September Sermons

October 2017 Sermons

Want to read a sermon that you missed or was meaningful?  Check out the sermon texts below from October 2017.  October's sermons are listed below with reference to the dominate scripture used as inspiration.  Want to hear them, join us in worship, or check out a past sermons as a Podcast.

Coming soon...

Wedding Invitations

October 15, 2017 - Join us as we respond to the invitation that we've been sent by God.

Matthew 22:15-22 Matthew 22:1-14
cornerstone under-whose-authority

A New Kind of Building

October 8, 2017 - Pastor Lindsey shared with us a message that encourages us to think beyond the walls that we build up in order to reach out into the community around us.

Under Who's Authority

October 1, 2017 - Pastor Lindsey shared with us an inspiring sermon reminding us from whom we get our authority and under who's authority we proclaim new life.

Matthew 21:33-46 Matthew 21:23-32





A New Kind of Building



Matthew 21:33-46


33“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country.34When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” 39So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.” 42Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’? 43Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” 45When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.


Interpretation of the Word

It has been a difficult week.  Wait a minute; there have been a number of difficult weeks, week after week, recently.  This week doesn’t seem all that different from other weeks, because it seems lately that every week there is some terrible thing happening in the world around us.  A shooting of an unarmed person, protests for equal rights,  mass shooting in a church, protests about statues, a bombing as people have fun running, protests about healthcare, threat of war, hurricanes, flooding, children being traded and sold into slavery, mass shooting at a festival, another hurricane.  I could go on and on, it sure seems like the vineyard that was supposed to produce sweet wine has turned into nothing but sour grapes, leaving us with a bitter taste in our mouths.  ‘O Lord where are you?’ we lament.  ‘Lord, in your mercy, come now’ we cry out.  ‘Change you hearts, O God,’ we plead.  ‘Smite the wicked and save us,’ we ask for judgement and reckoning to cleanse this world.

Seem about right?

Or have you become numb, yet?  How much longer until it is just another news event, something that makes headlines, sells papers, keeps people from taking a deeper look?  It’s not happening here, so it doesn’t affect me.  It’s not my community.  It’s not my neighbor.  It’s wasn’t my loved one.  They aren’t my rights, they weren’t my ancestors, it wasn’t my house.  My children are safe. 

This week, Jesus continues share the vision that he has for a new community, and that within this community there is a desperate need to learn and practice repentance.  Jesus reminds points us towards God’s authority over not just our worship lives, but our whole life!  Jesus is calling us to a new kind of building. 

Let’s take a moment and recognize that this passage is also difficult to hear, difficult to understand, difficult to interpret without condemnation of a single group of people, especially that Jews, as they have historically been referenced as the vineyard planted by God, or the Jewish leadership of the time.  We must also be careful to not condemn church leadership or even ourselves or those who have seemingly “rejected the cornerstone” for something else in our lives. 

I want to encourage you to not go there.  Instead, hear this passage form Matthew as a continuation of last week and a call to recognize God’s authority in our lives and see the vision of the Kingdom of God that Jesus is setting forth.  It is a vision of Kingdom that produces good fruit. It is a vision that is shaped by the Beatitudes, the attitude of being wholly God’s.  This attitude of being shaped by the plan that God has set forth for us.  God’s plan for our, it includes not having any other gods, not misusing God’s name, not worshipping idols, keeping the Sabbath, not killing, not stealing, not committing adultery, taking care of the elderly, not using words to hurt one another and not coveting what our neighbors have.

It is within this plan, that Jesus is visioning a new kind of community: a kind of community that is freed by God’s love and grace; a kind of community that lives into the call to love neighbor and God.  This is a community that produces fruit, rather than sour wine.  This vision of the Kingdom of God is a place where God’s plan comes into fruition and frees us from a life of slavery to sin.  Think about it.  What if the Ten Commandments were what shaped our lives, that we lived into them as the plan for how we build community?  A community that loves God above all else.  A community that cares for neighbor by not killing or stealing from or coveting what someone else has, instead sharing the very lives that we have been given with one another.  Sharing our lives in such a way that it builds up community, it unites us together. 

In the midst of all the horrible things that happened in the last 2 weeks, here are aa few ways in which God’s plan is breaking in and the Kingdom vision that Jesus has is making some really wonderful fruit.

While I was in Seminary, I had the incredible opportunity to go to Lake Tahoe, and spend a long weekend with other Racial-Ethnic Seminary students listening to God’s call.  We gathered at Zephyr Point, a Presbyterian Camp and Conference Center, on Lake Tahoe[1]. This was a moving experience and wonderful opportunity to connect with other racial and ethnic Presbyterian people of faith, to learn and worship and build relationships with one another in a place that might be one of the most beautiful specimens of God’s creation. 

The last week of September, in what is believed to be a first for any camp and conference center in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Zephyr Point, with the partnership of Sweaty Sheep Santa Cruz[2], held a five-night healing and learning retreat for a group of homeless people, physically and developmentally disabled people, and “at risk” young adults[3].

Sweaty Sheep’s Ryan Althaus said, “The retreat was our way of saying ‘thank you,’ to homeless members in our community who cleaned up downtown streets.”  Not only was it a ‘thank you,’ but it was also a way for Zephyr Point, a wonderful place for those of privilege, to serve underserved groups who otherwise might not have been able to afford a lakefront experience. 

Althaus also realized that this time of reprieve and recreation offered an opportunity for everyone involved, from both sides, to see the very face of God.  Participants were able to unlock the part of their souls that longed for connection, and choose healing, connection and freedom, choosing to love through their many differences.  While at the same time, staff was able to see the joy in the eyes as participants slept in beds with clean linens, and the sheer wonder on people’s faces as they reacted to being out of Santa Cruz for the first time in decades, maybe even ever. 

Talk about living into the vision of the Kingdom of God. 

Each week, I get emails about recent Presbyterian News.  This week, I received one from the Presbyterian Mission Office about a church in rural Northern Virginia that is living into the vision that Jesus is sharing of community.  In Lucketts, VA there are no corner stores or coffee shops, there is only one restaurant in the town, and it is closed on Mondays.  This situation gave Gary Mears an idea.  This summer, a group of Presbyterians, with Mears as its guide, started “Food Truck Mondays” in the parking lot of the old church, which had closed two years ago[4].  Tables are set up in the front yard of the unused church lawn and the manse, chairs set out on the Porch and the feast was began.  Mears says, “People began to come for food, or because they wanted to meet the “new guy.” They stayed because they didn’t know each other.”  As Mears developed relationships around the table, The Porch started a Bible Study Thursday. A group of about ten people sit around the living room or on Mears’ front porch at the manse, across from the closed church.

Someday, The Porch, as the Monday Food Truck Nights and Bible Study are now called, may worship in the old church building, maybe Easter of 2018.  But for now, Mears is focused on continuing to develop relationships at the dinner table on Monday nights, at the Bible Study and with people in the community who have lived on family farms for generations and with those newly arriving in Lucketts.

There is plenty of room around these tables and the Table of God, where we meet to celebrate the love of God.

Yes, these two examples do not look like the old Temple, or even how we have done “church” for the last 500 years.  Instead this is a new kind of building with Christ still as the cornerstone.  We might even say that this vision is a building without a building.  It is a ministry that is producing good fruit, thinking outside of four walls that no longer hold the same meaning they used to. 

If we want to see growth in the vision that Jesus is setting forth, we are more than likely going to have to set aside some of the things we held onto.  We are going to have to continue to get outside of these walls, and tap into the life of the community.  I have asked the Session to envision and to pray with me about the vision for the Kirk.  As we think about the upcoming year, the upcoming budget for 2018, the upcoming plans, where are we going?  Every so often, we all need to come back to the Vision Statement and Mission Statements, in order to make an action plan.  Make a Make a plan for HOW we are going to live into the Vision that we have for the role we seek the Kirk having in the community.  Yes it’s a welcoming place, once you get here, but how do you get here?  How do other people even learn that?  What do we have to offer to the community around us that not only shows them that we are welcoming, but that we are living into God’s plan and the Kingdom Vision that Jesus has set forth? 

I would like to invite YOU all into this visioning and planning as well.  What good does it do for the Session and me to be setting an Action Plan, if you all aren’t on board?  If you are not invested in what we’re doing, then the plan will fail.  Everyone has to be on board, and before we can all get on board, we have to set the goal.  Where are we going?  What does Kirk look like in 2018? In 5 years?  In 10 years? 

I know I want to hear your thoughts.  I imagine that the session wants to hear them too.  I am hoping that over the next two and a half months, the outgoing and incoming session members can all prayerfully, sit down together and envision, with Jesus at our center, where we see the Kirk over the next year, set a reasonable budget to get us there, and get everyone here on board with where we’re going. 

We can only do all this if we are all praying about it.  If we are all seeking the heart of God to shape us into community that Jesus envisions, the very Kingdom of God where God’s plan for our lives shapes us and gives us life!  I ask you to pray with me:….  Amen.

[2] (A recreation group united through Re-Creation)

[3] Seebeck, Paul. “Zephyr Point hosts inaugural retreat for homeless persons.” Presbyterian News Service. 10/3/2017.

[4] Seebeck, Paul. “1001 New Worshiping Community launches in rural Virginia.” Presbyterian News Service. 10/4/2017.

Under Who's Authority

Matthew 21:23-32


23When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

28“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.


An Interpretation of the Word                    


In just a few weeks, at the end of this month, I can’t believe on the first day of the month I am already thinking about the end of it, but that’s just the way things go these days.  Anyways at the end of this month, we are going to celebrate the anniversary of the Reformation, and this is not just any anniversary, but 500 years since a young monk named Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Thesis to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.  Luther pointed out not one, not two ways, but 95 ways the church, the Roman Catholic Church, needed to change in order to be authentic to the call and teachings of Jesus Christ. 

We celebrate that reformation.  We celebrate being re-formed into the people of God.  We celebrate that there are those who are bold enough to speak up, to say ‘look’ and to point us back to our center.  Celebrating the Protestant Reformation is not too far of a deviation from celebrating the reformation that Jesus is pointing us to in the gospel text this morning.  We celebrate reformation because someone was bold enough to refocus on God, and to speak out against the powers that be. 

Jesus has just arrived in Jerusalem the day before, and this morning he is in the Temple teaching.  He reshaping the ideas of what it means to follow God, and as we are well aware, this makes the leadership angry.  It not only upsets the status quo, but it upsets the power-imbalance.  It takes the power away from the powerful, and that is the LAST thing the powerful want, to lose their power.  So those in power, the Pharisees, ask Jesus, JUST WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE!  BY WHAT AUTHORITY DO YOU DO and SAY these things!?!?

Jesus responds to the Pharisee’s questioning of his authority with a question of his own.  Don’t you hate that, when you ask someone a question and they answer with another question, not really giving a clear answer and yet the answer is there, woven into the question that was asked in response?  Yup, Jesus is one of those guys, he answers a question with a question.  He poses a question that seems to stump the Pharisees.  Who gave John his authority, because if you know that then you know who gave me my authority?  And then he clears it up with a parable.

Luther upset the power-imbalance too.  Luther pointed out that the powerful in the church were not using their power for the good of god’s people, but for their own good.  When power-imbalances are exposed, it really upsets those who are subject to lose their power.  And when powerful people get upset, they call into question the one who shines the light in their dark places.  The Roman Catholic Church asked Luther, “by what authority” do you call into question what the church has been doing for hundreds of years?  Who do you think you are to question? Who do you think you are to point out what we have been doing, what the leadership has said gives glory to God?  They wanted to know: ‘by what authority?’

Jesus pointed back to God when asked this question and so did Luther. ‘It’s not about who I am, but about who I serve.’  These two men, a young, rogue, homeless rabbi and a young, German Monk, turned the religious world upside down.  Both answered the questions posed to them with another question.  Who do we get our authority from? 


Well there is a great question.  Authority appears to be the question of the day, or is it the question of the past?   Authority is surely a question for Luther and a question for Jesus as they both looked at the practices of the day and asked us to reform, to refocus where we put our intentions.  Both were calling for repentance.  Both were calling for reform.  Both were directing us to a new way of living.

Jesus calls us to repent.  Just as John called out in the wilderness, to repent for the kingdom of heaven is near, Jesus is calling for there to be change, to turn away from ways that do not bring us closer to God.

Luther outlined this very same sentiment in his first thesis, "When our Lord and master Jesus Christ said 'Repent,' he intended the entire life of believers to be repentance."  Luther points us towards the gospel of Mark, and the first words spoken by Jesus are a call to us to repentance.  Repentance was the “focal point” of all ninety-five theses.  One might even call Luther “obsessed” with repentance, focused on the biblical claim that one is ‘made right with God,’ not through  any human effort, but ENTIRELY by  the divine grace of God ‘through faith.’  Luther wanted to put authority back into the God’s hands.  He believed that the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church had run away with authority and become corrupt.

Both of these young men are challenging us to life a new life, to life a life that not only talks the talk but walks the walk.  Not just in the Temple but every single day.  To live lives worthy of our calling.  To claim the authority that GOD has over our lives.  It is one things to say that we believe this, that God ahs authority over our lives, but is it a WHOLE other thing to LIVE it. 

Jesus, as we just heard, calls us not only in the gospel of Mark, but throughout his ministry, even in the passage we heard today, to a life of repentance.  A life of repentance is lived in community.  We do not live these lives of repentance alone.  Jesus calls us to live in community and to reform how we have been living, to be reshaped into a new creation.  We live them in community, we live this reformed life with one another. 

The way to live it is to dig in.  To try it on, to try it out.  We have to see what works for us.  WE have to read the Word, interpret it and trust that your experiences of God matter and make a difference.  I don’t have all the answers.  I have said this before.  But I do have experiences.  I have real life, hand-holding experience with the God that I believe in.  I know that he is re-shaping my thoughts each day, each moment.  Every time I come to the scripture, I am reformed, I grow.  How does this happen? 

It is God;  God who not only created but redeemed and renewed that broken creation so that we could be in relationship again.  It is God’s authority.  Not the Pharisee’s, or the Sadducee’s, or the synod’s, or the presbytery’s, or really even the local church’s authority.  It’s is solely God’s authority to grow us, to shape us, to mold us like play-doh into the community and people that God has called us to be.  God has a vision and he is molding us into that, so that it is not just a one day a week kind of thing, but an every single day, every moment of every minute kind of life. 

We have to trust what God is revealing to us and how we are being shaped into a community that welcomes, a community that is shaped, reformed and renewed by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

As we approach the table today, we are reminded of the authority that we have given over to God.  That it is solely by God’s loving power that we are transformed.  By the power of God to give us new life, we come to this table.  It shapes us not only in this moment, but in all of our moments.  Partaking in this table unites us with those around the world who claim that GOD has power over their lives, making God the center, the life and breathe of this living temple, our bodies.  We have been called to love God and one another and it that call that we answer.  We live in community living out this call not just inside these walls but outside of them too.  

October 19, 2017


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SERMON ON SUNDAY: October 15th, 2017

 "Wedding Invitations"



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