Previous Sermons and Series at AUMC
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Jan. 2019: Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks
Our January sermon series was based on Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks by Diana Butler Bass. The award-winning author holds a Ph.D. in religious studies from Duke University. Come learn how the power of thankful living can change how we treat one another and transform the world.
Jan. 13: Canceled due to snow. Planned sermon transcript: “A Gift Exceeding Every Debt.”
Advent 2018: Christmas Begins in the Dark
With the Old Testament prophets, the Church at Advent confronts a bleak world deserving of judgment. To such a world Christ came to judge by being judged in our stead. To such a world he will come again.
November 2018: Neither Republican Nor Democrat
Diversity of views is not an obstacle to be overcome but is itself a sign of the gospel. In a time when our culture is balkanized by labels and loyalties, the grace of God creates communities where those worldly distinctions can exist in submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our three-week sermon series is based on Paul’s letter to the Galatians.Click here to read Jason's introduction to the series.
We cannot take the gospel for granted because the Gospel does not come naturally to any of us.
In a nutshell, that’s the crux of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians — one of the oldest and possibly the most influential books of the New Testament — the focus of our November sermon series.
The gospel does not come naturally to any of us because the gospel comes as “Jesus Christ and him crucified,” whose grace sets us free from all religious obligation (the Law) and, in so doing, demolishes all the distinctions we put around ourselves.
St. Paul saves his harshest criticism for the churches in Galatia. In Corinth, church members were having sex with their mother-in-laws, showing up drunk to the Lord’s Table and fighting over scraps of meat sacrificed to idols. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians is a wilder read than Fire and Fury, yet St. Paul lays it on thick for the Corinthians. He calls them saints and dear ones and he thanks God for them. By contrast, in Galatians Paul skips the traditional salutations entirely, gets right to reminding them of the Gospel, and by the time you get no further than Chapter 1, Verse 7, he’s calling them perverts, cursing them and calling down God’s judgment upon them.
Why is Paul so agitated? The Galatians were Christians who were doing the very things so many Christians in America do today, particularly at this time of year. The Galatians were Christians who assumed that they had advanced beyond needing to hear the gospel of Christ crucified for our sins every week. Everyone knows that Jesus died for our sins, right? We don’t need to hear that Sunday after Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. Let’s hear about what we’re supposed to do.
The problem with focusing on doing, however, is that sinners like you and me quickly start measuring how much we’re doing and how little others are doing. We start using doing as a means to justify ourselves and elbow ourselves past our neighbors. We start adding qualifiers to the title Christian: social justice Christian, family values Christian, progressive Christian, traditional Christian, pro-life Christians, pro-choice Christians…
In Galatians, Paul calls such thinking another gospel entirely. Indeed, he says it’s no gospel at all, for it nullifies the gospel. We’re justified, Paul insists, by grace alone through faith alone, and the gospel demolishes the distinctions between us. There is now in Christ neither male nor female, neither religious nor irreligious, neither — we could say — Democrat nor Republican. A gospel-centered community, therefore, is a non-anxious community where the distinctions which divide our culture are subsumed by our unity in the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
Grace makes us a community of differents. St. Paul says in Galatians that Christ has set us free from the Law; that is, Christ has set us free from experiencing any anxiety over the amount or quality of our religious doings. One of the burdens we’re freed from, I think, is the need to ‘fix’ our neighbors. We don’t have to make our neighbors see the world the way we see it, think about the world’s problems the way we approach them or vote the way we vote. This freedom, called grace, may be the particular gift God gives the church to offer our
- Nov. 4: “No Other Gospel” (Gal. 1:3-9) – The Church’s primary mission is to proclaim the gospel of grace in worship, word and work. Nov 4 bulletin and sermon.
- Nov. 11: “Faith Alone” (Gal. 2:16, 3:23-29) – The church grows together in faith in order to trust in God’s doing for us, grace and not our own doing, the law. Nov 11 bulletin and sermon.
- Nov. 18: “Free for Our Neighbors” (Gal. 5:1-6, 13-15) – The church is set free to serve our neighbors as ambassadors of the gospel. Nov 18 bulletin and sermon.
September-October 2018: “The Questions God Asks”
Deconstruction is having a moment.
Philosopher Charles Taylor writes in his 2007 book, A Secular Age, that authenticity is the hallmark of the secular age. Since doubt and disbelief, which we supposedly self-generate, strikes us as more authentic than faith we receive from text and tradition, doubt and disbelief are esteemed in the secular age. We’re encouraged by the secular culture to question faith and to suppose that our questions about God make us more authentic humans, and, because we’re conditioned by the culture to so suppose, we seldom stop to notice that those doubts and questions are often the very opposite of what we assume: us thinking for ourselves.
Baudelaire wrote that “the loveliest trick of the Devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.” The loveliest trick of the Devil might actually be to convince an entire society that doubt itself is most enviable and that deconstruction is the path of freedom.
You cannot deconstruct an unconstructed faith, just like you can’t give away something you haven’t got. Therefore, this fall for our worship series, we will do something counter-cultural. Rather than ask and wrestle with questions about God, we will take a look across the scriptures to those moments when God asks questions of us.
Why are you hiding? Where is your brother? Why are you laughing? Do you have a right to be angry? Do you want to be made well?
Rather than ask our questions of God, we’ll look at the questions God poses to us, and we’ll explore what the answers to God’s questions might reveal about a truly authentic human life.
- Sept. 9: “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:1-21) – Sept 9 bulletin and sermon video
- Sept. 16: “Why do you call me good teacher?” (Mark 10:17-27) – Sept. 16 bulletin and sermon transcript. Due to a power outage, no video was recorded.
- Sept. 23: “What are you laughing at?” (Gen. 18:1-15) – Sept. 23 bulletin and sermon video
- Sept. 30: “What is your name?” (Gen. 32:22-32) – Sept. 30 bulletin and sermon
- Oct. 7: “What is in your hand?” (Ex. 4:2-5, 5:1-9) – Oct 7 bulletin and sermon
- Oct. 14: “You have the right to be enraged?” (Jonah 4:1-11) – guest speaker: Brian Stolarz. Oct. 14 bulletin and sermon.
- Oct. 21: “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:27-33) – Oct. 21 bulletin and sermon
- Oct. 28: “Where is your brother?” (Gen. 4:1-17) – guest preacher: Rubén Rosario Rodríguez – Oct. 28 bulletin and sermon