In this sermon, we celebrate good news of a great joy, which shall be for all people! This is news that acknowledges the hardship we face and yet opens a world-transforming, power-disrupting, almighty and yet deeply vulnerable Way for joy. Christmas is the unexpected inbreaking of divine presence and joy.
When you have a hard decision to make, where do you find support to take a risk and follow your heart? This week's gospel story tells the story of Joseph deciding to leave Mary when he found out she was pregnant and knew he was not the father. When an angel speaks to him in a dream, however, he is instructed to confront his fear, take Mary as his wife, and care for this new child who is "from the Holy Spirit." This week we'll reflect on the ways angels call us into risk.
How are you feeling as Christmas approaches? This festive family season can intensify feelings of loneliness or missing someone. The pressure to spend on gifts can bring up money anxiety. But when we move into the gospel story, we see that the Christmas angel meets us where we are. In this week’s story, the angel Gabriel meets Mary on the streets. The following week, a host of angels meet some shepherds at their workplace. The invitation of Christmas is to look deep into who and what is being born. What is being born in you and among us? It's easy to fixate on what’s dying, like a relationship, the planet, democracy, and human decency. Christmas, however, is about what and who is being born: courage, possibility, faith community, love, and purpose.
The mystery of Christmas connects people on the margins with the glorious divine. In the Christmas story, God is born to unmarried parents and laid in an animal trough in a barn. This birth inspires a heavenly chorus of angels to sing Glory to God to shepherds who are on the night shift out in a field. What does this story reveal about God? What does this story reveal about angels? Do we experience angels in the midst of our daily lives? The word angel, which comes from "angelos," is the Greek word for "messenger." Godly insight may come from the most unlikely places. Together, we'll attune our hearts to seek and find angels in the Bronx, angels in our homes — angels everywhere.
Healthy community means no one is less, no one is dispensable. Can we build community in which conflict doesn't mean demeaning or excluding people, but rather is a healthy part of growing together? What boundaries must be maintained to achieve such a task? Harassment, abuse and assaults against women are in the news, but Hollywood and government are not the only oppressive and unhealthy environments. Harassment is rampant in work places, schools, the subway and even in the home. The church is notorious for justifying and supporting the circumstances that lead to injustice and abuse. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), 2016 was the most violent year on record for hate violence related homicides of LGBTQ and HIV affected people. The teaching of Jesus is sharp and bold in its call for the end not only of abusive acts, but also for the end of thoughts, words and images that help maintain a culture of abuse. We must address our wounds.This work is messy, difficult, vulnerable, and critical to our survival. Healing lies on the other side. The work requires dialogue, vulnerability, and accountability. We hope you will join in the conversation about how we can build a healthy community of gender justice, healing and transformation together.
In this sermon, we hear of a widow who is trying to get justice from "a judge who neither fears God nor has respect for people." Have you ever been in a situation that didn't seem to have a solution? This sermon also continues our sermon series on adrienne maree brown’s new text, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds. In this week's chapter, brown suggests that the pathway to real breakthrough is "nonlinear." That means it may not unfold in one clear path, step by step. Instead, real change comes in "cycles, convergences, explosions." A setback is simply part of the learning. Join us: Together we'll learn from She Who Persisted, remembering that God is with us. Our own "cycles, convergences" and "explosions" are only taking us deeper into our purpose.
Change is a given. Sometimes it's overwhelming. How do you respond? This Sunday the conversation between the faith teaching of Jesus and the book Emergent Strategies by Adrienne Maree Brown gets to where the rubber meets the road. It's great when all goes according to plan. But what about when things fall apart? This Sunday we will explore intentional adaptation. What obstacles are you facing? How do we find another way and keep moving forward?
In Luke 6:31-37, we read about how to get along with other people—not just people we like, but also people we find difficult or frustrating. Reflecting on our human interdependence, adrienne maree brown asks: "Do you understand that your quality of life and your survival are tied to how authentic and generous the connections are between you and the people and place you live with and in? Are you actively practicing generosity and vulnerability in order to make the connections between you and others clear, open, available, durable? Generosity here means giving of what you have without strings or expectations attached. Vulnerability means showing your needs." Join us; together, we’ll heal our relationships and cultivate the skills we need to create the world we dream of.
In this sermon, we meditate on what can be done with "just a little faith." Do you face overwhelming situations? Can you relate with the disciples who urgently ask Jesus to increase their faith? It feels like we’d need faith the size of the Empire State Building to address some of the overwhelming problems in our lives and in the world. But Jesus tells us we're actually looking for faith "as a grain of mustard seed." Mustard is the smallest of all seeds. How can this be? In our society, we value big and grand. But what if God moves in small, almost imperceptible ways? Join us as we work on valuing the small. The subtle. Not just the fruit, but the seeds. Perhaps there are some small steps you can take in your life that could begin to make a significant difference.
In her first sermon, Alyssa Roberts blesses our community with her deep reflections on what it means to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. She will put Scripture and her relationship with God in conversation with her lived experiences. We will be reminded to be salty, available — the light of the world. We'll be reminded of who we are in the face of so-called-authority. We'll reflect on the uses of silence and the necessity of voice. This enfleshed Word is needed now more than ever.
Is there hope in the storm? Many are involved with relief efforts in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands or Mexico. Many are supporting those who are threatened by the repeal of DACA. The magnitude of need is overwhelming. We can't do everything but we can do something. The teaching in this sermon comes from Ephesians 1:18: "With the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which God has called you." What is the Hope to which God is calling You?
There is great temptation to pretend. Sometimes we're not ready to reveal our true feelings so we pretend to be okay when we're not. Or fearing that people won’t like us as we are, we pretend to be something we think they’ll like. Pretending is common and it may provide some comfort, but it is not a source of genuine hope. Instead, hope is rooted in the courageous process of reaching deep into ourselves to be who we truly are, to appreciate who God has created us to be, and to embrace our power. It really helps if our faith community intentionally supports being real.
Are we living in an apocalyptic sci-fi movie? The number and intensity of both natural and political disasters is overwhelming. Where can we look to find our footing in this current landscape? The gospels were written in a time of great social turmoil when people were afraid. Jesus told them, “Beware that no one leads you astray.” But he also offers a pathway through the storm: A power greater than any danger, and in the end a victory of love over fear.
As people of the Resurrection, we are called to an irrational Hope. It's not a hope in the system, but Hope empowers us to challenge the system. It's not a hope that someone else will have a "change of heart"--but Hope compels us to proclaim that regardless, we choose to stand for what's good and true and saving. Our Hope comes from the depths of our gut. And that is where God is. Nora Asedillo Cunningham, who has a Masters in Divinity at Union Theological Seminary, preaches her first Community of the Word sermon.
God created us for abundance, fulfillment, and quality of life. The prophet Isaiah declares that God is “about to create new heavens and a new earth.” He invites us to “be glad and rejoice forever.” In this new creation, “one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth.” What are the keys to a long life? What blocks long, healthy life? How can we age faithfully? Together, we'll learn about the Blue Zones Project and experience God's abundance and vitality.
Some of us glimpsed the grandeur of the universe this week when the moon blocked the sun. Some of us have felt God's peace in a kind word or moment of grace. Faith community is a place where this peace which passes all understanding can flourish. It's easy not to make the time. But could you use some peace? Together, we'll gather together with eyes and hearts open to receiving the peace of God.
The boundaries between us are deep, oppressive and historical. At the same time, we are inescapably connected. There is no way around it. Confronting this is the work of boundary crossing. In this past week's Living Faith gathering, community members wrestled with the events of Charlottesville in light of Scripture. Describing the conversation, Pastor Alexis Francisco said: "Building boundary crossing community is beautiful, messy, holy work. Our willingness to wrestle with hard questions together is more important now than ever." These connections aren’t only local, they are also global. In Martin Luther King Jr’s oft-quoted statement that we are “all caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality…” the end is often left off. He continues, “...so we are all concerned about what is happening in Africa and what is happening in Asia because we are part of this whole movement.” Evil is not eternal. Hate will not have the final say. And we are many. Let us be a people who stand for gritty Hope in the midst of despair.
There are a number of legitimate factors that hinder and distract us from pursuing what we feel called to do. Pursuing purpose can also seem elusive and confusing in the context of our daily lives. But we are all created by God for purpose. And we are called to demand the most from ourselves, from our communities, and from our lives. We are not called to live unintentionally. In this sermon, Lisa Asedillo Pratt meditates on a passage on purpose from the Gospel of Thomas.
Hope seems hard to find in today’s world. But it is our faith stance that hope is available in our relationship with God -- even during times of grieving and hardship; even in the midst of oppression.
Trust is the basis of relationship. When that trust is betrayed, relationship comes apart. In this sermon, we read Genesis 3, the story of the original betrayal and breaking of relationship. We will look at the way God begins to restore trust, reflecting on the quality of trust in our own human relationships.
"I deserve a place of healing." This realization was a turning point for Claudia Copeland. It also transformed her giving practice. This Sunday, Community of the Word member, Claudia Copeland, will bring the sermon and share her journey of healing and growth. She'll be reflecting on a Scripture passage from Mark 14, where an unnamed woman generously anoints Jesus with ointment before his crucifixion. Claudia will share that in the beginning, she couldn't stand this passage. Why did the woman have to be unnamed? And yet it stuck with her. Over time, she began to glean from its wisdom. Where do you find healing?
Do we have a vision for our relationships? Do we do what it takes to make our relationships work? And do we reflect on our relationships and see the meaning in them? Together, we'll explore this process for deepening and bringing meaning to our relationships.
Relationships can be a real challenge in our day. Stress, busy-ness, and individualism are all obstacles to the compassion and patience it takes to build them. This sermon explores the ways Creation stories in Genesis centralize the importance of relationship with one another, with God, and with the rest of creation.
Why do people try to convince you that there is something wrong with your body? Who decided on these standards that bodies are supposed to fit into? in this sermon, we explore the teaching of Jesus who spoke about the "Temple of his body." How do we care for and live fully in our bodies as temples? For far too long, LGBTQ people have been told that their bodies are sinful and broken. All of us, regardless of our gender or sexual identity, have responded to this violence by cutting off parts of who we are and hiding from the realities of our own bodies. At New Day Church, we believe that queer people are not only sacred in the image of God, but offer unique and prophetic insight about our faith.
In this sermon, one of the nation's great liberation Bible teachers brings the Word on this year's Queer Liberation Series theme: "This is My Body." Dr. Althea Spencer Miller is a New Testament professor at Drew Theological School in Madison, New Jersey. Her vast knowledge of the scriptures and deep commitment to justice make her sermons a feast of inspiration.
It's time to let go of worry so we can embrace the present joy. Worry is a paralyzing practice that hinders us from living fully. Can we let it go? Can we embrace all that the present moment offers without being frazzled by what terrible thing might or might not happen in the future? Jesus invites us, actually urges us, to let worry go. How can we do that? What is it that’s worrying you that you would like to let go of? This Sunday is also Pentecost Sunday, which celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit while the disciples were gathered together, wondering how to move forward after the Resurrection. How fitting that as we consider releasing worry we do so on a Sunday that calls for us to be open to the radical, joyful, and powerful move of God in our life, even into new ways and directions that we may not have anticipated.
What's your conversion story? Conversion is much more than realizing a belief in a higher power. It is entering into a process with God to heal the trauma of Empire and co-create justice in ourselves and our community. In this sermon, we looked at the conversion story of Thecla and the women of all classes and species that conspire for her baptism and freedom from the powerful patriarchs that assaulted her. We'll explore the practices of witnessing the sacred in ourselves and each other, turning from Empire, and becoming an accomplice in each other's liberation in order to embrace our full humanity.