Sunday July 14, 2019 5th Sunday After Pentecost Scripture Lessons: Psalm 13:1-6; I Samuel 21:1-14; Matthew 14:24-31 Sermon Title: That sinking feeling The Rev. Daniel Gómez, Preaching
When we are young, failure does not seem to affect us much. We can learn so much from our toddlers as they begin their first attempts to walk. They are clumsy awkward and fall. They get up and try again… clumsy & awkward, they fall again. They don’t give up and settle for crawling the rest of their lives. Peter was a water toddler. In his attempt to walk on water, like his faith, his steps were filled with uncertainty and with doubt.
Sooner or later, all of us will experience failure and no one likes it. But for some, it becomes a motivation to pursue new learning, a deeper understanding of self, and it fuels tenacity for a vigorous commitment. On the other hand, for
others, failure produces total defeat and a loss of hope; they choose to hide and decide to never again get out of the boat. Why is it that for some people failure is energizing, while for others failure is paralyzing?
We are not all alike and do not have the same approach to process failure in our lives. The perceptions and responses to failure make an enormous difference in people’s lives. Those who can learn from it maintain a deep
sense of their own fortitude of character and motivate themselves to… try again.
Some biblical examples of failure are found in the lives of Elijah, David, and Peter. A common denominator found in their attempts to deal with their failure was their ability to complain and grumble to God.
Did you know that this may be a gift God has given for us? Old Testament scholars say that there are different types of psalms. Some are inauguration psalms about the king; some are about thanksgiving or wisdom, and so on.
Scholars tell us that the single most popular category is the Psalm of Lament. The most frequent psalm consists of somebody complaining to God. God is not offended by this at all. God allows us to do this-in fact, he encourages it.
Sunday July 21, 2019 6th Sunday After Pentecost
Scriptures: Psalms 42:1-5; I Kings 19:1-13
Sermon Title: Why are you Here?
The Rev. Daniel Gómez, Preaching
Elijah literally finds himself in the wilderness in this reading, but he also seems to be figuratively in the wilderness as
he asks the Lord to take his life. Elijah has endured a traumatic episode with the prophets of Baal and Asherah up in the northern region of Carmel. Although he successfully dispatched the prophets and demonstrated God’s power to Ahab, something is wrong. Elijah experiences a sense of shame or failure or some type of emotion on which we cannot quite put our finger. It leaves him deflated, despondent and depressed.
We may never know what exactly led to this situation under the broom tree in the wilderness, but I imagine in our own lives… we can all think of difficult situations like this. The Bible presents these scenarios to us in order to highlight the travails of God’s people.
We can all probably recognize how we can be our own worst enemy. Oftentimes, we are quick to see the source of other people’s problems and fail at recognizing ours.
This story invites us to see how the Lord has been present to us in difficult moments. It also invites us to view our problems through a lens able to see God’s divine presence in the world.
Just as God is clearly present to Elijah in order to help him overcome his travails, we must have the same confidence that God is present in our lives
Sunday July 28, 2019 7th Sunday After Pentecost
Scripture: Mark 12:38-44
Sermon Title: “Are You Real?”
The Rev. Dr. Larry Norris, Preaching
We all know what it is like to observe a great illusion by a skilled magician. I once watched a large eight-foot metal replica of the Statue of Liberty, fifteen feet from my chair, completely disappear in front of my eyes! It was astonishing! Yet, illusions can be thought of in other ways.
People create “illusions” sometimes when their inner feelings don’t match their behavior. We often say that they are “incongruent,” or not being honest. We are all like that on occasions, and that is normal.
Jesus, however, goes after the Scribes and Pharisees because they are always acting in ways that demand respect, but do not possess the inner character to warrant that recognition. It is a tough indictment!
Jesus then observes the woman who gives everything she owns as an offering at the Temple. The point: the gift which really means something is the gift that costs something.
Sunday, August 4, 2019 8th Sunday After Pentecost
Scripture: * Luke 13:10-17
Sermon Title: Can Caring See Beyond Tradition?
The Rev. Dr. Larry Norris, Preaching
This powerful reading from Luke 13 gets at the heart of the kind of crisis that Jesus will bring to the world. To be in the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was Jesus’ custom (Luke 4:16), was to be at the heart of Judaism.
The disabled woman comes, perhaps with a quiet longing for healing. She makes no request of Jesus for healing, and nothing is said of her faith. Yet she is healed, and the synagogue leader, indignant that Jesus healed on the
Sabbath rather than on a weekday, takes his case to the people. Jesus indicts the religious leaders by calling them “hypocrites.” Debate ensues, and Jesus’ adversaries are put to shame. Yet, the “house is divided,” and lines are being
The questions for us are: Is every issue of equal importance in religion and the church? When do we need to take a stand? When does compassion and caring take precedence over long-held rules?