I was reminded this week by a colleague that prophetic preachers approach both sermon-writing and ministries with the Bible in one hand, and the newspaper, or in my case, the smartphone, in the other. I mean, otherwise, we are too tempted to preach feel-good messages in a vacuum, sermons that have no ability to prepare you think theologically about the world’s problems, sermons that leave you ill equipped to see God in the midst of pain or to be encouraged by the deep truth that love does eventually conquer all. Sermons aren’t meant to make us feel good about ourselves. They are supposed to fuel us up and fire us up and send us out into the world, ready to do the hard and painful work of kingdom building as children of God and followers of Christ. To read/download this sermon, click on 20170819 Racism is a GIant
In no time at all, I had built a small shop.
Then I chopped down a Truffula Tree with one chop. And with great skillful skill and with great speedy speed, I took the soft tuft. And I knitted a Thneed! Click on 20170426 The Lorax to read/download this sermon.
Pastor Becca’s sermon series this season is “Film and faith” and we’ll be exploring certain secular (meaning non-faith based) movies and their ability to inform us and shape our faith, even though they are made by people who do not share our worldview. Entertainment is a very important part of popular culture—movies, books, music. We enjoy these media not just for their entertainment value, however, but also for their ability to teach us and inform us. Even for Christ-followers, secular things teach us a lot about the world, about faith and discipleship, and even about ourselves, even if they are not church or Bible based. Click on April 23 2017 Sermon to read/download the sermon.
I have never liked butterflies. That sounds crazy, right? Everyone loves butterflies. Not me. They creep me out. Beautiful or not, they’re still insects, and while I can appreciate their beauty and value from a distance, I’d rather them not invade my personal space. Click on 20170416 Giving Up Death to read/download this sermon.
If you have been anywhere near a kid in the past few years, it is likely that you have heard the song “Let it Go” from the Disney animated film, “Frozen.” Frozen quickly became one of the top Disney films every released, and theme song, “Let it Go,” won an Oscar that year.
I love the song because I feel like I can relate to this fictional character, Elsa, who sings it as she’s “letting go” of conforming to the repressive expectations of others, and releasing her powers to create an ice castle. Now, it’s true, I don’t have any special powers and I don’t live in an ice castle, and… I’m not going to be Queen anytime soon. But, I love the theme of this song.
It is a powerful message. Elsa decides at this moment to stop trying to conform, and in a sense, she “gives up popularity” as she embraces her identity and begins to discover her real purpose. Click 20170408 Give it up popularity to read/download the sermon.
There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday 800 men named Paco showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers. Click on 20170402 giving up enemies to read/download the sermon.
On January 1, 1863, the President of the United States signed a controversial executive order. Our country was in a precarious place socially, economically, and politically. We were in the midst of a Civil War, and Abraham Lincoln had been president for two years. The executive order was known as the “Emancipation Proclamation” and officially, it ended the practice of slavery in the United States. Click 20170326 Giving up our lives to read/download the sermon.
There once lived a lion who believed he was superior to all others. He was so proud of his mastery over the animal kingdom that he decided to make sure all of the other animals knew that he was, indeed, the king of the jungle.
So sure of his superiority was this lion that he skipped all of the smaller animals and went straight to the bear. “Who is the king of the jungle?” The lion asked the bear.
The bear stuttered and stammered a little as he said, “Well, y-y-you are, Mr. Lion.” Click on 20170319 Giving up superiority to read/download the sermon.
Whenever we go into new situations, we tend to carry with us the expectations of our past experiences, even when we know, or at least should know, that they will be very different.
For example, a business traveler to Mexico got quite the shock when he experienced the hotel showers. On the faucet handles he read “H” and “C.” Past experiences told him what to expect, H for hot and C for cold. However, as he turned up the H and felt the icy blast of cold water, he realized that his expectations were misleading. The primary language in Mexico is Spanish, not English. The C on the faucet stood for “Caliente,” which means hot! The H, on the other hand, stood for “Helado”, which means cold!
We all have expectations about everything. It’s another one of those basic human defining characteristics. Expectations are based on past experiences and they color every part of our lives, even faith. Click on 20170312 give it up expectations to read/download this sermon.
When I was a kid, we had a big console style TV that was the center of our living room experience. And we had two remote controls—me, and my brother! I remember dad telling us to go stand at the TV while he decided what we were going to watch, and he’d say, change it, change it, change it… leave it there! Thankfully back then, there weren’t that many channels or I might have spent my whole childhood standing by that TV.
Today of course, there are many more channels and many more remotes. In our house we have at least 7! One for the TV, one for the sound system, one for the cable box, one for the blu ray/dvd player, four for the Nintendo wii, and one clicks on our Amazon Fire box. The Fire is how we watch television programming these days. Forget channels. We just choose exactly what program we want to watch—some free programming, and then of course the on demand stuff we can pay extra for if we want to watch a still-in-the-theatre movie.
Why? It’s all about control! Click 20170305 Give up control to read/download the sermon.
Have you ever had a mountaintop experience? Have you ever felt so close to God that you could feel God’s presence or hear God’s voice? Have you had a defining moment? Perhaps it was a conversion experience, or something else. Click on 20170226 Transfiguration to download or read online.