Rev. Patrick Cardwell has a sermon each week that bring new perspectives and new meaning to the scripture. We are now offering these sermons on our facebook page and this website for those that were not able to hear it on Sunday.
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"Too often I find myself among these disciples, with a strong desire to follow Jesus, believing in his way, but baffled, confused, and a little outraged to see exactly what it means to follow him. Maybe you are, too. We may be tempted to shout, “Jesus, come on! What are you doing?! A Samaritan woman? That seems a little reckless, even for you.” But I think that’s exactly the point of this story. Too often this story lulls us into believing and affirming what we’ve heard before instead of really focusing on what’s happening between Jesus and this woman at the well."
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister,[and then come and offer your gift.
As Jesus emerges from the water, skin soaked and waterlogged, he is just as soaked and filled by the love of God - “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” That’s how we are named and claimed today: Beloved. Hear this today and claim it for yourself - You are a beloved child of God, seen and known and held and celebrated. When another preacher offered that thought to me a few years ago, I recoiled. “Me? Beloved? Like Jesus?” Yes. Me. And You. Beloved. Like Jesus. I think that’s part of the radical nature of baptism - it shows us who we are and how we are held, even when we can’t believe it for ourselves
"Saying yes isn’t always easy. It certainly wasn’t for Mary. So perhaps the greatest annunciation was not that Mary had been chosen, but Mary’s own voice of choosing - choosing to say yes to God, choosing to say yes to a calling that wasn’t totally known, a path only partially revealed, to once-in-eternity opportunity, to the human experience of divine pain and sorrow, she said yes to all of these things. And she said yes to joy. Mary said yes to joy."
Genesis 32:22-31 - "22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
"But be careful, this parable is a trap. It is a mirror for how we see ourselves, but it also reflects how we see others, even the Pharisee. If you’re anything like me, it’s all too easy to judge the Pharisee as a self-righteous hypocrite and assume that the only lesson of this story is to be humble. The difficulty, however, is that we might end up alongside the Pharisee, caught in our own arrogance."
"For Paul, true unity in Christian relationship isn’t for Methodists to become more Episcopalian, or for Presbyterians to become more like Baptists, or even for Catholics to become more like Protestants. Paul reminds us to be more like Christ, together. That’s what matters most to the imprisoned Paul - the unity found not in becoming more like each other, but like Jesus."
So even in this exchange with God in an odd passage where God isn’t quite what we’re used to, Moses reminds us of who God is - always acting in love, always faithful to God’s promises, and willing to find a way forward. That’s where I see the work of the Church. Isn’t that our job today? To show people and to remind people what God is like?
The synagogue leader was only pretending to truly worship God, but this woman was not pretending at all. Her posture was real, her pain was real, and her praise was real. It was real! She brought her full self into that synagogue to worship God and hear Jesus teach. Even though she may have been ostracized and marginalized time and time before, she still came that day with no pretense about who she was. And on the Sabbath, God wants us to show up without pretending, too
I hope what we can see in Jesus' comparison is that salt does its best work when it’s poured out, scattered, and shared with what is around it. Our favorite recipes will be bland and boring if we always keep the salt shaker locked in a kitchen cabinet. What happens then? It gets clumpy and stuck together. And salt isn’t meant to do that. It’s meant to give of itself. It’s meant to share its lively flavor in order to bring out the best in all that surrounds it. Which means that if we want to enliven and enhance the world we live in, we must not hide within the walls of our churches. We must not cluster and congregate simply for our own comfort. Jesus says we are salt. And that means we are called to pour ourselves out to flavor the world with compassion and justice.
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.
"If you find yourself in the wilderness this morning, take heart. The wilderness is scary and risky. It’s also formative. But you’re not alone out there. There are many others who wander and wonder along with you. The wilderness is where God is doing something new, John says. That’s where we are called to prepare the way of the Lord."
"As Jesus responds to these kinds of questions, he invites the Sadducees to reconsider what’s possible and impossible, to find the faith of their ancestors and the prophet, Moses, and even beyond him in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Although those forebears of the faith have preceded the Sadducees in death, they are alive to God, Jesus says. Jesus opens the door for the Sadducees to discover a new way of faith, a fuller picture of life, assuring them that in this life and the next, they still belong to God. And that’s at the core of his teaching for them and for us."
"What if God isn’t the judge, but is the widow instead? She is the example of faith in the parable, after all. She keeps showing up at the judge’s door. She’s determined. She’s hopeful, persistent, fierce, and unwavering in what she wants. And that’s where I see God. God comes after us, day after day. God knows exactly where to find us, how to reach us, and relentlessly comes knocking at our doors."
I’m not against money, it’s just that I want to be about love more. I want to be gentler instead of wealthier. I’d like to see more justice in the name of Jesus instead of more injury in the pursuit of profit. There are no “piggy banks” for peace or joy. Truly living in righteousness and godliness means spending from goodness the way we might want to spend from our wallets. That’s what I think Paul is calling Timothy to remember, and it’s what Jesus is teaching in Luke
We can’t be molded if we’re not yielded. We can’t be shaped if we won’t allow ourselves to be. God waits for us to be yielded; wants us to choose his ways; longs for us to become something even more beautiful than we already are. Because you’ll never know how greatly God can change your life unless you let him. There are all sorts of amazing outcomes possible at God’s pottery wheel.
From the very beginning of his adult ministry, Jesus is perfectly clear about what his mission is, where you can find him, and what the Kingdom of Heaven really means. Perhaps for the first time in their lives, the people who heard him on the hillside that day knew that they were seen and heard and known and treasured for who they were. Or perhaps Jesus saw something in them that they hadn’t even been able to see for themselves. Maybe this was the first time anyone had taken the time to say, “Blessed are you.” Those words are still true. Jesus sees all the things we try to hide, or the things we try to make up for, or the things we don't like about ourselves and others, our insecurities, vulnerabilities, needs, desires, and dreams. And what does Jesus say? “Blessed are you.
"God had spoken light into being and had formed humanity from the clay of the earth, but God had never known what it was like to experience what we do; to feel what we feel and know life from the ground up. I think that’s the beauty of the incarnation. God became something new. God changed the method of reaching us. Not just in the distant and cosmic Word. Not just in the certain brilliance of dazzling Light. Now in the form of creation itself. It’s a startling and liberating shift that indicates how our own faith can grow, change, and become something new."
Mary Oliver gives voice to the persistence of hope in her poem, “Winter Hours,” where she writes, “Hope, I know, is a fighter and a screamer.” When we see the world around us in chaos and disarray, when we look to the skies and wonder what our faith is really about, when we keep gathering on Sundays and keep coming back to this place to do the work of God as disciples of Jesus, we are choosing to be stubborn in hope, patiently working and awaiting the coming day when those hopes are realized
"For everyone, a new path with Jesus means generosity, justice, and learning to share a meal with those we don’t think deserve it. That’s how our story ends, after all. It ends with salvation and a changed life, especially for Zacchaeus. An interesting note for Zacchaeus. His name is a Greek variation from the Hebrew name "Zaccai." And that name means “clean” or “pure.” Before he met Jesus, I think we can all agree that Zacchaeus was anything but clean or pure. He was full of greed. But after a meal with the Master, Zacchaeus is full of grace. He finally has a new start - a clean slate - an opportunity to live into his own name."
"There might be things that you think should keep you from being part of our church. There may be part of who you are that you’re afraid won’t be welcomed or embraced here. But if we’re anything like the Christ we proclaim and follow, none of that is true. Because Jesus makes space for strangers. Jesus welcomes the one who returns. Jesus makes space for the Samaritan who was outcast. Jesus makes space each and every time for anyone who knows what it’s like not to be welcomed. Jesus says you are welcome, and so do we."
"Reducing people made in the image of God to a status of 'lost' or 'saved,' 'righteous' or 'sinner' fails to take into account their whole personhood and in many ways rejects their belovedness as a child of God. Because here’s the rub in that view of faith - you can be saved and still feel lost. You can follow Jesus, and still be confused about where you are in life and how to find your way back."
Jesus is calling us down from the ladders of success and he’s asking us to join him at the Table of humility. Not the table where we’re concerned about where we’re sitting, or who’s beside us, or even whose table it is. If we’ll let him, Jesus will take our ladder, this false way of honor and achievement, and he’ll make it into a chair, where we can sit and take in a different view of life.