Mental Illness and the Church: Righting the Wrongs -- Two Sermons

September 9 — Isaiah 35:4-7a, Psalm 88, Mark 7:24-37

September 16 — 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, Psalm 116:1-9, Mark 8:27-38

Saint Augustine had declared that what separated men from beasts was the gift of reason; and so the loss of reason reduced man to a beast. From this position it was easy to conclude that the loss of reason was a mark of God’s disfavor; His punishment for a sinning soul....Melancholia was, in this view, a turning away from all that was holy. Furthermore, deep depression was often evidence of possession; a miserable fool contained within himself a devil, and if that devil could not be exorcised from him, why then he himself must go.
— Andrew Solomon in The Noonday Demon
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SERMON RESOURCES

Sermon 2 for 9/2/2018: Ask-the-Pastor - On Contentment and Wanting Worship to Matter

Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9, Psalm 15, Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 20-23

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Jesus tells us to beware when piety gets in the way of fulfilling the heart of the law: loving God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself. He warns us to beware when our piety separates us from others, for then it is also separating us from God.
— Elizabeth Johnson on workingpreacher.org

I relied heavily on commentary from Elizabeth Johnson in the sermon.  Her article for preachers can be found here: Commentary from Working Preacher.

Sermon for 2/25/18: A Death like His

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16, Psalm 22:23-31, Mark 8:31-38

Onawa Unfiltered, 2003

Onawa Unfiltered, 2003

If you depend on being emotionally inspired or newly motivated, you will need a new fix almost every day. If it is a true Gospel message, it will be more about regrounding, reshaping and redirecting you from your core.
— Richard Rohr

Sermon Notes

What kind of change does God want from us?  Well maybe that's not the right question. What kind of change is God doing to us in our encounter with Jesus Christ? That's the question we were trying to put answer on Tuesday night with our Lent series, How Men Change.  When God says change, what kind of change is at hand?  

I have found that is easier to talk about what real change is NOT.  And Richard Rohr helped us with this: it is not changing your friends.  Although sometimes real change means new people in your life.  But they are not the change itself.  Real change is not adopting new ideas or new dogmas or a new set of rules or new rituals or new denominations.  Change can bring those things to us...but again, they are not the change itself.  Change is something deeper, more destabilizing, more scary, more humbling, more transforming.  It is a whole lot more about admitting what we do not know than asserting what we do.  And that's the kind of change God does to us in our encounter with Jesus Christ.  And here's the kicker: we have no control over it. 

This is just a taste of the wrestling we have been doing together.  I hope it's challenging you; I hope it's confronting you.  But again, God is entirely responsible for that.  So it's my prayer that you should be confronted with a vision real change in this season. Amen

For a great discussion about change, read this article by Richard Rohr.  It's where I lifted this quote.  And this season, he's how I'm sharpening my understanding of the core biblical message.  Blessings, friends.

Sermon for 2/18/18: On Men

Genesis 9:8-17, Psalm 25:1-10, Mark 1:9-15

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Upon Further Reflection

I realized, as usual, Sunday afternoon, I forgot to say the most important thing about change from scripture this week.  We heard the flood story in Genesis.  We heard the verses read in church from the moment when God establishes the everlasting covenant with humanity and places the bow in the sky as a reminder of the promise.  Well if you read the fuller story, you discover that God doesn't rebuild humanity and promise never to destroy us again because Noah or anyone else did anything to become better and more worthy of saving.  In fact, God says quite specifically, human beings are not changing.  And so in response, it is God that grieves the loss of creation and then works to return to us.  And so for all the talk about change and men and women during this season, let us never forget this -- God sees into our stubborn hearts, gazes with honesty onto our harmful intentions and says with mercy, "It's on me to change."

Sermon Notes: Here are couple links to the resources I used to put this sermon together.

For the interview with Arthur Brooks on his book The Conservative Heart, check out this from the Washington Post.  The whole thing is very engaging and worth a listen. It's a political podcast so you can imagine I have plenty of thoughts about it, but the material about happiness and men and friendship is helpful outside the political sphere.

For the dowload of the lecture by Father Richard Rohr, check out his website:

Sermon for 2/4/18: On Silence, Part II

Isaiah 40:21-20 and Mark 1:29-39

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’
— Mark 1:35-27
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In Silence -- a poem by Thomas Merton

Be still.
Listen to the stones of the wall.
Be silent, they try
to speak your

name.
Listen
to the living walls.

Who are you?
Who
are you? Whose
silence are you?

Who (be quiet)
are you (as these stones
are quiet). Do not
think of what you are
still less of
what you may one day be.

Rather
be what you are (but who?)
be the unthinkable one
you do not know.

O be still, while
you are still alive,
and all things live around you

speaking (I do not hear)
to your own being,
speaking by the unknown
that is in you and in themselves.

“I will try, like them
to be my own silence:
and this is difficult. The whole
world is secretly on fire. The stones
burn, even the stones they burn me.
How can a man be still or
listen to all things burning?
How can he dare to sit with them
when all their silence is on fire?”