Category Archives: grace

  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.

  2. 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.

  3. When the Spirit inspires arts and crafts [sermon 5-26-19]

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    June 18, 2019 by jmar198013

    One of the most overlooked aspects of the work of the Holy Spirit is that the Spirit inspires and nurtures creativity in humans. The Spirit imparts wisdom, insight, and skill to empower people to do beautiful things for God’s glory and the common good. One place we learn this is from the construction of the tabernacle in the book of Exodus, where it says the Spirit gave Bezalel and the other artists and craftspeople their talents.

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


    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.

  5. The story of the valuable coins (Matthew 25.14-30) [sermon 4-7-19]

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    April 9, 2019 by jmar198013

    Jesus once told a story about a man leaving on a journey who divided his wealth between three employees, entrusting it to their care. When he returned, two of them had doubled the investment he had left them, but one had buried it in the ground and gained nothing. This story teaches us that God has set us up to succeed. So we can work creatively to build up and beautify his Neighborhood without living in fear of failure.

  6. The last will be first … : a visit in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe (Matthew 20.1-16) [sermon 3-17-19]

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    March 17, 2019 by jmar198013

    Jesus once told a story about day-laborers who were offended by their boss’ generosity. He told this story to show us that, in God’s Neighborhood we do not earn our way. We receive gifts from God. The Bible word for this is grace. And grace is completely countercultural to dominant mindsets, like entitlement and meritocracy.

  7. Do unto others as God does unto you: life in God’s Neighborhood, part 3 (Matthew 7.12) [sermon 2-10-2019]

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    February 19, 2019 by jmar198013

    Most everyone knows the so-called Golden Rule (Matt. 7.12): “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But there’s a very important word we tend to leave out: “Therefore.” That word connects how we treat others to how our heavenly Father treats us (Matthew 7.7-11). Using God as our standard means using our imaginations, asking questions, and remembering God’s mercies toward us.



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