Tag Archives: Sermon Series

Setting the Table, The Sweetness of God’s Abundance

We are almost to the end of this sermon series, “Setting the Table.” Focusing on Hospitality and some of the food mentioned in the bible has been both fun for me and informative. This week the focus was on figs.

Now what I know about figs revolves around Fig Newtons. I still love those cookies! Fig trees are mentioned in the Bible often enough to be noticed. The parable of the fig tree in Luke is particularly unsettling. Yet in other examples, the fig tree is a sign of abundance and peace.

In her book, Taste and See, Margaret Feinberg does a marvelous job and describing the culture around fig trees, but also the symbolism of their great harvests and longevity. Fig trees produce tens of thousand of figs each year! What a metaphor for our faith and life! During the time with children they were able to taste both fresh figs and dried and of course there was some left over for the adults after the service.

At the end of the children’s time, I gave the children a fig leaf outline and invited them to either draw or write ways they could provide sweetness to the world and to the lives of others. Following worship, I found this:

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You may find the whole worship service here.

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Setting the Table: Salt of the Covenant

Today in our sermon series we focused on “salt.” The most well known passage is from Jesus’ sermon on the mount in Matthew where he states, “You are the salt of the earth.” Now salt is found else where in scripture, and we used the Leviticus passage that spells out the salt of the covenant (which means all offerings needed salt to make them holy for God.)

The salt of the covenant was many things, not the least of which it pointed to God’s loyalty and faithfulness and ongoiingn attempts to be in relationship with God’s chosen people. In the twenty first century we often overlook how special salt is because it is so readily available.

Margaret Feinberg in her book, Taste and See, point out that not so long ago, salt was not so easily available. In ancient times we was used as currency and for the Roman soldiers as part of their sal—ary.

I have an opportunity to visit briefly the underground salt museum Stratica to film a promo AND to interview a lovely docent named Brianna. This is still an active mine, although not the part in which the museum is housed.

For the children’s time, before we blessed the backpacks I had a chance to have our children try and figure out the different salts I had. It wasn’t until I got to the white sea salt that they figured out it was salt…all of it salt: black, red, pink and white. They got to try them too!

Salt is an amazing gift….and a challenge for us to live out our saltiness.

You can the worship service at here.

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Setting the Table: Host of Heaven, Bread of Life

After two weeks focused on hospitality, this week we move to “food.” In her book, Taste and See, Discovering God Amon Butchers, Bakers, & Fresh Food Makers, Margaret Feinberg invites the reader into a journey that reflects on six different foods in the Bible. I enjoyed this book and pondered it for several weeks.

The chapter on bread has her visiting Andrew McGowarn, the dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale who specializes in ancient bread making. So in worship, using my phone as a timer, we used the recipe for unleavened bread and I began my sermon, but preparing and baking one piece of unleavened bread while I preached.

I had worked all week to be able to make and knead and bake this bread in the prescribed time. You can read more about the timing and the reason for eighteen minutes in her blog post.

Nothing ever goes according to plan. I had the table all laid out….but unlike other times, instead of two cups of water, one with the right amount of liquid and the other with extra if I needed it, I went with a single cup. I fussed a bit with the toaster oven (as it bakes very differently than my convection oven or the church’s professional ovens.) I practiced and practiced. The oven was hot and ready and I got the timer on the oven set so it wouldn’t go off too early.

When it came time to start, instead of pouring a little liquid into the flour, I dumped it all! Oops! I began with a major mistake, fortunately I had plenty of flour to add, but it threw off my timing. I used local, heritage hard winter Turkey Red wheat from a farmer just a few miles away, who grows it, harvests it and grinds it. I am deeply grateful to Serenity Farms for this flour to use today.

Suffice to say, I was really reflecting on the unleavened bread as the bread of both necessity and affliction. When planning this service I had no way of knowing what a horrible violent week it would be. I thought this could be fun and interesting and yes, what I hoped would be profound.

Since last Sunday there have been 32 people who died and 55 wounded (and perhaps more since this morning.) In less than 24 hours the shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio have stunned us yet again. And this is not downplaying the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival last Sunday. It seemed appropriate we were not using the sweet hawaiian bread for the sacrament of Holy Communion, instead, we ate the bread of affliction and the bread necessity which is the bread of Passover and the bread that Jesus used for that last supper. I baked it all this week, along with gluten free unleavened bread.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the bread came out finished in 18 minutes! You can find the whole worship service here. There sermon begins about 32: 51 (but listening to Cindy Dantic Watson on the violin and Brett Valliant on piano is treat!)

 

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Draw the Circle Wide: Ripples of Hospitality

Today was the final Sunday of our sermon series “Draw the Circle Wide.” Pastor Rebecca preached the last two Sundays as I have been on vacation. It was good to be in worship today and bless and commission our VBS volunteers and students and to assist Pastor Rebecca.

This sermon series has been a blessing to my soul both as a preacher and as someone who listened to others preach. In a time that is difficult and the circle seems to be getting smaller it is good to be challenged that our faith requires something different. Our faith is one that asks that we look past a persons skin color, ethnic background, country of origin or any number of ways we try and keep people out.

The parable of the Good Samaritan always challenges our perception of neighbor, of who is acceptable to receive mercy, grace and love. Pastor Rebecca did a wonderful job of drawing in the current crisis at our southern border as an example of how persons are being vilified rather than being seen as neighbor.

To experience the whole service or just the sermon click on this link.

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Draw the Circle Wide: Ripples of New Beginnings

We have had a very full day at church! This weekend it started with a “bit” of water in our basement under the sanctuary. We had already planned a church wide Sunday school and mission lunch in Meredith Hall (underneath the sanctuary.) Fortunately it was found yesterday or cleanup and a fixing of the pumps could happen before today.

Today’s scripture is a difficult one because in the 21st century it is hard to figure out how best to deal with “demon possession.” The scientific and medical understanding today is far beyond what was understood 2000 years ago. Yet, I tend to be intrigued by how God in Jesus can be encountered in this stories which were recorded so long ago. The story of “Legion” paired with the scripture reading from Galatians is a powerful reminder that Christ draws a wide circle and a greater circle then we can imagine.

The General Board of Global Ministry (GBGM) along with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) called for today to be a day of solidarity for suffering children. You can find their full statement here. We included the prayer woven into the pastoral prayer this morning.

Today’s service included two beautiful musical numbers on call and a wonderful children’s time by Pastor Rebecca. You can find the whole service or just the sermon here.

I am continually challenged in my own life in how I can Draw the Circle Wide and be part of God’s reign in Christ.

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Draw the Circle Wide: Ripples of Grace

It was a wild ride of a morning weather wise in south central Kansas! I don’t sleep well on Saturday night (occupational hazard for me) and so I am usually up and going by 4:00 a.m. or a little earlier. We had had storms, but sometime around 4:20 the tornado sirens went off.

As a typical Kansan I don’t tend to get over anxious…but that early in the morning I pay attention. I haven’t heard the sirens in our area for an actual weather event in a long time. As I was moving to go get Andrew, I heard his feet hit the floor and also then noticed the siren only sounded once!

I went to the facebook feed for KAKE TV to hear the sirens were a mistake. However within a few minutes the sirens went off (not in my area) but south of Wichita. A lot of storm damage before the sun came up and in my neighborhood up the street a transformer blew and many of our neighbors had been without power.

What a way to begin a Sunday. Other than the weather excitement it was a good day to gather and to continue our sermon series “Draw the Circle Wide.” Today’s scripture was from Luke and focused on the woman anointing Jesus at Simon the Pharisee’s home. When Simon is asked….do you see this woman?  I came to the conclusion that he didn’t…or that he only saw what he wanted to see, the labels that had been placed on her.

And me? I am not so different from Simon. I can become judgy pretty fast and making assumptions about folk. I am sure that draws the circle tighter not wider. Fortunately, the ripples of grace that come from faith in Christ is there for us all.

The music today in worship was outstanding. You can find the whole worship service or just the sermon here.

I committing my self this week to pay attention to how I “see” people, really see them. It is my hope that by doing so, I can be part of God’s work to “Draw the Circle Wide.”

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Jesus on the Move, from Doubt to Faith

Easter continues! On the second Sunday of Easter, if one belongs to a lectionary church, the gospel is always John 20: 19-31. This resurrection story moves from that first Easter evening to the next week. The author of the gospel recounts the story of the disciples experiencing Jesus raised from the dead. Thomas was not there and did not see the risen Christ. Thomas also said he wouldn’t believe unless he saw the wounds themselves.

I love Thomas and Thomas’ courage and conviction to not believe or just to go with the crowd and pretend to believe. Thomas was determined to find faith and have faith on his terms. In the television show, “Lost” Ben shares with Jack a thought about Thomas the Apostle. You can watch it here.

My sermon takes longer than the one minute of the video to witness to Thomas’ faith and loyalty and integrity. I am grateful every year I have a chance to unpack and proclaim this wonderful Easter story.

Today’s worship was simply wonderful. Our choir director Diane Fast is retiring, but not leaving. She is moving from being our choir director to our choir director emeritus and will be overseeing our choir scholarship fund which gives scholarships for students to be part of our choir. The music each Sunday is always wonderful and amazing, today it was outstanding.

I am grateful to be serving such an amazing community of faith and continuing to be on the move with Jesus.

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