“The Art of Lostness & the Ridiculousness of Grace” September 15, 2019

Posted by on Sep 20, 2019 in Sermon Archives

“The Art of Lostness & the Ridiculousness of Grace” Psalm 51:1-13/ 1 Timothy 1:12-17 Luke 15:1-10   The Moth Radio Hour was the brainchild of a man named George Green some 20 years ago. Simply put, the Moth Radio Hour was the end result of Mr. Green’s want & need to promote the art and craft of storytelling. And if you enjoy hearing a good story, these broadcasts are awesome. A recent press release states, “We honor and celebrate the diversity and commonality of human experience, with 25,000 stories to date, shared live and without notes.” And that’s it. Come to find out, there are thousands of folks willing to stand in front of a large audience and, with a little coaching, tell their stories without notes, teleprompters, or cheat sheets. I got in the habit of listening to Moth Radio when I found myself driving to Amity on Saturday night to print bulletins. There were lots of times, I’m sure, that anyone who was paying attention probably wondered what that man was doing just sitting in his car in front of the church. But I loved them. They were warm, they were funny, and most of all, they were real. It was after reading through Paul’s letter to Timothy and Jesus’ stories of the lost coin and the lost sheep, that one of these stories came to mind; a story about a woman and her father near the end of his life. The way she told it, father wasn’t known for expressing his emotions. He was calm and reserved and wasn’t much for light conversation. So it surprised her one day when she stopped to visit that he told her he had something special that he wanted her to have. It surprised her when he seemed to be choking up a bit as he handed her a huge stack of 3 X 5 index cards – that were really heavy. “This is my penny diary,” he said, “and I’d like for you to keep it going.” He then explained that for years he had gotten into the habit of picking up pennies that had been dropped. “Everybody will stop to pick up a dime, even a nickel,” he said, “but most folks won’t waste their time with a stupid penny. When a penny is lost, it’s lost for good.” But not Dad. He not only picked them up, he took to taping them onto index cards along with some kind of commentary that he would write on the card.  It might be simply what was on his mind at the moment he found the penny, it might be things going on at the time, it might be most anything at all. The point is, Dad not only went out of his way to find these worthless chunks of copper, but he made a big deal out of it...

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“In For a Penny, In For a Pound” September 8, 2019

Posted by on Sep 9, 2019 in Sermon Archives

“In For a Penny, In For a Pound” Jeremiah 18:1-11/ Philemon 1-21 Luke 14:25-33   I had this idea. You are all aware, I’m sure, that churches all around the world are always looking to find new ways to get folks to show up – to come to church. This is a good thing-this going to church. Folks who regularly attend a worship service will tell you that it is beneficial, it is uplifting, and it is an excellent way to fellowship with others and be in the presence of God. So naturally, these folks are going to want their friends and neighbors to get in on this wonderful thing; to be a part of the body of Christ, as it is called. And so I had this idea, and it was inspired by the words of Christ in today’s text from the gospel of Luke. So picture, if you would, the sign that we could put out by the street to promote this great idea and encourage folks to join us in Sunday worship. It would have to be in a prominent location with big, bold letters – a sign that everyone would be sure to see. It would read something like, “If anyone comes to this church and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he (or she) cannot be a disciple of Jesus Christ.” So what do you think? It’s kind of catchy, isn’t it? The answer, of course, is that this would not be such a brilliant idea. It would most certainly get a lot of attention and cause a lot of talk but no, we’d probably better not follow up on this great idea. So what gives? How are we to gain some understanding, how are we to benefit, from these words that Christ spoke to the crowds on the way to Jerusalem? Is this just another one of those “weird things that Jesus said” moments: we read through it – maybe a couple times – shrug our shoulders, and then move on? Somehow, I don’t think so. So let’s dive into it and maybe – just maybe- we can find the good news in the gospel of Luke. The first thing to consider is the fact that Jesus is not speaking to a bunch of strangers here. These are mostly folks who have been following him for quite some time. They are past the stage where they are “just checking this guy out.” His message about being a part of the Kingdom of God has inspired them; it has given them hope. Now you can bet that a lot of this crowd has been taking some flack for spending so much time with this Nazarene trouble maker. Friends and family are whispering among themselves about shirking responsibility and wasting...

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“The Fine Line” September 1, 2019

Posted by on Sep 9, 2019 in Sermon Archives

   The Fine Line” Jeremiah 2:4-13 Hebrews:13:1-8, 15-16 Luke 14:1, 7-14   Well, it is upon us as all across the land elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and universities are gearing up for another season of academic excellence – that’s the hope, at least. Those of you who have been or are still in education know the drill all too well: the year begins with high hopes, high ideals, and high expectations. This is a good thing because you’re going to need all the positive energy you can muster for the year ahead. And good leadership understands this; good leadership knows the importance of starting off on the right foot. For the past few years, the McMinnville School District has put on a gigantic “Welcome Back” assembly for all of its employees. Now this is not your typical school assembly with boring speeches and half-baked entertainment. No, Mac schools go all out. There are costumes and music and dancing and all sorts of whacky stuff all designed for one thing and one thing only – to start off the year with the right spirit and the right attitude. But here’s the kicker: all of the skits and dancing and wearing of the goofy costumes are the responsibility of the school administrators. That’s right – the school principals, the department directors, all the folks who are normally “in charge” are required to put on the biggest show of the year whether they like it or not. I’m sure that many of them, if given the choice, would choose not. It pulls them out of their comfort zone, and I found it fascinating. I found it fascinating to watch as folks who have been placed in positions of authority suddenly found themselves thrust in front of the rest of the staff – hundreds of people- to dance around and prance around in costumes that don’t fit so well doing things they would never dream of doing in private, much less in public. But there they were, and it got me to thinking. “What a great way to level the playing field,” I thought to myself. “By publicly humiliating the directors and administrators in front of the entire district, there’s going to be a sense that everyone has worth, everyone is important, and don’t be getting any wild ideas that any of you deserve a seat of honor.” Funny things is that when we asked the superintendent about this little theory, she disagreed. “I don’t do this to humiliate them,” she said. “No, I do this instead to teach them the value of humility.” The value of humility….now that’s interesting. Come to think of it, I believe that Jesus had a bit to say about this as well. The gospel text from Luke 14 is one of those timeless lessons on – wouldn’t you know it- humility. (Lk 14:7) 7 When Jesus...

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