Light of the World

John 1:1-4

Jesus told his disciples and crowds, “You are the light of the world!” Amazing! How? Shine the light in beautiful/excellent works that show God’s glory: live the Sermon on the Mount. 
John sets that process within the great event that God has accomplished in Jesus. Last week we looked at the Foolish Cross/Resurrection as God’s Wisdom/Power that unites physical and spiritual, heaven and earth. Human life and work matters (‘not vain’) toward new creation. 
John’s intro overviews the grand event all the way back to the Beginning (Gen 1). The Logos (Word, Reason, Wisdom), the depth of God: “with God” relationship, “was God” identity. From “being” to “becoming.” Creation through Logos. “In him,” life comes to be as the place where Logos is shared. For humans that life becomes illumination, Light : a physical image for a life of purpose, relationship, meaning. That’s the event: Light is shining... bringing the “being” of God/Logos into the “becoming” created world. Not stopped. 

Following Jesus in an Age of Many Faiths

John 14:1-10

Nearness – The Challenge and Mystery of other Faiths
As a child, I grew up in a sectarian world. We joked about being the only ones going to heaven, but thought it likely true. A small heaven. The religious “others” were Baptist, Methodist. The Nat. Geographic still explored unknown regions of earth. Now we’re all next door.
I’ve learned a lot by study and relationships: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, vast cultures and literatures. I’ve learned the vast variety in Christianity. There’s so much I’ll never grasp because I don’t live inside the world of Vishnu or Pure Land Buddhism or Greek Orthodoxy. We can’t escape human limitation. A continuing journey, drawing on resources of faith.
We live in a secular world that deals with faiths by saying none/all are “true.” I partly share in that. I put little trust in “religion” as a general phenomenon in human culture. It’s both good and bad. My faith stakes all of life on Jesus, on the God of Israel known in Jesus, on the God who as creator is the source of all existence, the lover of all, giver of life and hope.
Modesty – Learning from other Faiths

The Harvest of the Wicked Wounded

John 4:27-28

A Small Text to Radically Reorient Our Worlds

This text falls in an awkward place in the middle of one of the most famous narratives from the Gospel of John. We have before us a side conversation, and a cryptic one at that, as John is often want to do. Here Jesus offers John’s version of a most elemental metaphor for Christian faith and witness: the harvest. But as is often the case in the fourth Gospel, Jesus is here not just to communicate but to disrupt our assumptions, to jar our categories, and to enable us to reconsider God’s work in the world and our place in it. In other words, Jesus is concerned with nothing more than the revelation of the very nature of God in himself and his encounters with people, particularly those who are seeking some answers, some hope, something that doesn’t perish, spoil, or fade. 

Jesus in this engagement with his disciples is concerned that they have a change of vision, a change of priorities, a transformation on the way in which they engage with and perceive the needs of the people around them. 

But when you and I approach this text we do not come to it blindly, as if we are hearing for the first time. Neither do we come to it in a vacuum, as if what is really going on here has no bearing on this response that Jesus has to those closest to him. And what I want to explore are a number of ways that we have been misshaped to read this text, and the larger story that it is a part of, and more importantly how we have thought about our place in the world as the redemptive presence of God in a deeply wounded world.

Jesus and the Wind of the Spirit

John 3:1-16

The Searcher Struggling to Understand John gives us a glimpse of a likely long, but amazing conversation. Jesus has just confronted the temple authorities and now one of them, impressed, comes to Jesus: a Pharisee, a teacher, member of Sanhedrin, open to Jesus’ teaching, affirming God’s presence. Jesus takes him seriously. He has seen signs, but they point to revealing a new reality in Jesus. He unveils the new level of God engaging humans, doing what the temple had symbolized. Birth “from above” (another) can also mean “again.” It’s misunderstood by Nicodemus. Birth from Above and the Breath of God

The Candle of Hope: God's Surprising Sizzle Reel

John 1:1-14

This week, Jeff Walling is our guest speaker for this week.
Jeff is from Pepperdine University in California, where he directs the Youth Leadership Initiative. He is an outstanding preacher who has led congregations on both the east coast and west and is widely called on to speak at conferences and lectures. Jeff delivers the message on HOPE for the first week of Advent. Download the message above, and listen to Jeff as he illuminates the HOPE found in the story of God coming to be with us in Jesus.

Shepherding for the Kingdom of God

Matthew 10:11-18

Jason Isbell, the Children and Student Minister at the Manhattan Church of Christ, brings a message exploring the connection between fatherhood and Jesus’ self-identification as a shepherd in John 10:11-18. The sermon looks beyond a simple calling to be a “Good Father” and challenges the church body to be people, in the words of Jesus to Peter, that “feed my sheep.” This sermon was delivered on the Sunday immediately after the horrific attack on the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Key Ingredients

Matthew 12:43-45 and John 7:37-39

This sermon explores the implications of Jesus' brief parable in Matthew 12:43-45 in which a soul that is left empty after an evil spirit's departure is subject to an even worse state when the spirit returns with 7 others.  Following God is not simply about abstaining from evil, but also replacing that evil with all the good that Jesus has promised us, and with the promised Holy Spirit in particular.  The sermon includes an illustrative demonstration of jars (representing souls) being filled with dried beans of different colors to represent the forces of darkness, the world, and the Holy Spirit.