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Sermon for Ascension Sunday, Acts 1:1-11

Sermon 5/24/20Acts 1:1-11
Ascension

I don’t know about you, but I find it hard not to read every scripture text these days in light of our current global pandemic. It’s similar to that reaction we now seem to have when we see images, often taken before this pandemic unfolded, of large crowds gathered together. “Crowds? We can’t be in crowds!” It’s hard not to process the world through our pandemic-lenses. And I think that’s true of the scripture too. Our current life experience has so changed our world that it is almost impossible to read the Bible without viewing it anew because of what we’re going through. I think that’s a good thing. Not the pandemic, of course, but that we find that we can’t help but bring our now-everyday reality of global crisis with us when we read the text. I think we’ll find that the scripture is more than up to the challenge of feeding our souls when we come to it with a new perspective.Today is Ascension Sunday. It’s the day that we remember Jesus’ return to …
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Sermon, "Planting Seeds: Mustard Seed," Matthew 13:31-33, 17:14-20, Luke 17:5-6

Sermon 5/17/20Matthew 13:31-33, 17:14-20, Luke 17:5-6
Planting Seeds: Mustard Seed
Today, as we wrap up our sermon series on Planting Seeds, we’re finishing up by turning our attention to the Mustard Seed. In his teaching, Jesus returns to the image of the mustard seed several times. It reads as a favorite metaphor of his. Using the image of the size of mustard seed in a proverb or parable like this seems to be original to Jesus. And Jesus talking about mustard seeds is the first time mustard appears at all in the scriptures. (1) Something about mustard apparently appeals to Jesus, and so today we’re digging into the times Jesus shares a lesson focused on the small seed. First, we read a parable from Matthew where mustard seed takes center stage. This parable appears in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, with slight variations. For our reading from Matthew, we’re back in chapter 13, where this parable comes in a string of parables, following two we’ve already explored: the parable of the sower an…

Sermon, "Planting Seeds: Jonah," Jonah 4

Sermon 5/10/20Jonah 4
Planting Seeds: Jonah
Throughout this 50-day season of Easter, we’ve been talking about Planting Seeds. Even if it did snow this week, we’re still thinking about planting seeds and growing and new life and all that comes with spring and sun and warmer days. Resurrection and life. And so suddenly slipping into the book of Jonah might seem like a strange choice for this sermon series, but if you stick with me, I think you’ll see how Jonah’s story gives us an important piece of our journey of planting and growing. Many of you might be familiar with the book of Jonah because of its larger-than-life story of Jonah hanging out in the belly of a whale or at least some big fish for a few days. But let’s make sure we know the details of Jonah. Jonah is a prophet in Israel. We don’t know much about him at all. The Bible says he’s the son of Ammitai, and we read in the first two verses of Jonah chapter 1 that God has given Jonah a message to take to Nineveh, the capital city …

Sermon, "Planting Seeds: The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds," Matthew 13:24-30

Sermon 5/3/20Matthew 13:24-30
Planting Seeds: Wheat and Weeds

We’re back today in chapter 13 of the gospel of Matthew with another parable of Jesus as we continue our sermon series on planting seeds. Two weeks ago, we talked about the Parable of the Sower, and today we’re reading the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds, or the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. It’s still part of the same series of teaching from Jesus. He’d been first sitting outside the house where he’d been staying, by the lake, and eventually, because the crowds were getting so large, he started teaching from a boat put out just a bit from shore, to give him space and a better platform perhaps while the crowds listened from the beach. So while we hear and are studying these parables one by one, Jesus’s audience heard them all, tried to absorb them all in quick succession. Parables are a specific type of teaching tool of Jesus. The word parable literally means to bring one thing alongside something else. A parable bri…