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  1. Sermons : Suspicion at Every Turn

    Psalm 48, Mark 6:1-13

    He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him.  On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded.  They said, “Where did this man get all this?  What is this wisdom that has been given to him?  What deeds of power are being done by his hands!  Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?”  And they took offense at him.  Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.”  And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.  And he was amazed at their unbelief.

    Then he went about among the villages teaching.  He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.  He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.  He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place.  If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”  So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent.  They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

    The Word of God for the People of God.

                Thanks be to God.

    We all have to figure out in our own ways where HOME is, and what that means for us.    How are you the same little kid that grew up wherever and however you grew up?  And how are you, as we grow older, maybe move, maybe make some decisions, how are we quite different?  An important part of our identity is sorting out the relationship between all these things, bound in love and loss.  I was at the Outer Banks week before last with my wife’s family, and we made friends with locals who were trying to preserve some of the history of the original stretch of homes on Nags Head.  They spoke of their concern that the new people coming in building fancy homes wouldn’t care for the place like they cared for it.  We tend to be unsure of people not our own kin, not our own kind, who aren’t from the same place, which means often something resembling trusting they care about the same things you care about.  My wife often makes fun of how my southern accent dips a little more when we go back to Black Mountain.  Perhaps I don’t want to seem to have forgotten where I came from, where HOME truly is.

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  2. Sermons : For All


    Sermon by Libby Boehne, Presbyterian Campus Minister at Duke University

    (Sermon text not available – please enjoy the audio file.)

    Mark 5: 21-43

  3. Sermons : A Dead Calm

    Mark 4:35-41

    On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”  And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was.  Other boats were with him.

    A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

    He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the seas, “Peace!  Be still!”  Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.  He said to them, “Why are you afraid?  Have you still no faith?”  And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

    This is the Word of God for the People of God.

                Thanks be to God.

    Morning comes as Mark’s 4th chapter opens.  Jesus had begun to teach and already there was an overwhelming crowd, so large he pushes out to sea.  It’s a compelling scene, the shoreline packed with faces, Jesus, a bit back, teaching standing in the boat, a couple of disciples keep it steady.  “Listen!”  he calls and begins, as Betty told us last week, with the parable of the sower.  He tells them that parable, explains its meaning, then tells them to not DARE put their light under a bushel, but let it shine, let it shine.  He says the kingdom of God is like seed that grows but we don’t know how.   The kingdom of God is like a tiny mustard seed that grows into “the greatest of all shrubs!”  Mark gives a beautiful aside in verse 33-34.  Jesus pulls the disciples in and “explained everything in private to [them].”  I imagine their smiles, cautious, to each other.  Maybe this is real, they thought to themselves. God is among us.

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  4. Sermons : Planting Seeds

    Mark 4:26-34

    I like stories.  I read novels for fun.  I like my job because I get to visit with folks and hear them tell the stories of their lives.  Lots of folks like stories.  Jesus must have known that, because he taught a lot of the truths of the Gospel in stories.  And Jesus’ stories employed things or characters that would be familiar to his listeners.  Today we read two of his stories familiar to an agrarian society to help explain the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God, he said, is as if someone scatters seed and leaves it.  Miraculously it grows into something that produces a useful harvest.  Or the Kingdom of God is like the tiniest of seeds that can, again, rather miraculously, grow into a large enough bush to shelter birds and hide their nests.

    Granted, the listeners and the disciples might not really have gotten the point of these stories.  Maybe we do not either.  Earlier in this chapter of Mark, Jesus told the story of the sower who threw seed on the path, and birds ate it before it grew; and who threw seed on rocky ground, and it withered because it could not establish good roots; and who threw seed among thorny plants, and the other plants grew up and overwhelmed it so that it did not grow; and who threw seed on good soil, where it took root and flourished.  But the disciples did not seem to understand the story, and Jesus interpreted it for them.  He also told them that these stories, these parables, were told so that they might understand the secret of the Kingdom of God, and that not all would understand.

    One of the striking things about all three of these stories is that the sower scatters  the seed, but does  not nurture the plant to grow.  The growing happens all on its own.  But the sower plants the seed.  The seed must be sown, and it needs good soil, it needs rain and sun.  The grown plant can nurture others of God’s creatures.  It is all for the good. 

  5. Sermons : What Makes For Family?

    Mark 3:31-35

    Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him.

    A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.”  And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?”  And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

    The Word of God for the People of God.

                Thanks be to God.

    It was Christmas break the middle of my freshman year at Davidson.  I had finished a couple of weeks at home that were full of rest, but also with the conflicts, that you may be able to imagine, when someone who is used to being able to come and go as he pleases goes back to the home in which his parents are used to, for good reason, being able to decide who comes and goes and when.  When those worlds collide things get…complicated.  I was planning on returning to school Sunday to begin class Monday morning, but had a call from a friend and folks were heading back Saturday in order to have an extra night to…enjoy not having firm boundaries anymore.  I was talking about this with my parents at dinner on Friday night and said, without even thinking, “I’m just ready to get back home.”  It was that word that did it.  My mom sputtered and her face fell… “I thought this was your home…” she said, and I realized what I had done, and it was too late, too late to take it back.  What I MEANT to say was something about how much I loved the friends I had made at school and how much that community mattered to me.  What I did instead was push some of my immediate family aside, causing hurt.