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Sermon Archive

February 12, 2017

Sermon by: Emily Chapman

Lectionary Scripitures: Genesis 12:1-4a, Psalm 121 (UMH 844), Romans 4:1-5, 13-17, John 3:1-17

It’s scout Sunday, so I want to begin with a letter from a famous boy scout- Stephen Colbert, the late night host. It seems a scout about to become an eagle scout wrote to Stephen, an agle scout himself, to let him know.  Stephen wrote back. Let this be a lesson, those of you going for Eagle scouts, or Gold Awards- if you write to celebrity about it, they might just respond.

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February 05, 2017

Sermon by: Emily Chapman

Lectionary Scriptures: Isaiah 58:1-12, Psalm 112: 1-10 (UMH 833), 1 Corinthians 2:1-12, Matthew 5:13-20

Some of you may have been here a year or so ago, when Pastor Jacob was doing a short residency here and he shared with us a theory about the human condition, that I have to say really rings true. Preachers and other leaders constantly lament how consumer driven our culture is, how we just want things for the sake of wanting them and have no real sense of how that impacts us.  But his theory is that its not quite so simple.  Our problem is that we want the thing without the thing that makes the thing the thing.  With me?  We want the thing without the thing that makes the thing the thing.  Maybe an example will help.  Decaffeinated coffee.  Now I am not a big coffee drinker.  I don’t really like it that much so when I drink it I want it to have the maximum impact.  Why is there such a thing as decaf?  The whole point of coffee was that it had caffeine.   Once we figured out that it could be bad for us at certain points in life, or if we had too much of it, instead of giving it up, we had to have it without the thing makes it what it is.  We take it out because we want the thing without the thing that makes the thing the thing.

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January 29, 2017

Sermon by: Emily Chapman

Lectionary Scriptures: Micah 6:1-8, Psalm 15, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Matthew 5:1-12

I think it’s a bit cruel of the makers of the lectionary to have put these three scriptures all on the same day.  They are three passages that are incredibly powerful and all three have deeply influenced my own faith.  It’s one of those weeks where I thought about standing up here, reading through all of them again, and then sitting down. All of them certainly speak to the moment for us trying to live and proclaim the Gospel in America right now and they all trace one of the most central themes of all of scripture- that God consistently points us toward the poor, the marginalized, the alienated and tells us that if we are searching for God, that it where God will be found. They are all texts written for people like us, trying to come to grips with what the Gospel tells us about how we live day to day in a world that is often unjust, unmerciful, unkind and feels more filled with fear than anything else. And they tell us that God’s mission in a world like that is to turn it upside down. (more…)

January 22, 2017

Sermon by: Katie Eichler

Lectionary Scriptures: Isaiah 9:1-4, Psalm 27:1, 4-9, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, Matthew 4:12-23

Whenever I was a child and we would learn about this passage in Sunday School, it always seemed to be taught the same way. We would hear the story of Jesus on the beach, him calling out to these people who were fishing, and them dropping their nets and everything to follow him to become fishers of people, which apparently would not require the nets that they had dropped. After hearing the story the teachers would ask the same question every single time, “If Jesus walked in the classroom right this second and said follow me, would you drop your glue sticks and follow him?” This was a crazy test to ask 8 year olds, but yes was clearly the answer that was expected. I was savvy enough to realize that and probably said yes, but even then I felt like it was ridiculous and that I didn’t mean it. I had major questions. How would I know it was Jesus? Did the guys fishing know anything about him? Cause teacher, if your question is, “if some bearded stranger walked in the back of the room and said follow me, would I?” of course not! I have good parents. They’ve taught me stranger danger. Also, I’m only 8. Don’t I need some sort of permission slip signed by a guardian to leave with this man in this hypothetical ultimatum? (more…)

January 15, 2017

Sermon by: Emily Chapman

Lectionary Scriptures: Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40:1-11, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, John 1:29-42

The story of my baptism and the story of Jesus’ baptism, at a glance, look nothing like each other.  I said nothing at my baptism, did nothing, didn’t ask to do it, did not walk down to the river amid the throngs of other people. But in my defense, I was only 2 months old. A pastor sprinkled water on my head and while my parents beamed and a congregation made promises to raise me to be a disciple of Jesus- to love me and forgive me and show me what grace looks like. They kept their promises. While Jesus baptism may have looked different, the work of it was the same. It was a declaration that Jesus was beloved God, precious in God’s sight. It was a turn toward a very particular way of living- a life that follows the Gospel. This is the part we sometimes forget when we talk about baptism, is that baptism is a commissioning. It was true for Jesus and it’s true for us- my baptism was a commissioning for me but also for the church that promised to raise me.. For Jesus it was the beginning of his public ministry. He starts it by being named beloved and receiving the Holy Spirit. This is still what we do in Baptism. We name one another beloved of God and then commission them in the name of the Holy Spirit. It’s our commissioning for ministry.  We have a long history of baptized people living out that baptism, that belovedness in public ways, and we celebrate one of them tomorrow- Martin Luther King.
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January 08, 2017

Sermon by: Emily Chapman

Lectionary Scriptures: Isaiah 42:1-9, Psalm 29 (UMH 761), Acts 10:34-43, Matthew 3:13-17

We don’t really experience seasons here in Houston. Well…more accurately, we experience all the seasons in 2 days time. So it’s probably good there are seasons of Christian life, that are more defined the the seasons of our own lives or than the seasons of Houston.  We are finishing up the 12 days of Christmas, where we remember God drawing near to us in a new and powerful way.  During the 40 days of Lent, we’ll come together and grieve God’s loneliness due to our sin.  During the 50 days of Easter, we’ll celebrate God’s decisive victory over sin and death.  These seasons carry with them many emotions….we’ll speak in this place about deep sadness and unspeakable joy, about celebration and grieving.  The strange thing about the seasons of the church year is that we sometimes may feel we have to summon the emotions that match them.  For example, you or I may not have felt especially close to God during these past few days, even though the season says we ought to.  During the dark days of Lent there will likely be many reasons to feel happy.  And even amid the joy of Easter, the real grief and suffering that many of us face do not magically disappear because we sing Christ the Lord is Risen Today.  So our Christian life takes us through the seasons of the Church each year, whether we feel them or not.  Sometimes we embrace them, sometimes we may crawl from one to the other, but still we go, because eventually, if we keep going, it is how we learn to put on Christ, to experience the truth of Gospel in every time and season and mood of life. (more…)

January 01, 2017

Sermon by: Emily Chapman

Lectionary Scripture: Isaiah 60:1-6, Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14 (UMH 795), Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12

We use Luke’s Gospel story for our Christmas pageant, as does pretty much everyone else and what I just read is the reason why. Luke’s Christmas pageant ends the story of Jesus’ birth with angels singing and with shepherds and blessings. Matthew’s Christmas pageant ends here. With the holy family not cozied up around the manger but fleeing for the lives, because Herod has been tricked by the Wise men, whom he sent to bring Jesus to him. Of course he is furious and orders that all children under the age of two be killed. It’s a terrible and violent story, that the Church marks at this time of year each year with the Feast Day of the Holy Innocents. 

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