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Sermon Series | 2016

Here you will find links to the audio from sermons in 2016.
To access sermons from other years, please click the appropriate link:
2020 | 2019 | 20182017 | 2015
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The Characters of Christmas

Examining the individuals who enliven the stories of Jesus’ miraculous birth
November 27, 2016 to January 1, 2017

January 1
The Characters of Christmas: Magi

On Epiphany Sunday, we hear the story of the wise men, or Magi, following a star in order to visit the newborn King of the Jews. From their story, we learn that God is at work in many different ways: through the natural world, through signs and wonders, through unexpected people, and through the ordinary things of life. May we, like the Magi, pay close attention so that we can notice God’s handiwork.

Christmas Eve
The Characters of Christmas: Jesus

On Christmas Eve, we hear again the story of the birth of the Christ child and focus on the main character of the story: Jesus. In particular, we are reminded of the gift of God’s love and grace that Jesus Christ is and we are challenged to offer ourselves as gifts as well. The sermon concludes with an invitation for those in the service to bring forward a drawing or writing of their gift. As you listen, we invite you to name the gift in your mind and offer it to God in prayer.

December 18
The Characters of Christmas: Shepherds

On the fourth and final Sunday of Advent, Pastor John talks about the Shepherds, who were the first to hear of the birth of the Christ child. Their example of living a simple life calls us to set aside the chaos and clutter that distract us from focusing on what is truly important. Additionally, their ability to “keep watch” over their sheep reminds us of our own need to watch over one another in love.

December 11
The Characters of Christmas: Mary

On the third Sunday of Advent, Pastor John talks about Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was called “favored one” by the angel Gabriel, and we imagine what it would be like for each of us to be called God’s “favored one.” We also explore St. Ignatius’ idea of holy indifference in Mary’s story and realize through her story of calling that each and every one of us is also called to give birth to God’s love and grace in the world.

December 4
The Characters of Christmas: Joseph

On the second Sunday of Advent, Pastor John talks about Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. We explore this character who, as a carpenter, worked with his hands and the physical world, but was also open to God’s leading through dreams. We can learn from Joseph’s thoughtful decision-making process, his obedience to both faith tradition and the movement of God’s Spirit, and his unconditional love for a child that was not his own.

November 27
The Characters of Christmas: Angels

On the first Sunday of Advent, Pastor John talks about some often overlooked characters who play important roles not only in the Christmas story but also throughout the Bible: angels. We learn that angels are messengers or agents sent by God for a purpose. We rejoice in the good news they shared with the shepherds and are invited to become angels ourselves, sharing God’s love with others.

The Gospel According to Disney

The magic of Disney can help us to see the wonder of God’s amazing love
October 30 to November 20, 2016

November 20
The Gospel According to Disney: The Lion King (Christ the King)

On Christ the King Sunday, Pastor John looks at two examples of ruling as a king in The Lion King. Scar wants power for himself and his own benefit, which leads the Pride Lands into ruins. Mufasa and Simba, on the other hand, use their power for the benefit of others, and the Pride Lands thrive. In the same way, Christ the King offers himself for others and sets for us the example of what leaders are called to do with power. In turn, we must examine ourselves and hold leaders at all levels accountable to Christ’s example.

November 13
The Gospel According to Disney: Cinderella (Have Courage and Be Kind) • Preacher: Julia Crone

In the wake of last week’s presidential election, we have seen instances of violence and intolerance; many are living with fear while others are enthusiastic about the future. Our youth minister Julia Crone reminds us that others have faced similar situations: Jesus advocates turning the other cheek and Cinderella is courageous and shows kindness. Ultimately, we hope for our happily ever after in God’s love, but we are called to have courage and be kind here and now.

November 6
The Gospel According to Disney: Zootopia (Love Your Neighbor)

In this sermon, Pastor John imagines three different worlds: the world of the Old Testament with the people of Israel set apart by God, the world of Zootopia with anthropomorphic animals plagued by prejudice, and a world deeply divided into camps of us-versus-them. God’s command to “love your neighbor” provides a way forward in each world, especially the latter – our world – in the midst and aftermath of this divisive election cycle.

October 30
The Gospel According to Disney: Beauty and the Beast (Self-Giving Love)

In this sermon, Pastor John invites us to see examples of the most excellent kind of love – self-giving love – in two characters from Beauty and the Beast. When Belle willingly gives up her freedom to take her father’s place as the Beast’s prisoner and when the Beast later releases Belle – and his best chance at becoming human again – because of his love for her, they both exemplify the kind of love that God has for us as expressed in Jesus Christ.

Stand Alone Sermon

October 23
Are You the Pharisee or the Tax Collector? • Preacher: Yiwen Bi

Yiwen Bi, a student at Vanderbilt Divinity School and a member of Blakemore UMC preaches at our church for the first time. He compares and contrasts the two characters from Jesus’ story in Luke 18:9-14, reminds us of the importance of self-examination and humility, and ultimately invites us to pray for grace and mercy.


Embodying the Core Values to which we believe God is calling us to aspire and live
September 4 to October 9, 2016

Blakemore FlameOctober 9
We Value Life…As Forgiven and Reconciled People in God’s Grace

As we conclude this sermon series, Pastor John explores the reasons why we value life. He names four: because it is a gift, because it is good, because it is sacred and holy, and because our lives can have a higher calling to be part of God’s larger plan. When we truly value life, we know that we are loved and that others – even those who are different from us – are loved as well.

Blakemore FlameOctober 2
We Value Our Neighbors…From West End to Uganda

Pastor John offers a short introduction to our mission work locally and globally before two church members – Sarah Cloud and Jennifer Meko – share about their experiences with Raise the Roof Academy and the trips they have taken to the village of Bwasandeku, Uganda. Marlene Ssebulime, the executive director of Raise the Roof Academy, then provides an update on their ministry and a call to action.

Blakemore FlameSeptember 25
We Value a Good Conversation…And the Many Thoughtful Opinions about How to Walk a Faithful Journey

There is no audio recording for this Sunday because, rather than experiencing a traditional sermon in the Sanctuary, we moved to the Fellowship Hall and had discussion around tables. We focused on the Gospel lectionary passage for the day (Luke 16:19-31), which tells the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus. We then shared in Holy Communion together around our tables.

Blakemore FlameSeptember 18
We Value Children…Even When They Are Loud and Fidgety

There is no audio recording for this Sunday. Our children led us in worship through song, reading Scripture, serving as ushers, and helping with Holy Communion. Instead of a Children’s Message, we had an Adult Message where the adults came down front and sat. Kevin Walker shared about the book Where the Wild Things Are and how Blakemore is a community where we can be “loved best of all.”

Blakemore FlameSeptember 11
We Value You…Just the Way You Are

Pastor John provides a very brief reflection on the story of the Prodigal Son and then offers an apology about not living up to this value during the previous week’s worship service. Six new members of Blakemore then share their stories of being welcomed and accepted by this community of God’s love and grace.


September 4

“Our mission as a church is to know and share how wide and how deep and how long and how high is God’s love for us. What if that became what we are about as a church? Knowing the full extent of God’s love and sharing that with other people. What if that’s what we were about as a church?”


Living Your Passion

An Olympics-themed series about discovering and pursuing our God-given passion
August 7 to 28, 2016

Note: The audio for August 21 and 28 is unavailable.

August 14
Living Your Passion: It Takes Discipline

“What are you willing to do to follow your passion? What work are you willing to put in? What sacrifices are you willing to make to follow your passion…to listen to your calling…to live out who God has made you to be?”


August 7
Living Your Passion: Fire in Your Bones

“All of us have a fire shut up in our bones. It looks different for you and for me, but God has given each of us a calling and each of us a passion. May we be open…to discovering these passions…to become the people God wants us to be.”


Being Church

Rediscovering what it means to be church today
May 22 to July 31, 2016

Being Church Background Threats (1)

July 31
Being Church: Threats

“Love is the antidote to fear. So that fear, even though it’s all around us and sometimes it can sneak into the church, it is a threat that we face, but we know the answer, don’t we? The answer to fear is love.”



Being Church Background Proclaiming (1)

July 17
Being Church: Proclaiming • Preacher: Julia Crone
“I am here only because I have had people in my life who have said, ‘Hey, that gift that you have, that thing that you love doing, I think maybe that’s Jesus.’ People who have pointed me to what the Lord is doing.”



Being Church Background Radical Inclusion

July 10
Being Church: Radical Inclusion
“As humans, we sometimes think that our experience is normative to other people. But the love and grace of Jesus is meant for all…all means all.”



Being Church Background Sharing Our Faith

July 3
Being Church: Sharing our Faith
“But the place that we’ve neglected… is to share our faith outside of our own walls.”




Being Church Background Doing Justice

June 26
Being Church: Doing Justice
“Part of what it means to be the church is doing God’s work: to have the world become as God would have it to be… to see God’s dream become a reality.”



Being Church Background Serving

June 19
Being Church: Serving
“Serving, really, is when we meet the needs that someone else has. Sometimes we get busy doing things that don’t actually meet a need… and so it’s incumbent on us to examine what we’re doing and how we’re serving others.”



Being Church Background Transformation

June 12
Being Church: Transformation • Guest Preacher: Morgan Guyton
“When you’re convinced that you’re right and that other people are wrong, it is grace that prevents us from being inhumane and dehumanizing others.”



Being Church Background Obedience 8June 5
Being Church: Obedience
“How do I live faithfully when the laws & policies… don’t line up with what I think the scripture and God teaches us and invites us to be?”



Being Church Background Text Community

May 29
Being Church: Community
“We are a part of a herd… and herds take care of one another.”




Being Church Background Text

May 22
Being Church: Nurturing Children • Preacher: Kevin Walker
“This is our call, this is our prayer…to live this faith…to help our kids be faithful, United Methodist, Christian Disciples.” 


Alive Again

Exploring the appearances of Jesus after his Resurrection
March 27 to May 15, 2016


May 15 (Pentecost Sunday) | Alive Again: The Work of the Holy Spirit   “The grace that works within us to shape us and mold us to be the people God calls us to be — that is the work of the Holy Spirit.”

April 24 | Alive Again: Alternate Endings   “God takes us from these places that seem hopeless and helpless, places full of despair, doubt, and fear, and God makes something new. God creates an ending that is beautiful where there wasn’t one before.”

April 17 | Alive Again: Emmaus   “And as Christ offered it to them, their faith moved from just their heads and into their hearts. May we be a people whose hearts are open to the leading of God.”

April 10 | Alive Again: Fish and Sheep   “Do you love me? Then feed my sheep…”

March 27 (Easter Sunday) | Alive Again: The Living Among the Dead   “Why do you look for the living among the dead? In many ways our whole life is a searching and a striving for that truth and for that reality, to find meaning and purpose. And yet we often look in the wrong places.”

Hard to Dance with the Devil on Your Back

What do we do when life makes it hard to dance the dance of joy and life that God desires for us?
February 14 to March 20, 2016

March 13 | Hard to Dance with the Devil on Your Back: Clay in the Potter’s Hands   “We put in time and energy: days, weeks, months, even years of our life investing in something. A relationship, a career, a home, our health… and sometimes in the blink of an eye, it’s gone… Even though its hard to start over, God empowers us to do that; God is with us every step of the way. God is indeed the potter, and we are the clay.”

March 6 | Hard to Dance with the Devil on Your Back: The Wrong   “Christ doesn’t want our sins to oppress us and hold us down. He wants us to dance the dance of life.”

February 28 | Hard to Dance with the Devil on Your Back: The Suffering • Preacher: Julia Crone  “Because God meets our biggest fears and our deepest desires with God’s greatest grace when we join ourselves to God.”

February 21 | Hard to Dance with the Devil on Your Back: The Wronged   “Friends, when we have been wronged, the hardest thing in the world to do is to forgive, but it is only through forgiveness that we find healing, that we find wholeness, that we can move through the wrong that has been done to us, and we can dance again.”

February 14 | Hard to Dance with the Devil on Your Back: The Dance   “We find hope in the midst of all the things we struggle with…In this dance, we are never truly along…God is always there. God provides the music that moves our feet and stirs our hearts…God will give us the strength to keep on dancing.”