June 20, 2021 “The Pitfalls and Perils of Being a PK”

Posted by on Sep 28, 2021 in What's Happening?

“The Pitfalls and Perils of Being a PK” Mark 4:35-41 “Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” ~ Yoda “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” ~ Plato “He who has overcome his fears is truly free.” ~ Aristotle ______________________________________________________________________________________________ A couple years back when we could do such things, we were having a bar-b-que at the neighbors’ house on a beautiful summer’s day. All told, there were 3 couples sitting around the back yard and half of them worked in a school district in some capacity or other. So, the conversation was a little one-sided, if you know what I mean. Now, don’t get me wrong: I find the passion that educators have for their work to be truly amazing. But for those of us non-educators who would thoroughly enjoy talking about fishing or football or even, God forbid, politics, it is sometimes a little hard to get a word in edgewise – if you know what I mean. The third couple at the bar-b-que were from Butte, MT, so to break things up I asked them what it was like growing up in Butte. The husband talked about old abandoned mine shafts and tourists and winters that were bitter cold. When his wife started to describe her childhood, he interrupted, saying, “She’s a PK, you know.” Now, I’m going to assume that we all know that feeling of what it’s like to be the only one in the room that doesn’t know what people are talking about. “She’s a PK,” and that meant nothing to me, yet everyone else sat there nodding their heads like this was yesterday’s news. So rather than wait around in total ignorance until I figured it out myself (or not), I simply asked, “What’s a PK?” “A pastor’s kid,” her husband laughed. “She grew up in the parsonage of the Baptist church.” His wife then went on to describe some of the unique perils and pitfalls of being a pastor’s kid.” It was a fun evening and the fact that the conversation had drifted from education to church life had nothing to do with it – if you know what I mean. Now the reason I bring this up is because there is no better example of our gospel story today than the real life adventures of another pastor’s kid – one John Wesley, in fact. John’s father, Samuel Wesley, was a clergyman for the Church of England, as was his father before him. So yes, you could say that John Wesley was the classic pastor’s kid. He was raised in the rectory of the Epworth Church and had studied scripture and church polity since he was able to read. He...

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June 13, 2021 “Explaining the Unexplainable: the Kingdom of God 101”

Posted by on Sep 28, 2021 in Sermon Archives

“Explaining the Unexplainable: The Kingdom of God 101” Mark 4:26-34 “The good deeds you do now are the treasures for the future.”  ~ Philippine proverb “Give good and get good.” ~ Estonian proverb “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson ______________________________________________________________________________________ “The Kingdom of God is like…” We’re going to be hearing that opening phrase a lot in the next few months. “This is what God’s kingdom is like,” are the first words of Christ in today’s gospel message. I’ve always imagined what it would be like to sit before Jesus and hear him say those words…to me – live, in person, in the flesh. I imagine the exhilaration I would feel knowing that after all this time – a lifetime, actually – I will finally learn the great mystical secret of God’s Kingdom. At last, I will be able to pray the words, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” – I can pray these words with the satisfaction that I know how the whole thing works. After all, Jesus told me himself. But you know, that’s about as far as my imaginings go because like the disciples, Jesus doesn’t give me the password or show me the secret handshake. No, like the disciples, Jesus explains the Kingdom of God to me (and to us all) through parables. And like I said, we’re going to be hearing a lot of parables in the next few months; and most of them begin with the words, “The Kingdom of God is like…” So what is a parable? In some ways, maybe it’s easier to say what it’s not. According to theologian David Lose, a parable is not simply some kind of word puzzle for us to figure out where A=God and B=Jesus and C=us. Some do seem to work that way but they are not generally this secret encrypted message for us to decipher. They are also not tales or fables of morality. There is rarely a moral at the end for us to apply. Again, some parables have some definite moral implications, but they’re not the pearls of wisdom that we would like to think. No, instead parables are meant to shake things up. The word parable comes from two Greek words para, meaning “beside” and ballein, meaning “to throw.” So think of a parable as a story that is thrown beside your story. It is throwing one thing, like a vision of God’s kingdom, beside another, like the world as it is, just to see what happens. That’s the beauty of parables: they are unpredictable, they are disruptive, and because they often seem to challenge the things that we accept as truth, at least by the world’s standards, they can be a bit challenging. So what about these two...

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June 6, 2021 “Taking Leave of our Senses”

Posted by on Sep 28, 2021 in Sermon Archives

“Taking Leave of Our Senses” Mark 3:20-35 “The heart that gives thanks is a happy one, for we cannot feel thankful and unhappy at the same time.” ~ Douglas Wood “If the only prayer you said was ‘Thank you’, that would be enough.”  ~ Meister Eckhart “Got no checkbooks, got no banks. Still I’d like to express my thanks. I’ve got the sun in the morning and the moon at night.” ~Irving Berlin It was the Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson who once made a rather humbling observation. He said, “It’s funny, isn’t it? That you can preach a judgmental and vengeful and angry God and nobody will mind. But you start preaching a God that is too accepting, too loving, too forgiving, too merciful, too kind…and you are in trouble.”  Now whether you agree with Bishop Robinson’s statement here or not, our message today from the gospel of Mark is all about the pitfalls and perils of goodness for goodness sake. So, let’s back up just a bit and picture the scene one more time. (Mk 3:20) 20 When he returned to the house where he was staying, the crowds began to gather again, and soon it was so full of visitors that he couldn’t even find time to eat. “The crowds began to gather again.” So yes, this had been going on for a while. In fact, if you back up, say, to chapter two you’ll see that Jesus has indeed covered a lot of ground in a very short time. At a house in Capernaum, the place was so packed that four men cut a hole in the roof so that they could lower a dear friend who was paralyzed into the room. And their plan worked; Jesus healed the man on the spot, but he got in trouble for it. Later he made friends with a tax collector, which would be about the same as palling around with the local drug dealer today. He ended up having a meal with this tax collector and some other riff-raff where he preached the good news of the Gospel and otherwise treated them with love and compassion. But he got in trouble for that, too. (Mk 2:16) 16 When some of the legal experts from among the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples, “Why is he eating with sinners and tax collectors?” 17 When Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I didn’t come to call righteous people, but sinners.” He got into trouble because his disciples didn’t fast the way that the disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees did. He got into trouble when his disciples pulled a few stalks of wheat to chew on during the Sabbath. (I guess that was considered work!) But what got him into big trouble was...

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May 30, 2021 “On Being Jesus”

Posted by on Sep 28, 2021 in Sermon Archives

“On Being Jesus” John 3:1-17 “God so loved the world that he gave his son to that world, that those who put their confidence in him would not lead a miserable, failing existence, but have eternal life, which is the kind of life God has.” ~ Dallas Willard “It isn’t sacrifice if you love what you’re doing.” ~ Mia Hamm For the baseball fans in the crowd today, the name Jim Palmer should sound familiar. In his 19 year career with the Baltimore Orioles, Palmer made quite a name for himself. He was the winningest MLB pitcher in the 1970’s, with 186 wins. He also won 3 Cy Young awards and 4 Gold Gloves during that same decade. His career number of 268 wins is still a Baltimore record. So you get the idea: Jim Palmer was one heck of a pitcher, especially for a right hander. He was also somewhat of a pistol, and even though he was always quick to give his teammates credit when it was due, he didn’t hold back when they fell short. His long standing feud with manager Earl Weaver was legendary. Now Weaver had played in the minor leagues, but never made the cut to major league baseball before becoming a manager. To this fact, Palmer had stated, “The only thing Earl Weaver knows about big-league pitching is that he couldn’t hit it;” also adding that, “Most pitchers are too smart to be managers.”  But in Weaver’s defense, I have to concede that Jim Palmer had constantly nursed one injury after another during his career with the Orioles. Weaver once told the press, “The Chinese tell time by ‘The Year of the Horse’ or “The Year of the Dragon.’ I tell time by ‘The Year of the Back’ and ‘The Year of the Elbow.’ This year it’s ‘The Year of the Ulnar Nerve.’ Someone once asked me if I had any physical incapacities of my own. ‘Sure, I do,’ I said, ‘One big one – Jim Palmer.’” Now, I know that we did not gather here today to talk about baseball. It is Trinity Sunday, after all. This is the Sunday that kicks off the long season in the Christian calendar called Common Time or Ordinary Time: both of which I find a bit disagreeable. But from now until Advent, we will be focusing on the ministry of Jesus through the gospels of John and Mark, along with a return to our ongoing visits to the prophets and letters of Paul and James, and the book of Hebrews. But on this day – Trinity Sunday – let’s have a look at the big picture before we dive into the boatload of scripture in the months ahead. The Trinity – everybody knows what that is, right? The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Easy. But everybody also knows that whenever we get...

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May 23, 2021 “The Heart of the Matter, the Letter of the Law, & the Spirit of Truth”

Posted by on Sep 28, 2021 in Sermon Archives

“The Heart of the Matter, the Letter of the Law, & the Spirit of Truth” John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15 “When you strip it of everything else, Pentecost stands for power and life. That’s what came into the church when the Holy Spirit came down on the day of Pentecost.” ~ David Wilkerson “I used to tell young preachers, in order to preach, you’ve got to have the power of God on your life. Now I tell them, in order to tie your shoes you’ve got to have the power of God on your life.” ~ Paul Washer You know, I’ve been wracking my brain trying to remember the last time that I pulled an all-nighter. It might have been the time when an old friend of mine showed up from El Paso and we stayed up playing guitar and singing and talking about all the goofy things we did as kids until, all of a sudden, the sun was coming up. Or it might have been the time in high school a week before graduation that a group of us made it our mission to stay up until morning – and we did it! One of us had to give a speech the next day for valedictorian or some such thing, (and that was hilarious,) but we did it. We pulled it off. Needless to say, as we older grow the prospects of staying awake until the rooster crows are slim at best. Now the reason I bring this up is because when you think about it, our message from the gospel of John is a small part of what turned out to be an all-nighter. The Passover meal was finally over and Jesus had sat with his disciples to give them their final set of instructions before his arrest. The all-nighter ended, you might say, when later in the courtyard, Peter denied knowing the Christ on 3 separate occasions. It was only the crowing of a rooster that woke him up to what he had done. It had truly been a long night. Matthew, Mark, and Luke describe this day and night in similar terms: they eat the Passover meal, Jesus presents his body and his blood in the bread and the cup, Judas sneaks off, and then Christ is arrested once they venture out after dark. John, on the other hand, devotes 5 entire chapters to the time spent that evening. It begins with the act of washing his disciples’ feet and ends with John’s record of the prayer for protection that Jesus prays to the Father just before they went out to the garden, where he was arrested. We read from part of this prayer last week. My point is, if you are looking for the nuts and bolts of what Jesus wants his disciples to do and to be, his teachings here in John’s gospel are...

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