November 11th, 2018

Sermon:          “The Gift of Yourself”

Theme:            In Christ we choose to be the gift of God, not for other people’s benefit, but because that is fulfilling for our lives.

Purpose:         The congregation will consider their motivations behind being generous and seek to know Christ more fully through their giving.

Scriptures:      Hebrews 9:24-28         Christ offered the sacrifice of himself, which brings salvation to all who are eagerly waiting on him.

Mark 12:38-44            The widow in her offering gives sacrificially.

Questions:

What does it mean for us to be faithful in generosity? What is the difference between giving out of obligation and giving out of the joy of Christ’s love? What are the ways in which our religiosity robs us of our enjoyment of the good things that God has given us? How has focusing on religiosity and guilt caused us to be resentful and angry in our giving? What does it mean to give with joy and celebration of the abundance in which God has blessed us? How is it that those who give freely are the happiest and feel best about what they have received?

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November 4th, 2018 Communion Sunday

Sermon:          “Where You Go…”

Theme:            Real love commits to staying, abiding, and consistency rather than being conditional or based on appetites.

Purpose:         The congregation will seek to develop consistency in commitments.

Scriptures:      Ruth 1:1-18     Ruth promises to never abandon her mother-in-law in spite of loss and hardship.

Mark 12:28-34 We love God and others with our whole selves.

Questions:

What does it mean to us to have meaningful and committed relationships? In what ways does our commitment to Christ’s love affect the relationships of the people who are closest to us? How does Jesus enable us to be healthier and stronger in our relationships with the people who are nearest to us? What does it mean to love God with all our heart, mind, and strength? In what ways does dedicating all of our love to God give us so much more love to give to the people who are near us?

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October 28th, 2018

Sermon:          The Blind See Clearly

Theme:            Our struggles and challenges enable us to see and know God with wisdom and understanding.

Purpose:         The congregation will reflect upon past challenges and hurts as a way of deepening their compassion and love for others.

Scriptures:      Job 42:1-6, 10-17        Job experiences the knowledge of God, he is restored and made a blessing to his friends.

Mark 10:46-52 Bartimaeus shows honor where there would be shame; Jesus brings light to the darkness.

 

Questions:

What causes us to be blind to the blessings that God has given to us? In what ways do the troubles we face become a source of knowing God’s presence in more powerful ways? How do we open ourselves to the knowledge of God rather than being wrapped up in our worry and personal issues? How is it that through Christ’s sacrifice we are able to be a part of revealing God’s presence in other people’s lives?

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October 21st, 2018

Sermon:          “True Greatness”

Theme:            Those who wish to be joyful and fulfilled will seek to live out their purpose and use their gifts to bring God’s healing and compassion.

Purpose:         The congregation members will reflect on their own gifts and abilities and seek for ways to serve.

Scriptures:      Hebrews 5:1-10  Christ’s obedience was in what he suffered.

Mark 10:35-45   James and John argue over who will be first in the kingdom.

 

Questions:

In what ways do we focus on the things that we can do, rather than the people that God has called us to be? How is it that we are gifts to the people around us? How can we be people who embody forgiveness and love rather than worry about status or self-importance? In what ways do we miss the chance to be a part of God’s grace because we are too concerned about superficial concerns?

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October 14th, 2018

Sermon:          “The Poor are Rich”

Theme:            Our real source of joy, happiness, and peace are not found in material possessions but in the fullness of loving relationships through Christ.

Purpose:         The congregation will reflect upon their own values and concerns.

Scriptures:      Job 23:1-17     Job complains that he cannot find God and feels alone.

Mark 10:17-31 A rich man asks Jesus how to inherit the kingdom and is saddened by Jesus’ answer.

 

Questions:

What does it mean for us to be truly rich in the blessings of God? What is the wealth we know through gratitude, and through our relationship with Christ? What possessions or priorities keep us from enjoying the peace of God’s love and care for us? How do we separate ourselves from God through worrying about things that do not matter? How is it that we become obsessed with our problems and possessions rather than enjoying the gifts of God that surround us?

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October 7th, 2018 World Communion Sunday

10/7/2018       The smallest are greatest.      Communion, Peacemaking Sunday

Sermon:          “Real Faith: Called to Care For All Children.”

Theme:            Our relationship with Christ calls us to look past labels and controversies, to focus on the needs of the children and vulnerable of the world around us.

Purpose:         The congregation will examine their bias and prejudice in order to see a call to care for those who are in need.

Scriptures:      Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12 Jesus reigns on high, and calls us to suffer in order to serve all children, brothers and sisters in the world.

Mark 10:2-16  Jesus welcomes the children, the lowest in society, and calls them great.

 

Questions:

What is our responsibility to those who are least powerful in our society? What impact does it make on us in our relationship with Christ and growth as Christians when we pay attention to people who are less influential or fortunate than ourselves? How do we imitate Christ’s work of being compassionate for the people who are in need of love and hope? How do we make our mission of reaching out in love a central part of our daily life in Christ?

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9/30/2018 Choosing God’s side.

Sermon:           Real Faith: Real Strength and Meaning”

Theme:            Through mature Christian faith we have strength to create peace which overcomes the suffering and loss in the world around us.

Purpose:          The congregation will commit to a deeper, wiser faith and renounce the stumbling blocks of envy and grievances.

Scriptures:       James 5:13-20 Prayer is a healing balm for physical suffering and broken communities.

Mark 9:38-50  Whoever is not against us is for us, do not create stumbling blocks.

Questions:

What does it mean to place a “stumbling block” before one of God’s little ones? What causes people who are fragile in faith to stumble? How do we take seriously the large number of people who have had unpleasant experiences as a result of feeling judged or attacked by religious people? How do we develop relationships that are authentic, caring, and healing? How can we become a source of hope and healing for the many people struggling to find direction?

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9/23/2018 The strength of weakness.

Sermon:           “Real Faith: Wisdom and Humility”

Theme:            Strength and peace flow from the maturity and wisdom of releasing our need for control and importance.

Purpose:          The congregation will examine themselves in order to learn and grow in humility.

Scriptures:       James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a   Gentleness and wisdom are keys to contentment.

Mark 9:30-37  Disciples arguing over who is greatest in the kingdom of God.

Questions:

What does it mean to be humble? What are the benefits that humility creates in a wise Christian? In what ways does humility enable Christians to focus on what is truly meaningful and important rather than to be distracted by their own insecurity? In what ways does humility give the wisdom to see our challenges differently? What does it mean to us that Jesus taught that whoever is greatest is the servant of all?

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9/16/2018 The wisdom to sit still.

Sermon:           “Real Faith: Choosing Our Words”

Theme:            Faith calls us to respond to God’s call for caring rather than react to our own past issues or fears.

Purpose:          The congregation will examine their reactive nature and seek to live compassionately.

Scriptures:       James 3:1-12   Taming the tongue

Mark 8:27-38  If any want to become followers of Christ, let them take up their own cross.

 

Questions:

What did Jesus mean when he told the people to take up their own cross and follow? What does it mean to us that we worship one who suffered on behalf of others? What difference does practicing the love of Christ make in the way we speak to, or about other people? How can we learn to be more thoughtful before responding to the issues and problems we face?  What does James mean when he speaks of the tongue as a “restless evil, full of deadly poison?”  Do we take seriously the dangers of the way in which we speak? Do we recognize how our language affects our relationship with God?

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09/09/2018 Back to two worship services

Sermon:           “Real Faith Really Acts”

Theme:            Our mature faith is shown in that we show our caring in ways that make a difference and bring healing.

Purpose:          The congregation will focus on practical acts of compassion not to impress.

Scriptures:       James 2:1-13   The body matters: knowledge of Christ demands that we be practical in our love for neighbor.

Mark 7:24-37  The healing of the Syrophoenician (privileged person) woman’s daughter.

Questions:

Who has been left out of the blessings and abundance around us? What is our responsibility to people who are in need? What difference does it make if we discriminate for or against particular groups of people? What difference does economic class make in the way we treat people? How does that affect our relationship with God? What can we do to be more open and accepting of people who we perceive to be affluent, and people we perceive to be poor or needy?  What does James mean when he says that partiality is a sin?  What is wrong about favoring one group over another?

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9/2/2018 Communion. Labor Day Weekend.

Sermon:           “God’s Call on Us”

Theme:            We are called to be people who show we have Christ’s love in us through the way we are thoughtful and kind in our manner with our neighbors.

Purpose:          The congregation will examine what is important about their relationship with Christ and treatment of others.

Scriptures:       James 1:17-27 Quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger, be doers of the word.

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23        What makes us clean or unclean.

 

Questions:

Do we worry more about traditions and other people’s behaviors than about our own relationship with God? What does Jesus mean when he quotes: ““This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.” Do we put more emphasis on things that do not matter or on doing the things that show God’s love and compassion? What does James mean when he says: “27Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world?” Do we do a good job of practicing our religion in ways that demonstrates God’s love?

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8/26/2018

Sermon:           “The Unseen Neighbor”

Theme:            Those who have grown in faith and become wise will see those who are suffering and in need in their midst.

Purpose:          The congregation will begin to seek to set aside personal issues so as to see the neighbors in need.

Scriptures:       Romans 12:9-21          The Marks of a true Christian – love and forgiveness.

Luke 16:19-31 The Rich man and Lazarus, the knowledge of God means noticing our neighbors.

Questions:

What is God’s expectation for our compassion and care for people who are less fortunate than ourselves? What difference does sympathy and generosity play in our relationship with God and with one another? Can we be healthy Christians if we don’t care about the needs of others? What does it mean to “extend hospitality to strangers?” What happens to us spiritually if we don’t develop the ability to be compassionate to others?  What happens if we deepen our ability to care for others without fear or anxiousness about our own needs?

Click HERE to listen to the message

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