Sermons
Acts 4:43-47 Bridges Out of Poverty May 27, 2018      Maple Grove UMC             Several miracles took place on the day of Pentecost. For example, the disciples told about Jesus in all the languages of the world, even languages they didn’t know. That’s miraculous. The church grew from about 120 people to more than 3000 in one day. That’s a miracle. But the biggest miracle of all is the one we read about today—that those early believers shared so generously that there was not a needy person among them. Now that’s a miracle!                     Acts 4 tells about a community that ended poverty, and it did so in two ways. Here’s the first: someone once asked the Dalai Lama what the answer to world hunger is. He responded with one word: “Sharing.”1 It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Just share. What set those Acts 4 Christians apart from others…
John 14:25-27 and 16:12-15 The Holy Spirit: Bridging Past and Future May 20, 2018      Maple Grove UMC   To build bridges of healing, compassion and justice through our relationships with God, self and others.           Again, that’s Maple Grove’s new vision statement and throughout this year we’ll seek to see all that we do as the building of bridges. In this worship series we’ll ponder how the church can bridge the generations, how to build bridges out of poverty, and return to the idea of building bridges of reconciliation. But we shouldn’t think that all the bridge-building is up to us. The chief bridge builder, of course, is God who sent Jesus to bridge all gaps—any gap between God and us, the gap between sin and forgiveness, the gap between feeling lost and knowing we’re beloved.           Specifically, on the Day of Pentecost, we celebrate how God sent the Holy…
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 Bridges of Reconciliation (Part 1) May 6, 2018         Maple Grove UMC   To build bridges of healing, compassion, and justice through our relationships with God, self, and others.                That is Maple Grove’s new Vision Statement. It’s visionary language because it invites us to see the world a new way—to see all our ministries, everything we do, as bridges to God, and bridges to lonely, hurting people. These words invite us to look for what we need in order to draw closer to God and one another. They inspire us to see our own lives as bridges to reach others with healing, compassion and justice.           We begin this worship series on Building Bridges with 2 Corinthians 5 and the bridge of reconciliation. Be reconciled to God, Paul writes, and be ambassadors of reconciliation to others. Surely in these angry, divisive and polarized times, what the world needs…
Confirmation Sunday April 29, 2018 Maple Grove UMC   8:30             At second service, I’ll share three things I wish I’d learned in Confirmation forty years ago—maybe you want to come back.  Here at first service, when we’ll present each youth a Wesley Study Bible, I want to share a one-minute message on each of the twelve scriptures the youth shared today—okay, maybe two minutes on each.            We used a new Confirmation curriculum this time called “Confirm Not Conform.”  The emphasis is not on the pastors telling youth what they’re supposed to believe, but on youth discerning what they do believe.  So we did not just assign each of them a scripture.  Each youth worked with their Confirmation mentor to select their own scripture, and they told you why they chose that scripture.  I’m going to pick each youth’s scripture out of a hat and share a few…
Luke 5:29-32 Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner April 22, 2018             The film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was released in 1967. It was Spencer Tracy’s last role. Katherine Hepburn won an Oscar for it. Sydney Poitier, on the other hand, wasn’t even nominated—I wonder why not? It’s the story of a black man and a white woman who fall in love and decide to get married. Both sets of parents strongly oppose the relation-ship (both fathers at any rate). But love is love, right? And—spoiler alert, here--love prevails in the end. But just to put this in context, in 1967 so-called “interracial marriage” was still illegal in 17 states. Who should marry whom, even who should come to dinner with whom, was a big deal in 1967. And in various ways, it still is in 2018. Guess who’s coming to dinner?             Who’s at the table was…
John 21:1-14 Come to the Table April 8, 2018        Maple Grove UMC             What a wonderful story. Of all the resurrection appearance stories in the Bible, this one is my favorite. There are just so many things we could go into. For example, when Peter says, “I’m going fishing,” he doesn’t mean what most of us might mean by that. For Peter, fishing isn’t a pleasant diversion, not a time to get away and clear his head, not a way to bond with his dad or son. When Peter says, “I’m going fishing,” he means that after the death of Jesus, he’s going back to his old life, the only job he knows. It means he’s giving up on following Jesus as a way of life. But Jesus doesn’t let him give up for long. . .             There are so many things in the story we could…
Ephesians 2:1-10 Saved By Grace, Raised With Christ April 1, 2018        Maple Grove UMC             Certain believers like to start conversations this way: Are you saved? they ask earnestly. Are you saved? they want to know. And I know what they mean. They mean have I had an emotional conversion experience, asked Jesus into my heart and prayed the Sinner’s Prayer. And they want a one-word answer: Yes. Yes, I am saved. That’s what they want to hear. And the fact is, I could give them that answer—all of that is true for me. But that feels like such a partial, inadequate answer. There is so much more to being saved than that. I want to give them two additional, longer answers--a Lenten answer (a good answer) and an Easter answer (a great answer).             Are you saved? My answer from the season of Lent, from the scriptures…
Luke 23:32-43 What Jesus Means By ‘Saved’ March 25, 2018             You drive along the interstate and see it on billboards: JESUS SAVES. Sometimes the sign will have the name of a church or organization, but often just those two words: JESUS SAVES. Pastor and author Frederick Buechner has written that those signs are a little embarrassing to him.1 Embarrassing, he says, because they remind him of old-time religion--pulpit-pounding, hyper-emotional, fundamentalist religion. Or perhaps they’re embarrassing, he confesses, because they remind him that he needs to be saved. Proud, self-sufficient, respectable as we are, there comes a time when all we can do is cry out, “Lord, save me!” We don’t like to be reminded of that.           JESUS SAVES, the billboards say. Personally, I’m not embarrassed by those signs—more uneasy, I’d say. Yes, Jesus saves—but what does that mean? There’s more to ‘Jesus saves’ than can fit on…
Luke 23:32-43 What Jesus Means By ‘Saved’ March 25, 2018             You drive along the interstate and see it on billboards: JESUS SAVES. Sometimes the sign will have the name of a church or organization, but often just those two words: JESUS SAVES. Pastor and author Frederick Buechner has written that those signs are a little embarrassing to him.1 Embarrassing, he says, because they remind him of old-time religion--pulpit-pounding, hyper-emotional, fundamentalist religion. Or perhaps they’re embarrassing, he confesses, because they remind him that he needs to be saved. Proud, self-sufficient, respectable as we are, there comes a time when all we can do is cry out, “Lord, save me!” We don’t like to be reminded of that.           JESUS SAVES, the billboards say. Personally, I’m not embarrassed by those signs—more uneasy, I’d say. Yes, Jesus saves—but what does that mean? There’s more to ‘Jesus saves’ than can fit on…
Matthew 8:23-27 & 14:22-33 “Lord, Save Us!” March 18, 2018             The disciples are out in a boat. A terrible windstorm comes up and they’re afraid—they’re bailing to beat the band, flailing around and wishing they’d said goodbye to their families. Meantime Jesus is asleep in the back of the boat. Finally they think to wake him up, crying out, “Lord, save us!” Good call--Jesus saves! A few chapters later, it happens again: boat, storm, fear, flailing around--until Jesus comes to them walking on the waves. Peter wants to try that too, and he does for a moment. Until he notices the wind and the waves, panics and starts to sink. So he cries out, “Lord, save me!” Good call again—Jesus saves!             I told a story on Ash Wednesday as the season of Lent began. I want to return to it now, as we near the end…
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