Category Archives: peace

  1. Untwisting Scripture: “Be still and know that I am God” edition


    February 11, 2018 by jmar198013

    A “pilot episode” for a new feature of my blog, “Untwisting Scripture.” In each edition, I will explore a commonly misapplied passage from the Bible. I’ll explain what it actually means, and how we can faithfully apply it. In this first edition, I’ll be looking at Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” Turns out those words aren’t good news after all. At least not for the ones God said it to.

  2. Believe it or not — that’s us! (Ephesians 6.10-20) [sermon 8-6-2017]


    August 1, 2017 by jmar198013

    In the classic sitcom, “The Greatest American Hero,” a regular guy is given a superhero suit that empowers him to fight against dark forces. Christians are also given a sort of superhero suit, which the apostle Paul called “the full armor of God.”

  3. It takes diff’rent strokes to move the church (Ephesians 2.11-22) [sermon 7-23-2017]


    July 22, 2017 by jmar198013

    In times of conflict, you’ve probably heard someone say: “Let’s put our differences aside and work together.” But in Ephesians 2.11-22, Paul says: “Let’s put our differences together, and watch God work through us.”

  4. Real talk on comfort (2 Corinthians 1.1-11; John 14.25-27) [Sermon 05-22-2016]


    May 21, 2016 by jmar198013

    God has called the church to be communities of comfort. In our day and time, we might mistake that to mean a community where we are made comfortable. A gated community where everyone is making a comfortable living. And we all come home to the latest and best creature comforts. And if anything we’ve experienced that day has made us uncomfortable, we can smother it in comfort food. The problem with that idea of comfort is that it makes us ignore or bury our own troubles and suffering. And soon enough, we will also be ignoring or minimizing the troubles and sufferings of our neighbors.

    The comfort Paul talks about in our reading today doesn’t end with us. It’s not a vaccine against suffering. It doesn’t blind us to someone else’s troubles, or deafen us to their cries. No, the comfort Paul wrote about comes through “Christ’s sufferings,” and from the “compassionate Father.” The basis is suffering and compassion. Fred Buechner said that “compassion is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.” The comfort that comes to us from the compassionate Father through the suffering Son makes us unable to ignore someone else’s troubles or sorrows. Remember, “God comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort other people who are in every kind of trouble.”

    If you have received comfort that doesn’t move you to reach out to someone else, you may not have received that comfort from God.

  5. 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).

  6. Not as the world gives (John 14.23-26) [Sermon 05-01-2016 Easter 6c]

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    April 28, 2016 by jmar198013

    During John’s telling of the Last Supper, Jesus tells his disciples many things as he is preparing for his death, and resurrection; and finally, to return to his Father, God. One assurance he gives them during all the turbulence and upheaval that will follow his departure is: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid.”

    How does the world give? The world does not give peace. The world gives us fear so we will buy their versions of peace: military, personal, financial, or material security. But Jesus gives his peace. A peace that comes from knowing that we are perfectly loved by the Father; and “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4.18).

  7. Forgiven people forgiving people (John 20.19-31) [Sermon 04-03-2016, Easter 2c]


    March 31, 2016 by jmar198013

    John 20.19-31 takes place over a period of 8 days, beginning Easter night. As the story begins, the disciples are holed up in a hideout somewhere. When the story draws to its climax, 8 days later, they’re still there.

    As the story unfolds, all sorts of interesting questions emerge: Why are they locked in a house? Who are they really afraid of? Why didn’t they go look for Jesus after Mary told them he was risen? Why wasn’t Thomas with them? And why were they still locked up in the house more than a week later?

    This sermon addresses all those questions, and more. And from those questions and answers emerges a snapshot of who Jesus calls his church to be: A forgiven people, forgiving people.



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