Here you will find links to the audio from each week’s sermon.
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Stories We Tell Our Children
Fresh lessons from familiar Bible stories that we often tell our kids
June 11 – July 2, 2017
Stories We Tell Our Children: Noah’s Ark
Our second story in this sermon series is Noah’s Ark, which begins in Genesis 6. This story is much more disturbing than we usually acknowledge, what with God’s destroying nearly all life on the planet. Pastor John highlights various portions of the story and lifts up some of the tensions within our understanding of God that it can help us to explore: God’s righteousness vs. God’s mercy, God’s relationship with the particular vs. the general, and God’s goodness vs. the evil in the world. In the end, we see how grieved God is at the evil and corruption in the world, and we are invited to join with God in making the world a better place.
Stories We Tell Our Children: David and Goliath
Guest Speaker: Steffie Misner-Wampler
We begin this series as our “stART from Scratch” art camp comes to a close. Steffie Misner-Wampler, our director for the camp, shares briefly about the story of David and Goliath, the importance of storytelling, the theme from the camp of understanding God’s love and grace, and highlights from the week of camp.
MORE Than a Method
Distinctive Beliefs and Practices of The United Methodist Church
April 23 – May 21, 2017
MORE Than a Method: Arminianism
While United Methodists share a common set of beliefs with other Christian traditions, we do have some theological perspectives that set us apart. One of these is Arminianism, which stands in contrast to Calvinism and the idea of Predestination. Pastor John explains the Five Points of Calvinism using the acronym TULIP and how our theological heritage differs on each one. In the end, we emphasize God’s offer of free grace to all people and God’s gift of free will to humanity through which we can choose to respond to grace.
MORE Than a Method: Sanctifying Grace
We United Methodists understand God’s grace as operating in three different modes throughout our lives: Prevenient, Justifying, and Sanctifying Grace. Pastor John continues using the image of a trip to Disney World as a way to understand this grace and talks about enjoying the whole Disney experience – rides, shows, characters, food, and more – as being like Sanctifying Grace. Our way of understanding salvation is not just about a moment of repentance or forgiveness, but about the entirety of God’s work in our lives, which leads us – guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit – to love God and neighbor more fully.
MORE Than a Method: Justifying Grace
We United Methodists understand God’s grace as operating in three different modes throughout our lives: Prevenient, Justifying, and Sanctifying Grace. This week, Pastor John takes a look at Justifying Grace through the extended metaphor of a trip to Disney World. The grace of forgiveness and reconciliation to God is like those moments of wonder, awe, contentment, or thrill that we may experience at Disney World. God continually offers this gift to us and invites us to experience the love and acceptance offered to us through Jesus Christ.
MORE Than a Method: Prevenient Grace
Note: Audio not available for this date.
We United Methodists understand God’s grace as operating in three different modes throughout our lives: Prevenient, Justifying, and Sanctifying Grace. Pastor John begins a three-week look at these modes of grace by comparing them to a trip to Disney World. Specifically, Prevenient Grace – the grace that “comes before” us – is like all the preparations that go into making Disney the happiest place on earth….from the travel infrastructure to the park itself to the cast members who serve you while you are there. God’s grace never stops and always goes before us.
MORE Than a Method: Our Story
As we kick off this sermon series about what it means to be United Methodist, Pastor John shares the story of the beginnings of the Methodist movement with John and Charles Wesley in the Church of England in the 1700s within the larger context of church history. He also tells the story of Blakemore United Methodist Church from its humble beginnings in a one-room building in the 1890s to the present day with many struggles as well as meaningful ministry in between.
How God Uses the Interruptions in Our Lives – Big and Small
Lent: March 5 – April 16, 2017
Interruptions: The Great Interruption
On Easter Sunday, we hear the story of Jesus’ resurrection through the experiences of Mary Magdalene as detailed in John 20:1-20. Mary is trying to deal with feeling overwhelmed by all the interruptions in her life and finds herself alone and weeping outside Jesus’ empty tomb. God turns her tragedy into triumph and brings good from the interruptions in her life – just like in ours. In the end, Mary’s life is changed when Jesus calls her by name. Joy and hope are born in her, just like when a seed is buried in the ground and brings new life.
Interruptions: Jesus Enters the City
At the beginning of Holy Week, we mark Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem by waving palm branches and singing, “Hosanna!” Thus begins the greatest interruption the world has ever known: the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. As we explore this story, Pastor John wonders aloud how much of the story was destined to be this way and when we, like the disciples, can claim to know exactly what God wants. In the end, Jesus interrupted many in this story in varied ways – just as our lives continue to be interrupted – and brought good from even the very worst.
Interruptions: Be an Interrupter
Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, interrupts a meal at her own home to anoint the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume and then wipe his feet with her hair. Judas criticizes her actions as wasteful, but Jesus praises her extravagant generosity. Pastor John struggles with the reality that he identifying more with Judas than Mary or Jesus. The foreshadowing of Jesus’ death hangs over this story, as do the relationships of the people involved. In the end, God invites us to be interrupters with love like Mary.
Interruptions: Jesus, the Interrupter
While traveling from Judea to Galilee, Jesus makes a stop at a well in Samaria in John 4:4-23. As his disciples are in town getting supplies, he asks for a drink from a woman who had come to draw water during the heat of the day, breaking multiple cultural norms. In doing so, Jesus interrupts her routine, interrupts the way she perceives herself, and even interrupts the way she thinks about God. Jesus continues to interrupt our lives in similar ways today.
Interruptions: Interruptions Are Messy
Life is full of messes: literal ones that we need to clean and figurative ones that are sometimes of our own making, sometimes beyond our control. Jesus encounters both kinds of messes in Mark 2:1-12 when four friends tear open the roof of Jesus’ home and lower their paralyzed friend down to Jesus. Jesus doesn’t balk at either the literal mess of the damaged roof or the mess in the man’s life. Jesus says yes to the mess and calls us to say yes to the messes and interruptions in the lives of one another.
Interruptions: Living in a Culture of Interruptions
In Mark 10:46-52, Jesus heals a blind man named Bartimaeus just outside the city of Jericho. Despite the crowd’s insistence that Bartimaeus remain quiet, he persists and is heard by Jesus. Jesus then stops and stands still, making himself fully present and available. He then asks Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” God invites us to affirm the value and worth of others, to be present to the sacred interruptions in our lives, and to listen for the needs of others.
Interruptions: Interruption as Opportunity
Jesus is interrupted twice in Mark 5:21-34 – Once by Jairus, whose daughter is on her deathbed, and a second time by a woman who touches his cloak and is healed. Rather than seeing these interruptions as inconveniences or annoyances, Jesus sees them as opportunities to share God’s love and grace. He joins in their interrupted lives, he offers no judgment of their circumstances, and he jumps in with both feet to offer help. Note: Audio not available for this date.
But I Say…
Jesus’ Difficult Teachings from the Sermon on the Mount
January 15 to February 26, 2017
But I Say…Store Up Treasures in Heaven
Jesus uses many methods to teach, most famously parables and aphorisms. Pastor John explores the four aphorisms (memorable one-liners or short, pithy statements) found in Matthew 6:19-34 that all call us to think about where we put our focus. Learn more about our heart being where our treasure is, the danger of confusing light and darkness, the impossibility of serving two masters, and the folly of worrying.
But I Say…Love Your Enemies
In the closing verses of Matthew 5 Jesus rejects the philosophy of “An eye for an eye” in favor of “Turn the other cheek.” This is often misunderstood as passively allowing others to use or even abuse you, but in this sermon Pastor John suggests that Jesus is really advocating non-violent resistance. Jesus’ command to love our enemies can only happen through God’s grace and the power of prayer to change our hearts and lives.
But I Say…Let Your Word Be True
In what is probably Jesus’ most challenging teaching, he likens simply feeling anger to murder itself and having lustful thoughts to adultery. Pastor John tells us that the idea behind what Jesus is saying is that we need to acknowledge and deal with the darkness and mess inside each of us. If we don’t, we might end up like a stinky bag of rotting vegetables (you gotta listen to the sermon for that one). But if we do, then we can be freed from the weight of deception and are better able to love others, especially those who are most vulnerable.
But I Say…Let Your Light Shine
Jesus follows up the Beatitudes by declaring that we are salt and light. These two powerful metaphors remind us that being disciples of Jesus Christ means making a difference in our everyday lives. Salt adds flavor and preserves. Light lets us see to do things. Can you remember a time you had to go without one of these, such as a blackout? They enhance our lives, and we are called to do the same for the world in Jesus’ name. Note: The Children’s Message involving an experiment with salt is included at the beginning of this sermon.
But I Say…Blessed Are They
Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount with nine sayings that all begin with, “Blessed are they…” We call these the Beatitudes, but we in the church often misunderstand what Jesus is really saying. Rather than telling us we will be blessed by a reward after we do what they say, he is stating that they are themselves the reward. Of them all, we are particularly called to become peacemakers who build bridges rather than walls in our society that is deeply divided.
But I Say…Enter Through the Narrow Gate
In the closing verses of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus offers us a choice of how to live. Through the metaphors of city gates and roads along with the foundation on which a house is built (rock or sand), Jesus reminds us that living a Godly life is indeed difficult, but that it will lead to real life, characterized by the good fruit of mercy, peace, justice, forgiveness, love and grace.
But I Say…Do Unto Others
Jesus offers us instructions on how to live in the Sermon on the Mount, but they are not easy to follow. In Matthew 7:1-12, Jesus tells us not to judge others, to pay attention to what God is doing, to trust that God will meet us in prayer, and to treat others with respect and dignity. That last one – the Golden Rule – is so simple yet difficult to follow, but if we do it can change the world.
Stand Alone Sermon
Baptism of the Lord
On the first Sunday after Epiphany, we read the story of Jesus’ baptism. Pastor John tells the story of his own baptism as an 11-year old boy and reminds us that while baptism has many meanings and purposes, it is first and foremost a sign and symbol of God’s grace. In our baptism, we become part of God’s story as beloved children, and it is this story that speaks the deepest truth about our identity.
The Characters of Christmas
Examining the individuals who enliven the stories of Jesus’ miraculous birth
To hear the other sermons in this series, please visit our 2016 sermons
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.