But Even If He Doesn't

By Matt Easter

A sermon on Daniel 3:1, 8-28

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A reflection in this week's sermon:

Thee ancient Jewish refugees--Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego--lived in a kind of advent season. They were taken from their land and stripped of their religious and cultural identities…waiting for deliverance from their personal “hell." What might we learn from them?

  1.  Trust God for deliverance. But even if God doesn’t act, remain faithful to Him.
  2. Be a helper (from God) to others in their season of exile.
  3. Don’t lose sight that we are all in our own “Babylon” now. Remind ourselves that things are not as they should be. We live in a world of injustice and brokenness; don’t get sucked into superfluous culture wars, various undeserving doctrine disagreements, and consumerism.

Permission to Live

A sermon by Lyndsay Williams on Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14.  

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A reflection on this week's sermon:

It’s during times of darkness that our human nature reacts by self-imposed exile or isolation, cutting us off from the very thing we need--love and community.  When we find ourselves in an unfamiliar place in life, we tend to immediately respond in fear. However…”do not be afraid,” says the Bible, 365 times.  God is holding your hand, calming your fears and guiding you.  It's during times of darkness that we learn to know what the voice of God sounds like.  Just as in Jeremiah 29, where God gave the Israelites a future, he/she offers us our future. Call upon his/her name and he/she will listen – search and you will find him/her – no matter where you may be he/she will be present for you. As Andy Squires in his song, “What Nobody Should Know” so eloquently  states--do not be afraid, during times of darkness is where we find where true amazing grace is.  (Link to song:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JiVYv1mEcg .)

A Poetry Reading with Isaiah

By Chris Fillingham

A sermon on Isaiah 9:2-7

Sermon Text 

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A reflection on this week's sermon.

Last Sunday Chris talked about the various stories we are living and how some of those stories might be in competition with Christ’s story, preventing Christ’s story from living out through you.  Isaiah’s poem in Chapter 9 is a declaration that God is with us and is passionately pursuing us, not only in the “universal” story but in each “particular” story.  Regardless of the current narrative you are living, God’s “divine dance” is always seeking you as a participant, asking to enter into each of our personal stories of desperation, be it loneliness, fear or rejection.  Richard Rohr states in his book The Devine Dance, “we have God as the Ultimate Participant – in everything-both the good and the painful”.  Know that our individual stories, no matter what that narrative might look like now, will one day be woven into God’s greater story of redemption. 

Our Many Storied Lives

By Chris Fillingham

A sermon on Amos 1:1-2; 5:4-7, 21-24; 7:12-13

Sermon Text 

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A reflection on this week's sermon. 

What is the deepest story you are living out right now?  The gospel is essentially a story of Jesus embodying the kingdom of God; it was God’s new story used to describe the ultimate reality, God’s way of saying “hey, disregard all the other stories, this is the one you need to use in order to understand how things really are.”  Spiritual formation is essential because at its core people who live out of a different story become that story.  James K. A. Smith, a philosopher and theologian, states that the stories of our lives are habitually formed by what we choose to feast our eyes and ears upon, as well as forming to our character. We must choose to submit to different rhythms and routines in order to re-habituate our habits and desires to different goals.  What “rhythms and routines” are you doing in your life to encourage your spiritual formation and help shape your narrative?  What story are you using as your primary lens to interpret our world?  What stories do you need to set aside because they are clutter, preventing Jesus’s story to live out through you? 

Between Two Mountains

By Chris Fillingham

A sermon on I Kings 19

Sermon Text 

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A reflection on this week's sermon. 

The Great Juxtaposition of Elijah - An example of how God uses the darkest parts of our lives to guide us to a place where we will be open to a deeper love of God.  Whether your spiritual journey is currently on a “Mt Carmel” or a “Mt. Horeb”, God is never absent.  Be reminded that when you find yourself on a “Mt. Horeb” that’s where God’s real lasting work occurs in your life, it's those days when God appears to be absent or silent, that God is actually opening up space in your heart to a power of love that we cannot fathom, that helps us to be broken of false attachments.

Reformationing

By Gary Dollar

A sermon for Reformation Sunday.  

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A reflection on this week's sermon.  

Gary Dollar, during his sermon last week states that “reformation from the 1500’s is not a historical event from our perspective, it is the ongoing work of God that he does with his people, on and on and on… God is constantly reformationing (made up word) the people of God.  It is not a historical event…if we are not participating in the reformationing then we are probably part of the problem.” 

 According to the dictionaries definition of “reforming”, it is the process of making changes to an institution in order to improve it or the process of changing oneself for the better.  Since the church, being an institution, is made up of individuals, then in order to move the church through a reformation process, many times and in numerous ways we need to go through our own personal reformations, similar to what John the Baptist did.  Don’t be trapped in your own prison of resisting change only because you are uncomfortable moving away from your “old time religion”.  Allow yourself to be used by God, to ask God to help you see things in new ways, allow yourself to be used by God in new maybe uncomfortable ways.  I find that in my own life that your own personal reformation begins by stepping out of your comfort zone, that usually starts off the process of “seeing” things/people/theology/doctrine differently, then you did before.

 So once again, reflect on Gary's statement, “if you are not participating in the reformation process” (both corporately with the church as well as your own person reformation) “then we are probably part of the problem.”

This week contemplate ways in which you might be hindering your own reformation process or hindering the process of others, how are you might be too attached to old ways of thinking and “seeing”.  How are you resisting God’s change? How are you resisting or unconsciously trying to sabotage the trajectory that God put in motion thousands of years ago?