Sermon: Giant Waves

June 21, 2015 ~ Giant Waves from John Knox Kirk on Vimeo.

sermon preached at The Kirk of Kansas City, Missouri, on June 21, 2015.

1 Samuel 17:32-49
and Mark 4:35-41

HeQiBoat

So the past two weeks we’ve been looking at texts
that inspire us to think about an unbreakable bond we have with God:
that God Loves Us, and there Ain’t Anything we can do about it.

This section of Mark introduces us to an active, serving, loving, healing Jesus.
Jesus has begun his ministry and he’s wasting no time, really.
Immediately, Mark tells us, Jesus sets out and starts
inviting people to talk about God and to think about God
and to do things that might matter to God.

It takes some effort to not get sidetracked at the supernatural language
of demons and exorcism, but if we can avoid that,
we see Jesus engaged in a healing ministry
of deep importance and significance

This Jesus, wandering the Galilean country side
offering words of peace, words of calm
laying on his hands
and mending where things are broken
it caused people to flock to Jesus from all over
so much so that the crowds were getting a bit…unbearable

This Jesus bore them, though, the crowds. All of them.
Because he loved the people.
Because he wanted to see them get well.

And when his opponents challenged him
and his family encouraged him to come inside for safety
he gently said, “no, these too are my family”
they need me here.

And we explored what that meant,
in particular for those experiencing depression
but really for all of us:
God loves them, too,
 and there ain’t nothing they can do about it…

And then last week,
we looked at some of Jesus’ gardening parables:
seeds scattered, seeds growing,
the smallest, most insignificant of which
may well grow into something extraordinary
and, you know, extraordinary but maybe not something
particularly meaningful for you, or for me,
but certainly meaningful for God.

By extension, we reminded ourselves that
if we feel small, if we feel insignificant,
if we’re not sure what our purpose is
fret not.
God our Gardener, tending, weeding, pruning
 watering, helping us grow even through those tough spurts.

In an age where it seems that
the superficial matters so much more to people than the heart
it sometimes is helpful to remember the one
who sticks with us, with patience and fortitude
from the day we are planted
until the day we are done

///
Two weeks where we’ve been reminded of God’s unbreakable bond of love with us.
God’s acting to make all things new, to grow new shoots out of bleak soil.

And then comes today’s texts, after this past week,
which for so many in our country has been tumultuous:
[Read more…]

Sermon: Tiny as a Mustard Seed

2015 06 14 – Tiny as a Mustard Seed from John Knox Kirk on Vimeo.

sermon preached at John Knox Kirk of Kansas City, Missouri, on June 14, 2015.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 14-17
and Mark 4:26-34

Our daughter, gardening, several years ago now.

Our daughter, gardening, several years ago now.

 

So, I have a milestone birthday coming up.
I’ll let you figure out if its 30 or 40 or 50.

I’m not making a very big deal out of it.
In many ways age is just a number
And I’ve never worried too much about such things.

I also know that, once you pass a certain age,
focusing too much on it becomes counterproductive.
Besides, just as Royals fans roll their eyes when Yankees or Tigers players
complain about the paltry number of all star votes their guys are getting
I’m well aware that at least SOME of you have already hit the
milestone birthday I’m facing at the end of the month
and you’d be right to roll your eyes at me too
if I acted like it was some BIG accomplishment, or curse.

It truth, its not a big deal,
even if I have noticed, like we all do, a bit more gray
a bit thinner hair
a bit more wrinkling around the eyes when I smile in the mirror.

///
About a decade ago, the seemingly ageless singer and performer Paul Simon
released his eleventh studio album, called Surprise.

Simon was once a mainstay of American popular music.
First with Art Garfunkle, and then on his own,
Simon’s music in some way helped shape and define three decades
or more, of culture in this country.

This new album didn’t have the financial success that his previous records did.
No Kodachrome or Still Crazy after All These Years
or Bridge over Troubled Water
or Fifty Ways to Leave your Lover here.

In many ways, even though he was still going, Simon’s album release of Surprise
was the work of one who’s prime moment had come and had gone
not quite Slip Sliding Away, but mature, reflective.

So its possible you missed what I think is one of Simon’s best songs in a while
this song called “Outrageous”
where he reflects about this phenomenon of wistfulness
looking back about what we once had
and wondering if we’re relevant anymore…

Some of the lyrics go like this:
Its outrageous. I can’t stop thinking ‘bout the things I’m thinking of…
And I’m tired. Nine hundred sit-ups a day.
I’m painting my hair the color of mud, [the] color of mud, okay?

I’m tired, tired.
Anybody care what I say?
No!
I’m painting my hair the color of mud.

Who’s gonna love you when your looks are gone?
Tell me, who’s gonna love you when your looks are gone?
Tell me! …

God will. Like [God] waters the flowers on your windowsill.
Take me. I’m an ordinary player in the key of C.
And my will was broken by my pride and my vanity.
Who’s gonna love you when your looks are gone?
God will. Like [God] waters the flowers on your windowsill.[1] [Read more…]