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Sermon given by guest speaker Rev. George Carter.
We cannot totally succeed in avoiding fear, but we do our best to try to protect ourselves from fearful situations. We build walls or fences and live on one side of the tracks. We stay with people who look like us, who think like us, who dress like us, who eat like us. And we hoard our resources to take care of ourselves because we are afraid that if we don’t that there might not be enough. (Acts 15:1-12)
Sermon given by guest speaker Rev. Don Baldwin. Sorry, we do not have a transcript or recording for this sermon. (Isaiah 41:10, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
Our culture of greed seems to me to be getting worse, or perhaps it has always been bad. More, more, more! Our perspective of how much we actually have is skewed by the immensity of images of what we ‘ought to have.’ And we strive for that security ourselves. We do not want to trust God. We are like young children who say, “I can do it! I don’t need your help.” And so, we struggle on our own, with our quest for more that is never enough. “I can do it on my own. I can build that tower and make a name for myself.” (Genesis 11:1-9)
When we resolve conflict with the one with whom we are in disagreement then we still have to put it properly behind us and move on, not constantly dredging up the past or still sounding aggrieved about what has happened. And that usually involves us in an element of forgiveness. And that takes practice! Lots of it! (Matthew 18:21-35)
It would be nice to think that we could all live peacefully together with no disagreements in our families, our neighborhoods and our country. But as we all know, that is not what life together looks like. And as Christians, we struggle, sometimes even in our faith communities. How can we weave or bind the fabric of our lives together, so that the blemishes and pulled threads do not leave tears and gaping holes? (Matthew 18:15-20)
Our instinct is to embrace Jesus’ ethics, but to shut out the cross and any suffering. In our scripture today Jesus is suddenly going off the expected script; he’s got out of the box again! And it doesn’t sound very safe. So what’s it mean to pick up our crosses? What load are we being asked to bear? (Matthew 16:21-28)
Jesus asks the question “Who do you say that I am?” The first views of Jesus that I remember were received as I sat as a young child on the small brightly painted chairs neatly arranged in two rows in the Sunday School room. And Jesus picture was on the wall. Do you remember the one? I’ve seen it in lots of churches. Jesus was fair skinned with long hair, and he was smiling and kind looking. (Matthew 16:13-20)
Last week we talked about boxes, and how we want to put Jesus in a box, but how he is always breaking boundaries. In today’s scripture, Jesus has put himself in a box. It takes a voice from an outsider to challenge his viewpoint. Jesus is very human in this story and not very nice or kind. Dogs were wild animals and were considered unclean. To call a Gentile a dog was a derogatory statement. This is a tough passage to study. (Matthew 15:21-28)
I love this scripture. It’s a rich passage. A great gift from God. A box ready to be unpacked. It has meant a lot in my life at times when I have taken faith risks. I like impetuous Peter who gets out of the boat and sinks so fast. So I thought that this sermon would be an easy one to write as I peered into the box. But as I wrote this sermon, this scripture, didn’t want to stay in a box. It kept popping open, kind of like a child’s toy … jack-in-the-box. We like to put Jesus in a nice tidy box. This is who Jesus is. This is what you should believe. But Jesus didn’t follow the rules! He didn’t stay in the box. (Matthew 14:22-33)