Here you will find links to the audio from sermons in 2020.
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During this time of physical distancing because of COVID-19, we are celebrating worship online using Zoom. You can view video of the sermons on our YouTube channel, just follow the links. While you’re there, like and subscribe to get notifications when new content is posted to the channel.
Continuing the series on Communal Living, Pastor Amanda looks at Matthew 18:15-20, and actions and their consequences.
The start of a new series on Communal Living, drawing on Romans 12:9-21 to answer the question “What does it look like to honor one another?”
Songs of Praise.
Through the story of Joseph reuniting with his brothers, Rev. Amanda Diamond considers how we can let go of our expectations and find new ways to support each other as the world changes around us.
We have a vision of who we are called to be but the road is not as clear as we’d like for it to be. The vision and dream don’t happen overnight and takes time to unfold.
In the wrestling, in the questioning, there is something being transformed within us.
When we are tired.
Parable of the Soils.
This Sunday we are celebrating Rev. Amanda Diamond’s first Sunday at Blakemore, looking at 1 Corinthians 3: 4-9, and considering the theme “Planting, watering, and growing together.”
Steffie Misner Wampler will be leading us with called “Holy Imagination,” In this present time of so much uncertainty, in a world where a return to “normal” is no longer an option, we remember our faith in a God through whom ALL things are possible. Join us this Sunday as we explore what it means to imagine with God.
This Sunday, June 7, Kevin Walker will be preaching a sermon called “Mirrors Don’t Lie?” looking at Genesis 1 and Matthew 28: 16-20. We’ve long heard the phrase “mirrors don’t lie”, but what if they do? What if the mirror you’re using isn’t reflecting what you expect it to? Do you fix a defective mirror or change the view? And what does this have to do the Trinity? Join us Trinity Sunday to learn more!
Acts 2: 1-4
Sunday, May 31, will be Rev. John Hill’s last Sunday to preach for Blakemore. He is being appointed to Crievewood UMC in July and has the month of June off to help with the transition. We will celebrate Pentecost Sunday together (wear red on the Zoom call), hear the story of the birth of the early church, and imagine what God will birth through Blakemore through this time of transition.
May 24 2020
We have made it all the way through the Bible together on our ten-month journey! We arrive at the end with the book of Revelation, the most mysterious and misunderstood book of them all. The interpretations, understandings, and role that Revelation plays vary widely. A big reason for this is that Revelation is an example of the genre of Apocalypse, which is strange and foreign to us now. This type of literature takes the form of a heavenly vision and was written during a time of suffering and persecution and thus uses coded language full of strange symbols and images. Revelation was written to offer hope and encouragement to a people during a difficult and uncertain time. We find ourselves in difficult and uncertain circumstances as well, and so the message of hope that is contained in Revelation rings true for us today as well.
May 17 2020
The General Epistles are those letters in the New Testament that are attributed to authors other than Paul. They include James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1/2/3 John, and Jude. Each letter is different and covers various themes. Our scripture passage today is the entire book of 2 John, which – at only 13 verses – has the fewest number of verses of any book in the Bible. Similar to other biblical letters, it includes a salutation at the beginning and some closing greetings at the end. In between, there are only two paragraphs: one on Love and another on Truth. These two values of our faith are sometimes put at odds with one another, especially in some of our contemporary debates, but 2 John reminds us that the two can be held in tension with one another and actually belong together. The letter also raises some doubts that people were having about what the Church teaches about Jesus, showing us that doubt and questions and struggle have been part of our faith tradition from the very beginning.
May 10 2020
Though the book of Hebrews is placed with the letters (or epistles) in the New Testament, it reads more like a sermon than an actual letter. No author or specific audience is named within its text, which has led to much speculation over the years about the author, but it is clear that the audience is one that is well-versed in the Hebrew Bible. The main theme of the book is Christology – the nature and work of Jesus Christ. In our particular passage, Jesus is called a Great High Priest. Rev. John Hill explores this imagery along with the figure of Melchizedek, who is mentioned in our passage and appears in Genesis 14. Finally, we are left with three ways to follow Jesus’ example as a high priest: spending time in prayer, obedience, and seeking perfection in love.
May 3 2020
Note: the recording was started a few minutes late.
The letters attributed to Paul (13) make up nearly half of the books in the New Testament (27). Though scholars today think that not all of these books were actually authored by Paul, the theology in all of these letters continues to inform our faith and practice today. Romans represents the peak of Paul’s writings, and the twelfth chapter is the summit, rich in theology and instruction for life. Three themes from the chapter stand out as representative of Paul’s work: renewal and transformation, life in community, and embodying love. During this time of physical distancing, Paul’s writings invite us to pay attention to how God is still at work to teach us and transform us. How will we be changed after all this is over?
April 26 2020
The Early Church and the Holy Spirit
As we move into the last leg of our Journey Through the Bible with our final series called Coda, we take a look at the first book following the Gospels: Acts. The book tells the story of the early church and the work of the Holy Spirit to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Acts is full of surprises – Pentecost, miracles, escapes, conversions, a shipwreck, and strange visions. Unsurprisingly, though, there are disagreements and meetings in the early church about what to do. One of the major meetings is known as the Council of Jerusalem. Jesus and his disciples were all Jewish, but what happens when Gentiles come to faith in Christ and experience the Holy Spirit. Do they also have to convert to Judaism and follow all the laws? The Council of Jerusalem was held to settle this question, and it decided not to hinder the work of God. That inspiration continue to this day, and we need it now during this time of sheltering at home more than ever.
April 19 2020
Commissioning the Disciples
Note: We did not record the video on this day
On what was originally scheduled to be our third annual Worship Without Walls, we looked at one of the stories from the Gospels about Jesus’ commissioning the Disciples after his resurrection and before his ascension. This passage in Mark appears to have been added by someone after the original writing and contains strange language around being able to safely handle snakes and drink poison. We wrestled with these ideas and seemed to settle on having a figurative interpretation of these words instead of a literal one. Toward the end of the discussion, we talked about what it would mean or look like, though, to have enough faith to believe and trust as deeply as the Disciples did.
April 12 2020
On the very first Easter Sunday, Jesus’ followers had their world upended in an unprecedented way. Their leader, teacher, and friend had been violently killed and then somehow his body was gone from the tomb. Each one of them has a different reaction. Mary Magdalene’s first reaction is to go and find the others and share with them. John’s reaction is mixed; he runs to the tomb but then won’t go inside. Peter impulsively moves forward and goes right into the tomb to investigate for himself. After Peter and John leaves, Mary Magdalene is left by herself, and she weeps, then lashes out, and ultimately tries to cling to Jesus. Our world is in the middle of an unprecedented upheaval as well, and people are reacting in all kinds of ways. Part of the message of Easter is the God can handle any and all of those reactions and bring new life and hope in the midst of our chaos.
April 5 2020
Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem
After Jesus completes his journey to Jerusalem, he doesn’t just walk into the city like the other pilgrims coming for the Passover celebration. Instead, he instructs his disciples to find a colt for him and then rides that colt with people laying down cloaks and branches in his path and shouting, “Hosanna!” Why all the show of pomp and circumstance? How is it that Jesus can just ask for someone’s colt and they willingly allow the disciples to take it? What does the laying down of cloaks and branches mean? What might we be called to lay down in order to allow Jesus to come into our lives and world more fully? What does this shout of “Hosanna!” mean and how are we shouting it today? We also share in virtual communion for the first time near the end of the video.
March 29 2020
After Peter confesses Jesus to be the Messiah and Jesus explains a little more about what that really means, Jesus takes three of his disciples – Peter, James, and John – to a high mountain, where they are joined by Moses and Elijiah and Jesus is transfigured before their eyes. What do we make of this strange story? Is there a connection between it and Peter’s confession? Why were Moses and Elijah, specifically, there and why just three of Jesus’ disciples? Many of us have experienced “mountain top” moments. What are those like? Why do we have the impulse – like Peter – to stay on the mountain? Does the language that God uses about Jesus in this story connect it to any other stories about Jesus? Why does Jesus tell his disciples to keep all this a secret for the time being? We hope you’ll watch the video and gain some insight into these questions and more from our discussion.
March 22 2020
Jesus spends 40 days in the wilderness fasting in preparation for his time of earthly ministry, and afterwards he is tempted three times by the devil. We discuss what temptation looks like for us – both more generally and specifically during this time of isolation. We also think through why this particular story was important to be included in scripture and especially in our ten month Journey Through the Bible. We also talk about the significance of the number 40 and the season of Lent. Finally, we take a look at the temptations themselves that Jesus faced and how they are related to each other and to our own situations and lives.
March 15 2020
The Kingdom of Heaven
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-50
Note: We did not record the video on this first day
Jesus teaches about many topics throughout his ministry, but one that is especially prominent is what he calls the Kingdom of God (or Heaven in Matthew’s Gospel). The phrase has been interpreted in many ways over the centuries. Some think that Jesus is talking about the afterlife while others think that Jesus is describing a reality that can exist here and now. He uses several images to get us to think about what it is like when God’s rule or reign is manifest. These include a tiny mustard seed growing into a large plant, a little yeast leavening bread, a treasure hidden in a field, a pearl of great price, and a great catch of fish.
Jesus as Rabbi
Early Lent 2020
March 8 2020
The Good Samaritan
Preacher: Kevin Walker
Sometimes, the best stories end with a plot twist we never saw coming. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus tells a story of contrasting encounters and choices. In the wake of tragedy for our Nashville community, Jesus’ question to his followers is one we might ask today: “Who is your neighbor?” Who are we willing to stand beside and help along our own journey? And at what cost?
March 1 2020
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
One of Pastor John’s friends from high school that he has reconnected with is an artist named John Paul Kesling. This other John sees the world in a different way than most of the rest of us: through the eyes of an artist. Jesus, too, sees the world differently than we do. As evidenced in the Beatitudes, Jesus looks upon people in difficult circumstances and calls them blessed. He doesn’t deny their suffering or weakness, though. Instead, he acknowledges it, doesn’t try to “fix” it, and still names the hope and potential that exists for them. May we all have the artist’s eye of Jesus to see the best in others and may we have hope even when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances.
Ash Wednesday 2020
Fast, Pray, Give
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
To mark the beginning of the season of Lent, we celebrate Ash Wednesday. Upon turning 40 the day before, Pastor John reflects on his life and especially his childhood. Many fond memories, but also some not-so-great ones, such as the time spent going to his sister’s ballet lessons. The pointe shoes of ballet, though, provide us an important lesson. They are too slippery to be useful until they are dusted with rosin. We, too, need to be dusted with the ash of this day to remind us of our own mortality and our need for God’s grace through Jesus Christ. Similarly, during the season of Lent, we can be dusted by the practices of Fasting, Praying, and Giving to call us into faithful discipleship.
A Closer Look at Some of the People Jesus Meets on His Journey
February 23 2020
The Story of Zacchaeus
Children and Youth Sunday
On Children and Youth Sunday, our young people presented a puppet show that they wrote collectively (with a little help from some wonderful adult volunteers) that imagines some of the background that led up to Zacchaeus‘ famous encounter with Jesus in Luke 19:1-10. It portrays Zacchaeus as a sympathetic figure who, despite his wealth and dishonesty, is a victim of the oppression of the Roman Empire and whose life is forever changed by Jesus. Listen as our two narrators, Kelsey and Becca, share the story. Steffie Misner-Wampler, our Youth Minister, adds some reflections at the end.
February 16 2020
It’s a Trap
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
A popular meme involves Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars saying, “It’s a trap!” Jesus could have used the Admiral’s warning in his encounter in the eighth chapter of John in which the scribes and Pharisees bring a woman caught in adultery before Jesus and ask him what should happen to her – should they stone her to death as the Law commands or not? This scenario begs so many questions about the woman and the situation that go unanswered. Jesus, though, does not fall for the trap that has been laid for him. Instead, he is able to tolerate the discomfort and emotions he must be feeling, to slow down, to reframe the situation, and to find a different way. In the end, he invites anyone who is without sin to cast the first stone, and they all walk away. May we each follow in the way of Jesus and respond in a similar way to the traps we encounter.
February 9 2020
Martha and Mary
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
If you listened to last week’s sermon, then you already know the characters from this week. Jesus visits once again with Martha and Mary, but this time the circumstances are much less dramatic. Martha busies herself with tasks to provide hospitality while her sister Mary simply sits at his feet and listens to Jesus. Martha is incensed and wants Jesus to chastise her sister; instead, Jesus tells Martha that Mary has chosen the better part. Some background on Jesus as a rabbi provides a few key insights into this story and its implications for us today and our relationship to Jesus.
Exploring Three of the Miracles from Jesus’ Ministry
February 2 2020
Raising the Dead
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
The first half of John’s Gospel is built around seven signs – or miracles – that Jesus performs. The last and most amazing of these is Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead in the 11th chapter. Jesus receives word that Lazarus is ill but delays his trip to see and possibly heal Lazarus. By the time Jesus arrives, Lazarus has been dead four days. His sisters, Martha and Mary, are understandably upset with Jesus. And Jesus gets upset too – so much so that he weeps. In the end, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. In this story, both Jesus’ full divinity and full humanity are on display. Ultimately, Jesus Christ has power over all creation, including death, and offers to us the hope and promise of eternal life.
January 26 2020
Feeding the 5000
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
In the new live action Lady and the Tramp, the Tramp is a dog who seemingly is only concerned about himself, but then he surprises us by sacrificing his food to give it to two hungry-looking puppies. In the same way, Jesus and the disciples sacrifice their own rest and down time in order to teach and ultimately feed a huge crowd that has gathered. In both of these, we see self-giving love in action – the kind of love that each of us is called to embody. Jesus was moved by compassion to care for the crowd, and we should similarly be moved to say, “I can help with that.” The miracle is that God takes the little things we offer in faith – five loaves and two fish, a night spent at the church with Room in the Inn, a donation to the Capital Campaign – and makes something great from them.
January 19 2020
Water to Wine
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
On the first Sunday of our series looking at the miracles from Jesus’ ministry, we look at the first recorded miracle that Jesus performed: turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Though it is tempting as modern readers, we miss the point of miracles if we try to find scientific explanations for them. Instead, we are invited to marvel at how they break with conventional wisdom and expectations and find meaning in how God is at work in the world. This story, in particular, reminds us that Jesus is human like us because he is celebrating at a wedding filled with food and wine and joy. A deeper look at the story reveals some important symbolism in the jars and the wine itself, ultimately pointing to the abundance of God’s love and grace given to us through Jesus Christ.
Events from the Life of Christ on Our Journey Through the Bible
January 12 2020
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
On Baptism of the Lord Sunday, we hear the story of Jesus’ baptism and are reminded of our own baptisms. Pastor John outlines 4 aspects of the Jesus’ baptism that are important not only in the context of our broader Journey Through the Bible and this story’s place in the Gospels but also for our lives today. Baptism is a beginning and not an end. Baptism is preparation and even calling for the life of discipleship and ministry that is to follow. In baptism, our identity as beloved children of God is confirmed. And through baptism, we are connected with what has come before us and even with what will come in the future. On this date, we remember our baptisms and give thanks.
January 5 2020
Preacher: Rev. John Hill
On Epiphany Sunday, we begin in earnest in the New Testament with our Journey Through the Bible in ten months. Pastor John provides us with a brief introduction to the New Testament and specifically to the Gospels. Our story for the day is that of the Magi, who were likely priests in a different religion from a foreign land, who came to visit and worship the Christ Child. We traditionally understand Epiphany to the be the celebration of Jesus’ being revealed to the world (not just the Jews) as the Messiah. In addition to this important aspect of the story, we see the importance of dreams, knowing the scriptures, and the role of the home in our faith.