The Progressive Christian Voice
Summary: Listen to sermons that connect spiritual teachings to the relevant issues of our day. Featuring sermons at Western Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C..
Jeremiah 8:18?9:1 Mark 8:27?38 This Sunday we welcome the Rev. Gary McMichael to our pulpit. A familiar face here at Western, Gary is a licensed therapist with the Center for Pastoral Counseling of Virginia, where he has been since 1999. He is also a minister member of National Capital Presbytery and has served the Trinity, Fairfax, and John Calvin Churches.
Luke 15:11-32 The difference between tradition (which holds stories together) and traditionalism (we do it because we do it this way) is that tradition isn’t about finding the past or seeking to make the now like the past but rather, tradition offers an insight and an alternative to open up the future. ?This Sunday, we will delve into the familiar parable of the prodigal son and listen anew to the ways this story, which is foundational to our Christian faith and tradition, will open us to the future ahead.
Luke 15: 1-10 The parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin are familiar stories that we can listen to repeatedly and, depending on our own circumstances when we hear the story, we perceive the meaning of the text differently. In such a time as this, when the feeling of being lost or left behind is palpable, let us listen again to the Good News God has for us and for the world.?
Matthew 18:21-35; Psalm 32:1-7 Jesus tells Peter a parable of a king who forgives the servant's impossibly large debt, yet the servant leaves to punish another who owes him. He is forgiven, yet cannot forgive others. What does forgiveness look like today, especially in light of tragedies requiring inestimably large forgiveness?
Matthew 13:44-53; Psalm 133 This week's parables of the kingdom of heaven compare it to treasure - something precious that requires a commitment from the person who pursues it. After last week's tragedy of violence in Orlando, how might we recommit to what is most precious, most important in God's sight?
For too long, the loudest voice in the name of Christianity in our culture has been one which that has declared judgment and incited punishment of a portion of God's children. In the name of "love," churches have excommunicated members, families have shunned their children, and policies have been endorsed to declare GLBTQI persons as second-class citizens. In less extreme but still damaging ways, churches have created requirements for membership that inherently exclude GLBTQI persons, families have withheld support and love from their GLBTQI members, and abstinence from voting has enabled bigotry to rise to the top. This voice of Christianity in our culture, along with the shooter himself and the influence of terrorist organizations, bears a measure of responsibility for the loss of the 50 souls that perished in the largest mass shooting which took place at the night club named Pulse in Orlando, FL on June 12, 2016. This Christian voice bears a measure of responsibility for these 50 souls and the countless others who have been victimized by the denial of God's creation within them. It is important to name this voice in order for grace to enter in. As God's children, we are all oriented towards growth. All of us. Those who have espoused this kind of hurtful vitriol and committed acts of violence, those who have stood as faithful allies to the GLBTQI, and those of us who identify as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, intersex or questioning - all of us are children of God and all of us oriented for growth through Christ's redeeming love. It is important that we, as Christians, speak this message of God's grace and love more loudly - not in judgement, not to punish, not to feel righteous - but because Christ commanded us to love God and to love one another. I wrote this sermon before the deadliest mass shooting happened and I preached it hours after it happened, though I was unaware of the details. I am grateful to have preached the sermon that I did. Upon reflection, it was a Word I needed to embed within my spirit in order to bear the news of this awful tragedy without despairing. The first reading in our worship service was Psalm 139: 1-18. Following this reading, I stood up in the pulpit and preached the following sermon.
Janet Guyer, a mission co-worker whom Western has supported for many years, will be with us at Western this Sunday. She will talk about her work focusing on women’s and children’s issues in four African countries - Ethiopia, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus tells a parable of dangerous weeds growing among good wheat.
Matthew 13:1-9 This summer we’ll hear from many of the parables, considering not just what they mean, but how they mean. Jesus used this story method as a way of letting his teaching take root. What kind of soil are you? How might God be sowing seeds in your life?
1 Corinthians 15: 1-26; 51-58 The resurrection is a hot topic for debate in theological circles -- but, what does it mean to us as faithful people today? How does the resurrection inform your understanding of God's power in your life and in the world?
This Sunday we welcome to the pulpit Kurt Esslinger and Hyeyoung Lee, PC(USA) mission co-workers in South Korea, who will be in town for Ecumenical Advocacy Days. While they serve as a couple, coordinating the Young Adult Volunteer program in Daejeon, Kurt works with the National Council of Churches in Korea for peaceful reconciliation in Korea, and Hyeyoung works with Hannam University’s Global Multicultural Leadership Program.
For Jesus's earliest followers, the resurrection wasn't an abstract concept, nor was it a one-time event. The disciples began to see and participate in all kinds of resurrections, to the point that it became a sign of their life together. What does resurrection look like today, for you, in our world? How might we learn to see the possibility of new life where no one thought it was possible?
We know the story that after Jesus rose, he visited the Doubting Thomas and invited the disciple to touch his wounds and know he is alive. But, what happens next? This Sunday, we’ll explore Jesus’ ascension into heaven. We’ll put ourselves in the shoes of those who watched him be lifted up and we’ll ponder how we might be his witness in the world today.
The original ending of Mark’s gospel and account of the resurrection ends mid-sentence. No one sees the risen Christ. Nothing is resolved. Yet the words of the messenger at the tomb remain good news for the women and for us. What if the story continues, just not in the text? How does it read, if the best parts of the story are yet to come?