Category Archives: church

  1. Perfect strangers, united in Christ (Ephesians 1.3-14) [sermon 8-11-19]

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    August 13, 2019 by jmar198013

    Ephesians 1.3-14 is a word of praise from Paul, where he tells the story of what God has done, is doing, and will do through Christ. God’s goal, he says, is to join all things together under Christ. The church reflects God’s purposes by uniting all kinds of people in Christ–people of every race and color and nation and language. That sounds like a beautiful ideal, but it comes with culture shock and growing pains. The classic sitcom “Perfect Strangers” gives us a glimpse of the challenges we will have to negotiate for the church to look like the mosaic of humanity God intends. But it also shows us the joy that can arise when God transforms perfect strangers into a family in Christ, through the Holy Spirit.

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  2. God is the hero: Reading Ephesians with “Mr. Belvedere” (Ephesians 1.1-2) [sermon 8-4-19]

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    August 6, 2019 by jmar198013

    In the classic sitcom “Mr. Belvedere,” a cultured English butler becomes a housekeeper for a middle class family in Pittsburgh, PA. As the title suggests, Mr. Belvedere is the hero of the show–he’s there to rescue that family. When we read scripture, are we looking for help or a hero? The first two verses of Ephesians make clear who the hero of the story is. And that we need a hero–not just a helper.

  3. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” [sermon 6-16-19]

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    June 22, 2019 by jmar198013

    Christ didn’t establish the church and then add the Spirit. Instead, Christ sent the Spirit and the church was born. We see this event, the birth of the church, in Acts 2. In fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32, the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost. The Spirit empowers the church to carry on the mission God began with Christ. The scope of that mission in universal, for the Spirit empowers men and women, young and old, slave and free. The scale of the mission is cosmic, for it involves all creation. And the target of the mission is salvation.

  4. The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me: the Holy Spirit and Christ’s mission [sermon 6-2-19]

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    June 18, 2019 by jmar198013

    WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelets were and are a hot fashion accessory among many Christians. But before we can answer and apply that question to our own lives, we must first ask, What DID Jesus Do? Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Christ was sent by God on a mission to bring justice, compassion, enlightenment, and liberation. If these are not our mission, we are not doing what Jesus did. And if Christ had to rely on the Spirit to carry out his mission, so will the church, as we continue the mission he began.

  5. God’s Spirit blows wherever it wishes [sermon 5-5-19]

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    May 5, 2019 by jmar198013

    Jesus said the Holy Spirit is like the wind–always breathing and stirring, in the world. Moving people closer to the God who wants all to be saved and come to know him.

  6. Four signposts of Easter (Matthew 28.1-10) [Easter 2019]

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    April 21, 2019 by jmar198013

    The “Great Commission” in Matthew 28.18-20 is usually treated as an evangelism text, but it’s also an Easter text–it’s the risen Jesus’ words to his church, to tell us our mission. It’s what we do because Jesus is risen. Matthew’s Easter story presents us with four “signposts” that point us in the right direction as we do the work our risen Jesus has given us to do: “he is not here” (he’s at the Father’s right hand with all authority); “he has been raised” (his resurrection promises our resurrection); “go and tell”; and “don’t be afraid” (because he is with us always).

  7. Turning over tables (Matthew 12.12-17) [sermon 4-14-19, Palm Sunday]

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    April 15, 2019 by jmar198013

    On Palm Sunday, Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem. After he got there, he went to the temple, where he famously turned over the tables of merchants and money-changers, and chased people away. What does this story mean for us? Are we called to imitate what Jesus did, in our churches or in the world? In order to apply this story in a faithful, responsible way, we need to remember three things: 1) Who turned over the tables; 2) Who he chased out (and why); and 3) Who he let in. If we don’t keep these three things in mind, we’ll just make a mess!

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