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Sermons from Main Branch

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Did I Say What I Think You Said?

Think of the last time you were in a restaurant, and the waiter or waitress refilled your glass of water. Did you simply continue carrying on your conversation, as if nothing had happened? Or, did you stop and acknowledge him or her, and say thank you? That’s a small use of our words, really, but it points to something big. In addressing that server, you are saying, “I see you. I see that you are a person, a child of God, and I will respect you as such.” After all, talking like a Christian doesn’t mean always talking religiously…but it does mean always talking faithfully. We’ve been talking these past few weeks about what it means to live as resurrected people, and it strikes me that the only reason we know about the resurrection at all is because someone tells someone else about it. And when it comes to us? When it comes to matters of faith, when someone asks why you go to church, or where you are on Wednesday nights, or how you can actually read that crazy book called the Bible, tell your truth, your whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and I promise you, it will be enough.   

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How Are Your Table Manners?

How are your table manners? Truth be told, it doesn’t matter a lick. Because everyone is welcome, and everyone is served. Those are the only manners Christ insists upon, and they are more than enough. That’s the way we eat in here, and if we practice it enough, it’s the way we’ll eat — and the way we’ll live — out there, too.

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We Need Each Other

Let us live like resurrected people. Let us look around and see the people around us—the ones we know and the ones we don’t. See them. Connect with them. Listen to them. Learn from them. The world needs us to live this way. God longs for us to live this way. So, let’s give it our best effort — and let’s do it together.

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Crucifixion (Good Friday)

Here it is worth pointing out a distinctive feature of MacCulloch’s book. He treats the important spiritual dimension of silence, but he also raises the ugly specter of the silence that has often prevailed in the face of injustice. Think, he bids us, of the church’s great silence for so many years in the face of the horrendous instances of clergy sexual abuse of children and teenagers. There, silence was enforced. Think also of other reprehensible instances of silence – of tolerating racism, of not addressing the systematic violence that pervades too much of our social lives. Think, too, of all the silence that has come about because of shame, of trying to hide something – sexual identity; unpopular views; sin, too. There, silence does not seem so good. There, it seems that words need to be spoken and spoken loudly.    But I would counsel that those words will not change anything, at least not very deeply, until we have learned something about Christ’s silence, for until we have quieted ourselves and learned how to use the silence of listening and the silence of loving obedience to God’s will, we will only contribute to a noisy moral chaos, albeit with noisy voices that would seek righteousness. For one will not ever understand suffering until one has learned silence and to hear the unexpressed hearts of those who have been silenced.

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Here We Are: A Reflection of Judas' Betrayal

When we are accused wrongly, do we follow Jesus’s example of silence? Jesus, to our accusations, has no defense. He simply listens with a head bowed, crowned with thorns. He knows that our words could free him from this agony. Yet, he does not defend himself or put us down. When we say that we are sorry and agree to consequences untold. Even suggesting that the blood of his death will cover us and our children (Matthew 27:25). Jesus remains silent. Except for the fact that his blood—the blood we are guilty of shedding—is the same blood that will wash us clean. It is not the water that washes the stains off our hands, it is not the silver we return, nor is it seeing to it ourselves. It is simply the blood that we forsake that reaches with arms outstretched, in unconditional love, and a head bowed, crowned with thorns. It is this love, a love unforeseen that will save us in order that we may be cleansed.

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