Series: Challenging Texts and Topics

which-way-1549661Challenging Texts & Topics

For this summer, members of the congregation were invited to submit their questions and challenges. Is there a story in the Bible or a saying of Jesus that confuses or unsettles you? Something you don’t like , don’t understand, or wish you could hear explored in a message?

Sermons in this Series: 

June 16, Holy Trickery– Does the End Justify the Means?: God’s tricksters in Genesis (Genesis 25 & 27)

June 23, Careful What You Wish For!– The people demand—and God grants—a king (1 Samuel 8)

June 30, Look Up– When God asks the Impossible: the binding/sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22

July 7, Free to Be– Free for what? What does it mean that “Jesus sets us free?” (Galatians 5:1, 13-25)

July 14, As Yourself– “Love your neighbor as yourself”—but what if you don’t love yourself? (Luke 10:25-37)

July 21, Martha, Martha, Martha- Martha and Mary: Does Jesus really praise the lazy sister? (Luke 10:38-42)

(July 28- Praise in the Park; Aug 4- VBA celebration)

Aug 11- Child-like, not childish, faith: Re-understanding the beloved myths of the Hebrew Bible

Aug 18- What is the point of Intercessory prayer? Are we trying to change God’s mind or give God’s power a boost?

Aug 25-  (still in process)

Sept 1- Holy and Unholy anger: of fig trees and temple tables

Sept 8-  “Forgive and Forget”


Series: Bread, Bath, & Beyond

BBB promo 2Bread, Bath, & Beyond

“If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation…”  – 1 Corinthians 5:17

The new year always brings opportunity to move beyond our limitations, to find new beginnings, and be better than we were before. This season, we recall that the most transforming experiences of our faith— communion and baptism— are the starting points for life “beyond” our limitations.

As the new year begins, we are invited to be reborn in Christ, as we renew our commitment to serving God and to serving others. As we celebrate communion, we receive the amazing gift of God’s own self to us, and as we remember our baptism, we respond by giving ourselves back to God. But this beautiful exchange doesn’t stop there. We are called beyond this beginning, to live and serve in the world. Let’s make this year one of amazing transformations, for our lives, for our community, for our world!

Sermons in this Series:
January 6 – Follow Your Star (Bread)
January 13 – Call and Response (Bath) 
January 27 – Beyond the Horizon 
February 3 – Beyond Boundaries (the message was a brief reflection on being set free– through the power of God in Christ– from the sin that binds us, especially the sin of racism. The message was then embodied in liturgy and dance)
February 10 – Beyond the Chaos
February 17 – Beyond the Worry

Series: Calm and Bright

SmallerAdvent Worship Series
Calm and Bright: 200 years of Silent Night

The classic hymn, “Silent Night,” first made its debut 200 years ago on Christmas Eve, 1818, at the St. Nicholas chapel in Salzburg, Austria.

Nearly 100 years later, the beloved hymn was the center of a World War I cease fire, Christmas Day 1914. The beautiful text has been translated from the original German into over 140 different languages, and is recognized and sung around the world. It is the defining “church moment” for many Christians—even those who come to church for the first time, or only once a year. Something mystical happens when we light candles and sing the hope of “calm and bright”–peace and light for the world.

This year, the 200thanniversary of the beloved hymn, we need a “Silent Night” more than ever—a ceasefire from our conflicts, divisions, and stresses. Join us during Advent as we are inspired by the stories of this song and as we celebrate the renewal of love and light for our time and our communities. When we sing (and dance) together on Christmas Eve, may we raise our voices in to celebrate the birth of Christ with spirits of peace and love that transcend all barriers.

Sermons in this series:
December 2 – Sleep in Heavenly Peace 
December 9 – Joyful Glories Stream 
December 16 – Redeeming Grace & Love 
December 23 – Let us Sing with Hope 
December 24 – Calm and Bright 
December 30 – The Savior is Born 

Series: Are You Kidding?

Are you Kidding

Are You Kidding?
re-discovering childlike faith

The disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
— Matthew 18:1-3

All I really needed to know I learned in kindergarten… or Sunday School?

While the faith and the lessons that we learn as children are just the beginning, the foundation they form lasts our whole lives. Lessons about imagination, kindness, giving thanks, and helping others are true at any age. Why is it that some things seem simpler through the eyes of a child? What can we learn when we look at the stories of the Bible, or of our own lives, through a child-like focus?

Jesus states that unless we become like children, we will never enter the kin-dom of heaven. In this series, we’ll look at Jesus’ parables through the eyes of children, discovering a surprising wisdom in them that adults frequently miss… until we become like children.

Sermons in this Series:
August 5 – Become Like a Child 
August 12 – Be Nice? 
August 19 – Thank You and Please? 
August 26 – Play Fair? 
September 2 – Share and Share Alike? 
September 9 – Say Nice Things? 
September 16 – Mind Your Manners? 

Series: Roll Down, Justice!

Roll Down promo smLenten Series: Roll Down, Justice! 

“let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
        – Amos 5:24

Lent is a season of remembering who we are called to be in this world, and renewing our baptismal identity. In the early church, it was a time of preparation for new believers and rededication to the Gospel message.

Worship alone is not enough; our prayer, praise, and song must move us to action, seeking transformation in our own lives and the life of the world. Otherwise, our worship becomes empty, and as the prophet Amos reminds us, God will look away from empty offerings and shallow festivals. But if we attune ourselves to God’s calling, then we produce an offering acceptable to God: justice flowing like waterfalls, righteousness rolling like an endless stream.

In our worship this Lent, we will hear and be moved by the powerful music of Mark Miller, we will be connected to our identity as God’s claimed and baptized children, and we will be inspired to live so that our lives proclaim God’s justice, righteousness, and love.

What prejudices are we challenged to “give up” this Lent? How will we be moved to “give” of ourselves to the world? Where will this journey take you, as the current of God’s love sweeps you along?

Our adult Sunday School class will be using resources from the General Commission on Religion and Race’s Lenten Study by the same name– you are invited to join the study, Sunday mornings at 9 a.m., and/or you can learn more about this study and Mark’s music in it at the Religion and Race website for Roll Down Justice.

Sermons in this Series: 
February 18 – Nothing Can Separate You
(Child of God)
February 25 – Planting Seeds of Justice,
Guest Preacher (How Long?)
March 3 – Make it So
(I Dream of a Church)
March 11 – Choosing Love
(I Choose Love)
March 18 –
(God Has Work for Us to Do)
March 25 – Palm Sunday
(The Day is Coming)
April 1 – A New World, Easter

Series: Known and Called

Known Called promoWe are water-marked and claimed as God’s own.

“Oh God, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path any my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.”   — Psalm 139:1-3

As another new year begins, we commit to living as Christ’s followers. To do that, we need to be able to recognize the identity of Jesus. Once we discover the depth of who Jesus is, we can live as his followers, walking in his footsteps.

To know Jesus, we will look deeply into scripture, into the stories of those who were touched by him, and into our own calling as his disciples. The more we can recognize Jesus, the better we will understand who we are called to be as we live out his ministry.

Just like the early disciples, all who follow Jesus today are claimed as God’s own, sealed with the waters of baptism and set on a journey of bringing the light of God’s love to the world. God knows us—perhaps better than we know ourselves. And God calls us—often in ways we can only begin to imagine.

How are we known by the world around us? Do we bear the unmistakable watermark of God’s grace upon us? Do we live out Christ’s ministry so clearly, that Christ’s own light shines through us?

Sermons in this Series: 
December 31 – Known by the Light – Called to Joy
January 7 – Known by a Watermark – Called to Life
January 14 – Known on Sight – Called to Be
January 21 – Known as Fishers – Called to Cast a Wide Net
January 28 – Known to Stand Our Ground – Called to Justice
February 4 – Known by Touch – Called to Heal
February 11 – Known by Our Company – Called by the Saints

Series: Mary, Did You Know?

mary smallerAdvent Series- Mary, Did You Know?
Mary’s perspective on the birth of Jesus

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for God has looked with favor on the lowliness of God’s servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is God’s name.”    – Mary, Mother of Jesus

To any young, unmarried, peasant woman, the coming of God’s presence on earth in the life of a human child would be life-changing. But for his mother, that change is so much more. Could Mary have possibly grasped how her life, and the life of all the world, was about to change?

The God who lifts up the lowly and brings justice for the oppressed also draws the weary and outcast into the closest circle of blessing. God also uses the lowly, the weary, the oppressed and the outcast to accomplish God’s very presence in the world. No one knows this better than Mary. This Advent, we will walk in her sandals for a while, pondering what God’s coming might mean, exalting that God lifts up and transforms the world, and wondering at how that means God can use us.

Did Mary know that God could use even her in powerful ways? Did she know that Jesus was more than a remarkable child? Did she know that grace and love would conquer the social stigmas of her life, and would overcome the greatest pain and loss she would ever know?

I think she had an inkling. Do we?

Sermons in this series: 
December 3- Save our Sons and Daughters (Mary’s fear and faith)
December 10- One Day Rule the Nations (Mary’s Yes to God)
December 17- Kiss the Face of God (Pageant Sunday)
December 24 (10:30 am)- The Praises of Our Lamb (Mary’s joy and our joy)
December 24 (7 pm)- The Great I Am