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The Holy Wholly Other

Be still and know what’s going on inside yourself, and after a while your relationship to yourself will change. There will be the One who observes with kindness and patience, and the one that is observed – and after a while you’ll identify more with the kind and patient Observer than with the one who is observed. The compassionate Observer is God. Then you’ll know that God is not some supernatural superhero working miracles in the cosmos. You’ll know instead that God is love even for your worst enemy, who, all to often, is your own selfish self.

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The Evolving Faith of a Liberal Christian Minister (8): What I Believe about Prayer

This current series of sermons offers me the opportunity to examine and reflect upon my own faith – and I share those reflections with you, not to tell you what you should believe, but to challenge you to examine your own religious convictions.

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Never to Part (John 14:1-12)

Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” He is not telling them to not be sad, but rather, to not be frustrated and fearful. Jesus himself struggled with this according to John’s account. Three times John says Jesus was troubled: at the death of Lazarus, when he contemplated his own death, and when he realized that his own disciples would betray and desert him in his final hour.

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Where Do We Find the Christ? (Luke 24:13-35)

This is a kind of reverse reversal story. Much of Luke’s Gospel is about Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, but these two disciples, possibly a husband and wife, are leaving Jerusalem. They are on the road to Emmaus, …

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 1: Teachings of Jesus and Point 8: Compassion and Selfless Love. Seasons & Special Events: Easter. Ages: Adult. Texts: Luke. Resource Types: Sermons.

God Incarnate In Us (John 20:19-23)

Jesus wants his disciples to know that their betrayal, their breach of covenant loyalty, did not dissolve the covenant, did not result in their rejection. They are loved and accepted. This is where we all have to start or, perhaps, come back to – that we are accepted in spite of all our failures and betrayals, that we are accepted even though we do not deserve to be accepted. But to claim acceptance for ourselves means that we have to claim acceptance for everyone else. God’s gift of peace is not just for our group, it’s for the cosmos, and we who have heard that word and accepted it, are called by God to spread that word

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Way of the Cross

Rev. Sam Alexander is Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael, CA. He is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, B.A., and Union Seminary in Virginia, M.Div. Sam has served congregations in Maryland and in the San Francisco Bay area and is currently Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael. He serves as an Adjunct Instructor in Homiletics at San Francisco Theological Seminary. What they call, “his provocative sermons” have inspired, disturbed, and delighted his congregations.

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What Does Easter Mean? (Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18)

The power of life that raised Jesus is accessible and available to all people, even those who have not heard of Jesus. The risen Christ, the cosmic Christ who is Lord of all can take many forms and answer to many names. Our text says that God shows no partiality, that anyone who fears God, and that does not mean to be afraid of God, but anyone who respects and honors God, and anyone who does what is right, anyone who does what is just and good and compassionate shares in the life of the risen Christ.

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Scapegoats and Lightning Rods (Matthew 27:27-44)

The image of a scapegoat recalls a ritual performed by ancient Israel on their holiest day of the year—Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. A goat was chosen by means of casting lots. Actually there were two goats chosen, one was killed as a sin offering to make atonement for the holy place, the other was allowed to live to make atonement for the sins of the people.

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 8: Compassion and Selfless Love. Seasons & Special Events: Advent, Holy Week, and Lent. Ages: Adult. Texts: Matthew. Rituals: Communion. Resource Types: Sermons.

Glory Everywhere (Matthew 17:1-13)

Jesus was executed by the Romans and died a tragic death. But then afterward, we hear the voice of God’s messenger telling the women who had come to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ dead body with spices: “He is not here, He has been raised.” God validated and vindicated Jesus’ life, message, and ministry by raising him from the dead. God had not abandoned Jesus. God was with Jesus through the whole ordeal. And when we get to the end of Matthew’s Gospel the cosmic Christ tells the disciples, “I will be with you through everything, even until the end of the age.” The Really Real, the risen Christ, the cosmic Christ, the Holy Spirit (use whatever name you prefer) is with us through all of life, in times of joy and hope, and in times of pain and disappointment.

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 1: Teachings of Jesus, Point 2: Pluralism, and Point 3: Inclusive Community. Seasons & Special Events: Epiphany. Ages: Adult. Texts: Matthew. Resource Types: Sermons.

Being Spiritual and Religious (1 Cor. 2:1-16; Isaiah 58:1-9a)

Sermon by Chuck Queen, Feb. 9, 2014

In contemporary speech the word spiritual is more associated with personal or private experience, while the word religious is usually connected to communal, institutional, and organizational religious life. Those who identify themselves as spiritual but not religious reject traditional organized religion as the sole or the most valuable means of advancing one’s spiritual growth.

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Brick Walls- Sermon Video

Does the church have anything left to offer? Not if we insist on staying in the 16th century, (or even the 19th century), we don’t. And yet it seems many of the words we Christians use to talk about God come from an earlier time, an earlier worldview. Many of us know that, but for reasons I don’t completely understand, we don’t talk about it. As a result scads of people jettison any involvement in the church because when we talk about God we don’t make any sense.

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A Different Kind of Wisdom (1 Cor. 1:18-31; Micah 6:1-8)

When Paul talks about the wisdom of the world he is not talking about Greek philosophical wisdom. The wisdom of the world that Paul has particularly in mind is the wisdom that crucified Jesus. The wisdom of the world Paul is referring to is the kind of wisdom expressed in domination systems. In our context it would be powerful governments and corporations who wield enormous power and wealth to shape society in view of their own self-interests.

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Being a Martin Luther King, Jr. Kind of Christian (Matthew 4:12-23)

The one thing that almost all theologians, biblical scholars, and historians agree on when it comes to Jesus is that the kingdom of God was foundational to his mission and ministry. It is front and center, it is at the heart and core of his life and work.

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An Exhalation on Ministry

It’s always ourselves we find in the sea. We find that Self, quite often, by unfinding. By recognizing what is not who we really are. When you go to the beach, you have to leave a lot behind. Half the fun of it is reducing your belongings to what fits in a wicker basket, and wearing as little clothing as possible. And when you get into the water, there’s no carrying the wicker basket. Or even the flip-flops. Is this not the work of ministry – the work of pastoring? To teach people to swim – to move freely and joyfully in the waters of the soul, unburdened by all the baggage of habit and culture. To help people shed their assumptions, drop their dead dogma on the sand, and soak up the sun of love and peace and total acceptance?

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Cosmic Christmas Communion

From grains, bread connects us to soil and a three billion year old process. Photosynthesis, first begun when ocean organisms, earth’s first populations, with neither brains or bibles, learned how to create a chlorophyll molecule. Since then all biological life is able to trap, store, and convert sun’s energy into food that sustains both the plant and that specie’s place in the food chain. Like the elements connect Christians to the nourishing ways of Jesus, food unites us to our ecology and the life-sustaining ways of nature itself. Communion, it is not only a rite of Christianity, it is the evolutionary levan in the Earth story itself.

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Topics: Theology & Religious Education. 8 Points: Point 7: Integrity of the Earth. Seasons & Special Events: Christmas. Ages: Adult. Rituals: Communion. Resource Types: Full Service Liturgies, Interfaith, and Sermons.

A Leap of Faith to a New Spiritual Home

written by Brian Brown

Progressive Christianity is for me somewhat like taking that leap of faith to what writer Hal Taussig calls “A new spiritual home” For some of us, at least, it feels like that. It involves jumping a credibility gap that has opened up for the Christian Church; a credibility gap that goes back a long way. It’s there in the Bible readings: the difference between the behaviour of the Israelites in the Promised Land and the behaviour that was required of them according to the teaching of God and the ways in which they had been nurtured and led. It’s also there in the teachings of Jesus.

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