|Glad You Asked Part 1: Faith Questions Explored Our summer worship series explores the questions that are on the hearts of our church community. The questions are pulled from a recent survey regarding topics people wanted to hear a sermon cover. We begin the series with questions that revolve around some of the tough questions about faith and the Bible. It is a series that will prod you to think deeper about your faith so that you can advance on your spiritual journey and see discover God is moving in your life.|
May 30. Different ways of God. Luke 15:1-10
If God is spirit and love and splendor, how are we to take the various personifications of God that we find in scripture? What exactly, do we mean when we talk about God? One person in our church family said in a survey that they about had “difficulty with the personification of God. . .Is it OK to have a different view of God?” This sermon will examine different ways that God is described in scripture and how a multiplicity of metaphors for God keeps us from having a limited view that “puts God in a box” of our preconceived notions. We will be challenged to expand out imaginations about God so that we might attain a fuller understanding and relationship with God.
June 6. Forgiveness. How to Forgive the Unforgivable. Matthew 18:23-35
Forgiveness is a central tenant of the Christian faith. What do we mean by forgiveness? We are told to forgive, but how, exactly do we do that? This sermon will explore some common myths of forgiveness and set for a process toward forgiving the especially grievous things others have done to us.
23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents[a] was brought to him; 25 and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26 So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii;[b] and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. 31 When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. 35 So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister[c] from your heart.”
June 13. Guest Preacher Beth Parker (sermon title TBA) Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 & 14-17
We are delighted to welcome Beth Parker to our pulpit. A recent seminary graduate, Beth is pursuing her call to ordained ministry and will deliver a message based on 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 & 14-17.
6So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— 7for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.
14For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. 15And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. 16From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
June 20 Father’s Day. When Prayers go Unanswered. Luke 11:7-13
Some passages in scripture make it sound so easy. You pray and God, like a good parent, provides. Sometimes, however, it feels as if our prayers go nowhere, bouncing off the ceiling as soon as we utter them. Why does God seem to answer some prayers and not others? Many of us are left asking “Is there something wrong with me or the way I pray?” It’s easy to be disheartened and lose faith when we pray for good things and then nothing seems to happen. This sermon will help you feel encouraged about prayer and the benefits of remaining in prayer even when you are frustrated.
7And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. 9“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
June 27. Afterlife Questions: What about heaven and hell? Romans 14:7-9
Pearly gates, streets of gold, mansions in the sky, angels playing harps—these are the heavenly images we carry but scripture speaks more metaphorically than literally when it comes to the subject of heaven. We’ve seen above the clouds discovering an incomprehensibly vast universe beyond, but no heaven. Is it a literal place? So, what can we say about heaven that aligns with modern sensibilities and helps us in our faith today?
7We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 8If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
July 4. Does God Present a “Right Choice” for Every Situation? Ephesians 1:3-14.
On this Independence Day we will explore the question of our spiritual freedom. Does God have a very specific plan for us for every situation we encounter? Are we in a cosmic guessing game where there is a “correct” decision—that God aligns with the divine plans that have been set for us? Does God send bad things into our lives to teach us lessons or cause wonderful things to happen to us when we live properly? Where does free will come into play? See how God’s offers us great freedom and entrusts us to make a wide range of decisions that honor God, honor our neighbors and honors ourselves.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
July 11. Guest Preacher, Tanya Lopez sermon title and scripture TBA
We are delighted to welcome Tanya Lopez to the Bay Shore Church pulpit. Tanya is a recent seminary graduate pursuing her call to ordained ministry.
Glad You Asked II. How Faith Can Help Us Reflect on Social Problems.
The second part of the Glad You Asked worship series takes a head-on look at some of the big issues facing society today. In a recent survey, many Bay Shore Church people indicated they wanted sermons that help them sort through current events. These sermons are meant to be conversation starters from a faith perspective rather than taking a side in partisan politics. We will not all agree on solutions but there is common ground on the faith perspective that we are all called to seek justice and the common welfare for our community.
July 18. Why We Should and How We Can Talk about Justice Issues. Amos 5:4-15.
It’s dangerous to talk about social issues in church like ours where our people represent the whole range of the political spectrum. In a nation with a raging culture war, it may feel like talking about social issues only pours gasoline on the fire. Yet, scripture has a decided bent toward social justice. The prophets railed against inequalities and how poor and marginalized people were taken advantage of by the powerful. Jesus talked about God judges nations by the way they treat the poor, the alien, the prisoner and the hungry. We cannot ignore such a fundamental imperative of scripture. So how can we talk about issues without playing into partisan divides? This sermon offers ways we can use faith to help us think about issues and learn from different perspectives while respecting legitimate differences of opinion.
4For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: Seek me and live; 5but do not seek Bethel, and do not enter into Gilgal or cross over to Beer-sheba; for Gilgal shall surely go into exile, and Bethel shall come to nothing. 6Seek the Lord and live, or he will break out against the house of Joseph like fire, and it will devour Bethel, with no one to quench it. 7Ah, you that turn justice to wormwood, and bring righteousness to the ground! 8The one who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning, and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the Lord is his name, 9who makes destruction flash out against the strong, so that destruction comes upon the fortress. 10They hate the one who reproves in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks the truth. 11Therefore because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not live in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. 12For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins— you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and push aside the needy in the gate. 13Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time; for it is an evil time. 14Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, just as you have said. 15Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
July 25. Race Matters. Galatians 3:23-29
Christian white-supremacist groups are on the rise. Racial issues are in the news every day. Many would rather steer clear of any conversation about race because it seems that no matter what one says they will be misconstrued. We need resources to help us navigate through. Perhaps that is why in a recent survey the #1 topic (by far) Bay Shore Church members wanted to hear a sermon about is racism. How can people of faith become part of the solution and healing of our nation’s deep racial divide?
23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring,[k] heirs according to the promise.
August 1. Embracing the LGBTQ+ Community Despite the “Clobber Passages.” Psalm 139:13-18
A handful of obscure scripture passages have historically been lifted up as reasons to exclude members of the LGBTQ+ community. As a church we proclaim every Sunday, “Whoever you are and wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” We are open to all and affirming of all God’s children. Scripture has many more passages against judgment than sexuality, it has much more to say about inclusiveness and love than just about any other topic. But what do we do about the passages often quoted to clobber LGBTQ+ people? Find out how these passages are often misconstrued, taken out of context or blown out of proportion.
God did not make a mistake in creating LGBTQ+ people. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:113-14) Sexual identity and gender identity are components of a person’s personality, and as such are part of who God made each of us to be.
13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
17 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end[a]—I am still with you.
August 8. Homelessness when is helping hurting? Or human trafficking? Or immigration. TBA
Glad You Asked III. Living the Christian Life
The final section of our Glad You Asked worship series gives practical advice for living as a person of faith in today’s world. In a recent survey, many Bay Shore Church people indicated they wanted some sermons that help them with practical issues of faith. These sermons point to some practices you can build into your life that will help you grow closer to God and increase your sense of inner peace and joy.
August 15. “What to do when Worried You Don’t Have Enough Faith?”
First, relax! Many people worry that they don’t have enough faith. I grew up with an image that God had some sort of “faith-o-meter” to gauge our degree of faith. But Jesus says that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed (exceedingly small) then we have enough faith to do amazing things. Like a muscle, we can build our faith over time, find out how in this sermon.
5 The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ 6The Lord replied, ‘If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea”, and it would obey you.
August 22. Meditation/Prayer. Psalm 1:1-3
Do you feel like you keep breaking resolutions to make prayer a bigger part of your life? You are not alone. Maybe part of the problem is the way you are praying. There is no one right way to pray that suits everyone. This sermon will explore how to find a prayer practice that suits you. It doesn’t have to be stuffy or elaborate or boring. It just needs to be you presenting your authentic self to God.
1Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; 2but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. 3They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.
August 29. The Call and Limits of Self-sacrifice. Philippians 2:1-11
On one hand, we hear the sweet sound of a call to full self-expression and personal growth. But on the other hand, Christians need to hear the call to practice self-sacrifice. The defining character of a Christian is as a servant. Only in service to others does a Christian become most fully Christ-like. Unfortunately, finding the right balance between self-fulfillment and self-sacrifice — isn’t always easy. A balance between them is also made harder when we’re thinking in either / or terms. Self-fulfillment and self-sacrifice – are these two sides of an either / or equation? Or can we live out both?
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. 9Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
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