June 17, 2012

On a workday at church, we look up at intruding limbs of a pine tree and say, "that needs pruning." After the workday, the space is much more open. When we step back, the tree is huge and cutting away the branches didn’t change the shape much—it made it look better. People who have been around the church for a long time will remember that tree as a small sprig, or maybe as a seed intentionally placed in the ground. Many churches around our country have such trees. Amazing, how such a small seed can produce such a big tree; and the wisdom of the entire tree is contained in the seed. It is a marvel to behold. This Sunday, we will examine the parable of the "Mustard Seed," and how Jesus compared this to the Kingdom of Heaven (Mark 4:26-34). A small seed makes no apology for being small, for when released into God’s keeping, it knows it contains within it the potential of the fully-grown tree.

June 10, 2012

The Text we’ll use this Sunday is from 1 Samuel 8:4-10 and Mark 3:20-25,31-35. In Samuel, people insist that he anoint a king to rule over them. Samuel prays to God about it. Both Samuel and God see this as a sign of weak faith, but allow it anyway. Samuel warns them about the expense and intrusion government will have on their lives, but acknowledges that with weak faith, people cannot govern themselves. The people did not have faith in their inner authority and the natural unity of authority in their community. In Mark, the crowds are suspicious of Jesus’ authority, believing it comes from Satan. Jesus tells them that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand, and then goes on to define the core relationships within God’s Kingdom—we are spiritually one family, brothers and sisters with one another. The preamble to the “Design” of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), which we will look at Sunday, talks about the “whole family of God” and affirms that our final authority for church is in Jesus Christ. The hymn of the early church, as found in Philippians 2, would say, the “Christ Mind,” (Christos Nous). The sermon this Sunday is entitled, “Trusting Our Inner Authority.”