Had the pleasure of speaking for my friend Chris Breslin at Oak Church a few weeks ago. Being with them, in so many ways, felt like home. Thanks for the invite Chris!
A final sermon for the church we started and love. Thirty or so minutes couldn’t begin to cover all things the I would have wanted to say. Or all hopes and prayers for them as the continue forward.
Didn’t intend it when I scheduled it, but this turned into a celebration of all those who have stepped into critical roles in the life of Austin Mustard Seed. And now maintain critical roles as they carry forward the life of our church community. One of the easiest sermons I’ve ever preached, because really it just required me to talk about people I have deep affection for.
Continuing our journey, and my final series, through the life of Nehemiah. Getting a little more personal in this one, as I think circumstances dictate. Also, many apologies to all for three points that formed the acrostic H-I-P. They really were the best words to use.
The beginning of what is to be my final series of teaching at Austin Mustard Seed. A look at the life of Nehemiah that’s not focused on how to be a great leader or entrepreneur, as Nehemiah is often taught. But it is about how to prepare ourselves and partner with others to join in God’s work of rebuilding and repairing rather than settling into the cynicism and despair that is mor prevalent in our day.
The first time I’ve ever taught on Zacchaeus at Austin Mustard Seed, I think? And certainly the first time I ever used the story of Zacchaeus as a calling to participate in small groups of any kind. But I’d do it again.
Longtime Austin residents tend to hate a shopping/living/workspace development called the Domain — so they might be happy to know I likened it to voodoo in this one. Sort of. But I also talked about Paul and Barnabas’ time in ancient Philippi being pestered by a little girl (well, an evil spirit in truth) and singing in prison.
Quite possibly, in all my years of preaching and Bible teaching, my first reference to the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. Some meaningful and life important stuff to be found in here too, of course.
A sermon recycled from Mustard Seed for our friends at Vox Veniae. This one has stuck with me in mind, practice and other conversations, ever since I preached it for Austin Mustard Seed. I was glad to be able to have another go at it for my friends at Vox.
It had been a few weeks away from preaching, so it felt good to be back in the swing. I think this one came out as a coherent string of thoughts that moved from Anthony Bourdain to an ancient Pharisee rabble rouser to thoughts from a Sri Lankan theologian to a Congolese refugee pastor. And quite a few other ideas in the in betweens.
This summer, aMS is working our way through some of the primary story of the New Testament book of Acts. As we look at what happened in each city, we’re asking “What happens when the Holy Spirit leads the way?” Acts 7 kind of a sermon itself, so a sermon about a sermon was pretty meta.
Somehow, this is the third(!) time I’ve been with Vox on Pentecost. But it’s been a while since I was with them at all for a sermon, so it was good to be there.
Our final sermon in the Easter readings from 1 John. I focused on John’s final stand alone instruction to “Flee from idols.” It seems to have no connection to any of the rest of the letter, so why is it even there?
Continuing in the Easter readings through 1 John. And also continuing in what I noted below about how so much of 1 John feels fundamentalist and a little combative today. It can be read as a book about setting a community apart as being the ones who get it and have it all together, Ultimately, it becomes more encouraging and meaningful when read as how a church should respond to people who think they have surpassed what the church is about — how to live as a community that is being pushed to the edges rather than occupying the center.
For the Easter season, we decided to somewhat return to the lectionary by working through 1 John. Each week, we’ve started off with reading a chapter, and then offering a teaching on some part of that chapter. It was challenging with much of the language of 1 John evoking experiences of fundamental Christianity in North America. But since I like reconstructing how words might have been heard in ancient contexts rather than ours, it’s been fun for me too. I set a lot of that up in this sermon.
Resurrection is a pretty big deal. Each year, I use the Easter sermon to remind myself, and the rest of aMS, that we don’t need to do anything bigger or better than remember that. I focus on retelling the Easter story each year. This year, following the lectionary, I told the earliest recorded version of the story from 1 Corinthians 15. Along with some help from Francis Spufford and his book Unapologetic.
This felt very much like part two of my What is the Bible? sermon from last fall. It was an important part two on the value of regularly reading the Bible, especially since a number of people were challenged by the perspective I brought on the Bible in the prior sermon.
For the season of Lent, we’re doing a series on habits for living a life more like Jesus. Each week, we teach on a practice and then invite people to try it out and discuss their experience in their community group. I’ve taught on fasting a number of times in a classroom type setting, but this is the first time in a sermon. I see a sermon as being more about big picture and calling rather than practical workshop type teaching, so I tried to find the right balance. Definitely left out a few things I wish I would have said, but mostly felt happy with the result after listening back to this one.
The final in our series to name the methods that define what we value in the life of our church. This one: We raise leaders who have the capacity to form communities of Jesus.
The fourth of our newly developed Methods: We seek opportunities to expand beyond a fellowship of sameness to reflect the breadth of God’s kingdom. As a whole, I think our church has a lot of agreement on this topic, but a long way to go in making it a reality. A sermon that was as challenging to me as any other I’ve preached.