Sun, 20 December 2015
Father Michael McGhee preached a sermon on Gratitude on the Fourth Week of Advent December 19, 2015.
Gratitude is our “home in the presence of God” (Henri Nouwen). For Christians, “gratitude follows grace like thunder follows lighting” (Barth). It would then seem to follow that when a Christian considers the grace received in Jesus, gratitude would naturally spring from the heart. Yet sadly, gratitude seems to be a rare commodity in the church and even more rare in the culture. Part of this has to with the envy, consumerism and entitlement that is so prevalent today. These three things combine to create expectations of people, institutions, and ourselves that have little basis in reality. These expectations create an unending cycle of striving for unattainable things and ideas— mainly because they do not really exist—which poisons our relationships and communities . The antidote to this is equal parts gratitude and affirmation: gratitude for what we have been given and affirmation of who we are.
Mon, 7 December 2015
On Saturday, December 5, 2015, Father Michael McGhee preached a sermon on Telling the Truth for the Second Week of Advent.
Telling the truth is not just a matter of facts, but a way of life. A truthful life is characterized by patience, gentleness, forgiveness, to name just a few. Living a truthful life together means life will be a bit messy, but the freedom it offers a community makes the hard work worth it. There may not be a more fear inducing phrase in the Church than “speaking the truth in love.” Although the Apostle Paul used it to speak of how we grow up (Ephesians 4:15), in todays church, it usually means that you are about to get beat up by a list of your faults— and you can’t get angry because it was offered in “love”. “Being truthful is not only about speaking hard things, but discerning the whole picture with gentleness, humility, and patience. A person’s gifts and flaws often come packaged together, and it is important to discern the difference between weakness and wickedness.” (Pohl, Living into Community). To live truthfully means we must acknowledge our sin; however, we must tell the whole truth. We must speak of Grace.
The belief in an all-knowing God should inspire the search for truth; the awareness of our human limitations should make us modest about the claims that we have found it, however. We ‘know in part’ (1Corinthians 13:12) first because we are finite beings…. ‘We know in part,’ second, because our limited knowledge is shaped by the interests we pursue and filtered through the cultures and traditions we inhabit. - Miroslav Volf
Mon, 7 December 2015
On November 28, 2015, Father Michael McGhee preached a sermon on hospitality for the First Week of Advent.
In this first week of Advent, our focus turns to hospitality. Hospitality has always been a central Christian practice. Our welcoming of others is reflective of the Grace we received when God welcomed us as Sons and Daughters. Hospitality is not simply a matter of technique (fancy meals, lavish homes, special soaps in the bathroom no one ever gets to use). Jean Vanier offers, “Communities in which hospitality is a vibrant practice tap into deep human longings to belong, find a place to share one’s gifts, and be valued. The practice of hospitality reflects a willingness on the part of a community of people to be open to others and to their insights, needs, and contributions. Hospitable communities recognize that they are incomplete without other folks but also that they have a ‘treasure’ to share with them (Community and Growth).” So our practice of hospitality is not just a welcoming of people into our homes, but creating space for people to share the gifts God has given them. We seek to meet the needs of others not only in a physical sense, but also in a way that allows them to grow more fully into who God has created them to be.
Mon, 23 November 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “A Heart Fixed on Hope” for The Feast of Christ the King on November 21, 2015. Jesus is the King who leads the people of God, the prophet who announces the Word of God, the priest who celebrates the mystery of God.
The Feast of Christ the King
This is what is involved in realizing and embracing the Holy Spirit-created realities of church. We take a long and loving look at what we see right before our eyes in our chosen or assigned or last-chance chance congregation. And then, persisting in what we see, internalizing ing in our prayers as church takes form in worship and baptism and eucharist, we give witness to what we gradually but very surely know the church is in the only terms in which the Holy Spirit forms it - on this earth, this ground, this local San Diego, Wichita, Chicago ground, with these local and named saints and sinners.
Who else other than a baptized Christian has such continuous access to the story that keeps us attentive to what the Holy Spirit brings into view, into awareness - church as it actually is? Not a Tirzah illusion, sion, not a "terrible as an army with banners" illusion, not the lie of a humanly managed popular provider of religious goods and services, but a congregation of embarrassingly ordinary people in and through whom God chooses to be present to the world.
This is not what the church looks like to outsiders; in fact, this is not even what it seems to be most of the time to insiders. But this is what it is. God does not work apart from sinful and flawed (forgiven, to be sure) men and women who are mostly without credentials.
Romantic, crusader, and consumer representations of the church get in the way of recognizing the church for what it actually is. If we permit - or worse, promote - dreamy or deceptive distortions of the Holy Spirit creation, we interfere with participation in the real thing. The church we want becomes the enemy of the church we have.
Eugene H. Peterson, Practice Resurrection:
Mon, 2 November 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon on Revelation 21:1-6 entitled “Knit Together” for The Feast of All Saints on October 31, 2015. All Saints Day reminds us that the Gospel travels through human relationships.
The Feast of All Saints
Sun, 25 October 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon on Mark 10:2-16 entitled “The Forsaking of All Others” for The Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost on October 24, 2015. Fidelity is the necessary practice or discipline that allows for the flourishing of our sexuality.
The Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost
Sun, 13 September 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon on Ephesians 4:7-16 entitled “Being the Church” for The Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist on September 12, 2015. We celebrated our 5th anniversary as a church.
The Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist
Tue, 1 September 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon on Ephesians 4:1-6 entitled “With Gladness and Singleness of Heart” for The Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost on August 29, 2015. Paul invites us as individuals and as a church to faithfully embody the Gospel in the everyday realities of our lives.
Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Sat, 22 August 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon on Ephesians 3:14-21 entitled “The End of All Our Exploring” for The Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost on August 22, 2015. Our transformation happens as the Gospel comes into contact with our struggle with mystery, with contradictions, with confusion, with inconsistencies in the world, inconsistencies in others, and inconsistencies within ourselves.
Sin is Behovely, but
All shall be well, and
All manner of thing shall be well.
Julian of Norwich, quoted in T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”
Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Sun, 16 August 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon on Ephesians 3:1-13 entitled “Insiders and Outsiders Together” for The Twelfth Sunday After Pentecoston August 15, 2015. In this passage, Paul shows how his own situation and the nature of the church demonstrate the power of God through weakness. He invites us to develop a Gospel imagination—the ability to see with God’s upside down wisdom.
(This sermon was preached at the 9:00 and 10:45 services of Church of the Redeemer in Nashville as well as St. John’s. This podcast was preached at the 9am service of Redeemer)
Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost
Sun, 19 July 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “Finding Our Story in God” for The Eighth Sunday After Pentecost on July 18, 2015. God Himself; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is the ground of our salvation, the source of our flourishing. The initiative for our flourishing is always with God—His patience and inexhaustible love are active toward us at all times and throughout our lives.
The Seventh Sunday After Pentecost
Sun, 12 July 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “Healthy in God, Robust in Love” for The Seventh Sunday After Pentecost on July 11, 2015. God’s plan to restore human flourishing is fulfilled and activated in Jesus Christ. All the requirements and conditions for our flourishing are not only in place, they are active and available.
The Seventh Sunday After Pentecost
Sun, 21 June 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “A Revolution of the Heart” for The Fourth Sunday After Pentecost on June 20, 2015. The Gospel, if it is taking root in our lives, effects a revolution in our hearts and minds, and completely changes the way we see the people and the world around us.
The Fourth Sunday After Pentecost
2 Corinthians 5:14-21
Mon, 15 June 2015
Our bishop and former Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan preached a sermon entitled “Agents in God’s Kingdom” for The Third Sunday After Pentecost on June 14, 2015. We were honored by our bishop’s visit and celebrated a number of Confirmations.
The Third Sunday After Pentecost
2 Corinthians 5:1-10
Mon, 8 June 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “Do Not Be Afraid” for The Second Sunday After Pentecost on June 7, 2015. The path out of fear is not power but trust, not strength but vulnerability before God. Unfortunately, it is easy to lose sight of this in a society that is confused about the goods we should seek and, at the same time, willing to exploit our fears and anxieties to sell us consumer products, to enlist in the latest program to improve ourselves, or to guarantee our kids will turn out alright.
The Second Sunday After Pentecost
2 Corinthians 4:13-18
Mon, 1 June 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “Reality Is Relational” for Trinity Sunday on May 31, 2015. God in Himself is a community of being--we are invited into a relational, participatory reality. Developing a rich, scriptural understanding of the Trinity is of central importance to the way we live in our everyday, ordinary lives with God as we live out his call for us in the places he has put us. Jesus is God’s Relational Blueprint for redeeming and restoring his relational connection with us and the whole of Creation.
Mon, 25 May 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “Enlarged in the Waiting” for Pentecost Sunday on May 24, 2015. Pentecost is Easter actualized in the church; Pentecost makes the resurrection power of the New Creation available to us. The Holy Spirit makes real to us all the realities and benefits of life with God in the present. Living by the power of the Spirit, participating in the Kingdom of God, enduring hardship and suffering is the beginning of our own cure. We can experience the eternal kind of life now, in the midst of our real and ordinary lives.
God, of your goodness give me yourself, for you are enough for me, and I can ask for nothing which is less which can pay you full worship. And if I ask for anything which is less, always I am in want; but only in you do I have everything. Julian of Norwich
Psalm 104:25-35, 37
Mon, 18 May 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “A Different Kind of King” for The Feast of Ascension on May 17, 2015. Israel’s expectation of their coming King was bound up with their uneasy relationship with Rome. When he came, Jesus did not initiate a peace accord, meeting important politicians and leaders. He didn’t gather an army around him to start a revolution. He didn’t create a fifth column to subversively and secretly undermine the Roman power. What did he do? He invited people to dinner, eating meals with whoever will have him into their home, embodying the Gospel through radical hospitality. He continues to invite us to a meal with him, welcoming us with radical hospitality.
(I preached this sermon at the 9:00 and 10:45 services of Church of the Redeemer in Nashville as well as St. John’s. This podcast was preached at the 9am service of Redeemer)
The Feast of Ascension
Mon, 4 May 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “Breathing Underwater” on John 15:1-8 for The Fifth Sunday of Easter on May 3, 2015. It is vitally important that we stay connected to Jesus, our True Vine. We stay connected with Him as a community when we gather each Sunday for worship through Word and Sacrament. Just as important, we stay connected with Him the rest of the week in our prayer and devotional life, through the use of spiritual and focal practices (or spiritual disciplines, as they are also known).
The Fifth Sunday of Easter
1 John 4:7-21
Mon, 4 May 2015
Michael McGhee preached a sermon entitled “Keeping Score” for The Fifth Sunday in Lent on March 22, 2015. We all keep score in one way or another. This means we often live under the weight of expectations and the need to earn love. In Jeremiah God tells us he will make a new Covenant with his people. This Covenant is not one of burden, but of grace. "Come to me all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest."
The Fifth Sunday in Lent
Mon, 4 May 2015
Brad Perry preached a sermon entitled “God’s Heart of Justice for the Poor” on for The Third Sunday in Lent on March 8, 2015. In Jesus’s cleansing of the temple as recorded in all four Gospels, we see the heart of God that desires justice for the poor. We also see a God that gets angry at the very idea of putting obstacles in the way of those who seek to worship Him.
The Third Sunday in Lent
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
Direct download: Gods_Heart_of_Justice_for_the_Poor_-_Mar_8_2015.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:11am CST
Sat, 25 April 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “Efficiency Versus Love” on for The Fourth Sunday of Easter on April 26, 2015. The challenge of the efficiency vs love is that it always take place in the midst of our finitude—we are creatures in time and space—we have limited power, resources, energy, time—so efficiency and love are always required—but we need to practice regular discernment, both in our lives and in our church, that efficiency is always in the service of love.
The Fourth Sunday of Easter
1 John 3:16-24
Mon, 20 April 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “The Kids Will Be All Right” on for The Third Sunday of Easter on April 19, 2015. This past Sunday we celebrated a baptism in our service. I took the opportunity to discuss the importance of the Sacrament of Baptism for the nurture and formation of our children’s faith. Below is a quote I refer to in the sermon:
“Young people leaving the faith” books are the home security commercials of the church. You know what I mean: those television advertisements for residential alarm systems that prey upon our anxieties, tapping into our reptilian instincts. They extort us by leveraging both our fears and our loves: our love for family—and for stuff, let’s be honest—and fear that some intruder will break in to plunder both…
If you look past the headlines and fear-mongering book titles, you’ll find that a more complex, nuanced, even hopeful picture emerges. Consider, for instance. a recent study based on multi-generational data compiled by the National Institute of Mental Health. The study confirms something both ordinary and revolutionary: when it comes to passing on faith, what matters is how you relate to your children. Authoritarian constriction doesn’t help (zealots only produce rebels); but neither does a hands-off, laissez-faire, let-the-kids-decide approach…proclaim the faith to your children, immerse them in the practices of the body of Christ, model the faith for them, and give them room to question it—the sovereign Spirit will do the rest.
James K.A. Smith, Comment
The Third Sunday of Easter
1 John 3:1-7
Mon, 13 April 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “Life as Participation” on 1 John 1:1-2:2 for The Second Sunday of Easter on April 12, 2015. In Jesus Christ—by humbly taking our flesh and becoming a Man, God Himself condescends to share our creatureliness and finitude and weakness, in order to lift us up in relationship to Him, to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. By allowing us to share in his life in Christ, we participate with Him, with each other, and with his Creation
The Second Sunday of Easter
1 John 1:1-2:2
Mon, 6 April 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “Do You Believe This?” for The Resurrection of the Lord on April 5, 2015. John wants us to know the Resurrection was inconceivable. Mary, Peter and John had no idea of what to expect as they arrived at the tomb. The curious way the grave cloths lay; the linen wraps and the neatly folded face cloth, was the first evidence that the inconceivable had happened.
The Resurrection of the Lord
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Mon, 30 March 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “To Ponder Like Mary at the Cross” for Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday on March 29, 2015.
"The Gospels depict Mary as pondering and, in a subtle but clear way, hold that up as the key mature action that someone can do to help take tension and darkness out of our world. Sacred Fire, Ron Rolheiser
Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
Mark 11:1-11 (Short Chapter)
Wed, 18 March 2015
Michael McGhee preached a sermon entitled “Get Angry” for The Fourth Sunday in Lent on March 15, 2015. Luke Skywalker taught us that anger was the path to the dark side, but maybe he was wrong. St Paul writes "Be angry, but do not sin." As Christians our anger might acutally be the path to deepening our faith, not the dark side. Ellen Davis writes “By refusing to listen to that anger and even take it on our lips, we lose an opportunity to bring our own anger into the context of our relationship with God.”
The Fourth Sunday in Lent
Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
Tue, 3 March 2015
Michael McGhee preached a sermon entitled “Repentance” for The Second Sunday in Lent on March 1, 2015. Jesus’ rebuke of Peter, “Get behind me Satan!” is one of the harshest statements in the New Testament, but there is something more than anger in His words to Peter. Jesus’ rebuke is actually an invitation to repentance, a statement made to point Peter in the direction of the Cross. Repentance is more than confession, it is “an true encounter with the reality that I am loved by God and even through I may not feel it and others may not see it, God deems me worthy to be loved. (Bolz-Weber)”
The Second Sunday in Lent
Tue, 3 March 2015
Michael McGhee preached a sermon entitled “Chocolat” for The First Sunday in Lent on February 22, 2015. Lent is an invitation to examination through prayer in fasting. Most often these practices led us to a place of lament. Ellen Davis has this to say about the nature of lament, “When you lament in good faith, opening yourself to God honestly and fully— no matter what you have to say— then you are beginning to clear the way for praise. You are straining toward the time when God will turn your tears into laughter. When you lament, you are asking God to create the conditions in which it will become possible for you to offer praise —conditions, it turns out, that are mainly within your own heart.
The First Sunday in Lent
Psalm 25:1-9 1
Tue, 3 March 2015
Michael McGhee preached a sermon entitled “Transfiguration” for The Fifth Sunday After Epiphany on February 15, 2015. The Transfiguration speaks to our present reality and to our future hope. John Yoder put it this way "To know that the Lamb who was slain was worthy to receive power not only enables his disciples to face martyrdom when they must; it also enables his disciples to go about their daily crafts and trades, to do their duties as parents and neighbors, without being driven to despair by cosmic doubt. Even before the broken world can be made whole by the Second Coming, the witnesses to the first coming-through the very fact that they proclaim Christ above the powers, the Son above the angels-are enabled to go on proleptically in the redemption of creation."
A PDF version of our Vision Statement can be downloaded here.
The Fifth Sunday After Epiphany
2 Kings 2:1-12
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Mon, 9 February 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “A Missional Community” for The Fifth Sunday After Epiphany on February 8, 2015. During the season of Epiphany, we are focusing on the vision and mission of St. John's. In this fifth sermon in the series, I discuss St. John's as a missional church. Mission is integral and essential to the church. If a church isn’t participating in mission, why should it even exist? But we understand a more holistic approach to mission; to see our parish in the larger story of God’s missional heart for each other, our families, our work, our neighborhoods, our city and county, as well as to the ends of the earth.
Due to technical difficulties, this sermon was not recorded. A PDF of my notes can be downloaded here.
A PDF version of our Vision Statement can be downloaded here.
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am CST
Mon, 2 February 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “Embracing Sabbath Rhythms” for The Fourth Sunday After Epiphany on February 1, 2015. During the season of Epiphany, we are focusing on the vision and mission of St. John's. In this fourth sermon in the series, I contrast the biblical view of time with prevailing notions of “clock time.” At St. John’s, we desire to live into Sabbath rhythms of work and rest as a church, as families and as individuals. These rhythms help us receive our homes, our families, our friends, and our church as gifts from God— leading to gratitude and worship.
A PDF version of our Vision Statement can be downloaded here.
The Fourth Sunday After Epiphany
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Mon, 26 January 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “A Teaching, Learning Community” for The Third Sunday After Epiphany on January 25, 2015. During the season of Epiphany, we are focusing on the vision and mission of St. John's. In this third sermon in the series, I discuss the second of three aspects of our common life together as a church that help us live into an alternative vision of human flourishing: We are a teaching, learning community. We flourish in our life, work and relationships as we grow in the wisdom and understanding provided by the Scriptures. A PDF version of our Vision Statement can be downloaded here.
The Third Sunday After Epiphany
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Tue, 20 January 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “A Liturgical, Worshipping Community” for The Second Sunday After Epiphany on January 18, 2015. During the season of Epiphany, we are focusing on the vision and mission of St. John's. In this second sermon in the series, I discuss the first of three aspects of our common life together as a church that help us live into an alternative vision of human flourishing: We are a liturgical, worshipping community. A PDF version of our vision Statement can be downloaded here.
For this service, we did a spoken Eucharist, a service without music. This provided a window into how the liturgy guides our worship, and the role of music in our worship at St. John’s.
The Second Sunday After Epiphany
1 Samuel 3:1-10
1 corinthians 6:12-20
Mon, 12 January 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “The Gospel Is Central” based on Mark 1:4-11 for The Baptism of the Lord on January 11, 2015. During the season of Epiphany, we are focusing on the vision and mission of St. John's. In this first sermon in the series, I discuss our commitment to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ the center of our life together. We believe the Gospel is the key to human flourishing.
A PDF version of our vision Statement can be downloaded here.
The Baptism of the Lord
Mon, 5 January 2015
Kenny Benge preached a sermon entitled “Stuff Matters” based on John 1:1-18 for The First Sunday after Christmas on December 28, 2014. The meaning of the Incarnation is that God cares decisively for real people in real places…and the stuff of Creation that make up those places.
The First Sunday after Christmas