Sermons by Lori Leopold
Our scripture reading from Genesis this week focuses on Abraham and Sarah, who started their journey as Abram and Sarai. But in their relationship with God and as a part of the covenant between them and God, they received new names. We’ll spend some time today thinking about what that meant for them and what our names and labels mean for us, as people of faith, today.
What is your “wilderness”? Today we spend time with Mark’s account of Jesus’ baptism and his subsequent 40 days of temptation in the wilderness. It is also the first Sunday of Lent, a season in the church marked by themes of light and shadow, confession and repentance, and frailty and humility.
La Jolla UMC and Pacific Beach UMC offer this joint online Ash Wednesday worship service. This will be a time of prayer and song with leaders and musicians from both congregations.
Today is Transfiguration Sunday in the life of the church. It’s the last Sunday before the beginning of Lent and we travel with Jesus, Peter, James and John to a mountaintop. There they have an experience of witnessing Jesus being changed in an instant. It’s an experience that has the potential to change them, to shape them for the rest of their lives.
Today we spend some time exploring what’s come to be known as the Messianic Secret. We’ll see that Jesus consistently tells not only unclean spirits, but also people, including his disciples, not to tell anyone what they’ve seen or heard in their encounters with Jesus. Why on earth would Jesus do this? How did this play a part in the unfolding of Jesus’ identity? How did it help or hinder him in “keeping on” toward his mission?
Our focus on Jesus as “trusted authority” will guide us into a time of reflection about trusting Jesus as the one who stills the waters at certain times, bringing peace and calm, and who troubles the waters at other times.
In some ways our scripture passage for today is similar to last Sunday’s text. Last Sunday we heard about the call of the first disciples from the Gospel of John. Today we hear of the same events but from Mark’s perspective. The earliest disciples, two sets of brothers, Simon/Andrew and James/John, were hard at work in their trade of fishing. They seemed to drop everything and wordlessly follow after Jesus in response to Jesus’ invitation to, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”
In our passage this week, we see the circle of discipleship growing wider and wider as one person invites another to join the journey, extending the invitation, “Come and see.”
As we celebrate Epiphany, we encounter the curiosity, wonder, and mystery surrounding the Magi’s trip to Bethlehem. What does God give? What will you receive?
Christmas Eve special service and lighting the Christ candle!