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  1. Sermons : The Antidote to Idolatry

    Psalm 106:1-6,19-23
    Exodus 32:1-14

    Part of me appreciates the peoples’ honesty.

    “When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, “the people gathered around Aaron and said to him, ‘Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses…we do not know what has become of him.’” Moses had been gone a while, so they turned to his number two man: Aaron, make gods for us, we’ll worship something else.

    At least the Israelites name it. Too often, we don’t.

    We don’t say, “I’m going to quit the church and start worshipping my porch and the New York Times, the entire glorious paper, ALL morning. I want to do something on Sundays that is a little more relaxing and doesn’t ask me to do anything.”

    We certainly don’t say, “I go to church, but my life demonstrates I worship other things, the things we have, our great educations, stellar resumes.”

    We are caught. We want to – I do, I am sure you do – we are here because we find something compelling about Jesus and we want to follow him. But we get stuck. We get overwhelmed. We lose our nerve, and the world comes creeping in…

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  2. Sermons : Guidance from the Storm

    Psalm 19
    Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-17

    Last week we began our conversations around stewardship, and Luke and Amy spoke eloquently about how we are all called to “take the next step” together, about how our giving is an absolutely indispensable part of our faith journey, grounded in trust. Many more of you bought these wonderful devotional booklets, and I also hope you noted the prayer calendar. This effort must be ground in prayer. Yesterday we prayed for the Global Missions Committee and the Haiti team, the choir and the Property Management Committee and the Geezers last week. As this next week begins we’ll pray for Church School classes and teachers, supper clubs and lunch groups, the Local Missions Committee and the Neighborhood Mission Team, among others….

    These are really important conversations and I need you to join the Stewardship Committee and I in prayerful reflection upon the gifts God has given us, and our response that we might live into Christ’s ministry in this place, together. In a complicated and conflicted world, this place matters. Your gifts – all of your gifts – matter.

    I was going to dig into these issues of stewardship a little more fully today, and then we woke up Monday morning and turned on the news. We’ll revisit some of these stewardship themes again next week. But not today. Let us pray…

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  3. Sermons : The Invitation to Trust

    Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16
    Exodus 17:1-7

    After 430 brutal years of slavery, the people were free.[1] In an extraordinary series of miracles from the very beginning of the book of Exodus, God calls Moses, confronts Pharaoh with plagues, parts the Red Sea. But it only takes them 45 days – a month and a half – after 430 years, to start complaining. If only we had died as slaves, they say. For YOU have brought us out into this wilderness to kill us with hunger. And what does God do? In the chapter right before this one God brings manna, bread, every morning, enough for the day. Chapter 16 ends by telling us that for the entire 40 years in the wilderness, this absolutely blows my mind to think about, God provides manna, every morning, sure as the sunrise.

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  4. Sermons : Keeping Count

    Psalm 145:1-8
    Matthew 20:1-16

    He’s relentless, isn’t he? For the third week in a row, Jesus takes us to task. Two weeks ago, we heard him say “If another member of the church sins against you, go point out the fault when the two of you are alone…” and last week through the story of a lord and a servant, Jesus tells of how God will deal with us if we are unmerciful to one another and if we do not forgive our brother or sister from our heart. And now, Jesus takes our privilege and puts it right up as a mirror in this story of the landowner and his laborers, exhausted by keeping count of what they get and what they think they deserve. You are a courageous people, so stick with us for one more sermon on this Matthew pericope…

    A generous landowner pays all the laborers in his vineyard equally, regardless of hours worked. An extravagant landowner functions in Gospel economics, not by the count of the culture that surrounds him. A tired, frustrated set of workers grumble that they deserve more and a grateful, humbled set of workers sit stunned at the heavy weight of the unexpected pay in their hands. An unsettling flipping of the script – “the last will be first and the first will be last.”

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  5. Sermons : Checking Our Blind Spots

    Psalm 114
    Matthew 18:21-35

    THEN,” Matthew writes, “Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’

    Jesus has just pushed us hard – we waded into this last Sunday – on how the disciples were called to be community. And it was uncomfortable. Relationships in the church are a precious commodity, and we are called to do the hard work of being family together. To keep at it, to pursue each other like the shepherd went after that one lost sheep with the ninety-nine hanging out there back on the hillside.

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