Avondale United Methodist Church
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
loving and serving God and others through worship, learning, fellowship, and outreach
At the center of worship at Avondale UMC is the Word. That's because at the center of our life is the Word Made Flesh (John 1). As we receive the word of God through the reading of Scripture, the proclamation of the sermon, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we receive grace to follow the Word more closely in our own discipleship.
Jesus Christ, M.D.
Friday, May 03, 2013 Comments (0)
One of the most significant aspects of Jesus' ministry was his work of healing, a ministry that he commissioned his disciples to continue. Yet, many people today in light of modern medicine have questions about the claims of the gospels. What did Jesus' ministry of healing mean and what should it look like in the church today?
In this sermon series we'll explore these questions and consider that Jesus' ministry of healing was about more than simple health. It was part and parcel to the advent of God's own reign.
Sermon Series Overview
[The Healer of Bodies | May 5]
Our bodies are fragile. We get sick. We die. It's a part of life. But, the Scriptures reveal that these realities are not God's intention for us. We are broken, in part, because human beings are enmeshed in sin. Jesus reveals that it is God's desire to repair the brokenness of our bodies, but he also reveals that the repair of our bodies involves the repair of our relationship with God. In this sermon we will explore the connections between sin and brokenness, and how individual acts of healing are signs of God's restoration of all creation to relationship with him.
[The Healer of Souls | May 12]
Healing brings wholeness, freedom, and the repair of our personhood. Frequently, Jesus' work of healing is characterized as release from bondage to demons, spirits, or other forces that constrain, cripple, and limit full human personhood. In this sermon we will explore the connection between healing and exorcism of demonic forces and how we might understand such a connection in our modern world.
[The Healer of Relationships | May 19]
Zacchaeus was a man who was isolated and estranged from society. He was "a sinner" in the eyes of the religious community; he was a much-hated tax collector in the eyes of his neighbors; but to Jesus he was a potential dining partner--he was a friend. Our relationships with God and with others are important parts of what it means to be whole. In this sermon we'll explore how Jesus goes about repairing, restoring, and cultivating those relationships.
[A World Set to Right | May 26]
Wholeness is God's intention for us. And, when John the Baptist doubted whether Jesus was the Messiah, God's anointed Savior, Jesus asked John to consider what he saw happening through Jesus' ministry. John and all the people saw wholeness and healing. If we ever doubt whether God is at work in our world, we need only look to places where we see lives being restored, people being made whole, and sins being forgiven to see God at work. Jesus, in fact, calls us to participate in this work.
The Bible: The Journey with God
Tuesday, February 12, 2013 Comments (0)
The Bible, though it is a collection of stories from across many thousands of years, tells a story--our story--the story of our journey with God. It is a story told through the eyes of ancient peoples who experienced this God calling, leading, blessing, judging, and redeeming them in the course of their everyday lives. While many aspects of their lives are strange to us, the same God is at work today continuing to call, lead, bless, judge, and redeem. This series will trace the overall story of the Scriptures from creation to the Day of The Lord through the lens of the journeys we share with the heroes and villains of this ancient story.
Beginning Sunday, March 3, The History Channel will be airing a visually stunning 10-part miniseries on some of the most significant people, places, and events of the Bible. The miniseries will help these events come to life for us modern readers in ways that are sure to inspire and enlighten. Check your TV listings for show times. The official website for The History Channel miniseries can be accessed by clicking here.
Sermon Series Overview
[The Journey from Death to Life | February 17]
There is much about our life journey that is uncertain. But, the story of the Scriptures reveals that when we trust in God and rely on God, that our journey will be to a fuller life. In the of the Bible God grants life, but human beings choose death. The rest of the Bible tells the story of an eternal God working within the created order to redeem it from its sentence of death.
[The Journey from Slavery to Freedom | February 24]
The powers of evil enslave. This is a perennial reality of life under the sun. But, the God of Heaven, who has created and called all flesh to serve him, will not tolerate his people serving any other pretender to the divine throne. Yahweh is a God of deliverance. The story of deliverance is a central story for the Jews, and it is for us, too. Deliverance is our story, and it should define our lives, our hopes, and our relationship to God.
[The Journey from Dependence to Autonomy | March 3]
Early in Israel's time in the Promised Land the Scriptures suggest that they understood that God was the source of their prosperity and strength. The judges, imbued with God's Spirit, ruled the people with equity and righteousness. But, as they became settled in the Promised Land the people grew delusional and forgot the God who was the source of their strength. They rejected their heavenly King in favor of an earthly king. In this, they rejected God's providence and chose self-sufficiency, and thus they began the journey to apostasy. Our lives often parallel this journey. When things are well, we forget why they are well. We become delusional. We neglect, then reject God. The higher we elevate ourselves, the greater will be our fall.
[The Journey from Sin to Judgment | March 10]
In the period of the kingdoms, Israel built its life on a stack of lies and deception. They assured themselves that they would be ok if only they protected the temple, if they practiced their religion, if they said their prayers, and if they gave their offerings. Meanwhile, they lived lives that boldly and openly rejected God's demands for righteousness, stealing, lying, murdering, adulteration, and sacrificing to other gods. God would not be mocked! God's judgment would come! The temptation to relate to God in convenient ways that we define is all too real. This is sin--instead of striving toward God's demands for righteousness, we aim for a lower standard. But, this mocks God. We can be certain that God will not stand for it and that we will be held accountable for our sin.
[The Journey from Victim to Victor | March 17]
Israel was exiled in Babylon as judgment for their sin. Yet, God relented from his wrath and resolved to redeem them. But, the people of Israel were up against impossible odds. Their redemption would come because "God is able." Israel had come to feel like victims; God was able to bring them victory. Their victory would come through renewed faithfulness to God who had saved them from Egypt and would now save them from exile. No matter how fierce our foe or how deep our despair, God is able to save.
[The Journey from Religion to Relationship | March 24]
In the years since the return from exile, Israel had resolved not to fall into the same patterns of unrighteous living that had led to the exile in the first place. They retrenched into the holiness code and wound up in the same place as they had been before the exile: their religion was a hollow commitment to outward practice, but devoid of any spiritual engagement with the God who desperately wanted their hearts. Jesus provided a new way--a relationship with God that was personal and a discipleship that was based on a religion of the heart. Because of Jesus, we have the power to fulfill God's purposes and live under the divine reign.
[The Journey to the Table | Maundy Thursday | March 28]
One of the surest signs of God's reign is a community living under the unity of the Holy Spirit. God's table provides not only the sign of this reign but also a means to share in it. The Lord's Table stands in contrast to the division and enmity that had existed between God and humans and within the human community from the moment sin entered into the world. It reverses this tragic reality and it enables us to anticipate the enternal communion of God's heavenly kingdom.
[The Journey from Darkness to Light | Easter Sunday | March 31]
The Bible's story begins in darkness and it ends in the full light of God's presence. Life and peace and shalom replace dark chaos. This same story plays out on Easter. The women go to the tomb in darkness, but they encoutner the light of salvation. The promise of Christ is that those who walk in darkness will see light; they will have hope; they will have joy.
Modern Family: wisdom for today's families from the book of Ruth
Wednesday, January 02, 2013 Comments (0)
Family today doesn't look like the Cleavers. It never really did. In the biblical book of Ruth we see a family unit experience the kind of things that would have been too scandalous for 1960s TV, but, nevertheless, with which real families have always wrestled.
[A Different Kind of Family | January 6]
In the opening lines of Ruth, the narrator sets the stage, unveiling an unusual family destined to have some difficult days. All families are unusual; there is no "perfect" family. And, all families are destined for some difficult days. The hopeful note in this dismal prologue, however, is that there is a family. Families give us a structure within which we can live out the challenges of life. They are part of God's gift to us. Naomi seems to have lost everything, but, alas! She has Ruth and Orpah. How can the families we have be a source of life and strength for us?
[Strong Families Forge New Identities | January 13]
The decision faced by Orpah and Ruth early in the story is whether they will be a family. Families don't just happen. They come from a radical fidelity in which you see yourself in another person. Ruth proves that the secret to any successful relationship is to invest yourself wholly in another, to demand nothing but to give everything. "Your people shall be my people, and your God my God" (1:16). Ruth's determination not only allows there to be a family, but also lays a foundation for redemption and wholeness for both her and Naomi.
[Strong Families: Responsibility and Grace | January 20]
Strong families depend on each member taking responsibility for the good of the whole. Ruth does her part to remedy Naomi's and her shared misery. Yet, we do not earn our way in our families. We have what we need because of grace. Part of receiving grace is putting ourselves in the places where God's providence can work in our lives.
[Strong Families: Right Priorities | January 27]
Ruth strengthens her family (and her chances with Boaz) by keeping her priorities in line. This is an important lesson for those looking for love and those looking to sustain love. What we get in life comes from how we invest our time and efforts.
[Strong Families: Radical Honesty | February 3]
The biggest danger to any relationship is dishonesty, especially when practiced in families. Dishonesty erects walls that prevent intimacy and love. And when intimacy and love are not available, families fall apart. Boaz conducts his family business in the open, preferring to risk a potential marriage than to build it on deception.
[A Legacy of Faithfulness | February 10]
Families attest to the necessity of others. None of us create ourselves, none of us raise ourselves, and none of us can thrive by ourselves. For Boaz and Ruth, their strong commitments will mean not only joy and peace for them, but also will spill over as a blessing to many. Our families are for more than ourselves; they are God's way of fulfilling God's own mission of redemption.
Thursday, November 29, 2012 Comments (0)
The story of Christ’s birth is a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary love. So, what happened? What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a Savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists. And when it’s all over, many of us are left with presents to return, debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling of missed purpose. Is this what we really want out of Christmas? What if Christmas became a world-changing event again?
Advent Conspiracy is a movement calling us to proclaim Christ in how we celebrate Christmas. It was started in 2006 by five pastors who wanted to help their congregations remember that Christmas is a revolutionary event. They encouraged their churches to Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All. The response was overwhelming and the Conspiracy against undisciplined consumption, selfishness, and exclusivity was born.
We will be joining the conspiracy this year at Avondale helping our community discover real hope in a Savior whose birth turned the world upside-down.
Advent Conspiracy is simply a way of approaching the season of Advent—to do things differently...creatively...remembering God’s own creativity in sending his Son to redefine love, worship, and giving. The concept behind Advent Conspiracy is simple:
[WORSHIP FULLY | December 2]
It starts with Jesus. It ends with Jesus. This is the holistic approach God had in mind for Christmas. It’s a season where we are called to put down our burdens and lift a song up to our God. It’s a season where love wins, peace reigns, and a king is celebrated with each breath. It’s the party of the year. Entering the story of Advent means entering this season with an overwhelming passion to worship Jesus to the fullest.
[SPEND LESS | December 9]
Before you think we’re getting all Scroogey, we’re not saying bah-humbug to gift-giving. Gifts are good. But consider this: America spends an average of $450 billion a year every Christmas. How often have you spent money on Christmas presents for no other reason than obligation? How many times have you received a gift out of that same obligation? Thanks, but no thanks, right? We’re asking people to consider buying ONE LESS GIFT this Christmas. Just one. Sounds insignificant, yet many who have taken this small sacrifice have experienced something quite miraculous: they have been more available to celebrate Christ during the Advent season. Looking for a few gifts that don’t cost a lot of money? Need some more ideas for relational giving? Head to www.RethinkingChristmas.com today.
[GIVE MORE | December 16]
God’s gift to us was a relationship built on love. So it’s no wonder why we’re drawn to the idea that Christmas should be a time to love our friends and family in the most memorable ways possible. Time is the real gift Christmas offers us, and no matter how hard we look, it can’t be found at the mall. Time to make a gift that turns into the next family heirloom. Time to write mom a letter. Time to take the kids somewhere fun. Time to bake really good cookies and sing really bad Christmas carols. Time to make love visible through relational giving. Sounds a lot better than getting a sweater two sizes too big, right?
[LOVE ALL | December 23]
When Jesus loved, he loved in ways never imagined. Though rich, he became poor to love the poor, the forgotten, the overlooked and the sick. He played to the margins. By spending less at Christmas we have the opportunity to join him in giving resources to those who need help the most. When Advent Conspiracy first began with four churches, these congregations found that by Christmas morning they had more than a half-million dollars to aid those in need. One less gift. One unbelievable present in the name of Christ.
In God's Time: The Bible and the Future
Thursday, November 29, 2012 Comments (0)
The good news is that God has a future for us. The bad news is that it's not something that we can map out with perfect clarity. This fact has not stopped legions of doomsday prophets from attempting to chart out the end of time down to the second. In this sermon series, we'll explore what the "end times" means for our discipleship today and some of the ways we can approach the difficult biblical texts dealing with the "end."
November 11 — No End in Sight
November 18 — The Mystery of Revelation
November 25 — All Things New