Sermon: You Didn’t Build That.

Joshua 24:1-25
Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 12, 2014
First Christian Church
Mahtomedi, MN

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obama-you-didnt-build-thatEvery presidential election is always kind of a silly season in America.  People hear what a candidate says and it becomes fodder for the opposing side for weeks.  Certain phrases enter the body politic and are remembered for years after the election.  And this is not a modern phenomenon.  In 1884 as Grover Cleaveland was running for President, allegations surfaced that he had fathered a child out of wedlock.  His opponents began chanting “Ma, Ma, Where’s my Pa?”  After Cleveland won the race his supporters fired back: “Gone to the White House, ha,ha,ha.”

In 2012, there wasn’t any chants like that, but there is one phrase that stuck out above all the din.  It was something that President Obama said, something that supporters of Governor Mitt Romney picked up and ran with.  The phrase is “You didn’t build that.”  If my memory serves me correct, the phrase came in a speech reflecting the role of government in our society.  The GOP milked that phrase for all it was worth.

Now, this sermon is not, I repeat, is not about the role of goverment or a rehash of the last Presidential election.  I’m wary about being partisan in the pulpit, so I’m not interested in talking about politics, at least from this vantage point as a pastor.

That said, this phrase is interesting to me, not because of politics, but because how it lines up with today’s passage.  The phrase reminds us that we are not where we are becuase of our smarts, but because God has been with us all the time.

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Birth Control And The Sham of Theological Diversity

One of the things that Progressive Christians like to say about themselves is how welcoming and tolerant they are.  Compared to their more conservative cousins, progressives can pride themselves in being able to think for themselves and to have a place where all ideas and beliefs can be shared without fear. Why, your progressive church even welcomes Republicans! But in reality, all of this talk of diversity is a complete shame.  We are no more tolerant of other viewpoints than our conservative relatives.  What we are good at is lying to ourselves about how good we are. Case in point … Continue reading Birth Control And The Sham of Theological Diversity

Why I Like Lillian Daniel.

I really like Lillian Daniel.  Really. Why, you ask?  Because in 2011 she said something that many mainline Christians have been thinking, but were too afraid to say outloud.   In 2011 Daniel wrote an article with the very provocative title: “Spiritual, But Not Religious?  Please Stop Boring Me.”  If you think this was a rant, well, you’re right.  Daniel basically tore into those folks that have been called “Spiritual But Not Religious” or SBNR.  The article went viral and it’s easy to see why.  Here’s what she said reflecting on a visit with a gentleman on an airplane: On airplanes, … Continue reading Why I Like Lillian Daniel.

How Sunday School Made Us Biblical Dummies

Interesting read: One of the places where America began to become theologically illiterate was an odd one: Sunday school. I believe the introduction of Sunday schools truly has caused the American church to know less about what they believe. Read the whole thing.  He’s not saying we should junk Sunday School, but he shows how it may have created a generation of people who sat in Sunday School and yet know nothing about the faith. Continue reading How Sunday School Made Us Biblical Dummies

Planned Parenthod vs. Susan G. Komen: Same S*%!, Different Day

I’m not going to get into the specifics of the whole Komen controversy because its been done ad nausem.  But I do have one question: where should the Church be in all this? The whole mess concerning the two groups was one more annoying incident in the culture wars.  Each side, including many a Christian, took their usual sides in this forever battle.  We slunged mud at the other side with equal ferocity, all in the name of being on the side of right, of course. But how should followers of Jesus respond?  How do we handle issues in ways … Continue reading Planned Parenthod vs. Susan G. Komen: Same S*%!, Different Day

Personal Jesus

One thing that I’ve noticed over the years is that mainline Protestants don’t seem to take God very personally.  Growing up as I did in the evangelical world, God and Jesus was up close and personal.  A lot of the songs we sung in college intentionally changed the words of some songs from something like, “God is so good to us,” to something like “God is so good to me.”  In many ways, Mainline Protestants tend to think of God in more communal or corporate terms.  We tend to use words like “us” and not focus on a personal Jesus. … Continue reading Personal Jesus

Discipleship in an Active Age

Presbyterian Pastor John Vest wonders if we need to rethink what it means to be active in a faith community: As a downtown church that draws on individuals and families from all around the Chicagoland area, our youth ministry has always faced some interesting challenges. Our youth come from a variety of schools, so creating a sense of community in this context is different from a situation in which all or most of the youth go to the same school. We also focus the majority of our energy on a short window of time on Sunday morning, which we’ve found … Continue reading Discipleship in an Active Age

Repost: The Social Network

From February of this year. I’d love to find out what other people think about this. Via Scott McKnight, I came upon this blog post by Richard Beck about how Facebook is killing the church. Yes, you heard me: Facebook is killing the church. The difference between Generations X and Y isn’t in their views of the church. It’s about those cellphones. It’s about relationships and connectivity. Most Gen X’ers didn’t have cell phones, text messaging or Facebook. These things were creeping in during their college years but the explosive onset of mobile devices and social computing had yet to … Continue reading Repost: The Social Network

"The Table Reveals Who We Are"

Disciples like to call that thing that’s up front in the sanctuary a table.  Lutherans used to call it an altar, but more and more they’ve started following us and calling it a table.  Far more humble and fitting in my view. Disciples Pastor Lee Yates reminds us that the Table reveals who we really are.  If you want to know something about the life of a church, then look how they deal with the table, which means a lot of our churches are in trouble: While much of our church rhetoric includes the table, I’ve been thinking a lot … Continue reading "The Table Reveals Who We Are"

Super Simple Sunday School

I’m starting a new Sunday School class at First Christian that’s called Super Simple Sunday School.  It’s basically morning devotions/morning prayer.  The class goes a bit like this: We read one of that Sunday’s lectionary text. We have a brief discussion of the text. We share prayer concerns. We pray. We leave. That’s it.  The whole point of the class is for folks who might want a bit of quiet time during the week or those who for whatever reason, don’t want to get into the big time Adult Sunday School class.  We aren’t discussing major bits of theology, but … Continue reading Super Simple Sunday School