Monday, May 27, 2019

Sermon: "It's the Little Things", Psalm 67/Acts 16:9-15 (May 26, 2019)

(I decided to try recording my sermon on my phone this week, so of course my mom called me right in the middle of preaching 😂 Lesson learned: make sure ALL alerts are off before worship! Enjoy this sermon with its brief comedic interlude...)


I don’t know if you noticed, but this week’s scripture readings are a pretty dramatic change from the previous several weeks. For most of Eastertide, we’ve been reading long, dramatic stories of epic visions and miracles in the early Church. We’ve seen Peter’s vision inspire the inclusion of gentiles in the Christian movement; we’ve seen him bring a woman back from the dead; we’ve seen Paul transform from a persecutor of Christians to one of their greatest leaders, thanks to a significant team effort; and of course, we’ve seen our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, conquer death itself. But today, we have two brief readings, merely seven verses each. And not only that; they’re kind of…boring. I mean, after a month of dramatic transformations and resurrections and triumph, we get—what?—a song reiterating what we already know about God and a story about Paul chatting with some ladies? Um…no thank you. Can we get some more miracles and crazy visions, please?

Monday, May 20, 2019

Sermon: "You Can't Sit with Us!", Psalm 148/Acts 11:1-18 (May 19, 2019)


As we approach the end of May, all the graduation announcements and “end-of-school” countdowns from students and teachers alike bring me back to that most magical time of life: high school. Love it or hate it (and I tended towards the latter category most of the time, myself) high school is a time of intensity—intense preparation, intense emotions, intense changes, intense loyalties…but most of all, intense identity politics. Few people can look back on their teenage years without recalling the all-important social hierarchy. (If you’ve blocked those years from your mind and need a refresher, just check out literally any teen comedy movie and it’ll all come flooding back to you.) A lucky few managed to transcend social groups, but for most of us, we knew where we belonged and where we definitely DIDN’T belong. We knew if we were cool or uncool, and if we didn’t necessarily fall neatly into one of those categories, we knew EXACTLY where we landed on the spectrum between the two extremes. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Sermon: "The New Butterfly Effect", Acts 9:36-42/Revelation 7:9-17 (May 12, 2019)


Have you ever heard of “The Butterfly Effect”? First identified by meteorologist Edward Lorenz, “The Butterfly Effect” is the idea that if one tiny modification is made in the initial conditions of a system, that change can dramatically alter the result. For example, the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can create miniscule changes in the atmosphere, the effects of which can eventually compound to actually change the trajectory of a massive typhoon. In other words, “The Butterfly Effect” tells us that it’s virtually impossible to predict any result with 100% accuracy, because even the smallest unexpected variation in conditions can have dramatic implications for the outcome. This is why in the 21st century, with all of our technological advances and scientific knowledge, we still aren’t able to predict whether or not it’s going to rain on any given day with any amount of certainty—you never can tell when a mischievous butterfly’s been messing around with the atmosphere. 

Monday, May 6, 2019

Sermon: "Faith Formation is a Team Sport", John 21:1-17/Acts 9:1-20 (May 5, 2019)


Since I’ve only been here for about five months now, you may not know this about me, but I think it’s time for me to come clean: I have absolutely no interest in sports. Zero. None whatsoever. It doesn’t matter if it’s a team sport, an individual sport, a winter sport, a summer sport, a field sport, a water sport—I just don’t care. And yet, in spite of my resounding indifference to all things athletic, last summer I found myself traveling to Belize on a mission trip in which our primary responsibility was to organize a soccer camp for a community of Mennonite kids. In case you’ve ever doubted that the Holy Spirit has an ironic sense of humor, I offer you exhibit A.