July Sermons


August 2017 Sermons

 

Missed a sermon?  Enjoyed it so much you want to read it?  Want to check that you heard that?  Below are the recent sermons from August 2017.  We encourage you to use the reflection on the Word in your faith practice.  May they lift you up and enrich your faith.  Enjoy!

 

 intention

Setting Our Intention

August 20, 2017 - Join us for worship and hear just how we can begin to set our intention on God.

 
Matthew 15: 10-28
walkonwater fishandloaves

When We're called to 'Come'

August 13, 2017 - Pastor Lindsey shared a message that encourages us to heed the call of Jesus and obey the command to 'Come.'

Enough for Everyone

August 6, 2017 - Pastor Lindsey shared a message of God's provision and miraculous wonder, then and now.  

Matthew 14:22-33 Matthew 14:31-21

 

 

 

 

 When We're called to 'Come'

 

Matthew 14:22-33

22Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them.25And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea.26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”28Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”


Interpretation of the Word

 

We’ve all heard the words spoken, “Come.  Come here.”  Children run along with delight in their eyes at the possibility of adventure; mothers and fathers drop what they are doing and go; spouses may go, but not before shouting back, “what do you need?;” teens look around the group to see what the others are doing before they make a decision to go.  Fishermen drop their nets and follow a carpenter who promises a mighty haul; sick and lame flock from far and wide to receive a healing touch.  When we are called to “come,” we have a variety of reactions. 

We go with wild abandon.

We go with hesitancy and fear.

We go after obtaining more information.

We go with dubious reluctance.

We go under the pressure of peers.

We go because we are called.

Jesus continues to call us to “come” today.  Have you heard him?  Have you heard Jesus calling you?  Calling you to step out of the boat and take a chance.  A chance to step out on faith and walk on water.  Can you imagine the feeling of stepping out of the boat?  Stepping towards Jesus and the life that he’s living.  Some steps seem easier than others.  Some steps are more daunting than ever.  Some steps seem like climbing Everest without packing gear, while other steps are a relaxing day at the beach.  The thing about taking steps though, is that you have to take initiative.  Steps don’t happen on their own.  We have to respond to the call.  We have to act.


John Ortberg, wrote a book in 2001 called If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat.  It is a book that takes readers on a journey of faith.  I enjoyed reading it the first time years ago, and rereading it this week.  In the introduction to the book Ortberg invites the reader to go on a walk. 

“The Bible, is among other things, a list of unforgettable walks. The first one was taken by God, who we are told, used to talk the garden I the cool of the day.  But as a general rule, God asked people to walk with him. … Perhaps the most unforgettable walk of all was taken by Peter the day he got out of a boat and walked on the water.  It is unforgettable not so much because of where he was walking as what he was walking on and who he was walking with.”

When God asks people to walk with him there is a consistent pattern, Ortberg suggests.  First, there is always a call, God ask an ordinary person, to engage in an act of extraordinary trust, that of getting out of the boat.  Second, there is ALWAYS fear.  With that fear, comes the ever sure reassurance.  God promises his presence.  Then there is a decision, sometimes it’s a yes and other times the fear is too great and the answer is no, or not right now.  Finally, no matter the response to the call, there is always a changed life.  Whether we get out of the boat or not, our lives are changed.  Whether we sit on the sidelines or get in the game, our lives are forever changed.  


We have to become as Ortberg suggests, “Water-walkers.”  In order to become water-walkers we may need to “do something religious.”  We may need to do something beyond our comfort zone.  We may need to get out of the boat.  As people who live on and around the lake, we may think it’s a bit crazy to step out of perfectly fine boats.  Why would we leave behind the safety of the boat?


Peter and his friends got into a little boat on afternoon to cross the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus wanted to be alone, so they were boating without him.  Peter didn’t mind – he’s been in boats his whole life, growing up hauling in fish for the family business.  He even liked boats.


But then… a storm blew in.  Not just a little wind and rain, but such a storm that the scripture describes that the boat was “tormented” by the waves.  The storm was so violent that the only things the disciples could co was attempt to keep the boat upright.  They weren’t attempting to travel across the Sea, they just wanted to not capsize in the middle of the night.  Really, the disciples just wanted to stay alive.


Then… out of the storm, out of the darkness, the disciples noticed a shadow moving toward them on the water.  As it got closer, it became apparent that it was a figure of a human being – walking on the water!  Say what!  Their eyes must be deceiving them.  They have been through so much with the storm raging around them, the waves crashing over the sides of the boat, we can imagine that they are delirious with exhaustion.  The disciples are terrified, thinking they’ve seen a ghost, they cry out.  While the other eleven in the boat cower in fear, Peter decides to “do something religious.”


Peter blurts out to the water-walker, “If it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”   Peter isn’t testing Jesus or taking a risk.  Peter is answering the call of Jesus to be obedient, even to the point of getting out of the boat and stepping out onto, not into, but ON TO the water.  Peter recognizes Jesus and says, if it’s you, call me to come to you and test MY obedience to you! (not the other way around). 

As I mentioned, and Ortberg describes throughout his book, God continues to call us to follow even today, to be obedient to God’s call on our lives.  It may not look like it did in the first century, but it is surely a call that we need to respond to.  If we saw Jesus coming to us out of the storm, if we suddenly gain insight into what Jesus is doing –the Lord is showing himself to us.  Jesus is inviting us to go on the adventure of a lifetime.  But at the same time, we’re scared to death.  What would you choose – the water or the boat? 


The boat is safe, secure and comfortable.


On the other hand, the water is rough.  The waves are high.  The wind is strong.  There’s a storm out there beyond the walls of our boats.  And if you get out of the boat – whatever your boat might happen to be – there’s a good chance you might sink. 


Both could certainly lead to death, but if you don’t get out of the boat, there’s a 100% certainty that you will never walk on water.  If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat.  You’ve got to heed the call of Jesus to come.  Only one fully trusts in a God who calms the wind and the waves and the rain.


Let’s be honest for a moment.  THIS is terrifying.  The thought of leaving behind our boats, that which prevents us from fully submitting to God’s call, makes us hesitate, makes us reconsider what we’re contemplating.  Being obedient to the call of Jesus presses us beyond where we are comfortable.  It pushes us into places, situations, conversations that are not easy, that are not a day at the beach.  It is a call to live our faith boldly.  As terrifying as this may be, THIS is what we were made for.  We were made for something more than merely avoiding failure.  Deep down inside of you, there is something that WANTS to walk on the water.  You may want to deny it but there is a little light burning inside of you that wants to leave the comfort of a routine existence and abandon yourself to the excitement of adventure of following God. 


It is a call to live out our faith in a loving, graceful and caring God. It is a call to spread this love to all that we meet.  So I’m going to step out of my boat this morning.  I do not like to get political, although I’m human so it’s bound to happen, but in my mind this isn’t about politics, it’s about a deeper calling.  I believe people have the right to assemble, and even to counter-assemble.  But it is NOT ok to be violent, to fight and throw dangerous objects at one another.  I believe that people have the right to say what they want, even when I don’t agree with it.  But it NOT ok to run people over when we disagree.  I believe in mutual forbearance, that we can agree to disagree and that we can still pray for and care for one another even when we do not see eye to eye.  But it is NOT ok to look someone in the eye and spit on them and declare them worthless.  I believe this, because I see this in the scripture.  I see Jesus teaching this throughout his ministry. 


Jesus is calling us to stand up for the Gospel, the Good News.  Jesus’ call may not sound like a carpenter inviting us to travel the countryside to miracles and preach a message that was, and continues to be, countercultural and just a little radical, full of love and grace for all who believe.  I believe that Jesus is calling us to stand up against those who want to devalue any and all of God’s creation.  It is a call to speak out against the misuse of resources; against terrorizing one another; against racism, against hate, against injustice, against evil.  I believe we MUST be obedient to the call to love God and our neighbors, it is a call to do justice, and love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.  We have been invited to walk with God.  Invited into the journey, and do we have the faith to do that today?   Jesus is still calling us to come to him; to follow him; to trust in him.  When we are called to come, we have to get out of the boat.  Amen.





 

 

 

Enough for Everyone



Matthew 14:13-21 


 13Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. 15When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” 18And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

 

Interpretation of the Word 

 

At first glance this passage seems to have a very clear message, doesn’t it.  So clear and important that it is the ONLY account of Jesus that is found in ALL four gospels and twice in Mark and Matthew.  So what is this clear as day message that jumps off the page at us in each Gospel for a total of six accounts?  That Jesus can do anything, even miraculously feed 5000 men along with women and children.  Right?  Maybe.  Maybe not. 

 

 In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, there were those who purposed that the miracle was that Jesus got the community to open up their pockets and share what they had brought.  That this wasn’t really about making 5 loaves and 2 fish literally feed 5000 plus people.  That by Jesus taking the loaves and fish the disciples had and sharing this meager amount with so many gathered, opened the hearts of those gathered, leading them to share what they had brought too.  We have this need to understand and rationalize where all the food came from, because surely 5 loaves and 2 fish do not feed over 5000 people.  So we rationalize that Jesus’ action of sharing led to and prompted others to bring forth what they have stashed away in their pouches.  Food, a little snack they were planning to keep for themselves, they are suddenly, because of Jesus’ actions, opening their bags and pulling out and passing around to those near them.

 

 I’m not saying that this isn’t a miracle, but what if the miracle is more than feeding, more than sharing, more than that…What if this is more about the miracle that takes place when Jesus, because of his compassion for those around him and his trust in God, sees possibilities where the disciples saw only limitations.  Jesus takes what IS there, gives thanks, and gives it away trusting that God will find it to be enough.

 

 I would like to ask you to look deeper into this text.  Let’s not take it at face value.  Let’s look at it with an eye for why Jesus is doing what he is doing and what it means for us in this day.  I would like to propose that this is not just about food instead that this is about God alone IS enough for everyone.  We see this in the compassion that Jesus has for the people, and in the way that Jesus trusts in God to be enough when there seem to be so little, that where we see scarcity, God sees and creates abundance.

 

 So first, we see that Jesus has compassion on the people who have gathered there.  The crowds have gathered in the place where Jesus has withdrawn to in order to grieve.  We didn’t read it his morning, but this passage comes after the account of the beheading of John the Baptist.  Jesus been informed of John’s gruesome death by those who followed John and so Jesus has withdrawn from the all of the activity.  He steps away, takes a moment to grieve the loss of his friend and cousin.  We’ve been there, we have lost loved ones, we know that we need space to heal; we need to take some time apart from all the activity.

 

 Even in his grief, Jesus has compassion for those who have sought him out.  He sees they too are grieving.  They may not be grieving the same loss, but they are still grieving and Jesus has compassion for them.  He heals those who have gathered there.  Jesus has compassion for those who have such a desperate need for healing that they followed him out to some deserted place.  They could not wait for Jesus to maybe return.  Jesus sees this, and has compassion on them.   

 

Jesus fulfills the call of the God of Israel to care for God’s own people.  Healing them and feeding them. 

 

As the day came to a close and the sun was nearing the edge of the horizon, the disciples’ stomachs begin to grumble and they suggest, no they tell Jesus that he should send these people away to find their own meals.  But Jesus realized that these folks would need to eat too.  Jesus more than likely realized that even if there was a nearby town, which there was likely not, that town would not have an open market where they would find something to eat, nor were they likely to be able to afford something even if there was a nearby market.  So Jesus tells the disciples to give the people gathered something to eat. 

 

 You can maybe imagine the disciples grumbling at this point.  “What does he think we are magicians!?  Why didn’t these people bring their own food? Where does he think we are going to get enough food for ALL these people?!  Wasn’t healing them enough?  Now we have to feed them too.  This is impossible.  This is insanity.”  The disciples, in their grumble, say to Jesus,  “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” Silently implying: Clearly NOT enough for everyone!

 

Which brings us to what I would like to suggest is the second deeper meaning this passage.  Jesus trusts in God to be enough when there seem to be so little, that where we see scarcity, God sees and creates abundance.

 

Jesus uses the disciples, even when they would rather look after themselves, to tend the needs of these thousands of men, women, and children. Using words and actions foreshadowing the Last Supper, Matthew depicts what happens when you move from a worldview of scarcity – “we have nothing here but five loaves and fishes” – to one of abundance – “thank you, God, for these five loaves and fishes.” Whatever their initial skepticism, or doubt, or self-preoccupation, the disciples are caught up in Jesus words of abundance and gratitude and distribute what they have and participate in the wonder and joy that “all ate and were filled.” God used even these reluctant disciples, that is, to care for the poor and hungry that God loves so much.

 

When I worked with the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank, I went to the annual Food Sourcing Conference in Chicago each year.  One year, the theme of the conference was centered on fresh produce and how Food Banks, traditionally pretty scarce on fresh would move from scarcity to abundance.  The national office of Feeding America knew, through research and conversation with donors, that there was a HUGE gap and that amount of fresh food that was being wasted was astronomical.  Feeding America went to their donors, financial and food, and promised that with their help, they were going to change this HUGE gap and make waste into food for those most in need of a highly perishable product.  I won’t bore you with the details of how we did this, but I can tell you that as a national network, they increased their distribution nearly 500% in just 2 years.  There were partnerships with farmers, with farm markets, with trucking companies, with retailers, all developed to move and distribute millions of pounds of produce.  Where there was once scarcity of fresh produce, an abundance was created.  But it took trusting that everyone would come together, would work for something bigger than their bottom line.  They had to take a chance on something that few, maybe none, had ever done before.   

 

 We are often tempted to think that what we, as Christians, as Church, have to offer is not enough to compete with everything else the world has to offer.  But if Jesus is telling us anything this morning, it is that GOD alone is enough for everyone.  God promises to take what we offer with thanksgiving and use it, stretch it, even multiply it to make sure it’s enough. Enough for us, enough for those around us.  If there is enough, then we have moved from scarcity to abundance and we have plenty to share.  God’s love, compassion and grace is not something that is going to run out, we are not going to get to the end of it and have to ration that last little drop. 

 

 One of the things I love about coming to the Table is that there is always enough.  Have you ever noticed that we never run out.  There has not been a week when we run out? We bless the bread and the wine and there is enough.  There is plenty to renew each and every one of us, and more.  God always provides us with enough.  Enough grace to come to this table and be renewed by the healing power of the love of God shown to us in the gift of Jesus Christ’s life death and resurrection.  We partake in this meal, sharing it with millions around the globe remembering that God’s love is more than enough.  It is everything.  

 

 The miracle of God being enough continues today!  When a college-grad eschews a high-paying job in order to teach disadvantaged kids, God’s miracles continue. When a parent puts dreams of an academic career to the side to care for a special-needs child, God is working that same kind of miracle. When a church makes the wrenchingly difficult decision to celebrate its century of faithful service and close its doors after significant decline in order that another ministry might flourish, miracles abound. When one student stands up against bullies in defense of another student, the God of compassion is again miraculously revealed. When a fledgling community of faith makes a promise that no one that comes to its doors will be turned away hungry, God is still at work performing miracles through disciples eager, reluctant, and everything in between, miracles that easily rival those reported in today’s reading.

 

 I would like to remind you that ‘You are enough.  We are enough. This is enough.  God is not done doing good to us and for us and through us.’  Amen. 

August 19, 2017

 

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SUNDAY WORSHIP

 

Worship Service 11:00AM

Adult Bible Study   9:45AM

Children's Class  11:00AM 

 

   

SERMON ON SUNDAY: August 20, 2017  "Setting Our Intention"

 

Join us for our:


First Responder 

appreciation service. 

September 10th, 2017.

 

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