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Sermon for November 4, 2017

I Sing a Song of the Saints of God
Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Matthew 9:35-38
Another Halloween has come and gone. For those who gave out candy, or went trick or treating with family, did you notice the little ones with smiley faces gave cheery greetings as their hands greedily dove into bowls of candy? Beyond the joy of giving out candy, did any of you keep track of the kinds of costumes the children wore? It depends on the fads of the year, of course, but you can always count on scary characters: murderers from horror movies, Grim Reap…

Sermon for October 29, 2017

Easy is Earned
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
“God is about to do something new.” When I hear people say that phrase, I think they mean it to be an encouragement. Amid life’s trials and tribulations, a minister says God is about to do something new and now relationships blossom into bliss, health flourishes, acne disappears, and sinking careers suddenly soar. Everybody is a winner. Miracles occur, conversions abound, church attendance skyrockets, ruptured relationships get healed, and shy people become outgoing. God is about to do something new. No more pain. No more tears. No more death. No more death. We will be changed.

“God is about to do something new.” If you’ve been listening to me for a while, you can probably guess I have a contrary thought about this. When I hear someone say, “God is about to do something new,” I say to myself, …

Sermon for October 22, 2017

Jesus the Failure
Jesus came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. Mark 6:1-6
It is almost a joke, certainly a cliché, that people and congregations don’t like change. As matter of fact, here’s a joke … Q:How many Congregationalists does it take to change a lightbulb? A: Ch-ch-ch-change!?

No really, how many Congr…

Sermon for October 15, 2017

Unforgiveable Sin Genesis 45:1-28
Is there a sin that’s so bad that it’s unforgivable? Is there be a betrayal so treacherous that God would refuse to pardon it? Murder? Suicide? Adultery? Abuse? Will God forgive the perpetrators? Has anyone ever done something to you that was unforgivable? Has anyone ever shown such deep disloyalty to you that the very thought of that person makes you sick?

If anyone could have felt that way, it could have been Martin Luther King Jr. One night, his home was burned down by a group of white men who hated his message about racial equality and the black voter initiative in the south. Under the leadership of Dr. King, African-Americans grew more confident of themselves, less willing to be oppressed and neglected by society. And they were angry -- angry about their treatment by white society. They were particularly angry on the night that their leader’s home was destroyed. A crowd of Dr. King’s friends and supporters gathered. Some talked about getting gun…

Sermon for October 8, 2017

Missions and the Multiverse
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. ~1 John 4:2-8
“God won’t give you more than you can handle.” “Love the sin but hate the sinner.” “Everything happens for a reason.” “When God closes a door, a window opens.”
I hear these phrases all the time. People tell me they are in the Bible. I don’t think they are. They sound so good, as if they have wisdom and authority. They sound good, but the theology is bad. When I think about what it means to be a Christian, I think there are a lot of good ideas with bad theology. Let’s think about three ideas that have crept into Christian thought and practice … three ideas that sound good, but are bad theology: Determinism, Mechanism and Reductionism. They sound academic, so let’s break the ideas down. Buckle up.

Determinism means everything in the universe is pre-determined by God. God maps ou…

Sermon for October 1, 2017

The Demands of Discipleship
After Jesus left the synagogue with James and John, they went to Simon and Andrew’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away. So he went to her bedside, took her by the hand, and helped her sit up. Then the fever left her, and she prepared a meal for them. That evening after sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. The whole town gathered at the door to watch. So Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases, and he cast out many demons. But because the demons knew who he was, he did not allow them to speak. Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” So he traveled throughout the region of …

Sermon for September 24, 2017

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Progress, Not Perfection
The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Galatians 5:22-24

If we were totally honest, most of us would admit that we have a desire to look good to others. We want people to think we’ve got our lives together, that we’re successful, that our kids are the best and brightest, and our relationships are ideal. We want others to think that we’re on top of our game; that we would never make an error in judgment. If we were totally honest, many of us would have to admit that we have a driving desire to be perfect.

Perfection means having no flaws or shortcomings; complete excellence. A perfectionist sees life as if it’s a succession of flaws that need to be fixed once and …

Sermon for September 17, 2017

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It’s Only a Thought And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. ~ Romans 12:1-2
I am going to ask us to take a couple minutes and ask you to do something you try hard not to ever do at church. I have provided scraps of paper. I want you to take one and write down, stream of consciousness, everything that is weighing on your mind. Make a list. Big or small. What are your distractions and anxieties? Take a minute or two and just brainstorm. And don’t worry, you won’t have to share.
I find when I allow myself to do an exercise like this, I identify worries I didn’t even know I w…