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