It doesn’t always take everyone being shut inside their homes to encounter a loss of community. Even the most introverted person finds themselves losing a beloved community from time to time.
On Pentecost, we celebrate the Holy Spirit’s indwelling of the people of God, beginning the Church’s mission to the world. Paul reminds us that we can misunderstand and misuse the gifts of the Spirit, hindering the effectiveness of our mission. While the proverb “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” has generally been accepted by organizations, teams, and even churches, is it possible that in the economy of God, those we perceive as weak might make us stronger?
Most Christians want to help others find their way back to God but for some the idea of sharing the gospel feels awkward. What if, instead of learning a few talking points, we learned a few skills? And what if these skills applied to almost any conversation?
Why is there so much division among us? The walls that divide us are not between different races or generations but in every human heart. The good news is that in Christ these walls come tumbling down as God forms us all into one new Person.
Why do smart people do stupid things? Our trouble is not rebellion but folly. Blindness. We walk in darkness, “having no idea what we’re stumbling over. The good news is that, in Jesus, God has opened our eyes and we can see things as they really are.
It has never been harder, and it has never been more urgent to share the gospel than it is today: harder because people are disenchanted and less interested, yet urgent because so much is at stake. But even when the soil is hard, we must keep sowing.
So often, as we grow in our walks with Christ, we ask God to increase our faith. We desire to see evidence of God at work around us so that we have greater assurance and reason to believe in his authority and power. But the author of Hebrews tells us that faith comes before proof—that it grows in the absence of something, rather than just in its manifestation. If this is true, then perhaps we must be intentional to cast off or give up things that prevent our faith from growing.
Most of us admire Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego for their courage; but behind their courage is a value that keeps them standing tall. This is more, then, than a story of how to stand up in a moment of decision; it’s also a reminder that obedience might cost us all we have. This sermon will examine that tension and help us understand explore what kept these three on their feet.
Noah and The Flood. For many of us, we know the story, we learned about it in Sunday School. And yet for others they know it only from the people who are debating the historical facts in the public square. In both these cases, the purpose for telling this ancient story gets submerged. Craig Bartholomew wrote “A major feature of any story is its central conflict, the thing that goes wrong and needs to be fixed.” The Flood story is about the relationship and conflict between God and creation. The climax involves a deluge of water never encountered before and a boat full of animals. The resolution; well, that’s the plot twist in our story.
Henri Nouwen said, “One of the tragedies of our life is that we keep forgetting who we are.” How do we find ourselves again? We re-collect our stories by recollecting the Story of God. In other words, we remember by retelling. The overarching narrative of Scripture and the individuals stories in the library of the Bible, answer our most foundational human question, “Who am I?” with an ever better divine one, “Who is God?”. In our summer series we’ll explore how God reveals himself to humanity in a series of Old Testament stories, starting at the beginning: God creating and his unique imprint on the first humans: “the Imago Dei”.
Today Jesus is in Bethany at a dinner in his honor. During the meal, Mary pours a pint of alabaster, an expensive and potent perfume, onto the feet of Jesus and wipes them with her hair. This simple act of devotion creates controversy even outrage among Jesus’ disciples who have better plans for the money. But in this act, disciples of every generation are encouraged to pour their best, their possessions, their glory and the sum of their work onto the feet of Jesus.