Monday, January 28, 2019

Sermon: "God Offers", Genesis 1:26-31/2 Corinthians 9:6-15 (January 27, 2019)

(Fourth in a series of four sermons during our stewardship season)


Pretty much everyone likes gifts, right? Does anyone here not like them? If you’re that rare person who doesn’t like gifts, it’s probably because our culture has made gift-giving occasions more of an obligation for tradition’s sake than anything else. But I bet that if you try, you could remember a gift that’s brought you joy. See, at their best, gifts are more than just a transactional obligation. Gifts are an expression of our positive feelings towards one another; they’re a way to express ourselves without words.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Sermon: “God Requires”, Micah 6:3-8/1 Corinthians 12:1-11 (January 20, 2019)

(Second of four in a series of sermons during Stewardship Season)

Some of you may have noticed that the last two sermons I preached were described in the bulletin as part of a sermon series. If you’re particularly astute, you may have also observed that this one is, too. You may have thought that, at first glance, none of these sermons seem to be connected to each other in any clear way, aside from being about God (which is generally understood to be a baseline requirement of a sermon). You’re not entirely wrong; part of this is practical: I certainly don’t want anyone to show up to church for the first time in a month and feel like they’ve missed a significant piece of a puzzle that I’ve been carefully constructing for weeks. But it’s also because I’ve been trying to set up a progression of ideas (you can let me know later whether or not I’ve been remotely successful). First, I preached about how God speaks to us in all sorts of different ways and how we need to get better at listening to what we might be called to. Then, I preached about how God has claimed us, and how this claim leaves us with a choice about how to respond to it. Now this week is where the rubber finally hits the road: today, we’re going to hear about God’s requirements for us as God’s children. In other words, if we believe that God has a claim on our lives and are genuinely listening for God’s voice, then we’ll inevitably find that we have some obligations we need to fulfill. This week, it’s time for us to nail down exactly what those obligations are.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sermon: "God Claims", Isaiah 43:1-7/Mark 1:1-13 (January 13, 2019)

(Second of four in a series of sermons during Stewardship Season)


Here in the PCUSA, we recognize two sacraments: Communion and Baptism. We celebrate these two specifically because each of them is ordained by God and instituted by Christ. In other words, God commands it, and Jesus makes it happen.[1] The sacraments are more than just something that God wants us to do, though. They’re rituals that intimately connect us to the divine in a unique way. When we participate in the sacraments, we encounter Christ both in a mystical way as well as in a practical way, participating in these same acts the same way that Jesus did during his ministry. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Sermon: "God Speaks", 1 Samuel 3:1-10/Matthew 2:1-12, 16 (January 6, 2019)

(First of four in a series of sermons during Stewardship Season)


Today, I want to begin with a story: a friend of mine was in the middle of her ordination process when she encountered an obstacle. It was making things really difficult, to the point that she wasn’t sure if ordination was what God wanted for her anymore. While she was struggling with her sense of call, she still needed to continue her work as a hospital chaplain—unfortunately, life doesn’t stop for discernment. She told me about a day during this time that she visited a child who couldn’t talk. The little girl had to write down anything that she wanted on paper, and she was having a hard time with this process. My friend watched her get upset and quit. As soon as the girl threw down her pen, though, her aunt, who was also in the room, gently chided her, “Now baby, don’t get frustrated and give up!” The girl picked up her pen and tried again, and the rest of the visit went on without incident.