Category Archives: conflict

  1. Reading the Bible like Jesus (Acts 15.1-18) [sermon 5-14-2017]


    May 11, 2017 by jmar198013

    Acts 15 is a story of the leaders of the early church reading the Bible like Jesus. It’s a good example to follow. That’s why it’s there.

  2. Low points and high spots (Acts 6.1 – 7.2a, 44-60; Luke 23.33-34a, 46) [sermon 4-30-2017]


    April 26, 2017 by jmar198013

    Many look to the book of Acts as a blueprint for how the church ought to be, but it’s really more of a portrait of how the church was–and often is.

    Luke makes sure we see both the low points and the high spots of the first decades of the church. We see some of these in our lesson today, as the church deals with a problem of neglect of minority widows; overwhelmed (and out of touch?) leadership; and the brutal lynching of one of its ministers. These stories all show us both low points and high spots in the life of the early church.

  3. Real talk on forgiveness (2 Corinthians 2.1-10; Matthew 18.21-22) [Sermon 05-29-2016]


    May 27, 2016 by jmar198013

    The church just isn’t the church without forgiveness. After all, we Christians understand ourselves first of all (or at least we should) as people who need to be—and have been—forgiven by God. But then what does forgiveness mean? Does it mean, for instance, that once an apology has been offered and accepted, everything goes back to how it was before? Is forgiveness a reset button? Must we forget what we have forgiven? Or do victims get a say in setting future boundaries? Are there conditions that need to be met in order for forgiveness to take place? If we insist that victims extend unconditional forgiveness, isn’t that grace for the offender, and law for the victim?

  4. Pentecost: Out of the shadow of Babel (Genesis 11.1-9; Acts 2.1-21; Romans 8.14-17) [Sermon 05-15-2016, Pentecost 2016)

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    May 13, 2016 by jmar198013

    The church is God’s alternative to what we see in a world that lives in the shadow of Babel. A world where people mistrust and fear each other for their differences. A world that routinely disintegrates into fiery conflicts and violence and wars. The church lives in the world as God’s new creation, God’s new humanity. Gathered together by the Holy Spirit in Christ, where “there is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3.28). Although we have been scattered in the world by race and color and gender and language and culture and social status, at Pentecost God began to gather us all into a new family. A family where we learn that our differences don’t have to tear us apart, but can be a source of strength. We all have so much to learn from each other. As God calls us into his family, this new creation, we each bring our particular stories; experiences; ideas; dreams; hurts; hangups; traditions; and perspectives with us. We are never called to leave those at the door when we are adopted into God’s new family. We are called to live and move and work together in Christ; to “accept one another” as Christ accepted us (Rom. 15.17); and “to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4.3).

  5. Once upon a dinner table (Luke 15.1-3, 11b-32; 2 Cor. 5.16-21) [Sermon 03/06/2016, Lent 4c]


    March 1, 2016 by jmar198013

    When the Pharisees unloaded on Jesus for eating with sinners, Jesus told them a story about a father with two sons who needed to be reconciled. The story was set around a dinner table, where a feast was in full swing.

    Hidden in the story Jesus told was an invitation to the Pharisees: “Come join us for this meal. There’s room for you at the table, too.”

    And there’s still room at the table. For prodigal children and judgy older siblings. For Pharisees and sinners. Even for you and me and the people we’d rather write off.

  6. Answering Pilate (John 18.33-38a) [Christ the King 11-22-2015]


    November 20, 2015 by jmar198013

    In the exchange between Pilate and Jesus in John 18.33ff, Pilate asks Jesus if he is a king. Jesus says his kingdom is unlike the ones of this world, and he has come to testify to the truth. Pilate famously asks, “What is truth?” This Christ the King Sunday, we recognize that we are in a spiritual battle–a clash of two kingdoms and two truths. Pilate’s truth–the script he lives by, the story he tells–is survival. Jesus’ truth–the story his life bears witness to–is resurrection. Which truth will we tell?

  7. Birth Pangs (Mark 13.1-8) [Sermon 11-15-2015]

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    November 13, 2015 by jmar198013

    In Mark 13.1-8, Jesus tells his disciples that the temple would be destroyed. For them, this was the end of the world. But that’s not all–Jesus also warned of opportunistic con-men, world conflict, the shaking of foundations, and widespread hunger. Scary stuff, but Jesus says: “this is the beginning of the birth pangs.” These shake-ups are necessary contractions in the birthing of a new world.

    The questions we are left with, then, are: What is there among us—in our lives, in our church, in our world—that will not endure in this new world that is being born? What are we doing about it? What can you and I and we do to help midwife this new creation?



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