Category Archives: Preaching

Worship Tomorrow — August 5, 2023

Tomorrow, August 5, 2023, I’ll preach on Matthew 14:13-21 with a sermon titled “The Compassion of the Christ.” We’ll also celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion and hear special music from Heather Landsdowne, Angela Bunger, and Mary Ann Buhler. Isaac Weyeneth will give the children’s message, and Grace Hutchinson will be with us one final time as the worship leader before returning to Kansas Wesleyan.

Of Preachers and Math Teachers

In my last sermon, I made a point about how math teachers have the answers in their books but don’t share them with their students. Instead, the teachers have their students figure out the answers for themselves. I meant this as a good thing, but not all the former math teachers heard it that way. The point I was trying to make is that in his letters to various churches, the Apostle Paul did the same thing. He was teaching early Christians (and those of us who still read his letters now) to think theologically. To do that, he couldn’t just give out the answers; he had to share his thought process with them and us.

I’m thankful for the math teachers who brought this up with me and gave me a chance to clarify. I’m grateful they felt like they could speak honestly and frankly with me. Please let me know if you ever find yourself in a similar place.

Worship This Sunday!

This coming Sunday, September 25, 2022, I’ll be preaching on Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15. It’s one of my favorite stories in the Old Testament and I’m looking forward to sharing my take with all of you. But I’m even more excited to have the choir performing “African Psalm” by Patrick Liebergen. They’ll be joined by Kurt Gartner and Cole Parsons on percussion and Carol O’Neill on the flute.

#BeUMC: Making Sense of Things

Last Sunday’s sermon was titled: “#BeUMC: Reading Scripture Through United Methodist Eyes.” In that sermon, we talked about Article IV of the Confession of Faith, in which the role of Scripture is strongly confirmed. An excerpt: “We believe the Holy Bible, Old and New Testaments, reveals the Word of God so far as it is necessary for our salvation. It is to be received through the Holy Spirit as the true rule and guide for faith and practice. Whatever is not revealed in or established by the Holy Scriptures is not to be made an article of faith nor is it to be taught as essential to salvation.”

But Scripture is not the only source of theology for United Methodists. (It’s the main source, but not the only source.) We also use tradition, reason, and experience. We need all four if we are to think through our faith for ourselves and thus make it our own. The Book of Discipline affirms that “all Christians are called to theological reflection.”

This United Methodist Church recognizes the necessity of theological reflection and the existence of a large amount of diversity within that theological reflection. Again, from The Book of Discipline, “the Church encourages serious reflection across the theological spectrum.” This statement affirms the need for a well-reasoned faith, while also acknowledging the fact that our theological reflection often leads us to different places.

This encouragement to reason things out and to think for myself is another part of what I love about being United Methodist. The working title for my next sermon is “BeUMC: Making Sense of Things.” My texts include Acts 11:1-18, 1 Corinthians 15:12-28, and 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17.

#BeUMC Sermon on Scripture

Warning: I may get a little worked up Sunday. (But my ire won’t be directed at any of you.) I’m going to talk about how United Methodists value and use scripture. The sermon title is “#BeUMC: Reading Scripture with United Methodist Eyes.” I’ll be responding to the charge that we, as a church and as individuals, don’t take the Bible seriously. It’s a charge that I have really grown to resent in recent years. I chose this topic for this week because it’s also the Sunday when we present Bibles to third graders. Hope to see you there.

#BeUMC Part 2: Grace

This Sunday, I’m continuing my #BeUMC sermon series with a sermon on the United Methodist understanding of grace. Grace is commonly understood as God’s forgiveness of our sins. In the broader, biblical, (and United Methodist) understanding, grace includes the forgiveness of sins. But a better, more comprehensive, working definition would be that grace is a combination of God’s power and God’s love at work in the world, seeking to redeem all humanity and all creation. My text will be from Ephesians 2:1-10 with a nod to Philippians 2:12.

#BeUMC Part 1: Love Reigns

This Sunday, I’m preaching the first in a sermon series titled “What’s So Great About Being United Methodist?” or, to go with the denomination’s social media campaign, “#BeUMC.” Our beloved denomination hasn’t had the easiest time of it lately, but there are many reasons for us to stick with it. Reasons both theological and missional. This first sermon will feature one of the reasons theological, focusing on our belief that love is God’s reigning attribute. My text will be 1 John 4:7-21. I’ll be referencing John Wesley’s interpretation of this passage, but I aim to preach a sermon of interest to United Methodists and non-United Methodists alike.

Here’s the key quote from Wesley’s Notes on the New Testament:

God is often styled holy, righteous, wise: but not holiness, righteousness, or wisdom in the abstract: as he is said to be love: intimating that this is . . . [God’s] reigning attribute; the attribute that sheds an amiable glory on all his other perfections. [1]

[1] John Wesley, Notes on the New Testament, 1 John 4:8.