Sunday, July 24, 2016

Go and Do the Same: Treasure What Matters -- Stewardship Sermon


Luke 12:13-21

Money makes the world go around. It’s true that in the world of Star Trek no one seems to need money, unless you’re a Ferengi, but it takes money to navigate through our world. The question is, how much is enough? And, how much is too little? Down through the ages we’ve heard warnings about the dangers of greed. One of the best examples is the story of King Midas, who was given the ability to turn whatever he touched into gold. Unfortunately, that meant his food, and ultimately his daughter. So be careful what you ask for!

 During this political season we’ve been hearing messages about taxes, income inequality, stagnant wages, the high cost of health insurance, and much more. Money plays a big role in our political debates, in part because it takes money to fund political campaigns.

In the reading from Luke 12, a person in the crowd listening to Jesus’ message asks Jesus to arbitrate a dispute with his brother over the dispersal of the family estate. Jesus declines the request, but he does offer a warning: “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Lk 12:15). 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Cry for Justice - Sermon for Pentecost 8C

Psalm 82

Who are we as a congregation? If we claim to be Disciples of Christ then what does that say about how we live in the world? That is the question that the Preamble to the Design, which we recited earlier in the service seeks to answer. It’s a covenant statement that binds us as a congregation with our brothers and sisters across the region, across the nation, and across the world. It binds us with others who call themselves Disciples, but it also binds us together with all Christians. Indeed, it defines our “mission of witness and service to all people.”  That statement was adopted in the 1960s as the Disciples entered a new phase of life together. There is a briefer statement that was adopted more recently and it goes like this:
“We are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. As part of the one body of Christ we welcome all to the Lord’s Table as God has welcomed us.”
In April we officially became an Open and Affirming Congregation. By doing this we committed ourselves to welcoming everyone to the Table, even as God has welcomed us. The Elders wrote an inclusion statement that seeks to answer the question posed to Jesus by a lawyer wanting to know the requirements for gaining eternal life. Jesus answered him with the two great commandments – love God and love your neighbor. The lawyer’s next question is an important one: “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered the question with the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). We answered it with a list of people who are our neighbors, some of whom might need some reassurance that they’re welcome at the Table. 

Sunday, July 03, 2016

God Is Our Helper -- Sermon for Pentecost 7C


Psalm 30

This is a weekend filled with celebrations. Tomorrow we will celebrate 240 years of independence. I know this because I graduated from high school in the bicentennial year and my high school is holding its 40-year reunion in a few weeks. There are also several people celebrating birthdays this weekend, with Gloria celebrating her 90th. I told Gloria that if I live to be 90, I want to be as active and healthy as she is! Yes, this is a day of thanksgiving!

We’re worshiping outdoors under the shade of trees and in the shadow of the cross and peace pole, with a large rock standing in the center. People ask why there’s a rock in the middle of the drive way. I’ve heard a number of answers to that question, but here’s a theological one that I’ve come up with. This rock is a symbol of our own confession of faith in Jesus. When Simon gave the good confession – that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God – Jesus called him Peter, which means rock. Then Jesus declared that upon this rock, or confession, he would build his church. In other words, this rock symbolizes the foundation of our community.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Seek God in Times of Trouble -- Sermon for Pentecost 6C

Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20


In the words of Isaac Watts’ hymn, which we sang earlier this morning, we capture the message
of Psalm 77:
O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home. 
When times of trouble strike, and they will strike, where do you turn? To whom do you look for guidance and protection? Do you turn to God, who is “our help in ages past, our hope for years to come?”

As we have been moving through the Psalms, we’ve discovered that they invite us to cry out in laments. They give us permission to rage and complain. It’s okay that our souls refuse to be comforted. It’s not a sin to have doubts. Here in Psalm 77 the Psalmist cries out to God demanding to be heard. After issuing a torrent of complaints, the Psalmist then remembers that God has been our help in ages past. Recognizing the prospect that life can be challenging, Martin Luther wrote a hymn that picked up on another Psalm, Psalm 46, where he also affirmed God’s strong presence in the face of difficulty. This hymn is a favorite of many, who sing boldly: “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing, our present help amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.”

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Go and Do the Same: Give Thanks -- A Sermon for Pentecost 4C


Luke 7:36-8:3

This morning we’re taking a short break from our summer trek through the Psalms to focus our attention on the call to stewardship. The Stewardship committee has already decided to accept the stewardship theme offered by the Disciples’ Center on Faith and Giving. That theme is  “Go and Do the Same.” The Center also encouraged churches to expand the stewardship conversation beyond the usual stewardship campaign, which we conduct in the fall. That campaign is centered on putting together a budget for the coming year, and convincing you to support it by making a pledge. We took up the suggestion to use some time this summer to think about stewardship as a spiritual discipline and not simply as a means of fund-raising. This is the first of three sermons, one each month, that will draw from the Gospel of Luke and touch upon stewardship.