The first week of Advent begins a new Christian year. If it has been difficult to find hope in 2017, listen to this homily, which highlights the differences between hope and optimism. In this homily, Pastor Caleb looks at a tough passage from Mark 13 about the "day of the Lord." As we prepare for Christmas, Advent encourages us to not only look back at the birth of Christ, but also forward to Christ's coming. Caleb argues on behalf of hope, even when optimism is unlikely.
Matthew 25 is the familiar passage where Jesus tells followers that whenever they show love to the least among them, they are extending love to Him. God's particular love for the poor and marginalized is on display in this text, along with His justice and judgment. Bob suggests that "oracles of judgment" like the one in Matthew 25 are good news that remind us that God is on the side of justice and peace.
"In what story," Dr. Kuecker asked, "does Grace Chicago's mission statement make sense?" The story the Israelites found themselves in, which the New Testament picks up on, is the story of being freed from captivity and led to the Promised Land. What does it mean to be caught up in that story? Kuecker's homily provides some answers and provokes several other questions.
Paul's letter to the Thessalonians is one of the Paul's earliest writings. He refers to himself as a wet nurse, and paints a picture of leadership and authority that causes us to do a double take. In this homily, Bob suggests that the Gospel rearranges the furniture of our minds. It challenges our approach to power and forces us to examine how we love God, others, and live sacrificially in community with one another.
Render to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's. What does this saying mean? Jesus' response to the conniving pharisees puts them on their heels by insisting on the dignity of all people. Christians are called to live in the middle of division, insisting on the dignity of all people as well.
In this homily, Pastor Bob looks at Revelation and the broad sweeping salvation that comes through Christ. The text talks about the glory of God, which is tied intractably to the flourishing and glory of human beings. This homily explores the maxim from the Early Church Father, Irenaeus, "The glory of God is a human being fully alive."
Philippians 2:1-13 is an iconic passage. Much of it is actually a hymn. Paul reminds the Philippians of what is more important and the most important things cannot be spoken, they must be sung. Paul's use of worship reminds us that our "being in one accord" (the word we get symphony from in the Greek) has to do with gathering around the person of Christ, who shapes and forms us at our core.
When God took on flesh, He talked about the Kingdom of Heaven. The community woven together in Christ has their citizenship in an upside down kingdom where the first are last and the last are first. Caleb explores a parable from Matthew 20 about God's priorities regarding profit, fairness, and people.
Pastor Bob explores Romans 13:8-14 and considers Paul's simple command to love one another. It is the final sermon in a series on how our worship as a church ought to form us.
In Romans 12, Paul lists a set of moral imperatives, which at first seem daunting and may even cause anxiety. Pastor Bob makes the argument that these commands are invitations that come from God and can be lived into only as gifts of God. They are Life Giving! In worship, God does the work of making us more Christ-like.
In Romans 12, Paul pivots from the dense theological material of the preceding chapters towards its application. Paul urges us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, and he suggests that our minds can be transformed. Pastor Bob points out that for Paul, it is our participation in right worship that shapes us. What and how we worship shapes us and we ought to pay close attention therefore to what we are worshipping.
What is the story of Joseph about? There is a lot going on, but what Joseph realizes in the end is that his life is ultimately a story about God thwarting the devastating effects of a famine. This is a tale about how the Jewish God saved Egyptians lives. God is at work to preserve lives. He still is!
In this homily, Pastor Caleb explores the story of Joseph. Borrowing language from Thomas Kelly, he suggests that God is the Hound of Heaven, in pursuit of Joseph and his brothers even in the midst of their broken family system.
There is more than enough to go around. In this homily, Pastor Bob explores passages from Isaiah, Romans, and Matthew that show us how to reflect the love of God which is overflowing. In a culture of fear and scarcity, God's people are called to generous love. Are our impulses shaped by the Holy Spirit so that our lives are animated by the idea that there is more than enough love to go around.
In this sermon on Romans 8, Pastor Bob explores what kind of joy follows the reality of God's victory over the enemies of human flourishing. The defeat over sin is God's victory. It is out of our hands, and that is great news! Every time we enter into worship we are entering into a celebration that began before the foundation of the earth. The party began a long time ago, and we get to be participants in it!
On July 9th, Pastor Caleb preached on Romans 7 in which Paul talks about the war waging in our hearts between law and grace. Following our July 4th celebrations, what does it mean to be dependent upon Christ while living in a world divided by law and grace? This sermon reflects on the streets of Chicago and how we live as people of grace in the midst of sin and chaos.
In this sermon on Romans 6, Bob considers the power of sin, with a capital S. This sort of Sin convinces us that God is not for us. It leads us to "underestimate what God has done for us in Jesus Christ." The reality is that the one who knows us best is the one who loves us best. Be encouraged!
Abraham and Sarah laugh when God tells them that they will yet have a child. And can you blame them? There is faith in their laughter. There is doubt in their laughter. Pastor Caleb explores the humor of the gospel and a faith that requires laughter.
Pastor Caleb explores Genesis 1. What does it mean to be created? The creation account in Genesis was a radical story for Israel, it ought to be a radical story for us as well. Often it is a source of argument and disagreement. Instead, it should be the source of a beautiful theology of what it means to be created by a good and loving God.
Pastor Bob offers a reflection on what God's Spirit does at Pentecost. God's Spirit invites all of creation into the life of God and magnifies and celebrates the diversity of creation.