Musings on life, faith, politics, music, books, and whatever happens to cross my mind.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
10 Sermons That Rocked My World
I have grown up in and around churches, and have heard dozens upon dozens of sermons. Good, mediocre, boring– on all theological topics under the sun. Two pastors in particular, however, stand out in my recollection, and of each of those pastors I have found a handful of sermons that irrevocably have stuck out in my memory– ones which helped to define my faith and rocked my world in doing so. Here are the links and brief summaries.
“The Living Christ” by Rev. Anne Robertson. Growing up, Sunday School for kids occurred during the first worship service, so usually one of the only sermons I ever heard happened at Easter when Sunday School was cancelled. This one is probably the best stuck in my memory, because it tied Easter to, of all things, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol…and helped to form my belief that God cannot be contained to our human imagination. God is bigger.
“Transformation in Whoville” by Rev. Anne Robertson. I also inevitably always heard the sermon preached at church on Christmas Eve. This is my favorite Christmas sermon of all time because it was framed around Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” A reminder that Christmas is bigger than our busy-ness and greed and materialism– Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. It’s up to us to choose whether we are the Whos or the Grinch each year.
“Tower of Love” by Rev. Anne Robertson. Preached the Sunday after Tuesday September 11, 2001. Where was God in the midst of those terrorist attacks? Everywhere you looked, if you looked with the right eyes. “As the World Trade towers fell, the tower of love grew strong.”
“What’s It All About” by Rev. Anne Robertson. This sermon won preaching awards and it’s not hard to see why. God is love. “Square one in the Christian faith and in all of life is love. If you’ve missed it, you’ve got to go back.”
“Everything You Need to Know” by Rev. Mark Schaefer. The first sermon I heard preached by my college campus minister. It has wound up being effectively a preview of my faith career for the next four years of my life and spiritual development. Can’t find a word in it that’s not true.
“Why the Atheists Are Right (And Wrong)” by Rev. Mark Schaefer. The second sermon of my college career– quite a powerhouse combo, those first two Sundays. After four years of evangelical Christian school, it rocked my world to hear a Christian minister admit that people who were skeptical of faith might possibly have a point.
“Faith Questions” by Rev. Mark Schaefer. This is actually an annual occurrence at my campus church, where students anonymously submit questions online and the pastor answers them during the service, sight unseen. I cannot really recollect any one question that had an answer that rocked my world– rather, it was the whole existence of this kind of sermon. To put it in Mark’s words, “As I am fond of saying every year, “Faith Questions” is not simply a description of what it is we are answering. “Faith questions” is itself a sentence, a statement. Faith questions. A lively meaningful faith is not afraid to ask difficult questions and to wrestle with complex issues as they relate to our understandings of God and what we believe.” That realization alone– that asking questions was an acceptable part of faith– completely changed my faith life.
“Jesus Added You As A Friend” by Rev. Mark Schaefer. Facebook is indeed a technological and communications marvel. It’s a wonderful tool. But how has it diminished our sense of real relationship? “Christ reminds us that our friends are not means, they are ends in and of themselves. Our friendships are not social networking tools. They are real relationships. And in that reality, they are meant to reflect the relationship we have with our greatest Friend of all.”
“Update Your Status: What Are You Doing Right Now?” by Rev. Mark Schaefer. A reminder that God doesn’t base his love for us on our accomplishments. He loves us because he loves us. Isn’t being a child of God enough of a status for us? “In reality, what could you or I do that would impress God?”
“Wiping Away Every Tear” by Rev. Mark Schaefer. A thorough rebuke of Rapture theology, showing why it is a tempting but all things told rather harmful idea. I keep coming back to this one, all the time, as I think about my faith. “God does not abandon the creation. We are not rescued from it and taken to some other plane of existence. We are raised to new life in the creation. God redeems and restores the world.”