Tag Archives: church

  1. A place at the table (Luke 15) [sermon 03-19-2017]


    March 17, 2017 by jmar198013

    The story ends with the father saying: “But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive. He was lost and is found.” The father insists to the older son that not only is his place in the family secure; he is his brother’s brother, whether he wants to be or not! That’s where Jesus leaves the story—with the father’s invitation to come join the feast. And that’s where the story is left with us now, too. There’s room at God’s table for us all. Those who stayed and served. And those who were lost, but now are found.

  2. Falling towers and fruitless fig trees (Luke 13.1-9, 31-35) [sermon 3-12-17]

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    March 8, 2017 by jmar198013

    The story of this fig tree receiving special attention—extravagant mercy and generosity—calls us all to see ourselves as that tree. Like Jesus said elsewhere: “Much will be demanded from everyone who has been given much.” We’ve been given much. Maybe we need to see a warning hidden in all our blessings: a judgment is coming if we don’t bear fruit worthy of repentance.

  3. The Touch of Jesus [Sermon 6/28/2015]

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    June 29, 2015 by jmar198013

    In Mark 5.21-43, the author wraps one story inside of another like a pig-in-a-blanket. One is about a man who wants Jesus to touch his dying twelve-year-old daughter and heal her. The other is about a woman who touches Jesus and is healed of a twelve-year long disease. These are stories of healing. They are stories of faith wrestling with fear. But at their core, they are stories about touch. About contact. About suffering people reaching out for Jesus. About Jesus reaching out for suffering people. They are stories about the touch of Jesus. That’s why Mark wrapped them together like he did.

  4. Being who we are: a sermon for the church on its birthday


    May 24, 2015 by jmar198013

    On this Pentecost, the church’s birthday, I just wanted to encourage the church to be who we are. Instead of doing the lectionary thing and preaching Acts 2, I chose Luke 11.1-13. The church is most ourself–the church God envisions–when we partner with God to make his kingdom visible by making sure our neighbors have their daily bread; and when our communities embody forgiveness and reconciliation. The church is able to live on these terms by the good gifts of God and the power of the Spirit.

  5. He is risen! Now what? [Communion Thoughts 4/12/2015]

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    April 12, 2015 by jmar198013

    After the thrill of Easter, however, we discover that we have to return to what is called ‘the real world.’ Perhaps we are left wondering, He is risen—now what? It’s awesome that Jesus is alive with God up there, but down here it’s still a mess. We have mortgages to pay and children to feed and wars to fight and stuff. What does Easter have to do with any of that?

  6. Salt and light, city and letter: Reading Matt. 5.13-16 and 2 Cor. 3.2-3 with Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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    April 24, 2013 by jmar198013

    Commenting on Matt. 5.13-16, Dietrich Bonhoeffer pointedly rehearsed the verbs of discipleship and church: You ARE the salt. You ARE the light. You ARE the city on the hill. This is simply who we are. We can be useless salt, hidden light, and a broken-down city, but we cannot but be salt, light, and a city. The same logic applies to Paul’s word in 2 Cor. 3: We ARE a letter from Christ.

  7. My Week at the Full Armor Lectures: Day two, pt. 1


    February 20, 2013 by jmar198013

    I started writing a short story several years ago about a guy who goes to a Bible lectureship and is deeply damaged by the experience. I never finished it. I never could figure out how. Maybe it’s because the story is so ludicrous. Nothing like this could ever happen in real life. Doogood Ave. First United Primitive Christian Church isn’t a real place. Skeeter McDoogan, Remus Philbert, and Strudel Harrison aren’t real people–those are completely made-up names. Who would name their kid something like that? No one has ever referred to roller skating as “licentiousness on wheels.” And there is definitely no such place as Steed-Ramrick University in Cortez, TN. Google them. They aren’t real.



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