the expectations to be in the kingdom are high.  The wedding guest was cast out not because of his lack of fashion, but rather his disregard for the seriousness of the event. It’s not enough for us to be in the kingdom of God. We must be filled with the goodness of the Holy Spirit, and express our holiness through our daily actions and interactions with others.

This is as high as the bar gets. Are we clothed in the garment of Jesus? Do our actions show the holiness of Christ? For us to stay in the kingdom, our response to God’s invitation must be real, open and honest.

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“Apparel Oft Proclaims”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Matthew 22: 1-14
Oct. 22, 2017

Sermon: End of the Line

For most of us, we can sympathize with the frustration of the workers in The Parable of the Vineyard Workers (Matthew 20: 1-16). Our American and Protestant work ethic tell us that if you work longer hours, if you work harder, then you should get more pay. It’s not fair that someone who shows up later than us gets the same benefit. We’re at one end of the line. And we can’t possibly understand how someone at the other end of the line gets the same treatment.

However, God’s love and mercy is abundant, boundless and unlimited. God’s love is for everyone. And the fact that we become jealous or envious of others who receive God’s love, even though they may not go to church every Sunday demonstrates a personal weakness. Are there some of us for whom the generosity and abundant mercy of God reveals the poverty of our own spirit?

It all depends what end of the line you’re at. But for God, it doesn’t matter.

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“End of the Line”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Matthew 20: 1-16
Oct. 15, 2017

 

Sermon: Pagan Piety

In the parable of the two sons, Jesus tells the story of two brothers and their interactions with their father, who asked them both to work in the vineyard. One son said “no,” but later changed his mind and did the work. The other son said, “yes,” but never did the work.

Jesus said it is the son that did the work, despite showing disobedience to his father, that is in favor with God. This is significant because it shows us that despite how we have lived our lives, it is how we walk with God in the future that matters. When someone is baptized, they are filled with the spirit of God, and on that day are determined to live a life of faith and service. We need to not get complacent in our faith, and be transformed every day.

We may go to church every Sunday and think we are good Christians, but it is our daily actions that matter in the eyes of God.

“Pagan Piety”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Matthew 21: 23-32
Oct. 8, 2017

For the choir anthem, “I Am With You,” click here.

Sermon: “Gimmie Oil in My Lamp”

In the Parable of the 10 Bridesmaids (Matthew 25: 1-13), Jesus tells the story of five bridesmaids who did not bring extra oil for their lamps, and five bridesmaids who came prepared with extra oil. With the groom running late, by the time he appeared for the celebration, the five bridesmaids without extra oil needed to get more, and they were not welcome back into the celebration.

Like the prepared bridesmaids, this parable instructs us to be prepared to enter into the kingdom of God. Faith gets us to the door, but it’s our preparation — through our good works and service to others — that gets us into the celebration. We should proceed with our lives, doing good works with great joy, because we know the time is coming when we will enter the kingdom of God.

“Gimme Oil in My Lamp”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Matthew 25: 1-13
Oct. 1, 2017

Sermon: When Weeds Get in the Wheat

There are a lot of weeds in our society. As we try to live as a people of God, serving others and seeking justice, there are those that are promoting a doctrine of hate, greed and discrimination. Our natural tendency is to want to eliminate those weeds in society so we can live in a more just world as children of God.

But in Matthew 13:24-30, Jesus tells us the parable of the weeds among the wheat. He tells us that if we destroy the weeds right now, we will also destroy some wheat. And we don’t want to destroy our bounty of wheat.

God cares more about the wheat than the weeds. We need to be patient with the weeds, and be concerned about loving others and seeking justice, rather than casting judgement on the weeds. God will take care of the weeds, in due time. Our job is to focus on the wheat.

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For The Word in Song, click here.

“When Weeds Get in the Wheat”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Matthew 13: 24-30
Aug. 27, 2017