June 3, 2018 – Jonathan Chute “Right Place, Wrong Time”
The gospel for this Sunday contains two stories of conflict between Jesus and religious leaders. In the first, he and his followers have been seen picking and eating grain on the sabbath, a violation of the fourth commandment. Later the same day Jesus heals a man with a disabled arm. As if that weren’t bad enough, he does it in the synagogue! The Pharisees cannot see beyond the breaking of the rules that Jesus seems to take so lightly. Their anger and frustration lead them to plan and plot a far greater evil than the one they believe he has committed. The text for Jonathan’s sermon – “Right Place, Wrong Time” – is Mark 2:23-3:6.
June 10, 2018 – Jonathan Chute “Counting to Three”
In this week’s scripture we see how God responds to the poor choices we sometimes make. Our first reading comes from a time of transition in Israel’s history. The people have come together under Samuel, a prophet. But as they look around they notice that all the other nations have kings. Now they want one too. Samuel warns them that this choice will have terrible consequences. But they are sure they know what they want.
Our gospel follows a series of healings that Jesus has been carrying out across Galilee. Religious leaders come from Jerusalem to check out the rumors of his activity, and they are not pleased. They claim that he is doing Satan’s work, collaborating with demons to impress the gullible. They even suggest that maybe he has a demon himself. This angers Jesus. He responds that there are limits to God’s forgiveness, and that they are in danger of going too far. “Counting to Three” is Jonathan’s sermon, drawing on 1 Samuel 8:4-20 and Mark 3:20-30.
June 17, 2018 – April Herron “What’s the Plan?”
You have graduated. Or maybe your kid has graduated. Now what? An important relationship has begun or ended. You’re in a new stage of life because of a birth or a retirement, a promotion or an unexpected development, a change in your health. Is there a plan? If so, what is it? What is God’s role in the unfolding pattern or pathway of your life? If God has a plan, can we know what it is?
These are some of questions raised by the story of Samuel’s anointing of David as a sign that he is to be king of the people of Israel. Samuel is an aging leader who has seen enough to make him sad. David is young, eager, and energetic. And, as his father’s eighth and youngest son, he never would have expected to end up front and center, focus of attention that by custom should have gone to the eldest of his brothers. Meanwhile, God apparently doesn’t mind stirring the pot or defying expectations. God confides to Samuel, a faithful servant and trusted spokesperson, that David will be the next king. “You can’t ask me to pull that off,” Samuel exclaims. “If Saul (the current king) finds out, he’ll kill me!”
The account of Samuel’s visit to Bethlehem comes from 1 Samuel 16:1-13. Words of Jesus about how the kingdom of God comes to fruition can be found in Mark 4:26-32. April’s sermon title is, “What’s the Plan?”
June 24, 2018 – Jonathan Chute “At Peace in the Storm”
Our first reading for this Sunday depicts the scene as David confronts the warrior Goliath. The Israelite and Philistine armies face each other across the valley of Elah. Goliath, a giant Philistine warrior, issues a challenge – a one-on-one fight to decide the winner. No one from Israel is willing to face him – no one, that is, until David shows up. Still a young boy, he has brought food to his brothers at the front. But when he hears Goliath’s taunts, he offers to go and fight on behalf of the nation. The story is found in 1 Samuel 17:32-49.
In this week’s gospel Jesus and the disciples journey across the Sea of Galilee. A storm catches them on the way, threatening to sink the boat. The disciples call out to Jesus for help. With a word he silences the wind and calms the raging sea. In the midst of the storm, Jesus remains focused and steady. Mark 4:35-41 tells this story, which offers a picture of confidence and trust even in the midst of chaos. Jonathan’s sermon is “At Peace in the Storm.”