Sermon: It’s not how we look. It’s what we do.

Our society is fixated on the body.

Beauty and youth are treasured so much to the point that even photos of young, beautiful women are airbrushed and photoshopped in magazines to remove even the slightest blemish. Companies advertise products like wrinkle creams and instant diet pills that will help us fit the societal image of beauty. Why are we so obsessed with this societal conception of beauty? One answer is because we are afraid of death, and the imperfect signs of aging our bodies’ naturally expose.

However, as Christians we do not need to be afraid of death. Yes, our body is important in this life, but what’s more important is what we do with our body. God has empowered each of us with different gifts to use to live out God’s word. At the end of our earthly lives, it does not matter what our physical body looks like, but rather what we did with our body to advance God’s purpose.

Sermon

“Bare Seeds Wild From the Hot, Blind Earth”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
1 Corinthians 15:35-49
May 21, 2017

Sermon: In defeating death, Jesus became the ultimate authority

Christianity is no fun if there’s no resurrection. The resurrection of the body of Jesus Christ is at the root of God’s authority over every other authority.

Powerful people — from kings to emperors, to dictators to Presidents — have consistently used death as a tool of power. It’s the final enforcement for rulers — if you disagree with them or cross them, you are met with death. The fact that Jesus conquered human death renders the powerful powerless. The resurrection of Jesus is an interruption in the power that allows us to transform the world for God’s intention.

Christian hope is not blind optimism. It’s a deep trust that the intentions of God will not be overcome.

“From First Fruits to Last Battle”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
1 Corinthians 15:12-26
May 14, 2017

Sermon: We need the resurrected Jesus

Some Christians try to explain the resurrection, as if it’s some sort of math problem. Others look at it as a representation of a feeling that Christ is with us — a feeling of not being alone.

However, it’s impossible for us to explain the Godly feat of the resurrection, and it’s not enough to think of the resurrection as a “feeling.” But we must embody the resurrection, because our own personal spirituality is not enough to get us through difficult times. We need the risen Jesus.

Because being a Christian is about, “letting the reality of the risen Lord call us into situations that our bodies would not have the power to into unless is was accompanied by our strong companion, Jesus Christ, the resurrected Lord.”

Sermon

“Hand-Me-Down-Gospel”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
1 Corinthians 15: 1-11
April 30, 2017

Sermon: Open Hearts, Open Minds, Locked Doors

“Peace be with you.”

Those were the first words Jesus said when he appeared to the disciples after his resurrection. Jesus could’ve gone anywhere after his resurrection. He could’ve gone to the Pharisees, showing them how wrong they were about him. He could’ve gone to Pontius Pilate and lectured him about true justice. Even if he went to the disciples, he could’ve expressed his disappointment at how they abandoned him.

But Jesus went to them and said, “Peace.”

Peace and forgiveness is important as we discern our own Christianity, in our personal lives and as a church. We must make sure our minds and hearts are filled with the Holy Spirit and the love of God in our decisions and interactions. Without Jesus, are actions are empty.

“Open Hearts, Open Minds, Locked Doors”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
John 20: 19-38
April 23, 2017 • Second Sunday of Easter

Sermon: Jesus is risen! But do we know him?

He is risen!

But what does Jesus’ resurrection truly mean to us? Are we really ready to accept the risen Jesus? Or are we too comfortable with our earthly life that we prefer to live our lives as if Jesus is dead?

If we are truly ready to accept the risen Jesus, and the eternal life offered to us, that we need to relinquish our need for certainty and comfort. Our desire of safety must disappear. Because that default setting that tells us to follow our bliss, maximize our profits and seek earthly pleasure  is not the life Jesus demands of us.

If we really accept Jesus, we must fly away from those habits that signal to us that Jesus is dead. He is risen! It’s up to us to change our ways and accept the risen Jesus.

Sermon

“The Jesus I Never Knew”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
John 20: 1, 11-18
April 16, 2017 • Easter Sunday

 

Sermon: Church is not a den …

When Jesus enters the temple in Matthew 21:12, he overturns tables and chairs, saying “My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you are making it a den of robbers.”

Many interpretations of this passage focus on the evil Jesus felt was happening inside the church.  That’s an easy way to view this passage. We would never do evil in the church. However, Jesus says the money changers are making it a “den of robbers.” What is a den? It’s not a place where robbers do their evil deeds. Rather, it’s a place where robbers congregate after their evil deeds done — a place where they can feel safe.

How many of us attend church on Sunday seeking a den — a place where we escape the sin of our everyday lives — only to go back to committing those sins again on Monday? Don’t come to church telling yourself you’ll be alright because now you’re in God’s house. Change your ways.

Sermon

“After the Parade”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Matthew 21: 12-22
April 9, 2017 • Palm Sunday

Sermon: Lazarus needs our help. What will we do?

We are familiar with the story of Lazarus — the person Jesus raised from the dead. However, the story of Lazarus is much more. In this story, Jesus is calling us to action.

The story of Lazarus is rooted in Jewish tradition — the story of Eliezer of Damascus who comes to people as a poor man to deliver a blessing of God, only to be ignored by rich and powerful people. Translated to New Testament Greek, Eliezer is “Lazarus.”

In this present time, as struggle to balance our Christian faith with American policies regarding the poor and outcast, including illegal immigration and refugees, we must recognize what Jesus did for Lazarus.

“As we weigh risk and burden against faith and call, Lazarus comes to us.”

Sermon

“When We Encounter Lazarus”
Sermon by Shannon Mayfield
John 11: 1-45
April 2, 2017

Sermon: Form an alternate political reality with silence

God is always open to having a relationship with us. But often things get in the way of our relationship. One such thing our human desire for recognition, which can lead to self-righteousness. Jesus addresses this when he tells us in Matthew 6 that when we pray, we should do so in secrecy. Those who pray loudly and publicly trump their Christianity are receiving their reward on Earth — recognition.

It’s easy to understand take this story literally and think it’s just about prayer. But it’s about more than that. It’s about our relationship with God. In this highly partisan time, we’re tempted to publicly tout our allegiances to political parties and policies, surrounding ourselves with Facebook friends who will praise our beliefs. But are we doing this just to feel vindicated in our beliefs?

Imagine if we took Jesus’ words to heart, and practiced secrecy in our prayer. Imagine if we silently praised God and practiced God’s work on Earth. Imagine the political influence we would have if we, as people of God, all silently acted like Jesus, instead of arguing about what to do. Silence can be the formation of an alternate political reality.

Sermon

“The Secret Life of Piety”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Matthew 6: 1-7, 16-18
March 19, 2017 • 3rd Sunday of Lent

Sermon: The Lord’s Prayer

Jesus teachingWhen the disciples asked how they should pray, Jesus replied with the words to what is now known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” It’s a prayer that Christians often cite, but rarely reflect on the power of the words being said.

Although there are many formal words in The Lord’s Prayer, the essence of the prayer is what’s essential. We are recognizing that God is a “hallowed” being — beyond our human essence — and are asking God to be among us. And we are asking God to provide what we need to survive, to forgive us, to help us forgive others, to protect us from evil

For those who don’t or rarely ever pray, The Lord’s Prayer gives us a launching pad for meaningful prayer. But only if we think about the word’s we are reciting.

Sermon

“The Lord’s Prayer”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Matthew 6:5-13
March 12, 2017