September 2018 Preaching Themes

Here’s are a few of my thoughts as I prepare to preach this month, with some news items, preaching ideas, and links to past sermons.  Please comment and share your thoughts on the month as well.  We are in the middle section of Mark’s Gospel throughout the month, where Jesus demonstrates the nature of his ministry.  He is startled by the faith of a gentile Syro-Phonecian woman, he asks the disciples who they think he is, addresses the issue of who is the greatest, and submits the radical notion that we cut off anything that gets in our way of following in the way of discipleship.  That is a lot to navigate in one month!

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September 9   

Mark 7:24-37  Syro-Phonecian Woman

Possible sermon titles:  “Women Have to Put Up with a Lot”

“What it Takes to Get Men to Listen”


Here is a quote from my sermon entitled, “Overlooked and Under-considered”

Everything seems to be working against this woman-gender, race, religion, class and nationalism-to find help for her daughter.  It must have been quite the spectacle to have her throw herself at the feet of Jesus.  Disciples and spectators alike must have been embarrassed to have her there.  She must have been driven by desperation.  Maybe now we can better understand Christ’s original negative response, when he says, “Let the children be fed first (referring to Jews) for it is not fair to give the children’s bread to the dogs.”  There is no getting around the fact that Jesus has just “dissed” her.  Jews considered dogs to be scavengers and unclean animals.  Every reference to dogs in the Bible is negative (much to the despair of dog lovers like me!).

For a moment she is turned away by a great spiritual leader, which to many would feel like they were being turned away by God.  That’s why it is so hard when our feelings get hurt in church.  We expect to experience the sacred grace of God when we come to church or approach a minister, and if we are hurt or overlooked for the moment, then it effects our core spirit.  Where else will we find the sacred in our lives?  This is what disturbs us in this Gospel Lesson.  How could Jesus compare anyone to a dog or say a thing like that?  This story hits us in a place of fear that maybe God finds us to be really annoying.  We don’t belong, we don’t deserve the bread, others are more important.

man-343674_960_720September 16, 2018

Mark 8:27-36  – “Who Do You Say That I Am?”

Sermon Titles:

“Why does our Jesus Always Look Like Us?”

“Jesus Through Many Eyes”


Sermon excerpt from “Who Do You Say That I Am”

To say who Jesus is requires us to answer with our lives.  It is a challenging question, but it is also an invitation.  Our greatest need is for a meaningful life. Too often we make the path of compassion for those who suffer a struggle of grim determination.  We take on
challenges hoping to endure and win our prize at the end. Faith is not a path of endurance, but a path of freedom, hope and peace.  When we choose to follow Christ, we experience our greatest freedom.  Yes, there is a freedom to picking up the cross and following Christ, for we then know who we are and why we are here.


goats-173940_960_720September 23 

Mark 9:30-37   Who is the greatest, last shall be first.

Sermon Titles:

“Who is the GOAT?”

“Last Call”



hands-2763536_960_720September 30 

Mark 9:38-50  cut it off, salt has lost its savor.

Sermon Titles:

“Cut What Off?”

“Worth Your Salt”





Sermon Excerpt from “Worth Your Salt”:

Jesus could have used a number of other metaphors to describe the role of the church in the world.  He could have said, you are like a mighty army that will achieve victory, or you are like the tide that shall overcome the earth, an earthquake that will shake the foundations of the status quo.  But instead, Jesus said that we are like salt.  We are like those little crystals you put in a shaker on your table.  It helps the food taste better and it quietly and unnoticeably keeps the body alive.  Without it, you die.

You are the salt of the earth.  You don’t need massive amounts of salt to accomplish a great deal.  A few sprinkles go a long ways on your plate.  The waters of the ocean have an overpowering saltiness, yet contain only about three percent salt.  Your activities, great and small, help bring about the world God intends, a world where there is hope and dignity, faith and liberty, love and equality.  To carry out this activity, we do not have to be numerous, wealthy or powerful, just willing to get in the mix.

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