Archive for July, 2010

Don’t forget… New sermon series starts Sunday

July 8, 2010

Our sermon series, “Can You Hear Me Now?” starts this Sunday, July 11. We will talk about the call of Moses (including that burning bush) in Exodus 3:1-15. There were many good reasons, based in part on his own history, that Moses was not well-suited to fulfill God’s mission, but God calls him anyway. Why? And what does that mean for us? What reasons do we have for not answering God’s call today?

The service will also feature a video of Renée Sassaman talking about how she answered God’s call in her involvement in the church’s homeless ministry. Here’s a sneak preview of her experience…

Vinebranch band video clips

July 8, 2010

Thanks to Edward, here are a couple of clips from last Sunday’s service. Since it was a holiday weekend, they even let me play acoustic guitar!

Sermon for 07-04-10: “Live As Free People”

July 7, 2010

Scripture Text: 1 Peter 2:11-17

I took last Sunday off as Lisa and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. We did many fun things, but mostly we celebrated our marriage by temporarily getting rid of one of the lasting side-effects of being married for 17 years—namely, our three children! We dropped them off on Friday with some friends who kept them until Sunday! I’m reminded of that great Paul Simon song on Graceland, in which a father tells his children about meeting and courting his future wife, their mother: “Well, that was your mother/ And that was your father/ Before you was born, dude/ And life was great/ You are the burden/ Of our generation/ I sure do love you/ But let’s get that straight.”

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Happy Birthday, America!

July 4, 2010

Here is my Facebook status for today:

Happy Birthday, America! And while I’m at it, let me say thanks to Britain for all the good things you gave us… like common law and the Beatles. But not for your system of measurements, because that really blows. Still, we love you and no hard feelings for all that nastiness 234 years ago.

Let me also share one of my favorite songs about America, “American Tune,” by Paul Simon. It was on his second solo album in the early ’70s, but this version—with his ex-partner Garfunkel at their reunion concert in Central Park in 1981—is the one I fell in love with as a kid. I wish the song weren’t quite as pessimistic as it is. In the stagflation and Watergate days of the ’70s it surely rang true for a lot of people—and depending on whom you ask, it probably still does.

But the song could also be heard as a healthy kind of disillusionment. No nation, no system of government, no human institution—no matter how good or well-intentioned—can possibly address our deepest needs. What can? Who can? So maybe on the other side of the song’s pessimism and disillusionment, we find God.

When I hear Art’s ethereal tenor and these harmonies and this melody (which Simon cribbed from Bach, or so I’ve read), I find God! It’s one of those impossibly beautiful songs. Enjoy!

What does it mean to be truly free?

July 2, 2010

As we celebrate the birth of our nation this Sunday—first of all by coming to worship (hint, hint!)—we’ll consider this very question in our sermon entitled, “Live As Free People.” Our scripture is 1 Peter 2:11-17. The sermon features a strong 4th of July theme, so it will fit in nicely with the rest of your holiday plans. Even more importantly, we’re celebrating the Lord’s Supper!

My friend John Alan Turner has a blog entry about freedom in Christ that’s so good I was originally going to borrow from it (with attribution, of course) for my sermon. Since I’m now going in a slightly different direction—and there’s no thunder to be stolen—I encourage you to read it here. He contrasts two different kinds of freedom: living for ourselves versus living in the Spirit.

Selfish living sounds good for a while, but it always leads to boring repetition. It cheapens love and life. It’s characterized by frenzied activity with diminishing returns, momentary but fleeting fits of happiness. It inevitably leads to loneliness and jealousy and an increasing inability to love or receive love from others. It always promises more than it can deliver.

You’re now free to live like that, if you like.

But you’re also free now to live a different way, a better way. You’re free to live life in the Spirit. You can live a life of affection and enthusiasm. You can have a peace that defies your circumstances. You can endure hardships with joy. You can stand up for your convictions fearlessly and show compassion to others. You can keep your commitments and enjoy relationships without manipulation.

If you’re running the Peachtree on Sunday, you’ll still have time to make it to church… We’ll rope off a section for sweaty people in the back. 😉