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Sermons

Copies of the weekly John Knox Sunday Sermons are posted below in chronological order.

Noticing God

Genesis 28:10-22

Jacob was conniving, crafty, and swindled the birthright and other privileges from his somewhat gullible brother Esau. Well, you can keep at this for a period, but eventually, a sibling might wake up to the fact that he’s been had.  And about that time, Jacob is encouraged by his mother to get out of town.  Esau is filled with rage and Jacob is now in danger.  So he flees, far away in the wilderness.  Outside the boundaries of his homeland.
There in the wilderness, there without the security of home, Jacob is moved by a dream. He sees angels going up and down on a “staircase” or a ladder set between heaven and earth.
Wendy Mogul in her book the Blessing of a B- refers to this story.  She notes that Rashi, the great medieval commentator on the Torah, explains that the angels in Jacob’s dream were protective angels who are unseen by those they escort.  Rashi makes a distinction between the ascending angels who belonged to the Babylonian kingdom, and who had accompanied Jacob up to this point in his life, and the descending or “diaspora” angels for those who were leaving their homeland.  When Jacob reached the borders of his homeland, a ladder appeared because the ascending angels were being replaced with those who would protect him as he ventured outside the land of Israel.  
So in our context, we might recognize that for a child who has just graduated, and about to head off to work or school, new angels are needed, venturing angels, emboldening angels, who will take this child out into the world.  And new angels are needed for the parents as well who let go and receive heavens consoling help and guiding presence. 

Whatever it takes

Rev. Dr. Tom MacMillan

Philippians 4:1-9

English Hooligans

I came across this story in the book The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle.

Portugal was about to get wrecked.

It was the eve of the 2004 European Championships, an ever-four-years soccer tournament that ranks second only to the World Cup in size and spectacle. Hundreds of thousands of fans were streaming toward sparkling venues across this sunny nation. For Portugal, this was a big moment, its coming-out party on the world sporting stage. There was just one problem, and it was the same problem that has shadowed European soccer for decades: English soccer hooligans. 

The Portuguese organizers knew what they were up against because the previous championships, held four years earlier in Belgium, had provided a vivid lesson. The Belgium police had prepared well for the hooligans, spending millions training their force and equipping themselves with the best antiriot equipment, surveillance cameras, and information systems available. They had worked closely with the British government to identify and bar troublemakers from entering the country. In short, they had been as ready as possible to be. And none of it helped. Thousands of English hooligans, showing the sort of unified resolve their team had historically lacked, roamed wild, smashing shop windows, beating up bystanders, and battling riot police wielding batons, fire hoses, and tear gas. By the tournament’s end, more than one thousand English supporters were arrested, tournament organizers considered banishing the English team from the tournament, and pundits were wondering whether international tournaments might be a thing of the past

God’s Own

Rev. Dr. Tom MacMillan
I Peter 2:1-10

I Peter 2  So clean house! Make a clean sweep of all ill will and pretense, envy and hurtful talk…grow up mature and whole in God.
Welcome to the living Stone, the source of life. The workmen took one look and threw it out; God set it in the place of honor. Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God. The Scriptures provide precedent:
Look! I’m setting a stone in Zion,
    a cornerstone in the place of honor.
Whoever trusts in this stone as a foundation
    will never have cause to regret it.
9-10 But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

What we rid ourselves of

The first step Peter talks about is getting rid of stuff.  Cleaning house.  This can feel good.  At our Preschool Rummage sale last month, people did a good job cleaning house and bringing items.  Those items when sold, not only provided funds for our preschool, but also found a way into a new home.  People did the same for our closet clean out to benefit the youth in their mission trip in a few weeks.

A Matter of Life and Death!

Rev. Dr. Al Hart

Deuteronomy 30:11-19 & John 10:1-10

"I am now giving you the choice between life and death... Choose life."     Deuteronomy 30:19

I preached a sermon once called "Famous Last Words"...Christ's, of course, were featured. But I also remember the last words of H. G. Wells. He said to some of the crowd that was gathered around his bedside, "Don't bother me; can't you see I'm busy dying?" It was the last flicker of humor from a very gallant spirit! It was also a rather appropriate comment, since we are all, in a sense, busy dying...and it's been going on for a long time, since we were born. It's really not something to worry about...it takes a long time. But it is a fact of life, to use an expression to confuse the subject.

Halford Luccock, a religion writer and humorist of a previous day one said. "I was greatly cheered one day in reading of a Russian physician who had to discover how to live to be 150. Then a few weeks later I picked up a paper and read that he had died at the age of 70, so I had to revised my schedule."

"Can't you see I'm busy dying?"...a great exit line...but a far better area of thought for each of to ask is "Are we really living?" Are we making the most of our time here on earth?

Healing

Rev. Dr. Tom MacMillan

II Chronicles 7:11-18

Opening verses Psalm 37:3-5

If My people who are called by my name (II Chronicles 7:14)

That's where we begin. We belong to God. Maybe you have a group of people you oversee as a teacher, coach, instructor, boss. The ones you oversee may not be exactly where you want them to be, but you lead or encourage them with hope and a sense of responsibility. Maybe that’s how God sees us as God leads us with hope and a sense of responsibility. We begin with the reality that we are not our own. But we have some work to do.