9/27/09 – Jonathan Chute – “Getting out of the Way”
Sermon – Getting out of the Way
Mark 9:38-50. Is the Christian faith easy, or hard? Is it simply a matter of loving and trusting God, and living in the light of grace? “Love your neighbor as yourself” – that’s what Jesus says. Or is it a life-long wrestling match with questions and doubts, with God and with ourselves? Jesus says that we should love our neighbors, but also that we should love our enemies! So… is it easy or hard for us to follow Jesus?
In this week’s gospel the disciples tell Jesus that they have found someone performing healings in his name. They let him know that they tried to put a stop to it, since the man wasn’t one of them. But Jesus says that good deeds done in his name are a good thing, not a bad one! Even the little things we do for others – a cup of cold water – count in God’s eyes. We don’t want to put stumbling blocks in front of others, to make it harder for them to do God’s work. For some of us it is already hard enough to be faithful.
Scripture – Mark 9:38-50
9/20/09 – Dr. Jerry Campbell – “Though You Have Not Known Me”
Sermon – Though You Have Not Known Me
Isaiah 45:1-7, Luke 19:41-44. We welcome Dr. Jerry Campbell, president of Claremont School of Theology, as our preacher this week. Our first scripture reading comes from a time of great hope in Israel’s history. The people have suffered for many years as exiles in Babylon. But now it appears that Cyrus, the king of Persia, is preparing to deliver them home. He has conquered the Babylonians and wants to re-organize his empire differently. The prophet Isaiah speaks the word of God to the Israelites, telling them that even this foreign leader can be a chosen servant of the Lord.
The gospel for this week shows Jesus’ anguish and grief over Jerusalem, as he approaches the city in the last days of his life. He regrets that his own community has not recognized his coming for what it truly means. Both readings show us people who fail to recognize the presence or activity of God in their midst. It’s going on right in front of their eyes, but they do not see it.
Scripture – Isaiah 45:1-7, Luke 19:41-44
9/13/09 – Jonathan Chute – “How to Build a Church”
Sermon – How to Build a Church
Mark 8:27-38. This week’s gospel follows Jesus as he and the disciples come to something of a crisis. The sense of anticipation and hope among his followers has been building for some time. They have seen and heard much, and their expectations are high. But what he says to them this day will shock them. He speaks of suffering and death, of following him in the way of the cross. His picture of God’s kingdom, and what it means to be faithful, are different from anything they have heard before.
Scripture – Mark 8:27-38
9/6/09 – Jonathan Chute – “To the Dogs”
Sermon – To the Dogs
Mark 7:24-37. This Sunday’s gospel presents one of the more uncomfortable pictures of Jesus for many of us, as he responds to a woman whose daughter is sick. She is a gentile, a foreigner, and Jesus suggests that she has no claim on him. In fact, he seems to refer to her, not as one of God’s children, but as a dog. She could have taken offense, and been turned away by the harshness of his words. But she will not be put off from her search for healing and hope.
Scripture – Mark 7:24-37