Category Archives: culture wars

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

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    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]

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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.

  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. Becoming God’s answer (John 17.20-26) [Sermon 05-08-2016, Easter 7c]

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    May 2, 2016 by jmar198013

    What Jesus desires the world to see in the lives of his people is the love of God the Father. He prays to Father God that when the world sees us bound together in one heart and mind, “then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.”

    It is not enough for the world to believe that a God, or God in general, sent Jesus. The problem is, as Jesus says, that the world has never known his Righteous Father.

    Even God’s people have often fallen into the trap of believing in—and worshiping—a God who turns out upon closer examination to have been made in our image. A God who is nothing but a projection of how we would rule the world if we were still us, but really, really big, and with superpowers.

    But that’s not the God Jesus wants the world to believe sent him. Jesus wants the world to believe that HIS FATHER sent him.

    The cross shows us a God whose power is made perfect in the weakness of his crucified Son.

    Father God is saying, through the cross and resurrection of his Son: “The world condemns and kills. The world makes crosses, and nails victims to them. That’s because the world doesn’t know me! I am not-the-world. I suffer with the condemned and humiliated. I raise up the victims. I break the power of crosses.”

  5. Two parades (Luke 19.28-40) [Sermon 03-20-2016, Palm Sunday Year C]

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    March 19, 2016 by jmar198013

    During Passover in Jesus’ day, the Roman governor Pilate would enter Jerusalem, leading a battalion or two of Roman security forces. On war horses. It was a mighty display of shock and awe. Peace through strength.

    But Luke didn’t even bother mentioning Pilate’s Passover parade in his Gospel. Everyone already knew about that.

    Instead, Luke made sure to tell about the time Jesus led a bootleg Passover parade through the other side of the city. He rode in on a (borrowed) donkey. His parade consisted of rowdy disciples singing off-key hymns (and butchering the words); and throwing their garments on the ground.

    Two parades going on at opposite sides of the same town. At roughly the same time. And the two parades tell two different stories about peace, and what a peaceable kingdom looks like.

    We must all choose to join one of those parades. You can’t be in both, because they’re on opposite ends of town.

    Which parade will you be in?

  6. The Hope of An Advent People (Luke 21.25-28, 34-36) [Sermon 11-29-2015 Advent 1]

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    November 27, 2015 by jmar198013

    Manuscript of my sermon for this Sunday, November 11, 2015. First Sunday of Advent, Year C. Scriptures: Jeremiah 33.14-16 Psalm …
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  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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