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 July 2017 Sermons

 

Below, you will find the collection of texts from sermons shared in July by Reverend Lindsey Williams, our pastor.  We encourage you to read them and use them in your study of God's Word.  May they build you up and encrich your faith and your daily living.  

(Audio coming soon...)
treasure newhope seeds

Buried Treasure

July 30, 2017 - Pastor Lindsey shared with us a sermon about the buried treasure that lies within all of us.

A Not So New Hope

July 23, 2017 - Pastor Lindsey shared with us a message of Hope for all humanity that lies in following Jesus Christ. 

Seeds

July 16, 2017 - Pastor Lindsey shared with us a message of

Matthew 13:31-33; 44-52 Romans 8:12-25 Matthew 13:1-9;18-23
adventure welcome 

Adventure Following Jesus

July 11, 2017 - Reverend Keith Johnston was a guest in the pulpit.

 

Welcome

July 2, 2017 - Pastor Lindsey shared a message of welcome and its relationship to our daily discipleship.

Mark 1:14-17  Matthew 10:37-42

 

 

 

Buried Treasure

Matthew 13:31-33; 44-52

 

31He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” 33He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

44“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. 47“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 51“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 52And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

 

 

Interpretation of the Word 

 

As a child, did you ever hope to find a treasure map?  A map, that while cryptic, that would lead to all the riches your heart desired?  The hope that treasure was somehow buried right in your own backyard, left just for you to discover and be famous for. 

 

From Treasure Island to Indiana Jones, there is something about stories of buried treasure, secret maps and hidden clues that captures our imagination.  Growing up, one of my favorite movies was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, searching for the Holy Grail, all the while keeping it from getting into the hands of the Nazis.  I am not alone, over the ages; dreams of riches beyond our counting have led people in the treacherous Amazon, to search for El Dorado and Atlantis… and even down to the grocery store to buy a lottery ticket.  All in search of treasure. 

 

Even today, right in your pocket, you hold a treasure map.  There is a world-wide network with coordinates and little treasures at those coordinates for everyone to find.  Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting games that uses the GPS, to help participants navigate to a specific set of coordinates in order to find a geocache, a container hidden at that location. 

 

Geocaching started on May 3, 2000, when twenty-four satellites around the globe began processing new order, and instantly improved the accuracy of GPS technology.  One GPS enthusiast, named Dave Ulmer, wanted to test this new capability an accuracy by hiding navigational targets in the woods and searching them out, using the new GPS capabilities.  He called his idea the “Great American GPS Stash Hunt” and he posted in a GPS user group a simple set of instructions.  First: “Hide a container out in the woods and note the coordinates with a GPS unit.”  Then post to the group.  The finder would then have to locate the container using ONLY the GPS coordinates given.  The next rule was simple: “Take some stuff, leave some stuff.” Ulmer placed his own container, noted the coordinates, posted them, and off the treasure hunting experiment went. 

 

17 years later!

 

You don’t have to be Indiana Jones in order to go treasure hunting right in our own backyard.  After a quick search of the area around my own house, there were 61 geocache locations within 10 miles.  And a quick look at Virginia leaves thousands of locations with little stashes of buried treasure.  You never know what you are going to find at a location, and people have been known to leave signature items at locations they have been to, adding to the collection in the container.  There is a certain thrill of searching and finding.  A thrill of looking for something hidden away from the world’s eye, that takes a little extra time to find.  Something that not everyone can see, but if you follow the clues, then you will find something pretty cool.

 

An important question we need to ask ourselves is: what are we searching for?  We are all searching for something.  Acceptance; Hope; Renewal; New Life; a Good Word; Peace; Grace?  We each come here each week, searching for something at these coordinates.  We hear the Word of God read and proclaimed, and WHAT are you looking for.  What is your heart searching for?

 

God’s grace is enough.  It is the very buried treasure our hearts desire.  God’s grace moves waters, calms seas, moves mountains, provides shelter and shade and light to our path.  God’s grace has hand-picked God’s people to be more than conquerors through him who loved us first.  We seek a treasure that only God can provide us.  We seek the ultimate treasure.

 

This week’s gospel is full of clues on the ultimate treasure… the kingdom of heaven!  You want to know what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.  It is as small as a mustard seed that when planted will tower over the garden and provide a safe place for creation to reside.  It is a chest of gold buried in a field.  It is a precious pearl that we would sell everything in order to possess.  It is a treasure of immeasurable value. 

 

The Kingdom of Heaven runs counterintuitive to all of the preconceptions that we measure success by.  The kingdom of heaven is not an empire that is hierarchical, top-down, or comprised of power-sucking entities.  The Kingdom of Heaven is not flashy, or showy, or even attention hungry.  It does not have a gleaming capital city with large monuments or ostentatious marble carved buildings.  It is not about having the most powerful army able to overcoming any potential opposition.   Instead the Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed was and is nothing like that.  The kingdom, Jesus tells us, is small, even tiny.  It is like a single mustard seed, a plant that in the 1st century was considered a weed, an uncontrollable, invasive and undesirable weed.  The Kingdom, Jesus proclaims, is like a packet of yeast, that thing that makes our bread fluffy and delightful, was a sign of impurity in 1st century Jewish culture, and kneading it into the flour tainted the loaves in an irreparable way.  It even looks foolish.  The kingdom is lead not by the strongest general or even the smoothest talking politician, but by a shepherd, by a carpenter’s boy,  by someone who does the hard work of sowing the seeds, and waits patiently as they grow, even as weeds grow up all around them, as we heard last week.  This kingdom though, while it may look insignificant and even a little foolish, can change hearts.  It can change the world.  It has changed the world.   

 

It has changed the world through God’s own choosing God’s creation to be more.  God’s predestination of what we are designed, called, elected, and sent out to do.  While Pauls’ words in Romans have the capacity to trip us up and confuse us, we should also see that God is at work.  God has chosen his people and has given a hidden treasure, completely independent of our effort, even when we do not know what we are looking for.  It is only when we unexpectedly trips over that treasure do we see and realize that what God offers is what we needed and wanted all along.  God gives us the kingdom.  It is not what we are expecting, instead it is modest.  It is hidden.  It is quiet.  It is a great treasure, but we are not going to find its true value posted on the NASDAQ or DOW. 

 

Instead, it is proclaimed in quiet acts of loving faithfulness, rather than headline-grabbing tactics.  You want to spread the good news of Jesus Christ?  Then you have to be like the mustard seed, subversive, tiny and unsuspecting, and invasive as all get out!  We cannot give the world the good news of grace if we are the bearers of bad news, judgement and condemnation.  The kingdom of God represents the MOST powerful force the world has ever known.  But we’ve got to let the kingdom grow, the rise slowly like bread, in its own quiet, humble ways if people’s hearts are really going to be changed.  The kingdom of God is buried treasure, buried inside of each of us, just waiting to be unearthed.  Just waiting to be harvested and shared with all who hunger and thirst for more than this fleshy life can provide. 

 

So not matter what you can hear seeking today, I pray that you realize that you have been chosen.  Chosen, predestined, selected by God to be bearers of God’s kingdom, God’s love in this world.  That we are to keep plugging away, rising slowly, at the activities that may seem silly or meaningless to the world around us, but continue to believe that you carry the seed of new creation inside of you.  The world may not understand what is taking place at these coordinates, but we keep coming to church, keep singing our hymns, keep reciting the formulas and creeds developed long before any of us were born.  We keep watering the seeds of faith with the ancient words of truth found in a book written long ago, the Bible.  We keep sitting at the sides of who are sick and suffering, we keep feeding the hungry, clothing the naked with hats and scarves.  We keep drizzling water onto squirming infants and popping cubes of white bread into our mouths in the earnest faith that through the Spirit baptism and communion don’t just mean something, they mean everything.

 

 And we keep working for Jesus in this very mixed-up, backways world of ours.  We keep, quietly growing, like a weed, with deep roots, as we carry out our lives, being examples of God’s grace and love to our families, and those around us.  Let the buried treasure that God has planted there in your heart, spread to all of the world.  Amen.

 

 


 


A Not So New Hope 


Romans 8:12-25

 

So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

 

Interpretation of the Word

 

The Imperial Forces, under the orders from cruel Darth Vader, hold Princess Leia hostage in their efforts to quell the rebellion against the Galactic Empire.  Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon work together with the companionable droid duo- R2-D2 and C-3PO to rescue the beautiful princess, help the Rebel Alliance and restore freedom and justice to the Galaxy.

 

Sound familiar? It should, this is the synopsis of the 1977 hit film – Star Wars: A New Hope.  This was a box office smash hit when it was released, both times.  There is something about the storyline of ‘good’ versus ‘evil’ that people are drawn to.  That the ‘good’ guys, while looking like a rag-tag group of rebels, have a chance to save all that is good, and there is hope to restore order to the life, not just for them, but for all those are suffering under the rule of the cruel Vader.

 

Skywalker was a hope that no one thought to believe in.  He is a hope that the rebels had all but thought was lost when the Princess was kidnapped.  We know how the story unfolds and ultimately how it turns out, but this storyline, is not all that original.  Don’t get upset, the way that George Lucas presented it was very well done and has captured generations, but the story itself is not new.  The need for hope in the midst of fear is real, the feeling that all hope is lost and the people are left abandoned is real, in the first century, in the 21st century and in galaxies far, far away. 

 

There is so much fear in our lives, fear about the future, our own personal futures, the future of our children and grandchildren, the future of this specific church, the larger church, fear for the economy, the world around us, there is A LOT to fear.  Where is there hope in the midst of these ever present and very real weeds that surround us and made it difficult to see a way clear? 

 

If you thought last week’s Scripture reading should have been themed “for the wages of sin is death” then you were not disappointed by the Gospel lesson this week either.  Not only is the wage of sin death, but sin has been planted by an enemy all around the good seed.  Where the weeds of sin have been planted among the wheat, we are like the workers of the field.  The workers of the field want to know if they should go out and uproot the weeds.  Should they identify and pull out the weeds?  Let’s weed out, pun intended, all that sin and make this a pure place.  ‘No,’ says the Master, ‘if you pull the weeds, then you will uproot the wheat.  No instead we will let it all grow together and when it is time to harvest, the reapers will collect the weeds separate from the wheat.’  The Master says patience; all will be well when the time for harvest comes.

 

Yes, this text is about judgement and the purifying effects of judgment when the wheat will be separated from the weeds.  But these texts are also about hope.  A hope that God has instore for us. Paul tells us, “For hope we were saved.  Now hope this is seen is not hope.  For who hopes for what is seen?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

 

This story, we hear in the story of Jesus’ life death and resurrection.  A hope that is for all humanity that is not just for a moment but for all time.  Just in the moment when we need a Hero, one appears.  As we know, Jesus is not the kind of hero that overthrows governments, instead brings a new way of experiencing life, a renewed way of interacting with all of God’s creation.  Jesus brings relief from sin and death, not through destruction but through new life.  While the whole of creation has been groaning in labor pains, as Paul tells us, it is not just creation, but even ourselves, we groan inwardly as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.  Wait for the promise.  

 

We have to wait with patience for God’s plan.  It is not ways something that we can see immediately.  I know that I am not alone in this, but I want to know, I don’t really like to wait.  But the text this week, reminds us, not only in Romans, but also in Matthew, that we have to wait, that God is working all things out, and that we need only have the smallest amount of faith in the hope that is unseen is breaking through right before us.  

 

Here’s the thing about the hope that we have in Jesus Christ, it is one of those past, present and future kinds of things.  It is a hope that has already been realized; realized in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is also a present hope, because it is offered not just to those who were there, those who experienced it, but also to us, right here right now.  We are incorporated into this hope.  We are partake in the adoption that God offers, adoption into the very family of God.  This is also a hope to come, as we have not yet fully realized all that God has in store for us, we have not fully arrived at our final destination, eternal life with God, in  God and through God. 

 

The New hope that the rebels found in Skywalker was not all that new.  Rather it was a realization that the hope lies in all of them, even the most unlikely of folk, even you and me, right here right now.  Amen.

 

 

 


 

 

Seeds

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

 

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.2Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow.4And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil.6But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9Let anyone with ears listen!” 

 

18“Hear then the parable of the sower. 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

 

Interpretation of the Word                         

 

At the house, I have a giant bag of seeds.  It has seeds that I have collected over the years.  Some are interesting varieties of vegetables that can be grown in the garden, others are simply basic seeds that I have saved from a particularly delicious specimen, some are seeds that I picked up with the intention of planting, but missed the right day to plant or already had too many things in my vegetable box.  Some of the seeds, I started collecting when I worked at Quinn Rivers beginning their Community Food Program.  Seeds are the start of something.  They are just the beginning of a potentially never ending cycle. 

I say potentially because, as we heard in the Gospel lesson, there are of course instances when seeds do not prosper.  Jesus provides us with an instant interpretation of his analogy.  God is the sower; His Word is the see; we are the soil.  Pretty easy, right.  Makes it clear, right?  Clear as mud maybe. 

If we were substitute “soul” for “soil” this makes the lesson seemingly even easier to understand.  The sower and the seeds remain constant.  God and his Word never waver.  God is constantly reaching out spreading the Word for all to hear.  The soil, or soul, is now the only variable in the equation, what kind of soil is the sower working with?  The question then becomes: how will we, humankind, receive God’s Word; how will we nurture it; how will we make it flourish?  Those are the variables that lead either to a life of fulfillment or a life of frustration. 

There is only one hic-up with this analogy of soul as soil, Souls ARE not soils.  Souls are ever changing and ever choosing.  Soil does not have the ability to choose.  Soils cannot choose to be barren, but souls can.  Soils don’t make themselves a desert.  But we can choose to make a desert of our souls.  Unlike soil, souls have the ability to choose, even if God knows what our choice will be.  Souls can choose to receive the word or reject it.  They can choose to bear fruit or to turn to dust.   

Friends, we have the choice.  The choice in this one season of life, in this one lifetime, to decide if we are given whether or not we are going to bear fruit.  Our lifetime is FULL of second chances, but there is still only one lifetime.  One lifetimes that we get to choose if we are going to waste away in the weeds, or if we are going to neglect our garden in the bareness of indifference or if we are going to bear fruit, bear the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

For a brief moment, let’s leave put the analogies aside. In plain, prosaic language, let’s do a quick spiritual inventory? Are you living today actively in God’s service? Or are you living as a baptized pagan, spiritually sleep-walking through life who’ll get around to God when you find the time? Is your purpose God’s purpose? Are your choices God’s choices? What part will God play in the next decision you make?

 

These are the life and death questions that shape our lives. Continuing our self-examination in the context of this morning’s parable of seeds and soils: Today, will you grow in God’s love or will you shrink into barren self-absorption?




 


 


Welcome


Matthew 10:37-42

 

 37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 40“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

 

Interpretation of the Word 

 

We have been working through Chapter 10 of Matthew, and in case you missed it, this chapter is all about discipleship.  It is about how we are to be disciples of Jesus Christ and what that ministry, that work, and that life looks like for us. And this week, we take a look at the theme of ‘welcome’. 

 

What does welcome mean to you?  Generally, it means to be greeted in a friendly or glad way.  For many of us, it means that you’re accepted for who you are, without judgement, at least initially.  It means that there is no malice or ill-will against you as you enter.


We know how to welcome here at the Kirk, don’t we?  It is one of the things that we do really well.  Many of you can recount your first time at the Kirk.  More often than not, in that account, it usually includes a warm welcome from Jan Coulter.  She, and now Hope, have done a wonderful job of showing every person who walks through the door a warm and hospitable welcome.  Good Morning. Welcome.  We’re so glad that you are here with us to this morning.  We sure do hope you come back.  We would love to have you join us for coffee after the service.


We want for each and every individual to feel welcome in the Kirk when they enter.  We open our doors to anyone who will walk through them.  We hope for this place to be a place where folks can gather, learn and grow, at least that’s what I hope for.  All are welcome.


All were not always welcome in the first century, as evidenced by the scriptures, Jesus warns that some will not welcome the disciples.  This is because, ‘Welcoming’ in the first century is more than welcoming an individual.  If you were welcoming someone one, you were also welcoming everything that individual stood for, which included all those tied to them.  Think about it.  It is not just about the individual person, but all that they believe, all that they stand up for, all that they participate in, AND all those associated with them.  


Choosing welcome.


We each have the ability to choose whether or not we’re going to welcome someone.  In college, I had a friend would often approach a crowded table in the dining hall, bring up a chair, elbow her way in, and exclaim, “There’s always room for one more!” And there always was. She’d say the same thing when someone else was looking for a place to eat, and she’d make sure that person had a seat at the table.

She chose to welcome, anyone and everyone to the table.  She welcomed what everyone had to bring to the table.  So what if the church lived by this philosophy?


“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” [from Matthew 10]


Most of us are willing to welcome prophets and the righteous, but who are the “little ones”? Is Jesus referring only to the children?  Maybe.  But it’s more likely that it refers to all those who are vulnerable, invisible, thirsty or hungry, overlooked, as children were in his day. If we want to welcome Jesus into our lives, we must also welcome the ‘little ones’ whom Jesus associated himself with, those whom he stood up for and advocated for.  We must welcome these little ones today, and I don’t mean just little children, but all of those who are forgotten, left behind by policies that strip their voices from them, those who are overlooked by power and wealth. 


We are called to open our homes and our hearts to the ‘little ones’ to the ‘least’ and that, friends is not always easy.  They may seem untrustworthy or threatening. There is no benefit from showing hospitality to these – only cost. Yet, if we are to recognize that hospitality is a synonym for holiness, we cannot avoid the call to hospitality. This can, however take many forms.  We may be called to stand alongside one who is being ‘sacrificed’ on the altar of discrimination or prejudice.  We may be called to stand against those who, while claiming to speak in God’s name, proclaim things that contradict the grace and love of Christ.  We may be called to grieve with those who feel abandoned by God and join in their lament.  We may be called to celebrate with those who feel close to God and who enjoy a sense of blessedness.  We may be called to change how we live – to reject the sins of pride, self-protection and rejection – to which we are enslaved and which hurt others, and to embrace righteousness – the love and grace of Christ – which makes others feel welcomed and included.  As individual Christ-followers and as communities of faith, we need to ask ourselves how we can become more hospitable – how we can reject the selfish, self-protective sin that so easily envelopes us, and instead how we can embrace not only prophets, but also the least in Christ’s name.


This may very well mean going outside our doors instead of waiting for them to come to us. It may very well mean that when we go out to meet and to serve the poor that we actually get to know them.  It may mean that we spend time at the places where people are ALREADY gathering.  If we actually get to know individuals who are not like us?


In that case, we won’t just be giving a cup of cold water. We’ll be sharing cold water with each other, as we learn to change our preconceptions and welcome people as Jesus did—with grace and a determination to bring equality.


Why? Because there’s always room for one more at the table. All are welcome.

October 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: October 15th, 2017

 "Wedding Invitations"

 

 

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December 10th2017 


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