EASTER PEOPLE: Pascha, April 16, 2017

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

Gospel Reading: John 20: 1-10 (The Empty Tomb)

 

Christ is Risen! What an awesome and glorious gift is made for each of us to behold!  The Resurrection Day!  The day that marks our adoption as sons and daughters of the heavenly Father!  Today, Christ delivers all of creation from darkness into light:  with every breath we take, we give Glory to God.  We praise him for the perfect splendor and beauty of this day, for all the majesty and unending joy he has prepared for us!  We are made whole; we are made holy!  Behold, Christ is Risen!

The story of this morning begins with a woman.  Her name is Mary Magdalene, and she is beside herself.   She has devoted herself to the way of her teacher, Jesus, the only rabbi who includes women in his society.   Jesus is the man she has come to believe is the Messiah, the deliverer of her people from the oppressors of the world, and yesterday she stood with a small group of his followers and watched as this man Jesus died, hanging on a cross, another victim of this world of suffering and injustice.  Mary Magdalene is heart-broken.  A night has passed, a sleepless night, and she arrives before dawn at the tomb, Continue reading

Jerusalem Greets Its Deliverer:  The Man of Sorrows, Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

One way we can understand Palm Sunday is from a child’s point of view, so I want us all to think back to school days.  I know several of the folks in this congregation went to school in one room buildings that were heated with wood stoves.  Maybe you had electricity, and maybe there was a ceiling fan to circulate the heat.  Probably there was no indoor plumbing.  You walked to school, at least until high school, when if you lived too far away, you might have boarded in town for the school term.  There weren’t school buses, or cafeterias. Things were different then.  But there was one thing I am guessing we all share:  a memory of vocabulary lists and spelling tests.  Every week there was a new list of ten or so words we had to learn.  And the words we learned, or didn’t learn, have shaped us to this day.   Continue reading

The Born-Again Sermons, Part V: When Jesus Wept

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

April 2, 2017 5th Sunday of Lent

John 11:1-45

Last week I got a note from a friend in New Hampshire.  I had sent him a copy of the sermon you also received.   It was the first part of the series of Born-Again sermons I have been preaching this Lent, and it was on Temptation.  My friend thanked me, and commented.  He said, “I have experienced spiritual warfare often, especially when getting closer to Jesus.”  His comment was perceptive.  We are all getting closer to Jesus, and this means we are exposed to greater risks from temptation. Continue reading

THE BORN-AGAIN SERMONS, Part Four: The Man Born Blind

 Pastor Chico Martin

March 26, 2017   The Fourth Sunday of Lent

John 9

 

Today’s Gospel tells the story of the man born blind; it’s a story that we all share and love to sing about:

“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.”

When John Newton wrote this song, he was writing about his personal experience, and when we sing this song, we’re singing about our personal experience.  That is, we’re all born blind, and now we see.

The details are different, of course; but conversion stories follow a pattern:

“’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
the hour I first believed!”
Continue reading

THE BORN-AGAIN SERMONS, Part Three: The Water of the Body and the Water of the Spirit

Pastor Chico Martin

March 19, 2017   The 3rd Sunday of Lent

Exodus 17:1-7; John 4:5-42

Today we hear two stories: the first, from Exodus, tells the story of Water from the Rock; the second, from John’s Gospel, the story of the Woman at the Well.  In the story from Moses, we hear how God provides water to his thirsty people; “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again.” This is the water that makes up over 50% of our body.  In the Gospel story, at Jacob’s Well, Jesus offers “the well of living water,” to the Samaritan woman.  “Living water” can’t be drawn with a bucket.  The water of the body and the water of the Spirit are both necessary to life, but they meet very different needs. Continue reading

THE BORN-AGAIN SERMONS, Part Two: The Methodist Church and the Sinner’s Prayer

Pastor Chico Martin

March 12th, 2017  The 2nd Sunday of Lent

 

“The biblical narrative is ultimately a story about God’s pursuit of His people and the redemption and restoration of a world marred by sin.” – Tim Fox

 

I remember as a teenager watching the Billy Graham Crusade on TV with my grandmother at her home in Virginia.   It was probably the first – and one of the few times – I watched an altar call.  TV was also where I learned about the sinner’s prayer; this is the sort of prayer you say when you accept Jesus into your heart and invite Him into your life.   Continue reading

The Born-Again Sermons, Part One: Temptation

 Pastor Chico Martin

March 5th, 2017  The 1st Sunday of Lent

Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. -Matt. iv. i.

 

All of us recognize our selfishness; all of us know how bad our heart feels when we give in to the temptation to satisfy our own desire at the expense of hurting another.  Scripture talks about temptation as a trial, test, ordeal or trap.  Sometimes temptation is personified as a temptor.  Other times temptation is identified as foolish and harmful desires, denial of faith, strangeness, wrong motives, pleasures of adultery, friendship with the world, a turn of heart, a wrong path, intent, enticement, shifting shadows… Continue reading