Epiphany Series: Our Christian faith reminds us what people are created for and should confront what distracts from that. How do we nurture both families and communities, promote a civil discourse and approach problems with solutions and hope instead of fear and blame. Using a resources by Jim Wallis—The (Un)Common Good.
January 7, 2018 Baptism of our Lord Sunday; Title: A Gospel for the Common Good; Theme: Laying the groundwork for the connection between Christianity and the common good; Matthew 22:36-40
January 14, 2018 Third Sunday after the Epiphany; Title: Who Jesus is and Why it Matters; Theme: The real question we need to answer is why did Jesus come. Jesus’ gospel was always to be good news for the poor. Jesus’ coming announces the beginning of a new order of things called the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus was the herald of a whole new way of living; Luke 4:14-19
January 21, 2018 Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany; Title: Treating Jesus Well; Theme: The journey back to faith goes through the poor. Jesus says that the way we treat those who are the least of these well be regarded as the way we treat him. Read: Matthew 25:31-46
January 28, 2018 Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany; Title: The Good Samaritan Goes Global; Theme: Helping a man in need by the side of a dangerous road was the example Jesus used to show who our neighbor is and how to help him or her. Who is our neighbor? In our increasingly connected global world, this ancient moral question takes a whole new context. Read: Luke 10:25-37
February 4, 2018 Title: The Beloved Community Welcomes All Tribes; Theme: From scripture we learn that God welcomes all human tribes and asks us to welcome all the outsiders. We see God actively affirming diverse cultures rather than trying to make them into one. Read: Galatians 3:28 (The Message); Romans 12:1-2 (The Message).
February 11, 2018 Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany; Title: Surprising our enemies; Theme: Loving our neighbors is hardest when they are also our enemies but Jesus tells us to love them anyway. Loving enemies is the most difficult command of all and seems impossible to carry out but in a world full of conflict and enemies we need to learn how to do better. What might it mean to surprise our enemies? Read: Romans 12:20-21; Matthew 5:43-44
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 Ash Wednesday
Note: The Lenten Series is called “Into the Wilderness/Where the Wild Things Are. Spiritual richness is precipitated by the stark beauty of the wilderness, an awesomeness that is beyond description, leaving us standing on a promontory speechless, or gazing at Ansel Adams photograph at a loss for words. Perhaps, the spiritual door is open by that feeling of smallness within the largeness. Out there we can no longer fool ourselves; ultimately it is not we who control the world. We wonder at the mystery of creation, we marvel at the Creator. Or perhaps it is all of these elements building upon one another, generating a cascade of spiritual opportunity. Using a resource by Rabbi Jamie Korngold, “God in the Wilderness”.
February 18, 2018 First Sunday in Lent; Title: Cultivating the Patience to See Burning Bushes. Theme: Today our lives are so frenetic, we rarely have time to catch our breath, let alone be alert for spiritual portals or miracles. Out there we are able to remove ourselves from everything that normally demands our attention leaving us more deeply attentive to what is all around us as well as what is inside of us. Read Exodus 3: 3-4;.
February 25, 2018 Second Sunday in Lent; Title: Take the First Step, the Sea May Part”; Theme: In the wilderness we can’t expect anyone to take care of us. Part of the thrill of outdoor adventure is knowing that everything you need must be carried on your own back. If you forget to pack it before you leave the comforts of civilization you simply will have to figure out how to do without it in the back country. Nature is a great training ground for becoming more of a risk taker in one’s faith journey. Read Exodus 14:8, 9; Joshua 3:7-17.
March 4, 2018 Third Sunday in Lent; Title: “Rediscover Awe”; Theme: Rabbi Abraham Joshua Herschel, one of Judaism great contemporary thinkers, taught about awe saying “God begins where words end”. He believed that awe is a prerequisite for the contemplation of God. Read Exodus 19:18-20.
March 11, 2018 Fourth Sunday in Lent; UMCOR Sunday; Title: “Fourth on God’s Top Ten List”; Theme: Before God gave us the 10 commandments people worked 7 days a week without rest. The Sabbath represented a revolutionary idea. Not only should men have a day off, but women, children, slaves and even cows should take part in this weekly day of rest. But what does it mean to truly practice Sabbath? Read Exodus 20:8-11
March 18, 2018 Fifth Sunday in Lent; Title: Stop Trying So Hard Even God isn’t perfect. Theme: Our culture’s pursuit of perfection is one of the major stumbling blocks between us and true joy. We divorce our mates, fire our pastors, and change our children’s schools, all in search of something better, which we are sure is right around the corner. Yet somehow it never is. Each new situation brings its own disappointment. How did we come to think that perfection was a possible goal? Read: Exodus 3:14; John 8:1-11
March 25, 2018 Palm/Passion Sunday (Maybe this or maybe a passion story); Title: “Hear the Still Small Voice Within”. Theme: The message of the Bible is that we should seek out meaning in the everyday tasks of life. We cannot segregate spirituality to certain places or specific activities; thus excluding it from the trivial picking up your dirty socks tasks of life. The still small voice is heard in “whatever we happen to be doing at the moment.” We need to relearn how we hear that voice; Read 1Kings 19:11-12; Mark 14:32-42
April 1, 2018 Easter; Title: Restore Your Soul Beside Still Waters; Theme: God does comfort the disciples after the crucifixion but not with an explanation. God uses a simple element from nature, a stone that is rolled away from a cave to illustrate that life goes on. Jesus has been raised, he is no longer here and is going ahead of the disciples to Galilee and they are told there you will see him just as he told you. The journey continues as we follow in the Way of Jesus. Read: Psalm 23:1-2; Mark 16:1-8
Theme: Practices for the Common Good that we learned about during Epiphany. How do we implement the Common Good? We will explore how what happens in the places we call home, our households with those closest to us, can shape or undermine a culture of the Common Good. We must learn to see the world as our parish and we can explore personal decisions that we can all make for the Common Good. Using the resource from Jim Wallis: The (Un) Common Good.
April 8, 2018 Second Sunday of Easter; Title: A Call to Civility; Theme: Truth and civility are too important to lose. The political polarization has reached a new and dangerous level. We as Christians have too often reflected the divisions in the body politic instead of trying to heal them in the body of Christ. We need to help create much needed safe, civil and even sacred spaces for better public discourse at this critical moment in our nation’s history; Read: Ephesians 4:31-32.
April 15, 2018 Third Sunday of Easter; Title: A Theology of Democracy; Theme: Democracy, both in its pitfalls and its promises, is rooted in the theological assertion that human beings are made in the image of God. If worth and equality are values derived from the belief that human beings are made in the image of God, then respecting both should be a primary task of democratic political systems. Read: Genesis 1:27-28.
April 22, 2018 Fourth Sunday of Easter; Title: Building a Moral Economy; Theme: The market produces continual conversations, interactions and transactions about economics. As a mere mechanism, the market is amoral but the events of the last few years and the consequences of the Great Recession the world has experienced are now demanding a new moral conversation about the market and how it should operate. So which principals should guide us? Read: 1 Timothy 6: 9-10
April 29, Fifth Sunday of Easter; Title: How Can We Build a Servant Government?; Theme: While everyone is vehemently arguing about size the government should be perhaps a more useful discussion about the purpose of government and whether ours is fulfilling them or not might be a more productive discussion. What are the proper functions of government and how can we hold our leaders accountable? Read: Romans 13:1-7.
May 6, 2018 Sixth Sunday of Easter; Title: Biblical Justice; Theme: How do we understand justice in a biblical way? It’s not about socialism; it’s not about big people. Read: Amos 5:21-24
May 13, 2018 Seventh Sunday of Easter; Title: Healthy Household; Theme: Nor force, no place, is more formational to human flourishing than the households we live in. Our households are the places where we have our most primary relationships and are usually the most formative places in our lives. It is in our households we must learn to choose values over appetites. Read: Proverbs 22:6
May 20, 2018 Pentecost; Title: The World is our Parish; Theme: When Christians do what Jesus has told us to do, when we act on behalf of others, when we really do love our neighbors as ourselves, when we treat the world around us as the parish we are responsible for it speaks loudly about God. Read Jeremiah 29:7