This weeks sermon...from the Book of Esther.
The story of Esther, like all Old Testament narratives, is not exactly a story of good guys beating bad guys. Rather it is a story about how messed up people live in a messed up world and how God nevertheless works through it all. The Bible tells stories of flawed characters in difficult situations, often taking matters into their own hands, often stumbling around in the dark as they furtively pursue God's purposes, tripping themselves up, only half-way living according to God's standards. In other words...they are a lot like us.
This weeks sermon...from the Book of Esther.
The parable of the builders poses a simple contrast: those who listen and do the Way of Jesus are wise, like a person building a house on a firm foundation, whereas those who do not listen and do the Way of Jesus are foolish, like a person ridiculously building a house on sand. The problem, however, is that as much as we might like Jesus we often times don't like to do what he says. As Miroslav Volf says: "we may believe in Jesus, but we do not believe in his ideas." Faith demands action. It's not just a head thing; it has always demanded a response. That's why wisdom, according to Jesus, is not found just in hearing his words, but also in doing what he says.
This week's sermon...from Matthew 7:24-27.
Life as a follower of Jesus doesn't mean just killing time while we wait for something that is to come; this is not a testing ground for whether we make it into God's Kingdom later on. Rather what we do here and now to build God's Kingdom has eternal significance. Ultimately, the only thing that matters is putting our faith into action. The message of the Kingdom is not something to be hidden away and kept safe; God asks us to be faithful stewards.
This week's sermon...from Luke 19:11-27.
If you and I can be worn down by the persistent nagging of a child...if a hardened, uncaring judge can be worn down by the persistence of a desperate woman...then how much more will a good, caring, and gracious God be sure to bring about justice for his people?
Sometimes it may feel like God is taking his sweet time. But God's promise is sure: God will bring healing, restoration, wholeness to creation and make all things new. The job for followers of Jesus is to remain faithful to his Way in the meantime.
This week's sermon...from Luke 18:1-8.
The parable of the unjust steward is not teaching us that embezzlement and dishonesty are ok as long as we're smart about it. Rather, the key to understanding this strange parable is the question "how much more?". If "children of this age," like that steward, can be so crafty in how they manage crisis, then how much more should "children of light" be adept at wisely managing the "crisis" of God's emerging kingdom? Because we can't have it both ways: we can't be a child of light and a "child of this age," we can't serve both God and money, we can't be a follower of Jesus on Sunday and ignore his Way the rest of the week. How we treat our neighbors, our coworkers, our family members, even strangers Monday through Saturday says a whole lot more about who we are than whether we show up in church on Sunday.
This week's sermon...from Luke 16:1-13
The Kingdom of God isn't a fight to the top of the heap. Rather it turns the values of the world — survival of the fittest, look out for number one, take what you can get, dominate when you can, pursuit of wealth as highest good — upside-down. What matters in God’s Kingdom is not worthiness or order or who deserves what or who gets more reward or who sits at Jesus right and left hand…it is instead about blessing and abundance, about grace that is too good for us to even grasp!
This week's sermon...from Matthew 20:1-16.
There are no bounds to our obligation to love and do good to others because all people are made in God's image. What we do to any other person, directly or indirectly, good or evil, we do to Christ himself.
This week's sermon...from Luke 10:25-37.
God’s grace is extravagant, reckless, non-utilitarian, unconcerned with social convention or norms or “what ought to be." And it is ours even when we’re not ready, even before we confess or repent. God’s grace is simply a constant of the universe. As God’s People, charged with reflecting God’s image in creation, may it likewise be constant in us as we move from death to life and as we move with others from death to life.
This week's sermon...from Luke 15.
Jesus' parables remind us that God's Kingdom work is present even in the seemingly small and insignificant things. And they remind us that God’s Kingdom of peace, love, and joy is worth more than the things we so often strive after: wealth, prosperity, status, job, family. And all this is because the value of God’s Kingdom isn’t found in comparison, in “winning” or “more” or “most” or “bigger.” The value of God's Kingdom is found in the faithfulness of God’s People. The Kingdom is always and only found when God’s People live the Kingdom
This week's sermon...from Matthew 13:31-33, 44-46.
When Jesus tells the parable of the sower, he is calling his listeners to fruitfulness for the sake of God's Kingdom. This story is not a pat on the back for those who are "insiders" and condemnation for "outsiders," rather it calls all of us to consider not whether we are "saved," but whether our lives produce such fruit as love, peace, justice, righteousness, and mercy. We all pass through times of scorching and weeds, but the parable invites us to move deeper into God's purposes for us. The goal of discipleship in the Way of Jesus isn’t just sentimental feelings or mere moral behavior; it is radical conversion to the Kingdom of God.
This week's sermon...from Matthew 13:1-9.