Copies of the weekly John Knox Sunday Sermons are posted below in chronological order.
Jesus Knows Me This I Love
April 16, 2017
Searching for Truth, Waiting for Connection, Moving with Meaning.
Searching for Truth
The scene opens with Mary Magdalene all alone at the tomb on a Sunday morning. She is the first to go and the first to grasp the resurrection.
From there she runs to announce the empty tomb to Peter and to the beloved disciple. "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him" (20:2)
It's like in track. When the gun sounds, the runners are off. That's how the disciples respond to Mary's words. They are off. Maybe there is an unspoken question, a driving curiosity clinging to their heart and mind, and ours as well, "Is it true?" Is it true that that the tomb is empty? Is it true that Jesus has risen and death has been conquered? Is it true that life triumphed over death, that good reigns over evil, that Jesus is alive and out and about in the world? Is it true that something so extraordinary happened on that morning that we can only rebuild our lives on its foundation? Is it true?
Nothing Held Back
Palm Sunday April 9, 2017
Years back while working on a Habitat site, I became friends with a man named Sam from our church. He told me about his wife and her battle with cancer. As it progressed, he struggled with how to help her through the pain. Whereas he was able to help provide shelter for needy families through Habitat for Humanity, he was unable to relieve the pain his wife dealt with daily. In her final week, while on hospice at St. Johns, Sam arrived at the hospital around 9am to find a large man outside her room. He was dressed in black jeans, a black tee-shirt, tatoos on his arms and a pony tale in his hair. Sam asked, "can I help you?" The man replied, "Hi, I'll be Jan's nurse today." While rather surprised, Sam was ready for any help available. For the next 6 hours, this nurse took charge and left Sam in complete awe. Never had he watched someone be so gentle, so caring, and so insightful. Jan was finally able to relax, was somehow released from her pain, was free to open up about her fears. The dignity, the comfort, the encouragement were gifts from God; all coming from a 6'3'' nurse. After Jan died and we held the service for her, Sam went searching for the nurse. When he call the unit, they had no awareness of the nurse Sam described. It was about a month later that Sam somehow discovered that this nurse had come from another unit in the hospital. Case load was light and he had an errand to run. While walking past Jan's room, he just got a sense that he needed to stay; that she needed his care. So he called his unit and told them where he would be for the day. After that call, Sam arrived and the day of blessing began.
From his prison cell, Paul urged believers who worshipped in Philippi to love like this. He wanted them to follow Christ's way of selfless service. To show up in places of need offer grace, extend compassion, show dignity, bring encouragement.
Paul had great affection for the people in Philippi. There is no doubt in his mind about the strength of this community and the genuineness of their conviction and care. He lifts up the qualities of their common life by which the church has been identified and sustained. But then he starts building on that foundation. There is a form of conduct to be avoided. Nothing from selfishness, nothing from conceit (empty glory), and not merely looking after one's own interests.
Can These Bones Live?
April 2, 2017
Opening verses Ezekiel 36:25-27
In the movie Fences by August Wilson, Troy announces, "Death ain't nothing. Death ain't nothing but a fast ball on the outside corner. You get one of those fast balls about waist high, over the outside corner of the plate where you can get the meat of the bat on it, and you can kiss it goodbye."
In the movie, Troy's metaphor foreshadows an inevitable fall into the role of a tragic figure. When a man thinks he can beat death, the inevitable discovery of that feat's impossibility awaits him. But we find a different dynamic at work when God is up to bat.
The valley Ezekiel is taken to in his vision appears to have been the site of a terrible defeat. The bodies of the slain were not granted the dignity of a proper burial. God is not just in the land of their dreams, back in Jerusalem of distant memory. God is in the valley asking Ezekiel a question.
Can these bones live?
Now I See
March 26, 2017
Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack, a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in... (Leonard Cohen – Anthem)
The disciples see the blind man, but they have a question. "Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?" This is how their eyes have been formed, how the world has taught them to see. They see him through the eyes of guilt and blame. We've done this as well. We want to know who is at fault. Where does the blame lie? What did I do to deserve this? Is God getting me back? They must have done something to deserve their state. Too many people carry this kind of belief around – that their suffering or that of someone close to them is their fault.
But Jesus interrupts this line of reasoning, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned." In other words, there's not a connection between sin and suffering here. This man was born blind. God can redeem suffering but does not cause it. God can and does work toward healing. Neither this man nor his parents sinned.
Jesus essentially says, "In order that God's works might be revealed in him, we must work the works of him who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work," (Jaime Clark-Soles commentary).
In other words, you guys can keep going on with your own inquiry, but I'd rather get to work. This man was born blind. No amount of fault finding or blame casting is going to change his condition. In fact, it demoralizes him. Here sits a man, not a "case" or "issue".
Healing Prayer 03-12-17
Healing Prayer –Kay Beavan
The Second Sunday of the Month, is a healing prayer Sunday when 2 teams will be waiting at the end of the service to pray with you at the front of the pews.
What concerns might prompt you to ask for prayer? a physical problem? a troubling diagnosis; maybe the anxiety of waiting for a diagnosis.
An important decision needs to be made; you want guidance.
Maybe a co-worker or friend is suffering and you want prayers for them.
You might want to pray for an improved relationship with a relative or friend.
Perhaps a life stage is giving you grief: The honeymoon phase of your marriage has passed. Now what do you do. You are a parent, who doesn’t need help with that; maybe you are the child of an aging parent. Maybe you are aging.
Life is Hard. I think it’s designed to bring us to our knees in front of the Lord.