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Sermons

Spirit of God

On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon Christians gathered in Jerusalem and the Church was born. From that point forward, we have understood God's Spirit to be—in some mysterious, unquantifiable way—the animating force that guides, strengthens, and equips God's people to carry on...

Nothing Less

When it comes to hope, so often we either have too little or we place it in the wrong things. Some of us have trained ourselves not to hope, having been disappointed too many times along the way, and some of us have known feelings of despair for too long even to consider the possibility of real...

Exiles

The Christian church in the United States is living in a kind of exile: after centuries of enjoying social, cultural, and political power and influence, the church increasingly finds itself alienated from the centers of power that it once took for granted. Some see this as a crisis and seek a...

Enigma

There are stories about Jesus that we love to hear and to tell—stories of surprising compassion and radical love—and then there are those stories that don’t jibe with Jesus as we ordinarily imagine him. These stories present Jesus in a way that can be difficult for us to incorporate into the larger...

Home for the Holidays

Each of the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—approaches the story of Jesus in a unique way and with a different purpose and audience in mind. Entering into the world that each of these storytellers creates is like walking into someone’s home and encountering sights, sounds, and smells...

Ephesians: Salvation for Service

The Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus is less anchored in the actual circumstances of a particular faith community than some of Paul’s other letters are. Instead, Ephesians reads almost like a sermon, with Paul hitting head-on some of the most important theological issues of the early...

Holy Habits

Devout Christians have long sought after something called “holiness.” We have misunderstood this pursuit as a striving toward perfection, which is obviously out of our reach in this life. Holiness is better understood as spiritual strength or fortitude, and our spirits are not made strong...

Upside Down

Life in the midst of a global pandemic is not at all what we have come to expect it to be. In fact, it feels in some very significant ways that the world itself has been turned upside-down. This is disorienting and disconcerting. It changes our outlook, our actions, and our relationships. And it...

Grace in the Wilderness

The prophet Jeremiah declares that the people of God "found grace in the wilderness" (Jer. 31:2). Although Israel's years of wandering were filled with challenges, the wilderness was where God shaped them and where God's abundant grace was made manifest to them. We are living through our own kind...

Origins

Before the particular history of the people of Israel begins in earnest with God’s call to Abraham in Genesis 12, there is another history—a prehistory. The stories of Genesis 1-11 which make up this prehistory are origin stories: stories that invite us to think about why the world is the way that...

Maundy Thursday 2020

Everyone Will Know Thursday, April 9, 2020

Last Words

When the four gospel accounts are combined, Jesus speaks seven times from the cross, commonly referred to as the "Seven Last Words" of Christ. During the weeks of Lent we take a careful look at these important sayings of Jesus, spoken in his dying moments. In so many ways, they distill not only...

20/20 Vision

Jesus said, "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light" (Matt. 6:22). At the start of a new year and a new decade, it's a good time to get our (spiritual) vision checked. Are we seeing things clearly, or has our vision been blurred, blocked, or...

There are stories about Jesus that we love to hear and to tell—stories of surprising compassion and radical love—and then there are those stories that don’t jibe with Jesus as we ordinarily imagine him. These stories present Jesus in a way that can be difficult for us to incorporate into the larger picture of Jesus that we have created, so we tend to skip over them and pretend they’re not really there (or dismiss them as the work of the errant pen of a gospel writer). But we might find, as we dwell with these stories, that it is good for us to be unsettled by Jesus, and that these challenging stories can sharpen our sense of who Jesus was and what it means to follow him.

Who Can Understand?

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Audio Video Mark 4:10-12

Jesus explains to his disciples why he teaches in parables, and his explanation is far from satisfying. The fact that Jesus is difficult to understand—perhaps even intentionally so—may tell us just as much about ourselves as it does about him.

Who Can Follow?

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Audio Video Luke 14:25-33

Jesus makes demands of his disciples so stringent and uncompromising that we can’t help but wonder if anyone can truly follow him. The reason his demand seems so unreasonable to us is that we struggle to put our loves in the proper order—but doing so is a prerequisite for discipleship.

Who Is Worthy?

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Audio Video Mark 7:24-30

Jesus encounters a Gentile woman who seeks healing for her daughter. While it may seem like the set-up for a straightforward miracle story, it is anything but. In this desperate woman, Jesus is confronted with the question of how broad his ministry is really supposed to be, and by extension, how expansive the good news of the kingdom of God will ultimately become.

Who's With Jesus?

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Audio Video Luke 22:35-38

As Jesus nears the end of his ministry and prepares for his confrontation with authorities, he seems to command his disciples to take up arms—a very striking departure from the tone and substance of his teaching up to that point. His followers are eager to oblige his request, but in their hurry to answer the call to arms, they reveal how much they (and we) still have to learn about Jesus and his kingdom.

Who Wins God's Favor?

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Audio Video Luke 16:1-13

In what is generally regarded as Jesus’ most difficult parable, Jesus seems to be praising the cunning and dishonesty of a manager who defrauds his master to save his own skin. Somewhere in this unsavory behavior is a lesson for Christian discipleship, but it certainly doesn’t jump off the page.

Who Is Good?

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Audio Video Mark 11:12-17

In a very familiar episode of the gospel story, Jesus overturns the tables of money changers in the temple. But just before he does this, he does a strange thing we’re not so familiar with: he curses a fig tree because he’s hungry and it has no fruit to offer him. This bizarre scene may look like a small tantrum, but in reality it is a symbol meant to help us understand Jesus’ more dramatic action in the temple.