Category Archives: culture

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

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    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.

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  2. Real talk on vulnerability (2 Corinthians 4.1-15; Matthew 5.13) [Sermon 06-05-2016]

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    June 3, 2016 by jmar198013

    The vulnerable places in our lives don’t have to be places of shame or blame or anxiety or endless frustration. They can be the very places where God’s awesome power pours into our lives, and baptizes every bit of us in his transforming grace.

    A wise old rabbi named Bob Dylan once said: “Ain’t no use jiving, ain’t no use joking: everything is broken.”

    A few years later, another wise old rabbi named Leonard Cohen answered: “There is a crack in everything: that’s how the light gets in!”

    According to Paul, that’s how the light gets out, too.

  3. 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).

  4. Today this scripture is fulfilled (Luke 4.14-21) [Sermon 1/24/16 Epiphany 3c]

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    January 22, 2016 by jmar198013

    Jesus returned to his hometown synagogue, and preached from Isaiah 61.1-2. The great Jubilee text. Good news to the poor. Release to prisoners. Recovery of sight for the blind. Liberating the oppressed. And Jesus concluded by saying, “Today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

    Jesus always confronts the church afresh with this challenge. Today is the day to proclaim Jubilee. Today is the day to proclaim good news to the poor, release to the prisoners, sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed.

    Today is the day to fulfill the scriptures.

  5. A tempest in a coffee cup

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    November 9, 2015 by jmar198013

    Because I just couldn’t resist addressing the Starbucks plain cup controversy.

  6. Consumed (John 6.51-58) Sermon 8-16-2015

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    August 18, 2015 by jmar198013

    Several years ago, the marquee of a country church in West Tennessee read: JESUS SAID: EAT ME! (JOHN 6:56-57). The sign left a bad taste in a lot of peoples’ mouths. And most everyone in the surrounding area agreed that the sign was in poor taste. It didn’t have the flavor of Jesus. Maybe we should all ask ourselves sometimes: “What does our Jesus taste like? Is the American church being fed by Jesus’ life, or are we feeding into culture wars and consumerism?” After all, we are what we eat.

  7. Blood that speaks better than Abel’s (Communion 12-7-2014)

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    December 7, 2014 by jmar198013

    Abel’s blood echoed on throughout history, and echoes still. Whenever justice is deferred. Whenever voices that deserve to be acknowledged are silenced. Whenever the wounds of the people are dressed as though they’re nothing. Whenever people suffer alone. Wherever anybody prays, How long, O LORD?—that is the echo of Abel’s blood crying out.

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