Sermons on New Testament
Today is Homecoming Sunday! We’ve all been away for a while due to the pandemic and a whole host of other reasons. We’ll be reflecting on the Bible’s quintessential homecoming story…the story of the prodigal son.
We’ll be spending time today with a portion of the Letter of James and contemplating the age old notion of faith versus works on this Labor Day Weekend.
Our reading from Mark’s gospel takes us into the heart of a heated exchange between Jesus and some of the religious leaders. The religious leaders ask a question about Jesus’ disciples that is clearly more of an accusation than a genuine question. They want to know why Jesus’ disciples don’t all wash their hands according to the purity laws before eating. Jesus, drawing on the words of the prophet Isaiah, calls them out for honoring God “with their lips” while their hearts are far away.
Our reading from Ephesians is a good indicator that this truly MAY be an age old question! This passage is moving for some and troubling for others with its warrior imagery. We’ll spend time this Sunday exploring this text in relation to the last of the “Jesus as bread of life” texts from the Gospel of John.
“Take. Eat. This is my body, broken for you.” Those of us who are newer to Christianity might have an advantage here and be more able to perceive how shocking these words were to Jesus’ contemporaries. Folks who gathered around Jesus, including his own disciples, balked when Jesus started talking about “eating his flesh” and “drinking his blood.” And who can blame them? At face value, it’s a fairly gory notion. But in this passage Jesus says, “Unless you do this…you have no life in you.” That’s the piece we’ll focus on in worship today. What does Jesus mean when he says this? Is Jesus talking about physical life? Eternal life? Or is there something else?
Just like our bodies experience hunger pangs, our hearts and spirits can also experience “soul pangs.” It seems as if we’re born into this world with certain hungers for love, belonging, connection, joy, play, peace and so much more. We often experience these “hungers” in isolation, not acknowledging them to others and, very frequently, not even acknowledging them to ourselves. Today we explore Jesus’ claim to be the “break of life” and what that means for our deepest hungers.
Our July sermon series, “I’ve Been Meaning to Ask,” continues this morning with the question, “What Do You Need?” What we know for certain about need is that we need each other. How does today’s question invite us to lean in with curiosity and openness in order to strengthen the connections between us? How does this question invite vulnerability and open heartedness in relationship? What are scriptural examples of those in need and the people around them who responded in an effort to help? We’ll spend time with Job in the First Testament and Paul in the Epistles as we explore this question together.
Today we’ll explore the value of making space for one another’s pain on both a personal level and in the public domain. We’ll also dig into our scripture passage from Mark with its reminders that the Divine not only doesn’t shy away from human suffering but always seems to be right in the thick of it.
Today we begin a four-week sermon series that will take us through a variety of questions that begin with the phrase “I’ve Been Meaning to Ask You.”
Today we talk a little bit about our own sanctuary project as it relates to building but, just as importantly, we’ll talk about God’s notions around this topic of building. What does God want from God’s people when it comes to buildings? What does God NOT want? What needs to be broken down first in order to build up? How do we know, in God’s realm, when it’s time to build? Who is the builder? What is being built? Join us as we ponder this and more!