Sermon: A Crack in Everything

The Gospel of Mark is different from the other Gospels. Mark is obsessed with the idea of God “shaking things up.”

Martin Luther King Jr. did not intend to be the Civil Rights icon he became. It was after he went to Montgomery to boycott bus segregation — and subsequently received death threats — that he realized the “dark sin of America.” King said that he prayed to God, confessing that he was weak and faltering. He called on God for help, thus beginning a long campaign of nonviolent protest and massive change in society.

Many times our world, even our theology gets broken, and we need God to step in. The good news is, God wants to be involved. And he wants to be involved through us. And only when God is involved can we shape this world in God’s image.

“A Crack in Everything”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Mark 1:4-11
Jan. 14, 2018 • Second Sunday After Epiphany

Listen to the choir anthem, “Baptize, O Holy Spirit.

Sermon: Missed By Nine Miles

The wise men were just nine miles off the mark of finding the location of the birth of Jesus. Their astrological knowledge led them to Jerusalem, where they naturally thought the “king” would be born. However, when learning Herod had know knowledge of a new king, the wise men consulted Scripture, which led them to the humble town of Bethlehem.

The wise men demonstrate an important lesson. It’s not enough to follow your human talents to seek out God. You need Scripture as well. Likewise, it’s not enough to only rely on the Bible. You need to be aware of the world around us, and utilize our God-given talents to change the world into God’s image.

There are many “religious” people in society who bury their nose in the Bible, while ignoring the suffering of those around them. They ignore and even criticize the work of scientists, doctors and journalists. Those people are not fulfilling God’s word, and are only fulfilling their self-righteous conception of Christianity. Jesus called out this hypocrisy, and we too, should be careful not to become self-righteous.

A Christian should have a Bible in one hand, and a newspaper in the other, and use both to do God’s work on Earth.

“Missed by Nine Miles”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Matthew 2: 1-12
Jan. 7, 2018 • 2nd Sunday After Christmas

Listen to The Word in Song, “Jesus, What A Wonderful Child.”

Sermon: Watch for the Hook

The American idea of “hope” is a concept that people use like a sweet jam, spread ever so lightly, over the bitter bread of injustice. We use sentimental language about the hope of the future as a way to ignore the injustice and oppression of the present.

If we want to be honest about Scripture, we will not participate in that brand of sentimentality, and be willing to look oppression, evil and sin square in the eye and say, “Yes. We have a problem here.”

But using human-made weapons like violence and power will never work. Throughout the Bible, there are stories of God using imperfect people to do God’s work. Today, God will use people like us and uses our weakness to make God’s power made known. Yes, there is hope. But we have to follow it up with prayerful action.

“Watch for the Hook”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Isaiah 59
Dec. 24, 2017 • Fourth Sunday of Advent

Sermon: Rebuilding the Ruins

The book of Isaiah is the story of how the Jews dealt with the collective trauma of their exile. Isaiah consistently reassures his people that they will be restored by God, and promises that there would be a servant who one day would restore creation.

The Spirit of the Lord never leaves us alone and is always searching the land to restore what we have broken. God is calling us to participate in what God is already doing. In the midst of darkness, do not despair — there is a hope more radical than anything our human minds can conceive of.

The problems of our world can be overwhelming, but we are called to rebuild this world. America is littered with institutions that are ruined. There is something each of us can do — right in our own community — to help.

God is looking to us to help rebuild this city. How will we respond to God’s call?

 

“Rebuilding the Ruins”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Isaiah 61: 1-11
Dec. 17, 2017 • Third Sunday of Advent

Sermon: Love on the Way

We all have the ability to love. But the difference between our love and God’s love is that our love comes and goes, while God’s love is constant.

When we recognize that our ability to love comes from God, then we will be able to practice constant love with humanity. God wants us to love every member of our family, and that extends beyond our immediate family to our community and the world.

Our love must extend to the Syrian refugee, the war-torn family in Egypt, and the immigrant separated from his children due to deportation. That is the only we can get our family back together.

 

“Love on the Way”
Sermon by Dr. Robert Foster
Isaiah 40: 1-11
Dec. 10, 2017 • Second Sunday of Advent

Sermon: Despite Appearances

People who “pray in the runs” tend to get desperate when they pray, and sometimes it may feel like God doesn’t answer our prayers. We may feel that God is not with us.

There are a lot of times in Scripture where God’s presence is obvious to the reader, but the attention of the people is elsewhere. When Jesus was born, many people saw him as just another refugee child.

For us to see God today, we must slow down. Instead of asking how can God appear to us, we need to do ask ourselves what can we do differently to see God.

“Despite Appearances”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Isaiah 64: 1-9
Dec. 3, 2017 • First Sunday of Advent

Sermon: The Hostipitality of Christ the King

WITHOUT BORDERS SAN DIEGOJesus makes it clear that eternal life depends not just on what we believe, but also what we do. He tells us to be hospitable, but this isn’t about inviting friends over to dinner.

Hospitality accepts the limits of hostility. Genuine hospitality is an openness to those people and ideas to which we are hostile. Practicing this type of hospitality is incredibly difficult, but we could look to the life of Jesus as an example.

Jesus lived a life of being a stranger while subsequently being the host. As he reached out to the outcasts of society — the poor, the sick, the imprisoned — he himself was being rejected by religious leaders of the day.

We can reconnect with Jesus, the host and the stranger, by reading Scripture, receiving Holy Communion and participating in worship.

Sermon

To listen to The Word in Song, “I Just Want to Thank You, Lord,” click here.

“The Hostipitality of Christ the King”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Matthew 25: 31-46
Nov. 26, 2017

Sermon: Your Song

Moses knew that once his people lost sight of God, the image of themselves would get bigger and bigger.  He tells us, “Don’t exalt yourself and forget the Lord, your God.”

It’s so easy to forget that the gifts we have — money, success, family — are all gifts from God. And as we begin to separate our gifts from God, we begin to think that our blessings are due 100 percent to our hard work. We begin to congratulate ourselves. And that self-congratulations eventually becomes conviction. And that conviction eventually becomes ideology. And that ideology eventually becomes oppression. Those gifts we have taken, but not been acknowledged as from God, take us from the edge of the promised land back then into the middle of the national tragedy we are in now.

People in power have taken the gift given to them and used it to oppress others. If they acknowledged those gifts came from God, they would use their power for good — to help the poor, to stand for the oppressed. if we recognize our gifts come from God, we will use those gifts to help the oppressed, to right wrongs, to spread love.

The worship of God should rattle the rafters of the church and change this world.

Sermon

“Your Song”
Sermon by Shannon Mayfield
Deuteronomy 8: 7-18
Nov. 19, 2017

Sermon: Love Calls Us to the Things of This World

Jesus was often accused by church elders of violating Jewish law — for instance,  healing on the Sabbath. This should not be interpreted that Jesus did not support laws. In Matthew 22: 34-40, Jesus said the two most important laws are to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. If these two laws are followed, then everything else will fall into place.

However, unlike the Beatles song, love is not all we need. Loving one another must go beyond love. It has to be supported by action. Our love for one another is not just an idea — it’s manifested in how we take care of each other. And through church, we can consistently see the face of the neighbor and be challenged to demonstrate our love through our stewardship.

Sermon

Choir anthem: “Come Dwell in Solomon’s Walls.” (Click to listen.)

“Love Calls Us to the Things of This World”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Matthew 22: 34-40
Oct. 29, 2017

Sermon: Apparel Oft Proclaims

In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14), Jesus tells the story of a king who ordered his servants to go out and invite anyone and everyone to a wedding banquet for his son. However, when the king finds one man at the party not dressed in the attire provided him, the king casts him out.

Just like the wedding feast in the parable, Jesus tells us that the invitation to the kingdom of God is wide, however, the expectations to be in the kingdom are high.  The wedding guest was cast out not because of his lack of fashion, but rather his disregard for the seriousness of the event. It’s not enough for us to be in the kingdom of God. We must be filled with the goodness of the Holy Spirit, and express our holiness through our daily actions and interactions with others.

This is as high as the bar gets. Are we clothed in the garment of Jesus? Do our actions show the holiness of Christ? For us to stay in the kingdom, our response to God’s invitation must be real, open and honest.

Sermon

“Apparel Oft Proclaims”
Sermon by The Rev. Joe Gunby
Matthew 22: 1-14
Oct. 22, 2017