From Generation to Generation: There’s Room in Every Story

30Nov

In Mary's song she says, "His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation." We reflect, on this first Sunday of Advent, on the ways Mary is pregnant with both the past and the future. The genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke tell us that it's not about he bloodline of Jesus, but the story that shaped the people that shaped the story that shaped the people. So we are here, in this moment, between what came before and what come next. The light comes to us from the past and it comes fro the future so we pray with the grandparents who've gone before us and the grandparents yet to come.

 

The sermon series is based on the Advent Package created by A Sanctified Art LLC, and is shared with permission. Find more information on their liturgical packages at sanctifiedart.org

Dear Empire: Romans 14-16

15Nov

Welcome everyone and do it in love. Paul concludes his letter to the Romans with a scandalous call to radical welcoming. The ideology of Rome tells us we have to adapt to belong, but the Good News of Jesus says we are welcome in our differences. We may see things differently, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be in relationship. You are fully welcome, you are welcome fully, and you are fully welcome to be fully you. Safe and connected. And that script shapes our imagination for community - I welcome you with the welcome, I myself received.

Dear Empire: Romans 13

11Nov

In Romans 13, Paul instructs the church in Rome to submit to the governing authorities which God has placed over them. This text has been used throughout Christian history to instruct Christian to support governing powers, including when those powers upheld injustice, oppression, and slavery. How are we to understand this text in light of Paul's mandate that the greatest authority, and the truest fulfilment of the law, is love?

Dear Empire: Romans 12

2Nov

In this episode Glendon takes us though Romans chapter 12. After several chapters discussing ideas of sin, justice, salvation, the things that divide us and the things that unite us, Paul gives us some instruction on how we should now live. What does is mean to live by love, to allow your life, your body, to be given as a gift, a sacrifice?

 

For copyright reasons, a small section of the sermon is omitted in which a clip from the 1995 film Before Sunrise is played. If you would like to watch the clip you can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoeZ1X2zwU0&t=3s

Dear Empire: Romans 9-11

27Oct

Romans 9-11 has been used to argue for pre-destination and concepts of election. Some jars of clay are made for destruction and some for glory. Cannot the potter smash the clay if that's the potter's desire? This theology has been used to explain eternal conscious torment. If a 14 year old Muslim girl is raped to death and burns in eternally in hell, well that's God's prerogative. The Jews who died in the Holocaust? Eternal conscious torment. The kids who died in residential schools? Suffering eternal torment.

 

Eventually that way of thinking can mess a person up, not to mention a civilization, and the entire earth.

 

Romans 9-11 is just as likely to be saying that God chooses which "pottery" gets repaired and saved and it's God's business not mine. And it turns out, in the most surprising text of the New Testament, God chooses... everyone. Eventually everyone. Why do we want there to be a hell? What's in it for us. 

 

Perhaps the wrath of God is redemptive and never punitive. Perhaps God really does reconcile all things and perhaps God really does love the whole world. Maybe one day every tongue does confess that Jesus (the lamb) is Lord and maybe everyone who confesses is SAVED. Maybe Jesus is really the king of creation.

Dear Empire: Romans 7&8

20Oct

This Sunday Glendon explores Romans 7 and 8. These constantly quoted chapters explore both the reality of struggles and sufferings that we experience in the this life, and the declaration that there is, right now, no condemnation and perfect freedom in Christ. How can we hold the tension between the reality of the struggles that we face and the promise of freedom and peace from those struggles, while looking at this freedom through the lens of God's radical overturning of oppression and injustice?

 

Unfortunately, due to an issue with the Zoom audio recording, several minutes were too distorted to be audible, and several minutes in the middle of the sermon had to be omitted. Get in touch with us if you need a transcript of the full sermon.

Dear Empire: Romans 6

11Oct

This Sunday Dallas explores Romans 6 and looks at how English translations prefer to use 'righteousness' instead of 'justice' when the Greek work is the same for both. How would the church be different if our focus was on justice (systemic justice) rather than only personal righteousness?

 

How many young people were raised to believe the goal of Christian discipleship to not swear, not watch R-rated movies, and not masturbate, but never learned anything about the biblical vision of justice for all? The church is meant to foster and alternative economy, and alternative way of walking upon the land, and alternative way of viewing relationships and community.

Dear Empire: Romans 5

4Oct

Pastor James Wheeler leads us in a beautiful sermon on the power of loving our enemies. 

None of us is able to change the abusive system we were born into that the Empire depends on – all of us need help.  Sin is a web that we are all caught in and here's the good news:

 

You aren't more important than anyone here AND no one here is more important than you. While each of us were still sinners, “Christ
died for us” – you’re already worthy and welcome – you don’t have to do anything to deserve to be here and neither does your enemy. 

 

 

Dear Empire: Romans 3-4

4Oct

Nothing kills community like nostalgia for the good 'ol days except maybe the 'dream' of how a community could be. Have you ever been a part of a church where the long-standing members feel nostalgia for what once was and the new members are eager and full of ideas for what we *could* be? That's the dynamic in the Romans Churches and Paul is not interested in forcing one side to assimilate to the other and nor is he interested in segregating into two different church. The Holy Spirit is always joining the two into the ONE. Perhaps we could honour our tradition by being open to something unimaginably bigger than we had previously imagined? 

 

 

Dear Empire: Romans 1:18-32

4Oct

This is one of the 'clobber passages' that has commonly been weaponized against LGBTQ Christians. In this sermon, Nikayla considers the historical context and comes down hard against doing what's unnatural and degrading. This was vulnerable and packed with soul-food for anyone who has grown up hating their body and not knowing God's vision for flourishing sexuality. 

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