by Marcia Mount Shoop Mark 13:24-37 “Advent is an invitation to this kind of shedding of the sense of self in preparation for God’s incarnation, in preparation for the second coming of Divine Love. If we are so focused on ourselves and are too ego-driven, then the darkness of Advent can feel like something we want to avoid. Darkness disarms and dissolves–we can’t see the edges of things, where things start and stop . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Matthew 25:31-46 “We are learning and growing in being a both/and congregation. Prophetic and pastoral. Bold and humble. Courageous and compassionate. There is a fine line between being a Matthew 25 congregation and being white saviors. There is a fine line between working to make the world a better place and working to maintain the status quo. There’s a fine line between being agents of change and liberation in Christ name . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 “Our faith requires the courage to claim Just how awake God needs us to be This kind of woke is wise to the trauma That makes sleep a frightening prospect That tells us the stupor of whiteness is suspect It’s not a catch phrase, It’s an anthem of promise and pain It’s the truth of a people who long to be free Who are seasoned enough to . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 “Today we remember with bread, with good fruit with elevating tones of flute. We remember with fire, with bells tolling, with the faces of saints scrolling before our eyes, with the cadence of names and with sacred ground, with the sensations and sound of marking time and honoring the dead. So we, as the living, can remember the thread that connects to infinite truths, the cords of love that stand . . .
by Rev. Tamara Puffer 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 “I believe we can’t be a vital and faithful church to witness to Jesus Christ unless we are open and honest about our vulnerable places. We can’t have steadfastness of hope unless we love and respect each other so we can be the true body of Christ. Even Jesus had vulnerabilities. He often went away from the crowds to recharge his batteries with prayer and solitude. If Jesus . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Philippians 4:1-9 “White supremacy tells us there are good guys and bad guys; white supremacy teaches us to demonize and terrorize. White supremacy teaches us to be fragile when we are called in about the impact of our actions and mentalities. White supremacy teaches us to see an either/or world, when the world is just not that at all. Violence makes everyone less safe, and it feeds the delusions of binaries, the . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Philippians 3:4b-14 “Paul had such a query for the Philippians: Can we trust each other with the weight, the magnitude of the losses that will become gains? Can we trust each other enough to take a chance together on this new life that we’re called toward? Paul is pretty ambiguous about what this all means, in terms of being raised to Christ, in terms of Resurrection, but it seems to be something . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Romans 14:1-12 “Accountability practices are about believing in someone’s best possibilities. Accountability is about love. Accountability is about believing in the strength of love to hold us as we work together to do right by each other. If I let someone hurt me over and over again and don’t hold them accountable, I am struggling to believe in that person’s full humanity and in the power of love, itself, to . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop, Micah Hayes, Ray Landis, & Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks Romans 13:8-11 “This fall we are going to be reading some love letters together–the letters that Paul or those trading on Paul’s social capital, wrote to the burgeoning Jesus following movement in the decades after Jesus’ public execution at the hands of Empire. These letters are often encouraging words, words that clarify what makes a faithful believer in a world where being . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Romans 12:9-21 “For Jesus followers, love is not a romantic notion, it is a public virtue. Love is the fabric of beloved community–the impulse to care, to be there for someone, to live out of the deep ways we are connected and the ways we need to be able to trust each other to thrive. For followers of Jesus, love is not sentimentality. And love is not reserved for the chosen few . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Romans 12:1-8 “Paul’s call to those in the belly of empire is BE NOT CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD! But be transformed by the renewing of our minds. So that we may discern the will of God—and what is good and acceptable and perfect. Paul is not talking about the demonic perfect that whiteness trades on—the hegemony of white bodied superiority, of able bodied, of straight cos gendered bodies, of one . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Matthew 15:10-20 “Watch your mouth! And pay attention to what is coming out of your mouth and why. Pay attention to what is not coming out of your mouth and why. We can speak our truth without diminishing other people in the process. Holding people accountable does not mean taking them down a peg, it means honoring their humanity. And we cannot be co-conspirators in the work of mutual liberation and stay . . .
by Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks Genesis 28:10-19a “Jacob is a migrant, holding the distant memory of home while in exile in a foreign land. He is on the move, probably wrapped up in the logistics of any given day. How much daylight is left, how much water is needed, is there food and where to rest safely at night. He is not traveling contemplating his lineage or his position in the grand scheme of God’s Holy . . .
by Richard Coble Genesis 12:1-9 “Rather, as with Abram and Sara, the church is not a destination so much as it is a journey. It is not a place so much as it is a pursuit and a practice. We will never fully arrive. We will never fully see and know divine love in its fullness, in our life together, in this life. Rather, we are called and called again: Go Forth. Go Forth. Go forth, not . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20 “The scripture passages today may not ring with much inspiration at first hearing – but if you listen closely, they are calling us to enter the song of how the life of faith is a constant series of goings and comings. And we are called to embrace those rhythm changes, those shifts and movements, those changes in position of our bodies in space and time – we’re . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Acts 2:1-21 “The Spirit came into that place of disorientation, grief, expectation, and unknown and gave them the capacity to speak in ways they did not know, to connect with people who they had never been able to connect with, to share the proclamation of God’s love being for EVERYONE, not just a select few, in ways that all people could understand according to their context and experience. That day, all those . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 104 “The sermon this week was extemporaneous. Below are notes and many different links about sacrifice zones and cancer alley for your own learning and research. You can watch and listen to the sermon here: https://www.youtube.com/live/GRPF9JdOvKY?feature=share” Watch the full GCPC service on 5/21/23 here (Sermon begins at 46:00 . . .
by Richard Coble Acts 17:22-31 “Idolatry is anything that we put in place of God. Anything that we give ultimate importance to. Anything outside of divine love that we hope will define us, or save us, and give our lives meaning and control. In a fearful and uncertain and mortal life, the tendency toward idolatry is understandable, but it does not lead to life and life abundant. Rather, when something other than divine love becomes ultimate in . . .
by William Hamel Acts 2:42-47 “It’s stone soup, everyone is coming together so that as a community we are stronger than we are alone. Of course, the hardest part is making that first step to get people to start sharing their resources, instead of being afraid they won’t have enough. At GCPC our stone soup might be tend the little things, be willing to change in the small and the big things, care for each . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Luke 24:13-35 “Jesus is the model of courage and compassion and truth, he’s the liberator, the freedom-maker, the one who is not afraid to provoke the oppressor, to challenge the transgressor. And he asks us to trust that the Spirit can empower us to heal and to be real about what it is the church is supposed to be about. We’re not about institutional clout–we’re not about buildings . . .
by Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks 1 Peter 1:3-9 “Friends, no matter what has happened – we have this access to joy right here, and WE ARE HERE… Amen? That invisible string, the tether has us connecting here in person or online, we are tethered. And even though we are here some may be starting to feel the familiar tether to our hope loosening, the once, strong pull becomes weaker and our resolve may be waning. The writer of . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 118; John 20:1-18 “. . . Which brings us to us–to Grace Covenant, this Easter Sunday 2023. When we may be struggling to recognize Jesus because “they” have taken him away yet again. Jesus was taken by white supremacy. Jesus was taken by slave owners. Jesus was taken by domestic abusers. Jesus was taken by the morality police. Jesus was taken by legislators, judges, teachers, preachers, bankers, lawyers, doctors. Jesus was taken and used . . .
by Richard Coble Matthew 21:1-11 “Is it no wonder then, surrounded by their Roman occupiers, watched over by religious leaders more intent to hold onto power than to care for the community, that the people looked to Jesus, this gentle and humble prophetic figure, proclaiming the coming of God’s peaceful and equitable kingdom, and they shouted Hosanna! Save us! Save us! As Jesus rides through their midst. At the start of this Holy Week, this Holy . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 11:1-45 “Perhaps the most important line in this story is not “Lazarus come out,” but maybe it is “Jesus wept.” What does it mean that Divine Love weeps with us in the grief of all the death we walk around with–even as Divine Love breathes new life into death, even as Divine Love wants us to glimpse at the ways we participate in eternity–the ways nothing is lost, nothing is . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 9:1-41 “When it comes down to it, believing isn’t really about seeing, it’s about being able to change, it’s about being able to be challenged in long held beliefs, it’s about having the courage to tell the truth in our community about what we are learning about the way God works to heal the parts of us we didn’t even ask to be healed. Belief is about . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 4:5-42 “The woman at the well is us–she is you, she is me. She is the whole lot of us, the collective, the we The ones thirsty and tired, the ones marked, the ones barred from knowing our worth comes from God Not from the fathers, not from the banks, not from the ones who close ranks, not from the ones with the biggest tanks. not from the law makers, not . . .
by Richard Coble John 3:1-17 “Isn’t it interesting, how we can try to force something even so new, into something tedious and predictable. Because we are uncomfortable with mystery, with the unknown. We want it all to fit into our boxes, into our preconceived notions. . . . This is a passage that tells us that the life of faith is not about foreclosing the work, in formulaic ways, in ways that seek to confine the work of God . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Matthew 4:1-11 “God doesn’t need us to prove God’s Existence. God needs us to exercise some Persistence when evil has us in the grip. We can abandon ourselves when God needs Us to stay tuned in to the bodies God gave us. Tread carefully with the sire song of Respectablity. God is not a respecter of persons, Nor systems built on stacking persons on top Of persons. Our respectability is missed . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 2 Peter 1:16-21 “This is the kind of stuff that the author of 2 Peter was worried about–the co-optation of Jesus’ identity and Jesus ministry and Jesus’ divinity to justify the very harmful and dehumanizing systems and structures and practices that Jesus had come to disrupt. The author of 2 Peter was onto something–and unfortunately, the author’s writing was co-opted by Empire when scripture was canonized and became . . .
by Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks Deuteronomy 30:15-20 “This country has had a history of large monuments. In this century we created monuments of everything. It might be our dependence on energy that keeps us diminishing resources faster than they can replenish in order to be a superpower, or the art piece that has been in the family for years that everyone wants, churches do this with flowers, furniture and designated giving… the lure of ultimate power . . .
by Richard Coble Matthew 5:13-20 “Jesus calls his followers salt and light, not so that we will rush to easy solutions, or point to ourselves as the answers to the world’s problems, but so that we may always, constantly, and consistently point to and partner with, that Spirit of Love and Liberation that we believe exists and permeates this world. And where we can, we are called to follow that Spirit into street protests, and city . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Micah 6:1-8 “Micah echoes the messages of his fellow prophets–God isn’t interested in your religious rituals, God is interested in how you live your everyday lives, how you build community, how your economy works, how you solve problems with each other, how you treat those who are vulnerable, how you treat the earth and the resources God has given us. There are three words here that Micah uses that give us . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 27:1, 4-9 “The psalmist knows God’s presence changes the way fear impacts life–at the same time, the psalmist still feels fear–even about the very God who empowers this person to have a different relationship with fear. That’s the thing about fear and faith–they don’t cancel each other out, but without being truthful about your fear and your faith, if their relationship gets skewed or out of . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 40:1-11 “Psalm 40 is about God’s capacity to surround us with a hedge of protection in a dangerous world–that safety does not keep us from harm or heart-break, that safety keeps us connected to the Divine Love that never leaves us–whether we believe it or not–that hedge of protection is what makes us human beings creatures who embody the necessity of change, the holiness of change, and . . .
by Richard Coble Matthew 3:13-17 “In the Presbyterian Church, we proclaim this grace is free; it is not earned. God claims you as God’s beloved child before you can ever know God, before you can ever respond, certainly before you can ever repent. It is not about being worthy. It is about being Beloved. That is one reason why we baptize infants along with adults. It is not about a change that we need to make . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 1:1-14 “This is a night when we come together still hoping against hope, still hungry for the miracle of God’s love, still homesick for true belonging, still searching for a way to believe the unlikely story that God loves us so very much, that God chose to come into the world vulnerable, pushed to the margins by Empire, depending on the kindness of strangers and the trustworthiness of friends. This is . . .
by Richard Coble Matthew 1:18-25 “This is a story, not just about things going wrong, but of catastrophe, according to the customs and expectations of the day. We must not downplay, then, the radicality of the angel’s words then in v. 20: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” In that pronouncement, through this incarnation, God breaks apart . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 35:1-10; Luke 1:46b-55 “Mary can put her vulnerability into a bigger picture–into a major motion picture with a world-changing order of magnitude. This dangerous situation is not a sign of her shamefulness, but a turning point in her blessedness, in her own capacity to be a carrier of Divine Love. Mary sings a lullaby to us across all these centuries and generations about the way God meets us . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 11:1-10; Matthew 3:1-12 “The kind of love who is coming, John the Baptist says—is the kind of love who can see right through you—straight to your heart—straight to your “alarmed aloneness.” This good news is not about hellfire, it is about the freedom for us to be who God made us to be and actually trust each other with that self–to be our true selves and . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 2:1-5; Matthew 24:36-44 “We need to admit that Christianity has been and continues to be a powerful driver in the violence that has traumatized generations in this country. And we need to acknowledge that Christianity has especially been and continues to be a key player in fomenting and justifying violence again trans, queer, and gender expanding people. … It is OUR faith tradition that has been weaponized to dehumanize and . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Colossians 1:11-20 “It is hard for me to read this passage in Colossians without the weight of 1500 years of Christian triumphalism. It’s hard for me to read all the ways Jesus is supreme and better and the only, and the beginning and the end, and not feel the tentacles of white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism taking Jesus down from the cross and dividing up the spoils of his embodiment of divine . . .
by Richard Coble Isaiah 65:17-25 “Isaiah’s new creation is a vision of God’s future that has everything to do with our life here and now; it is about the ways we treat one another, and pursue justice, and interact with this natural world. It is a vision of God’s eternal purpose for creation that we are called to embody today. Have you ever noticed, how our vision of the future guides our action in . . .
by Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21 “As a people of faith, many times we yield testimony to siblings in the faith who we deem overly emotional. When we override the emotion of our experience and trade it for intellectual fodder and control, we miss so much of how God’s movement moves inside of us. We need to make sure that we don’t leave the history storytelling to the scholars. We need . . .
by Richard Coble Luke 19:1-10 “Jones’s point is that the hyperfocus on personal salvation has become synonymous with the entirety of Christian faith, and so we have neglected wider histories and social structures of sin. In fact, focusing on personal conversion can work to maintain the status quo in church. It is often those already excluded, those already pushed to the margins by the church and the community who are told they must change and repent . . .
by Richard Coble 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 “Siblings in Christ, this Epistle’s admonition to stay true to the gospel in light of suffering is not an excuse to cause suffering, but an invitation to stand alongside one another in all that we carry. It is a model for us to be honest about our pain, not leaving our cares and our real selves at the church door.” Watch the full GCPC service on 10/16 . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 2 Timothy 2:8-16 “What is our gospel? What is the gospel that can truly set us free? The one that is unchained and the one that we can trust to break our chains? What is the gospel that teaches us the ways of the Jesus who is faithful, the Jesus who cannot and will not abandon himself and the truth he lived and breathed in a struggling world. That’s the Jesus who . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 2 Timothy 1:1-14 “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and love and self-discipline. The discomfort and suffering that comes when we stretch into the challenges of being a community of faith–those are signs that we are fully alive and engaged in the life God made us to live. We are not made for stasis or for the status quo, we are made . . .
by Richard Coble Luke 16:19-31 “But that is not Jesus’s aim in telling this parable. Jesus did not ask us to build higher walls in this world but to tear them down; this story is not meant to give Biblical support to a doctrine of eternal torment; it is rather meant to wake up the believing community from its apathy, its complicity, its collusion with those systems that create suffering today. For we worship a God . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Jeremiah 8:18-9:1 “A prophet who mourns is the prophet who still Believes that we were made For growing, discovery, for sweet love For dancing around fires that Teach us to watch stars Celestial kin The most ancient light Always traveling, always reaching For us to see, to be true To the wonder of the tiny Rhythms, the drum beats Of life and natural death, Unhastened by the brutal casualties Of war” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28 “We need to understand that part of the work is the courage to be curious with each other and with ourselves. To inquire when something lands in a certain way. To ask for a pause when a feeling or an experience needs more of our collective attention. That is a part of the work of ridding the world of white supremacy patriarchal capitalism–because that mess does not want . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 “You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You and me. Fear is awareness of danger. Fear is awe. Fear is reverent humility and the gift of awareness when something could do harm. Wonder is astonishment, Marveling, admiring A wash of amazement, An infusion of the miracle of infinite unknowns. This is how we are made Fearfully, wonderfully. Full of wonder, and full of fear. You and I are made for . . .
by Rev. Tami Forte Logan Psalm 112:5-10 “Giving with CHARITY is just a temporary fix. It is not sustainable. It does not restore the wholeness of that person. It does not build relationship. It does not shift or share power. The status quo is not interrupted. And the dependency of those persons on the benevolence of those in power is always sustained. It is often this paternalistic or maternalistic relationship between the giver and the receiver that . . .
by Rev. Tami Forte Logan Isaiah 58:9b-11 “God INTENTIONALLY put all of creation in this symbiotic, interdependent relationship with one other. ALL God’s creation is connected. If you hurt ME, you are hurting yourself. If you harm anyone, harm will come to you. Because we DO know that we REAP what we sow, RIGHT? What we put out in the universe comes back on us, INCLUDING nature. So, when we poison the water, we poison ourselves . . .
by Rev. Tami Forte Logan Jeremiah 23:23-29 “Even though we feel surrounded, sometimes smothered by lies, and deceit and a constant twisting of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we who believe in freedom and cannot rest, we who have been freed by the Son, who have hidden God’s word in our hearts have to KNOW God’s word holds the answers for us all. And this passage lets us know that amazingly GOD TRUSTS US- God . . .
by Richard Coble Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 “Grace Covenant do you feel it, this steadfast hope, burning in our hearts? For the longest time, I got faith wrong. I confused it with belief. I thought faith was something I held in my mind, a cognitive agreement with a set of statements: The existence of God The divinity of Christ The resurrection of the dead The life everlasting And while belief is a central part of the Christian . . .
by Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23 & Luke 12:13-21 “Grace Covenant. There is so much worth fighting for and I know you are tired and weary and yet it is our collective call to liberation…. When we come together online or in person WE are resisting the urge to throw our hands up and say it is all pointless, because we know we can do better. We have to do . . .
by Rev. Tami Forte Logan Genesis 18:20-23, 32 (20) NIV “We spend so much time and energy in other people’s bedrooms and totally ignore our own homes, our own lives and our own relationship with GOD. But, what about OUR sins? What about our lies and deceit, what about generations of thievery, what about our participation in the violence of poverty for generations, what about the harm we continue to do to our children by refusing . . .
by Dr. Jeff Jones Amos 8:1-12; Luke 10:38-42 “Hear this Grace Covenant: God‘s judgment is not a judgment of fear and condemnation but a judgment of a faithful invitation to true hospitality. Does God want destruction? No. God wants to change. God wants engagement. God wants God’s people to extend hospitality and fairness. To do anything less brings judgment and destruction.” Watch the full GCPC service on 7/17/22 here (Scripture . . .
by Rev. Tami Forte Logan Deuteronomy 30:9-14 “I believe that God is giving us another opportunity to SEE. Because again, our sinfulness is a pattern…our blindness is a pattern, our idolatry is a pattern. We may not be worshipping Baal, aka Ba-ahl, or Asherah Poles or a Golden Calf, but OUR idol God is AMERICA. The so-called American Dream, the American way of life, American exceptionalism and this ILLUSION of American Superiority which is . . .
by Richard Coble Psalm 30 “Our text today promises ‘Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning,’ and for too long I have taken that to mean I must wait until things are all right in this world to rejoice and have joy in God. If we wait until all is right, we will never get to rejoicing. We will never get to joy. We will never get to praise. If we simply . . .
by Rev. Tami Forte Logan 1 Kings 19:15-21 “And like Jesus, Audre Lorde challenges us to move beyond the silos of our oppression…to recognize that none of us are the ONLY ONES, that all of us need JESUS AND we need each other. So, in order to realize and actualize THAT type of collective-liberation, we all have to SPEAK UP whenever injustice rears its ugly head against ANY of us. AND because we are so . . .
by Rev. Tami Forte Logan 1 Kings 19:1-15a “Some of us are out of place and hiding in caves in our lives, dumbing down, staying below the radar as much as we can. But if we are not standing squarely in the will of GOD we are in the wrong place. And like Elijah we are quick to make excuses, to justify why we don’t do more, that we can’t do more, that we need . . .
by Richard Coble John 16:12-15 “The Spirit is present when we realize that we are not alone, that we are not in competition with one another in a zero-sum game. The Spirit of truth appears when we realize just how closely we are tried together, that we rise or we fall together. The Spirit is present when we see that the inaction, the stalemates, the unbreachable divides that we hear about every day in the halls . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 17:20-26 “This sermon is an invitation to a sacred revolt against the tyranny of being told we are one by the powers and principalities who want to be sure we never know the real truth of our oneness. We can only stop being tools in this deadly project if we begin to live out of the oneness that is real, that is life, that is love. Oneness is something we cannot NOT . . .
by Isaiah Kyremes-Parks and Mary Elizabeth Shoop Colossians 3:12-17 IKP: “These verses from Colossians talk about the golden threads that knit Christains together. I want to go a step further and proclaim that these can be the things that knit us together as humans. Community, whether that be a church family, a small group of friends, or anywhere one can be loved and supported by others, is one of the best things we’ve got. Continue . . .
by Richard Coble Revelation 21:1-7 “It is important to know what Revelation actually says, and why it was actually written, because its obscurity and its stark images are so easily appropriated, misused, and abused. As we heard last week, in our practice of Lectio Divina, many of our experiences with the book have been when it was abused by people saying who is in and who is out, who belongs and who does not. And usually that . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 21:1-19 “We need Jesus to call us to the ancestral fires once more-where we tell stories and remember who we are and remember what we do when we love God. And like Peter who has no clothes on, like a newborn baby–naked and vulnerable and dependent–like Peter we need to put on our grown up clothes–our big boy and big girl pants on, before we jump into the . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 20:19-31 “The growth and transformation that can emerge from collective practices around doubt are a healing balm in this world–where certainty has been a weapon of mass destruction for a long, long time. Doubt is what allows us to interrogate our own cultures, our own systems, our own inner life with the sacred intention of finding our way to a better world together. Doubt is what creates the conditions for us . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop, Richard Coble and Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks Isaiah 65:17-25; Luke 24:1-12 “There is movement in the grief, confusion, surprise and emptiness of the tomb to unbelief and more processing. It had to be clunky and challenging to wrap your head around- and yet they remained with one another in the feelings and took the time to live into this new space… one full of holy possibility. Upside down, inside out, off . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Luke 19:28-40 “What if this story isn’t about God’s will at all–but what if this story is about what the world does to truth tellers, what the world does to liberators? What does that change about how we encounter Jesus coming into Jerusalem again this year? Do we hear anything differently? The crowd? Our own voices? The fake noise piped in for effect? We must bring a power analysis to . . .
by Richard Coble Philippians 3:4b-14 “Because this is how God’s love works, not through sainthood, not because you are worthy, but simply and completely because God created you out of love, and God surrounds you with love. And God stays especially close to those who are told they do not belong, those pushed to the margins, those who suffer, those who are alone.” Watch the full GCPC service on 4/3/22 here (Scripture and . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 “Accountability becomes not so much a checkbook ledger as a song we learn by heart–where we can feel the harmony and the rhythm, the vibration of connections brought back together again. Dissonance is not unwelcomed but a necessary way to calibrate to the health of connection.” Watch the full GCPC service on 3/27/22 here (Scripture and sermon begin at 38:35 . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 “We are trying to get better at metabolizing the stress and strain of being human in a world so prone to harm and so full of sorrow. God made us for endurance, but not the kind of endurance that tries to take shortcuts when we need to change, when we need to dig even deeper to find the reserves God has given us that enrich our collective life instead of . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Philippians 3:17-4:1 “Sometimes I wonder if you are able to see the whole picture–the big, vivid, technicolor picture of our transformation–the way the day in and day out practices and conversations and hard moments and beautiful emerging relationships are unfolding into a new world for us –I wonder if you are able to see the way we are being transformed as a collective. I so want you to be able . . .
by Richard Coble Romans 10:8b-13 “So, ‘If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,’ the salvation Paul says that you receive is not one that sets you apart, that puts you in a higher rank, that makes you more deserving than the rest of hell-bound, sinful humanity. Rather, what comes from this confession is the salvation of seeing everyone as . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop “Lent invites our attention to dust– its divinity, its mortality, its eternity, its possibility, its reality. Lent is about belonging to a dusty world and longing for this dust to settle in meaningful, life-giving, peace-finding ways.” Watch the full Ash Wednesday service at 6pm here (Reflection begins at 27:40 . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Luke 9:28-43a from Transfiguration: A Proclamation Poem “Transfigured lives Cannot begrudge Grief Forgoing heartbreak for Architecture that soothes Briefly. Joy may be fleeting Hearts beating and Meeting ourselves Coming and seeking There is no such thing As belovedness Without hearts broken and bleeding No luminescent visage Without the frothing The shrieking Your torment Is no deviation Or deviance But it is honest to God True, you transfigured as new” Watch the full . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Luke 6:27-38 “That’s the call that has a hold on all of us, Grace Covenant, the need, the yearning for right relationship–for finding God when we find each other, when we find ourselves. Maybe the hardest part of following Jesus is realizing the depth of how much our lives depend on living this way, this more excellent way. Maybe the hardest part is realizing that depending on each other is not . . .
by Richard Coble Luke 6:17-27 “First and foremost, these words tell us about God, about who the God of Jesus Christ is: God of those pushed to the margins, God of those who weep, God of those who hunger. God who appears and makes community in the corners, on the streets, in places of liberation and empowerment, rather than among the comfortable and the grandstanders. And second, these words tell us something about our vocation today, about . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 6:1-13 “The life of faith is a rhythm of living and dying, embracing and letting go–this dance of connecting and awakening, resting and realizing our limitations. We are stumps and shoots of the terebinth tree. We are ashes and we are fruit. Isaiah’s brush with the Holy of Holies is where he found his boldness and his humility. It is where he glimpsed a new heaven and a new earth . . .
by Richard Coble Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10 “. . . Ezra reminds the people of the God who was with them, in joy and in hardship, in the unbearable weight of oppression, in the impossibilities of life. But it is not just a reminder of the God who was, but of the God who is in relationship with these people. So, Ezra proclaims, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep…Go . . .
by Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks Psalm 36:5-10 “So much of the past two years for all of us has been full of letting things go and taking new things up in an attempt to live, so answering the question is more challenging than ever before. In talking with these groups of emerging adults and their leaders it struck me that we are asking the wrong questions. So, I asked them: What is a better question than “What . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 43:1-7; Acts 7 “But maybe, just maybe, the Holy Spirit isn’t about everything making sense or everyone singing in perfect harmony. Maybe, just maybe, the Holy Spirit is way more powerful and mysterious than any one line of scripture or any one way we like to feel about God or Jesus or church. If the Holy Spirit is our special sauce–the ingredient of our faith that gives our faith integrity . . .
by Richard Coble John 1:1-18 “. . . For God, in Christ, as depicted in our scriptures, is not of the aristocracy. God does not choose company with the rich and the comfortable. This is the God in the margins, with those pushed to the margins; God in the streets; God with those trampled by empire; God with those cast aside to forgotten hospital corners. This is the “grace upon grace” that Christ brings. This is how God chooses to . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Colossians 3:12-17 “Christmas sweaters are iconography for the ways we project things onto each other. The ways we try to camouflage our own identities in the uniforms others want us to wear. They are iconography for the ways we guard our hearts even when it comes to the gifts God gives us in the Incarnation. This beautiful and powerful passage in Colossians is about the new outfit God gives us at Christmas–the . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Luke 1:39-55 “Mary sings to us about that place in her body where she will go during the labor pains–the place she surrenders to, the capacity that she trusts to deliver her, to deliver God into the world anew. Mary sings to us and through us about the crumbling of empire and the birth of a world finally at peace with itself.” Watch the full GCPC service on 12/19/21 . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Luke 3:3-17 “John the Baptist is clear–everyone has a way to change–and everyone needs to change. And it must be change that is embodied–lived out in right action, in changed behavior, not just changed minds. John the Baptist is telling us–the way you are living is causing harm–and you have time to change. The God of love is coming near–and the . . .
by Richard Coble Luke 1:68-79 “And that is why I come back to services like this. Where liturgies and hymns, where sermons and prayers do not pull me from the worries of this world, but rather focus me on “the dawn from on high” that Zechariah sang about, that which “give[s] light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” and “guide[s] our feet into the way of peace.” Do not . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Luke 21:25-36 “We begin Advent in apocalypse because we have lost Our connection to the imagination this sacred journey requires. We are not here for the folly of accumulation or recognition, Or the gluttony of possession or power. We are here to welcome the turning of time That never stops inviting us to love. Tender and corporeal. Aching and ethereal. We have forgotten that we dream together In our sequestered night times Our . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 18:33-37 “But this moment between Jesus and Pilate–it calls to us today to cut through the delusion that grips all of us who have been socialized by Western culture–to wake up from the fever dream that cast a spell over God’s people and told us we know justice when we see it. This moment between Jesus and Pilate tries to break that spell we’re under and . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Hebrews 10:11-25 “Christ shows us the truth about ourselves–the way we brutalize truth tellers, the ways we try to kill the truth with cruelty and violence, the ways we deny and defend, the ways we shame and blame. He shows us all those things in the way powerbrokers and practitioners of piety reacted to him and wanted him dead. In that way he lays bare the sins of the world– . . .
by Richard Coble John 11:32-44 “The Gospel of John offers no systemic account of life after death. The Bible itself offers many and conflicting visions of life after death. The raising of Lazarus offers more questions than it does answers. But the one answer it gives is this: to trust, to trust, that in life and in death, we belong to God. Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life…Do you believe this?” he asks . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Mark 12:28-34 “For love to be love, it shifts, it responds. For this love shift to take hold in you, God can’t be some far away judge scrutinizing your every move, moving the chess piece of your life back and forth between punishment and blessing. For this love shift to find life in you and me, we have to believe God loves us fiercely and that God is right here with us . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Mark 10:46-52 “For us to see Jesus, for us to hear him, and most of all, for us to follow him, then we’ve got to let go of what’s holding us back, what’s keeping us stuck in harmful and hurtful ways of living what we thought was a faithful life. Understanding that Jesus is not a Christian opens up a lot of room for us to finally follow Him. He . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Hebrews 5:1-10 “The same Jesus who is the fellow sufferer, the gentle high priest, the companion on the way, has been appropriated for horrible things. Jesus got stolen, kidnapped from the place he was calling us from–from the margins of a world hellbent on self-destruction. Somehow Jesus got mistaken for a high priest with a stellar pedigree, an excluder, a power hoarder with a superiority complex. Someone who had all . . .
by Richard Coble Hebrews 4:12-16 “In other words, says Hebrews, in Christ God sees us for who we truly are, in the messiness of our humanness, in our vulnerability, that hurt that we hide from others, that fear that we deny even to ourselves that we carry, and yet, as one commentator puts it, ‘Jesus is not disappointed or saddened by our weakness but empathizes with it.’ Do you think when the divine, the . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop, Richard Coble, and Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks Job 1:1, 2:1-10; Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12 “RC: The church is a reminder of God’s presence in the midst of this community, an extension of God’s love and care, God’s hands in a suffering world. AKKP: The incarnation-Jesus being fully human and fully God is the most riveting example of God’s understanding and recognition that suffering is . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop James 5:13-20 “James calls to us from the basement rocks, the foundations of our faith to remind us that our faith will tell the story of its true character in its topography over time, in the stuff that is made from our relationships. We can’t say we are one thing, and then act another way. Our true formation is revealed in the ways we move in relationship to each other and in . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a “We miss Holy Shifts because we get so twisted about what we really want–what we really, really want in our heart of hearts. What do you want–is coming to church what you want? Or is a closer relationship to God what you want? Do you want comfort or do you want to be more faithful? Do you want to be around people or do . . .
by Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks James 3:1-12 “The text of James is right….our words and our teachings matter, the consistency of vision we hold at GCPC is water in the desert of duplicity among the loud voices claiming Christ in our world. Our silence is and will continue to be deadly. We need to reclaim testimony. The telling and re-telling of how God is showing up and breaking through in our lives. Sharing accounts, seemingly . . .
by Richard Coble James 2:1-17 “Now, James asks this same question through our lectionary text today to a Christian community, but he does so, because he sees them reflecting the same behaviors of favoritism and elitism as those outside the community. This section of James has been a centerpiece in obscure theological and ecclesial debates over the centuries about the saving power of faith verses works righteousness, but if you read this chapter closely, you’ll see . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop James 1:17-27 “James’ language about bridling our tongues is not a prescription for how to correct bad behavior, but a description of how we can spot someone who is truly living from that soul center–that implanted word, that spark of divinity, that word made flesh. A bridled tongue is not enforced from the outside, but intuited from the inside–from the beautiful garden of God’s love implanted in you . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Ephesians 6:10-20 “That’s why we need the full armor of God–every part of us covered and sealed by God’s love–covered and sealed by the same cover and seal that Divinity adorns herself with so that She can so intimately and faithfully love a world that desecrates Her dreams for us so consistently. What happens when we see ourselves this way–as covered, as sealed, even as . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Ephesians 5:15-20 “God is calling us to make the most of the time by simply being here. Be here with whatever it is that is here and whatever it is that you feel. The God who called the mighty oceans and these majestic mountains and multiple solar systems into being, is able to bless this very moment with a healing opportunity. The question is not whether God makes the most of the time . . .
by Erin Tolar, Janice Kominski, Matthew Wiedle 1 Kings 19:4-8 “Janice: GCPC, I wish we were through this wilderness. But, it seems there may be more to come, with COVID and with other challenges. We know you are tired, Matt: We know you are hungry. Erin: But don’t give up in despair. Arise! Matt: Eat! Janice: For the journey will be too great for you without spiritual nourishment. Where will YOU seek to be fed?” . . .
by Richard Coble Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15 “What would it mean for you to draw near today? It’s striking, if you read the full chapter, that God asks the Israelites to take only what they need. You could not hoard manna. It spoiled as the day wore on. Take only what you need; leave enough for others; what do you need today, to draw near?” Watch the full GCPC service here (Sermon starts at 34 . . .
by Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks John 6: 1-14 “Liberation is ours which means we have to be a part of liberating in order for our own to be sustained. Letting go of what was for what could be. Thanking God for the provisions, looking at what we have and making sure everyone can be fed. So why do we get stuck in scarcity? More than ever we take in the lie that bigger is better, more is more . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Ephesians 2:11-22 “How do we work together to equip this community with the tools and the toys to see the world differently, to see the church differently–to see ourselves in community differently? How do we deploy the playfulness and adaptiveness the heritage of this church has given us in the service of following Jesus into a new world–into a new way of being the people of God in the . . .
by Richard Coble Amos 7:7-15 “The bountiful, intricate growth, structure, and shade of trees are omnipresent around us here in Asheville, yet so often go unnoticed. When we pay attention, they remind us that life is more about connection than distance or hierarchy; more about generativity and care than competition. What keeps you anchored? What grounds you to our fundamental connection with one another, and with this earth?” Watch the full GCPC service on 7/11 . . .
by Richard Coble 2 Corinthians 8:7-15 “What do we owe each other? In June of 2021, this is the question, in uncertain and grief-filled days, in a deeply divided and mistrustful country, in exhausted times. Each of us, out of our own prayerful discernment, must decide when and how to give ourselves fully to community, to this faith community and beyond. Any time you invest your time and your heart to a community, it is a . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 2 Corinthians 5:6-17 “So to get to the new, we have to die, in fact lots of death has to happen–and we have to see the world completely differently than we’ve seen it, and we have to live for different reasons than we have lived. That’s how we get to become new– That difficult road of befriending the stranger in ourselves, finding homeplace in a world where we . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1 “Our community cannot be defined by pride of possession if we want to be faithful. Following Jesus often means leaving things behind–shifting our relationship to the things we thought we could not live without, trusting God to provide, remembering our ancestors learned to be faithful in the desert, in exile, in a life lived in letting go. It is so easy to lose ourselves in the things . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 3:1-17 “Why is it so hard to let Jesus love us enough to disrupt us? Why do we think we have so much to lose in this encounter? What is so precious that we would choose it over what Jesus wants to bring into our lives? Revolutionary love! Jesus is the embodiment of revolutionary love. Divine love embodied in a vulnerable, resilient, broken, beautiful, engaged, weathered, determined, grief-stricken, passionate body. Jesus . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Acts 2:1-21 “To live as Pentecost people means that we live faith – full. We dare to speak the language of the brokenhearted, we dare to challenge the comfortable, we dare to march alongside the marginalized, we dare to venture down the road less traveled, We dare to be the church in a time when the world is so hungry for healing.” Watch the full GCPC service on 5/23/21 here . . .
by Richard Coble Acts 1:1-11 “But do not mistake formation for languishing. Do not mistake waiting on the Spirit for procrastination. Because God takes the time to shape a community, and an individual. The resurrected Christ walked with the disciples for forty days and then asked them to wait even longer before the day of Pentecost, longer still before the days when the church “had all things in common [and] would sell their positions and goods and . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 15:9-17 “We are called to a way of life that is defined in every way by a love that transforms us and the world. Dismantling white supremacy is LOVE. Laying down our own comfort for the good of the collective is LOVE. Learning new ways to move, to breathe, to work, to dream, to buzz is LOVE. The buzz of bees is the sound of their thriving–it is the sound . . .
by Frances Barnett, Annie Cole, and Owen Gast Luke 5:1-11 “FRANCES: Grace Covenant Family, the Scripture is speaking loud and clear today. Remember this: OWEN: You are worthy of God’s love. ANNIE: Embrace the miracle of saying yes. FRANCES: Don’t be afraid to leave everything and follow. OWEN: New horizons await.” Watch the full GCPC Youth Service on 5/2/21 here (Sermon begins at 32:10 . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 1 John 3:16-24 “Have you been paying attention, Grace Covenant, to what God is building? Have you been seeing what God is doing? Or just seeing what you want to see. Can you see the intricacy and beauty of what love can create? God is creating, spinning out breathtaking possibilities–the details of it truly are awe inspiring. If you pay attention you can see Her handiwork all over our community– . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 1 John 3:1-7 “Jesus came to go into the bones of the skeleton of oppression and dominance–and show us that dominance and violence are not what God made us for–and that dominance and supremacy and violence are killing us–the eternity, the new life he invites us toward is the true body of the cosmos–our interconnected, interdependent multiverse where we find balance and equilibrium together by . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block John 20:19-31 “Siblings in Christ, we live in a world where too many lives are constricted, trampled on, silenced, cruelly stolen. We live in a world where there are too many knees on necks and not enough embraces from doulas. We live in a world where we are traumatized by or numb to injustice: we hide behind locked doors, paralyzed by fear, hoping to separate ourselves from truth. But God still finds a . . .
by Richard Coble, Samantha Gonzalez-Block, and Marcia Mount Shoop Mark 16:1-8 “MMS: Ambiguity is really a gift of the Spirit–built into the very nature of things. Ambiguity is the condition of possibility required for creativity, for miracles, for Holy moments, and for liberation. RRC: Ambiguity is God’s way of queering the whole world–creation is not about binaries or hierarchies or certainty, creation is about intricacy and intimacy that exceeds our imagination . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 12:12-16 “This week our grief must take on the sack cloth of mourning and sorrow for what we have lost, for the harm that whiteness has inflicted, for what the delusion of supremacy has cost the world, what the murderous distortions of dominance have done to God.” Click here to watch the full GCPC service on 3/28/21 (Sermon starts at 38:40 . . .
by Richard Coble John 12:20-33 “Grace Covenant, what we say, and what we believe, matters. We have seen again this week that what we profess as Christians and as the Church matters, in fact, it is a matter of life and death. As we near the end of our Lenten journey this year, let us draw closer to the crucified one, the one who gathers all people to himself, especially those the Church has excluded, marginalized, and . . .
by Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks John 3:14-21 “It can be so easy to take a moment and believe it is signaling a revolution though nothing in your experience has given you logical reason to believe the relationship is changing. Siblings…. movement is happening but the relationships- they have not fully changed. Let’s stop focusing on why the monuments are still up when we know that the history and values represented in these monuments still have a . . .
by Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop John 2:13-22 Watch Marcia’s sermon on 3/7/21 here (Sermon starts at 41:30 . . .
by Rev. Dr. Richard Coble Mark 8:31-38 “Living life through other’s expectations is toxic. Singular images of success, comparisons and the search dominance, wealth and accumulation, are toxic. They can lead to losing one’s life while trying to save it. And letting that go, living faithfully in this moment, with this community around you, in communion with the Spirit that surrounds you, that can mean losing your life to save it.” Watch the full . . .
by Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop Mark 1:9-15 Watch Marcia’s sermon on 2/21 here (Sermon starts at 34:30 . . .
by The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop Mark 9 “Transfiguration doesn’t want us to just survive, it calls us to be sanctified–to be transformed in a cellular way–to integrate the promises of our ancestors into a new way of being God’s people–that breaks free of walls, buildings, systems, cultures, spaces we try to say we own.” Watch the full GCPC service on 2/14/21 here . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Mark 1:29-39 Watch Marcia’s sermon on 2/7/21 here (sermon begins at 35:00 . . .
by Richard Coble 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 “Do not exempt yourselves from this work. Where do you exempt yourself? Where do you say, I possess knowledge, or experience, so I don’t have to do the embodied work of love? Where does your arrogance get in the way of community?” Watch the full GCPC service on 1/31/21 here . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 23; Mark 1:14-20 “The life of being a Jesus follower is about a road that has lots of twists and turns, potholes, and tempting exit ramps. A road that can seem deceivingly well traveled, but sometimes can mean you and me forging a new path. Growing our faith muscles requires stretching–leaving things behind, letting go of our tight grip, ceasing to grasp at the same time that we strive for . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 “When anxiety tries to imprison you to your ruminations and fears, when doom scrolling and talk radio and podcasts saturate your spirit, when isolation and loneliness and overwhelm holds you captive–breathe in the Psalmist’s invitation to you and to me–we, believers on this journey of life, we are called in each moment to account for the wonder of God’s love in the way . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Acts 19:1-7 “White Christians struggle to embrace and embody the whole truth of the faith we claim as ours. White Christians struggle to know the power of the Holy Spirit because we haven’t listened to the whole story, or maybe we’ve listened and we have refused to believe it. Jesus was not a white man here to teach us how to be decent and orderly. Jesus was not a white man . . .
by Richard Coble Matthew 2:1-12 “The different road the Maji found was the realization that God is not just an abstraction, not a set of high ideals or morals that we can’t really follow, not a tyrant who shames you for who you are, not a heavenly king in the clouds who stays removed in the heavens; God is not a promise that never comes true; God is not simply a metaphor for what is good . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 1:1-14 “We catch a glimpse on Christmas of God so vulnerable, so trusting of us, so in need of relationship. We touch into a startling realization that God actually desires a home among the likes of us. Because that’s what love does–it wants to come closer. Social distancing is not the antithesis of this love’s yearning, it is just an invitation to tap into a deeper thread of . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Luke 1:26-38 “We are staggering toward Bethlehem this year–heavy with grief, activated by anxiety, numb from relentless death and shattered lives, and paranoid from all the lies that come at us and move through us–all the ways we’ve been used to prop things up we didn’t consent to, all the ways we participate in our own demise. We limp toward Bethlehem compromised beings. And on the treacherous . . .
by Richard Coble Isaiah 61:1-4; 8-11; Luke 1:46-55 “What are you waiting for? What we do, Grace Covenant, in the waiting, matters. In the hard days of the not yet of this winter, let us continue to seek the inbreaking of God’s already. Because the Spirit that spoke through Isaiah and Mary is here still, and She speaks to us, visions and invitations to justice and joy. Thanks be to God.” Watch . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Mark 13:24-37 “The Gospel writer is saying, don’t mistake the tumult of our time for reason to despair. This upheaval is the palate for God’s power to manifest–God’s capacity to birth a new world from the grip of great travail. God’s birthing power is not deterred by the destruction of the world as we know it. That destruction is the labor pangs in full force.” Watch . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Matthew 25:31-46 “Just as songs tell stories, Jesus’ words tell the story of a God who seeks to bring us out of our cycles of complacency and blindness, and pushes us to use whatever resources we have: our talents, our voices, our presence, our God-given strength, our prayers, our humor, our hands, in order to reach out to the “least of these” – to those who are hurting most. This is what matters . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 “Jesus teaches us to dream of a day when power is shared and equity is a way of life and all bodies can shine in their beautiful uniqueness without fear of oppression–dream those dreams while you are fully awake to the challenges of the now–because those dreams are proof of the world upturning: arising, ascending, aspiring, climbing, lifting, mounting, rising, soaring.” Watch the full GCPC . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Matthew 25:1-13 “Oppression is baked into the Christian faith. If mutual liberation is our goal then sometimes being wise is being foolish, and being foolish is being wise. If mutual liberation is our goal then sometimes we refuse the demands of the powerful to submit–and we give ourselves to a more elemental process of transformation that only the Spirit can engineer.” Watch the full GCPC service on 11/8/20 . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Matthew 23:1-12 “Think about it–if all that we do is for love–then love is the litmus test for how we yearn. For our yearning to be Spirit-led, its origin must be love. And it’s object must be a better world for all that lives and breathes. How could we not be humbled by such truth–we are that connected–that our yearning can be medicine . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Matthew 22:34-46 “If Christians were getting love right–the world would be a very, very different place. As the world learns about love, maybe we have a fighting chance for a better world if we remember that we are still learning about love–drawing on our roots and growing new shoots–with fruit we have not yet tasted.” Watch the full GCPC service on 10/25/20 here   . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Matthew 22:15-22 “Like a polished teacher, Christ cleverly turns the question back on his challengers – back on us. His response leaves us to sort through our own loyalties, duties and shared calling: What is for Caesar and what is for God? What is our commitment to government and what is our commitment to Church? How are we called to see and value and serve these two powerful entities (that can sometimes feel so . . .
by Richard Coble Exodus 32:1-14 “This is the God who calls you out of Egypt, who calls you to the mountain, who speaks and listens, who moves within us and gives us life, and who calls us to ever new places of openness and relationship, especially when things feel uncertain. This is the God who supports us when everything else seems to fall away.” Watch the full GCPC service on 10/11/20 here . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Matthew 21:33-46 “To do this labor we have to learn how to get better at being uncomfortable. We have to learn how to reframe how we understand discomfort. When you are following Jesus, discomfort is a sign of progress, a sign that you are shaking loose of something that has constricted you, that has kept you from growing, from being reborn–like growing pains, like the grip of a contraction in transition . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Philippians 2:1-13 “These words about Christ’s self emptying are about a revolution that originated in God’s very self–a revolution of love birthed out of power emptying itself into mutual relationship. That is the God we worship–the God who doesn’t grasp at power, but let’s power wash away because love wants to be with its beloved.” Watch the full GCPC service on 9/27/20 . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Matthew 20:1-16 “And Jesus teaches once again that the kingdom of God is not like any of what we have learned in the world. And Jesus whispers to us again about freedom–the freedom that comes from knowing ourselves to be loved. Jesus is so sweetly consistent in his invitation to us–the invitation to unlearn and to let ourselves be loved. Because the truth is, he tells us… The . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop, Richard Coble, and Samantha Gonzalez-Block Romans 14:1-12 “Jesus is a disrupter. Jesus is a truth teller. Jesus is a healer. And if this pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that Jesus hits his stride when the trappings of religion fall away. Maybe this pandemic has finally been the reckoning that Christianity in America needed. Maybe we’re finally starting to taste and see what Eucharist is really about.” Watch . . .
by Richard Coble Romans 13:8-14 “We are the Body of Christ, knit together not by brick and mortar but by the Spirit that knows no boundaries as it connects us, and calls us, and challenges us to put on Christ today. That same Spirit calls us to love, not in an empty, feel good way that forgets the time we are in, but to love by doing hard, Spirit filled work in the midst of uncertainty and . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Romans 12:9-21 “Racist tropes about law and order, about chaos in our streets–we’ve got to be wiser than to fall for those lies again as a country. If we’re ever going to discover together what living the good life truly is, then we have to have our power analysis fully deployed.” Watch the full GCPC service on 8/30/20 here   . . .
by Richard Coble Romans 12:1-8 “Siblings in Christ, we live today with the results of our species pretending as if we could control, manipulate, and simply take without return from creation and from one another as if there were no consequence. It is a time of great peril, yet it is also a moment of invitation to live differently, to live into the deep and essential truth that we are all intertwined, members one of another. May . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Genesis 45:1-15 “What seems to matter most here for us is not if God caused the pain and suffering, but rather what God has done with this pain and suffering. Joseph’s family – his brothers – sought to destroy his life, yet God charted a new way forward to preserve his life, and through him, the lives of many throughout Egypt. God, through Joseph, is not interested in revenge here, God is interested . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Matthew 14:22-33 “White supremacy culture teaches us to mix up making a mistake with being a mistake. And that distortion can put up formidable defenses in us when it comes to seeing the ways we need to get caught. That distortion teaches us to garner all our energy to fight off the pain of shame and embarrassment, of being wrong or of being someone who has done harm. But Jesus wants to teach . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Matthew 14:13-21 “And if you think reparations are right–then you should actively be pursuing our elected officials so they hear from you. If you are white identified, it’s not your place to decide what reparations look like for the Black community. That is the Black communities right–to say what it will take to create wellness and vitality in their community in the wake of all the ways they . . .
Samantha Gonzalez-Block Romans 8:26-29 “We know that God has never required Sanctuary walls. God was here long before brick and mortar. Instead, God needs co-creators of sanctuary: disciples who are willing to do whatever it takes to create holy spaces of refuge and transformation, healing and goodness – wherever we are.” Watch the full GCPC worship service on 7/26/20 here . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Romans 8:18-23 “God is inviting us to put the “y” back onto earning—and give ourselves to the yearning that connects us to our created purpose—to live in right relationship with all things.” Watch the full GCPC worship service on 7/19/20 here . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 “Jesus knew that the world needed people of faith who were instruments of healing, not harm. He also understood how human beings grow best. That same Jesus is sowing seeds today. Because the best way to generate health in a system gripped by disease is to nourish the soil and strengthen the roots.” Watch the full GCPC worship service on 7/12/20 . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Romans 6:12-23 “Whiteness makes the human brain its instrument of wickedness. And the body follows suit. Whiteness creates a whole universe of meaning around fear and exceptionalism, aspirations and success, beauty and power. Whiteness spins out a whole universe in which the terror that whiteness has at its disposal is masked as law and order, decency and respectability, polite society and the finer things.” Watch the full GCPC worship service on 6 . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Matthew 10:24-39 “We follow a God of sparrows and swords. Jesus is reminding us that we must trust both in order to be faithful. God loves us fiercely. And Jesus showed us what that looks like—the lengths to which God will go for God’s beloved. The sword, you see, is not about domination or terror, the sword is about justice and accountability. And God didn’t create us to be helpless . . .
Dr. Heath K. Rada and Dr. Brian Blount Matthew 9:35; 10:1-3, 5-8 “EACH OF US, REGARDLESS OF RACE OR GENDER OR ANY OTHER PART OF WHO WE ARE THAT WE LABEL AS DIFFERENT, BUT AS BELOVED CHILDREN OF GOD, EACH LOVED IN OUR OWN WAYS, ARE BEING CALLED TO GO OUT AS APOSTLES IN THE NAME OF CHRIST. GO AHEAD AND TALK TO THOSE FRIENDS, COLLEAGUES AND FAMILY MEMBERS WHO DO NOT SEE THE LIGHT . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Matthew 28:16-20 “Jesus’ commission is not a passive one, but an active calling for the eleven then, and each of us now. Therefore go and love your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. Therefore go and love your neighbor as yourself. Therefore go and speak truth to power. Teach and lead by example. Listen and learn with compassion. Dare to be as vulnerable, foolish and faithful as . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop, Richard Coble and Samantha Gonzalez-Block Acts 2:1-21 “The Holy Spirit is about disruption, discomfort, even dissonance. Dismantling white supremacy culture within ourselves and within our communities means that we commit to listening, learning, shifting, changing, and then listening some more.” Watch the full GCPC worship service on May 31 . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11 “Christian suffering is redemptive when it serves Christ’s liberating purpose—to alleviate the suffering of the world—and who is suffering these days? And who has been suffering at the hands of empire the most in the history of the United States? It is not white people who want to get back to their church buildings. That is not the suffering Peter had in mind . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Acts 17:22-31 “Paul might ask why any believer would need to grasp at a building to be the church—when God is right here, right now—manifesting in the call to trust this wilderness time because being faithful is not about the right to ignore our impact on others, it is about the love that makes our impact on others our central concern.” Watch GCPC’s worship service on 5/17 . . .
by Lindsay Hamel, Frank Callison and Maggie Kinton Exodus 3: 1-8, 10-15 “Moses reminds us in this moment, that fear does not have the last word. God does.” “Moses’ story is a big reminder for us all that fear should not cause inaction, but instead be what helps us name our need for God.” “We are called to lean into our faith, and to pay attention to signs of God’s goodness, and . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Acts 2:42-47 “Christianity emerges from a related, but distinctive belief about change. Change comes from the ground up, yes. But for Christians the conditions of possibility for social change rise from human relationships knit together by Christ’s revolutionary love, not just our material conditions.” Watch GCPC’s live streamed worship service on 5/3/20   . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Luke 24:13-25 “The freedom of the cross is not about the freedom to abuse one’s power, to do violence for financial gain. The freedom of the cross is about truth—the truth of our sins laid bare for us to see because God actually believes if we can take in the truth, that the truth will set us free. The cross unveils the lies of abusive power and the idolatry of profit . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 20:19-31 “Our brokenness can only be healed if we all can find our way back to the common good we share—we need each other, we need everyone to have a real chance at living lives that aren’t about running scared but are about being at home with ourselves and truly at peace with each other.” Watch GCPC worship service on 4/19/20 . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 20:1-18 “Jesus lived and died to help us see these hard truths—to lay bare the sins of the world. Not recognizing his resurrection means not seeing that our lives are worth what he did for all of us, for the whole world, not seeing that our bodies matter and how we live in this world together as bodies matters. Not recognizing Him means missing the new life that God brings out . . .
by Richard Coble Isaiah 50:4-9a; Matthew 21:1-11 “Friends, do you see it? He never comes as we expect him, and he’s so easy to miss. But Christ rides into the pandemic. Christ in your moments of hope; Christ in the community coming together across distance; Christ in the way we are known and remembered in the hour of our loss and death. Christ right beside you, and beside me, this Holy Week. We are . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 130 “Lament is different than despair. When we despair, we lose sight of God, even the possibility of God. Our song goes quiet and we close ourselves off. When we lament, we remain open – even just a little bit. Our voices, hoarse and weary, join the faithful chorus calling out to God, to remember us and re-member us, to remind us – somehow, someway – that we are not alone, no matter the struggles we . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 9:1-41 “This ancient story should sound even more disruptive to us now that we are in the grip of a global pandemic that is shutting the world’s systems down. Now that the filters we were still clinging to are gone, the filters that obscured our vulnerability or our capacity to do harm and our interdependence are gone. This story is not a cautionary tale about seeing Jesus clearly, it is a . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 4:5-42 “We are hearing Jesus’ story about two people coming together to change the world, on a Sunday where we are learning to put space between us to change the world. On a Sunday when we can’t see each other face to face because it is distance, not proximity, that will help our community and our country and our world have a fighting chance to be well.” Link to live . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Genesis 12:1-4a; John 3:1-17 “Faith is not the absence of skepticism. It is right relationship with skepticism. Faith means we trust God enough to be skeptical about the things that create distortion in us. Faith means we know we are not in control. We know we don’t have all the answers. We know bad things can happen to us. We know we need God.” . . .
by Richard Coble Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Matthew 4:1-11 “We risk losing sight of our truth, that we and everyone who we meet are beloved children of God.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Exodus 24:12-18; Matthew 17:1-9 “The transfiguration takes us into Lent—the transforming mystery of God’s intimacy with the world is what we take with us into the wilderness wanderings, into our deepest questions, into our shadows, our deserts, our how long, O Lord, moments. Mystery and the mundane are not separate worlds, but the same world. Faith is the capacity to be there, to be here believing that to be . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Matthew 5:21-37 “It’s a radical message really—that if heeded could change the world. The way we feel is contagious. We are catching things and spreading things all the time whether we are aware of it or not. We are connected, interdependent, tangled up with each other and with God—all before we ever even say a word.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 58:1-12; Matthew 5:13-20 “Our threshold pace in the life of faith, means sometimes we need to slow down and remember what the Body of Christ can do—remember our stamina, remember our capacity to endure and be carriers of strength and change in a world often exhausted by a feverish and foolish push for power that rarely stands the test of time.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block, Marta Rosal, and Millie Stradley Psalm 15; Matthew 5:1-10 “I guess Jesus’ Beatitudes help remind us that we are all children of God, worthy of dignity, respect and a chance to taste and see Christ’s love. We are called to help each other know that and experience that.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 9:1-4; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18 “As Christians, we must always carry with us a critical understanding of power in every encounter we have with each other. How is it present? How do we share it? How is it concentrated? But the most important layer of our power analysis must be our trust in God’s unique power to inhabit our tension, our conflict, our disagreements with a healing opportunity.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 49:1-7; John 1:29-42 “We are coming together here to this Table more often because we need to be here together more often. We need to practice Eucharist enough times that it starts to sink in—we are being called to be the Body of Christ in the world and we are called to be grateful for the liberating truth of that purpose that we have. We are the Body of . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 42:1-9; Matthew 3:13-17 “God consecrates our every day by filling each and everything we do with the capacity to heal us. Ordinary people doing ordinary things can change the world.” . . .
by Richard Coble Isaiah 60:1-6; Matthew 2:1-12 “Siblings in Christ, the light that illuminated the path to the manager and sowed fear in the violent heart of Herod is in you and me, and it is also everywhere around us. Body of Christ, it is not up in the sky waiting to be discovered. It burns already, and it shines out of us. . . it shines out when we step out in faith into the unknown . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 148; Matthew 2:13-23 “Bethlehem can feel so far away. We can forget about the place where it all began: the places where they fled, the circumstances that they feared, the decisions that spared them, the salvific gift of finding home. What makes us forget the truth about our stories? About Jesus’ story? We mold Jesus into something sweet, and comfortable and fair. We strip him of his refugee status, of his dark . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop “This is a story about vulnerability, marginalization, and a God who turns the world upside down. Too many Christians have been trying to avoid that truth these two millennia since. Too many Christians have been trying to use the story to protect the status quo, to deny that peace on earth means justice on earth—and that Jesus was a marginalized person who died trying to tell us the truth about ourselves, the truth that . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 35:1-10; Luke 1:46b-55 “It is her vulnerability and the strength that her vulnerability gives her that makes Mary able to give birth to God’s hopes for the world. It is her capacity to be present to her own need that allows her to stand in what the world needs from her.” . . .
by Richard Coble Isaiah 11:1-10; Matthew 3:1-12 “Friends, believe in the already and not yet of God’s peace. Find it within yourselves, and your communities. Especially at your lowest. When you are ready to disengage, throw up your hands, turn off the news. When you’re tempted to bury yourself in the cynicism spreading all over this country today, remember the already and not yet of God’s peace. Because the spirit that Isaiah . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 2:1-5; Matthew 24:36-44 “Advent is a threshold space—a liminal time in the rhythm of the church year—we are beginning anew, but the One who gives us new life, is not yet here—things are being made new, even as we wait in an old order, even as we have outgrown it, even as the world yearns for transformation.” . . .
by Richard Coble Jeremiah 23:1-6; Luke 23:33-43 “Christ left us this meal as a way to turn back to him, to one another, to that endless fountain of love and grace that surrounds us wherever we go. Because when we eat this bread, and we drink this cup, together, in Jesus’s name, we remember, and we proclaim the Christ who showed us a different way to be together, a way of love more powerful . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 65:17-25; Luke 21:5-19 “Excess takes hold when consumption dictates our behavior instead of community. Excess is a symptom of the disease of individualism. Abundance is a sign of our capacity to be well together, it defines us when we live the truth of our interdependence. The culture change that we are responsible for in this tumultuous and contested world begins right here at this Table. When we let the things . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Job 19:23-27a; Luke 20:27-38 “Christ calls us to this Table to be put back together, to be re-membered by the truth we carry in our bones, in our bodies, in our common life—that God’s promise of new life is both for the living and the dead, for the stubborn and the willing, for the harmful and the harmed—for all of us belonging to this age.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4; Luke 19:1-10 “Being found means discovering the contours of a faithful life—we seek God even as God seeks us. We rediscover our identity as God’s people in a world that has lost its way where God can be hard to find.” . . .
by Richard Coble Joel 2:23-32; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 “. . . but grace is more foundational than a transaction with a forgiving God. More foundational is the grace of God that names each of us as children of God, of human dignity, the grace of God that calls each of us by name. This grace, freely and abundantly given, stands in such contrast to the world we live in, the world of racist mass incarceration, the . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop, Samantha Gonzalez-Block and Richard Coble Psalm 84:1-7, Luke 18:9-14 “Normalizing our way of doing things is a part of human nature. We want to know where we stand in the scheme of things. Idolatry takes that natural human tendency and attaches divine mandate and the power of God to its authority and its power. When human’s mistake our own will to power and dominance for a God-given right . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 119:97-104; Luke 18:1-8 “Here we meet a Savior, who is on the side of the vulnerable – no matter what. And like the widow, we can trust that Christ will never stop shouting out our names until we awaken to our shared calling to be builders of God’s kingdom here and now.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 111; Luke 17:11-19 “Our journey as a white faith community in America right now is to listen and to learn, to dig deep into the ways we have been shaped by white supremacy culture, to trust where Jesus invites us to go with the truth that he promises will set us all free.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Lamentations 3:19-26; 2 Timothy 1:1-14 “It is a Gospel message really—that invitation for us to get real about the trauma and resilience we have in our bodies, that has been passed down to us and that we carry around the world and pass on to others. God’s healing opportunities define the story of who we are.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Amos 6:1a, 4-7; Luke 16:19-31 “If having a lot for ourselves is worth the misery and death of others, the Bible is crystal clear—we’ve got a problem. If having wealth sequesters us from the realities of suffering and injustice in the world, then we’ve got a problem. If wealth waters down our commitment to equity and economic justice, then we’ve got a problem.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Jeremiah 8:18-9:1; Luke 16:1-13 “Here amongst bread and cup, Jesus invites us into life-saving vulnerability and holy mystery, to remember that his body is broken for us – so they we can be re-membered and live anew as one people who fearlessly work to satisfy God’s hunger for love, justice and tikun olam – the healing of our broken and aching world.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28; Luke 15:1-10 “If we are truly feasting on God’s radical welcome for us, then our lives must communicate such courageous, humble, and consistent generosity. Remember Jesus’ Table Fellowship was his most radical tool of transformation. It defined and distinguished him—and it was a big part of what made the powers that be repulsed by him.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop, Samantha Gonzalez-Block & Richard Coble Isaiah 53:2-5; 1 Corinthians 11:20-26; John 6:32-35 “Let us pray. God our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, May this table continue to call our name, to invite us in, to offer us a chair, a community and a home. May this table always be a challenge to us, may its abundance confront and critique our ways of living in scarcity; may it empower us . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Jeremiah 2:4-13; Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16 “When we place Christ at the center of how we navigate the complexities and ambiguities, the injustices and the promising possibilities of the moment in history that is ours, we will have to change, we will have to get better at being faithful.” . . .
by Richard Coble Isaiah 58:9b-14; Luke 13:10-17 “Sabbath rest is tied to liberation. How strange it is, then, that the laws around Sabbath could have been twisted to such an extent that they would have prevented the liberation this woman experienced by Jesus’s healing.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Isaiah 5:1-7; Luke 12:49-56 “Indeed, Jesus did not come to us in order to take a neutral stand, but rather to stand as God here on earth: to turn a broken world upside down, to comfort the afflicted, to afflict the comfortable, to unsettle social norms and systems in order to save us from ourselves.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 1:1, 10-20; Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 “What does it mean that such a homesickness, such a yearning, defines our spiritual heritage? Especially as we find ourselves in a country intermittently reeling and then at turns wheeling and dealing about who it is that really has the right to be here in this so-called promised-land anyway.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Hosea 11:1-11; Colossians 3:1-11 “The story that defines us began with a strange dream and an unlikely healing opportunity somehow written in those stars. It’s a crazy story really—a baby born in a barn that would save the world, a wandering teacher who spoke truth to power and crossed social boundaries and healed our brokenness ends up executed, life out of death, God amongst humans, compassion in the face . . .
by Richard Coble Genesis 28:20-32; Luke 11:1-13 “Prayer is not passive or escapist, a fantasy or a wish-list. Rather, it is what fuels us to work in the name of love and justice another day.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 52; Luke 10:38-42 “Getting clean has thus become synonymous with becoming one with Jesus – a notion that through the years has been used to liberate and empower, as well as subjugate and divide. We know that certain bodies in our society are deemed cleaner and more precious than others. Some bodies have been considered dirty, sinful, sexual, dangerous or even expendable. Darker skinned bodies. Women’s bodies. LGBTQ bodies. Differently abled bodies . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Luke 10:25-37 “We are simultaneously indicted and invited into a borderless world—where everyone is our neighbor—and where we could be met in our most raw vulnerability with compassion by the one we had considered beyond the pale.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 66:10-14; Galatians 6:1-16 “Accountability is about trustworthy relationships—relationships that can bear the weight of hard truth, relationships that share the load bearing required for holding each other accountable. The beautiful thing about Paul’s call to mutual accountability here is that he bundles it with self-awareness and self-reflection.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21; Galatians 5:1, 13-25 “There was really never a time in the history of people following Jesus when there was not diversity of interpretation. God doesn’t seem to encourage sameness for any kind of system to be healthy—variety, difference can create fruitful conditions, except when those differences become weapons for breaking community instead of tools for building community.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 42; Galatians 3:23-29 “Paul invites us to have the courage to question law when it holds us back from each other, when it keeps us from fostering radical community, when it is used to promote anything other than love and justice.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5 “Our endurance training is about our relationship with the One in Three—the Creator made us for endurance; our Redeemer shows us how to push beyond our comfort zone; and our Sustainer abides with us with the nourishment that empowers us to endure in ways that are courageous and not fearful.” . . .
by Richard Coble Genesis 11:1-9; Acts 2:1-21 “Pentecost is not a call for us all to be the same always, but rather is it a celebration of our abundant particularity, our beautiful diversity, as God calls to each of us in the way and the language we can understand.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 97; John 17:20-26 “It is Jesus’ life that included the depths of human suffering that brought God into intimate and compassionate one-ness with all of humanity. This divine one-ing is what allows God to understand us and to never forsake us.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 67; John 5:1-9 “Living differently is not out of reach. In fact, it is well within our capability. That is exactly what Jesus is telling us beside that healing pool—you have what you need to be well. But it takes seeing the truth about what ails us, it takes unlearning our delusion of helplessness, it takes being ready for something new and being ready to exert ourselves and move away from . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 148; John 13:31-35 “Our young people teach us to take our faith out from the shallow end, and to dive in deep: to hear Jesus’ call to love as a life-long commandment – one that offers no shortcuts or guarantees, only the belief that radical transformation is possible – even in moments – especially in moments – of immense brokenness.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 23; Acts 9:36-41 “Mothering is an iconic disposition of mutual vulnerability—and this disposition is the heart of the matter when it comes to how we are called to live and die as Christians.”   . . .
by Richard Coble John 21:1-14; Acts 9:1-8 “. . . let us live into the uncertainty of this time, and keep looking at how God is calling out to us in the darkness, and keep searching for God today, because God is showing up, again and again and again, sometimes in unexpected places, the places where we might not look, if we thought we already had all the answers.”   . . .
by Rev. Jimmie Hawkins Genesis 4:8-16; 1 Peter 4:7-11 . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop, Richard Coble and Samantha Gonzalez-Block Isaiah 65:17-25; Luke 24:1-12 “The resurrection will never lose its mystery. And God’s transcendence can never be collapsed into our reality. But we can thank God when we are given just a glimpse of it.” (*There were some technical difficulties with the sermon audio this week, but it is available for listening . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Isaiah 50:4-9a; Luke 19:28-40 “With our palms made bare, Luke invites us to make our hands open and visible to God coming into the city, coming into our lives. We can ask for mercy and for challenge and for direction. With hands wide open, we are ready to embrace Christ.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 43:16-21; John 12:1-8 “When’s the last time you really dusted off your imagination and let it run full throttle? When’s the last time you let yourself dream about extravagant love pouring out into the world? When’s the last time you let yourself believe in God’s power to deploy our imaginations in the service of healing the deepest, most shadowy, most stark conditions that afflict our world . . .
by Paige Kemper, Emma Maney, and Kaegan Parks Psalm 32; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 “No matter where we are on our faith path, God in all of his grace accepts us. The son endured fear, but moved forward. The son felt shame, but was greeted with grace. The son was lost, but found he was home.” “The older brother reminds us that even though we think we do everything correctly, we are never too perfect . . .
by Richard Coble Isaiah 55:1-9; Luke 13:1-9 “Grace means you can lay down the façade, the fantasy that you and I are always right, that we have to prove ourselves as better than or perfect.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 27; Luke 13:31-35 “Jesus following is not about safety or acceptability. It is about a way of life that knows and lives and breathes good trouble—trouble that disrupts the powers and principalities, trouble that lets go of fear and takes hold of the freedom we find in Christ’s revolutionary love, trouble that resists the temptation to give up or give in.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Luke 4:1-13 “The harsh truth about faith is clear in the wilderness of Jesus finding his Messianic identity—faith is about disrupting the powers and principalities, faith is about one’s core identity truly being that you are God’s very own, faith is about letting your identity as God’s own lead the way when another way is presenting and it is truly enticing.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Exodus 34:29-35; Luke 9:28-36 “Transformation is not just a new attitude or a new perspective. Transformation is a change in form, a material, cellular, radical change that defies our expectations, that doesn’t just change us, but changes the world.” . . .
by Richard Coble Genesis 45:3-11, 15; Luke 6:27-38 “Forgiveness, real reconciliation, individual and collective, when it is for harms that affect our lives, our communities. . . that takes time; it can take years, or generations, and it takes work.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Jeremiah 17:5-10; Luke 6:17-26 “Jesus is declaring a radical, liberating truth: God is on the side of those who suffer. So, if you are feeling comfortable and safe (behind a locked door, or a high wall, or in your silence): ‘Woe to you,’ says Jesus. ‘Wake up and see the world through God’s fresh, wise eyes: a world where the first are last and the last are . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 6:1-8; Luke 5:1-11 “Conocimiento begins in pain, in a major life change, in some breaking point—in some situation of rupture that forces us to look deeply into our own identities and reevaluate how we are in relationship with one another and with ourselves. We lay down the parts of our life that are stagnant, that turn us against ourselves. For Anzaldúa, conocimiento, deep knowing that builds community, begins . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Jeremiah 1:4-10; Luke 4:21-30 “Part of welcoming conflict is us acknowledging that we must, we must practice (not just value) true power sharing. And that means we lay down our need to be right all the time. We lay down our need to dominate a conversation. We lay down our need to control, to feel comfortable, or to prove we know everything. Because we don’t know everything.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a; Luke 4:14-21 “This Table is about liberation from oppression—that means the comfortable arrive here confronted with the impact of our comfort on those who are languishing. The hard reality mirrored back to us is where our freedom lies.”   . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 62:1-5; John 2:1-11 “Christians must always, already be tuned to that dissonance. God’s abundance gives us the vision, the moral courage, the perseverance to never tire of working for justice and mercy and love. And the pain we see gives us the urgency, the compassion, and the determination to do healing work.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Isaiah 43:1-7; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 “Together, we celebrate who we are and whose we are. We are followers of God’s beloved son “with whom God is well pleased.” And we recognize our mutual responsibility to support each other in our pain, in our joys, in our growth side-by-side – as siblings made one, made whole in Christ.”   . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 60:1-6; Matthew 2:1-12 “You have forgotten how to dream, you have forgotten that you can journey to a place where the truth will change you forever. The truth of God born in you, the truth of God born in resistance to enthroned power, the truth of God born into a world come home to itself.”   . . .
by Richard Coble Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:41-52 “Love is not a permanent state of being, not a destination that you have to reproach yourself for not already being there. Love, and thankfulness, and compassion are practices.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 1:1-14 “Each week of Advent, we have together fixed our gaze on an image of redemption—glimpses of God’s love, God’s justice, God’s mercy, God’s welcome home inviting us to come closer, come closer and see what God’s love looks like when it takes on flesh. These glimpses of redemption abide in a world where injustice, hatred, and harm persist.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Micah 5:2-5a ; Luke 1:39-47 “Yes, in this moment, in this ordinary doorway, Mary affirms Elizabeth’s prophetic witness and Elizabeth affirms Mary’s divine calling. Within both women, God’s joy and hope are already stirring. And in their wombs, something new and transformative is waiting to be born.”   . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Zephaniah 3:14-20; Luke 3:7-18 “John the Baptist says forget about relying on your culture, your heritage, your faith tradition, your ethnic origin. The only sure footing is love that is unafraid to let love be love and to let love do love.”   . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Malachi 3:1-4; Luke 3:1-6 “The big change we are preparing for is that divine justice is coming, right relationship is coming, and the truth is coming. How are we making room in our communities, in our cultures, in our societies for right relationship with God and with each other?” . . .
by Richard Coble Jermiah 33:14-16; Luke 21:25-36 “The promise of advent, this season of expectation, is not utopian, or escapist; it’s not an illusion or a fantasy. The promise does not ask you to ignore your grief or the world’s suffering. Rather, the promise empowers you to proclaim, in word, in deed, and in hope: that God is here, that God draws us close . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block 1 Samuel 23:1-7; John 18:33-39 Vocalist: Jonathan Ross Pianist: Jeff Jones “We must face what is challenging, ask the hard questions, wrestle with discomfort – even in ourselves – in order to make way for God’s truth to be carefully taught and embraced.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Daniel 12:1-3; Mark 13:1-8 “Jesus calls us to be present in the anguish, in the turmoil, in the grip of labor’s most intense contractions, with the disposition of faith, not fear.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 1 Kings 17:8-16; Mark 12:38-44 “. . . the one thing that the Bible does not contradict itself about is how people of faith are mandated to treat the most vulnerable in our society. The Bible does not equivocate about economic justice and about how the most at risk in society should be the recipients of the most attentive care by people of faith.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Deuteronomy 6:1-9; Mark 12:28-34 “This Table teaches us not to be afraid of the cost of love, not to be afraid of grief. This Table teaches us the beautiful symmetry of love doing what it does best—not giving up. Love doesn’t quit, love doesn’t die—it knows how to hold on, it knows how to let go, it knows how to grow things in hard places and soft . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Job 42:1-6, 10-17; Mark 10:46-52 “No matter how many walls we build, or gates we construct, or locks we put on our doors, or judgments we make about “them,” and blind spots we willfully maintain about “us,” we breathe in the same oxygen, we are poisoned by the same toxic anger, we are diminished by anyone’s dehumanization.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Job 38:1-7, 34-41; Hebrews 5:1-10 “So, why is it so often that our suffering isolates us from each other? Why is it so easy for us to lapse into mentalities of entitlement and blame? The hierarchies of worthiness that define our society of haves and have nots are conspiring to snuff out the flame of Christ that burns in each of us.” . . .
by Richard Coble Amos 5:6-7, 10-15; Mark 10:17-31 “It takes work to be a church and a city and a country where people really can lay down their burdens and be who God calls them to be, and not be victimized, not be run over by systems or powerful people who use others for their own gain. It takes work to be a people who actually trust that God really is in this place . . .
Psalm 51:1-4, 10-12; Psalm 63:1-7; Psalm 146; Psalm 100 Samantha Gonzalez-Block, Heather Ferguson, Marcia Mount Shoop, & Richard Coble “The centering words of the psalmist are meant to bring us back to ‘what is true.’ Our task is to remember and to return. This rhythm, this building of muscle memory is what prepares us for the storms and celebrations of life… to remember and return. At the center, we find the . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29; James 5:13-20 “As people of faith, James reminds us that we do not face life’s challenges or questions alone. Christ calls us to lean on one another: to seek out answers and healing together, to recognize the quality of these relationships, and to commit ourselves to each other for the long haul. This is what it means to be faithful siblings in Christ. This . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Jeremiah 11:18-20; James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a Selfish ambition and envy are diseased ways of being in the world. Wisdom from heaven is not arrogant, but gentle, humble, willing to yield. Envy teaches us to hoard. Heaven reminds us nothing we have was ever ours to start with. Envy tells us we’ll never be enough or have enough. Heaven heals us, down deep in our souls—and tells us we are . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Proverbs 1:20-33; James 3:1-12 “In times of tension and stress, honoring the creative and the sacred power of speech requires that we take time to examine our thinking, our feelings, our hearts, our souls, our sensations—the things that give rise to speech.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop, Richard Coble, Samantha Gonzalez-Block and Jeff Jones Isaiah 35:4-7a; Acts 16:19-34 “Grace Covenant, we sing because we trust the new thing that God is doing in and through us. We sing because God has promised to provide for us. We sing because God is God–because Christ shows us the power of being brave in thin spaces, in spaces of tension, in spaces where things could go either way . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9; James 1:17-27 “We cannot call ourselves Christian and not engage in our economy with an embodied, active, and engaged commitment to economic justice. Prophets and profits do not have equal status—and we are called to active pursuit of social justice even when it is not in our self-interest.”   . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 35:15-22; Matthew 26:36-46 “Prayer connects us with the One who will not rest. The one who keeps moving and reacting, listening and understanding, surprising and shifting, radically transforming the lives of those who pray and the world as we know it.” . . .
by Richard Coble Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58 “We think of God’s eternity as bearing on our deaths and the deaths of those we love, and while that is certainly true of the promises of God, those promises are much more about the lives that we live today than about the distant future, the end of the age.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33; Ephesians 4:25-5:2 “Genuine faith does not flee from such difficult realities, but stays present and open to the growth that truth carries with it. Genuine faith is all about moral triage—about being able to prioritize what faith practices are most life-giving in spaces where competing moralities are in play.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 51:1-12; John 6:24-35 “Forgiveness is not about perfection or being able to repair all the harm we’ve done or the suffering we have created. Forgiveness is about trusting God’s grace to do far more than we can do for ourselves. Forgiveness is freedom.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block John 6:1-15; 2 Samuel 11:1-15 “To put it simply, to be made in the Lord’s image is to have the capacity and the faith to recognize that we are broken and we need God.”   . . .
by Richard Coble Jeremiah 23:1-6; Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 “If we believe in a God who stands with us rather than over us, who asks us to love as God loves, and who holds us in grief, in the fragility of life, then this God is calling us to something deeper than simple submission to a kingly decree.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19; Mark 6:14-29 “Without conflict, community is a parody of itself—mimicking relationships that make and give life, while actually trivializing who God created us to be together. With conflict, and the Spirit’s help, community can become a vivid expression of the very nature of God—love that goes the distance healing requires and doesn’t count the cost.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Ezekiel 2:1-5; 2 Corinthians 12:2-10 “What a beautiful way to orient ourselves to the thorns in our sides—the things that challenge us the most, the things that threaten to destroy us, to discourage us, to isolate and insult us. These thorns are not impediments to trustworthy revelation; they are prerequisites, because they keep us from becoming distorted by our own interpretations and pridefulness, and our own agendas.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Lamentations 3:22-33; Mark 5:21-43 “In the end, we can never prove the existence of God. We can only let it pour out of the stirrings in our souls.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Job 38:1-11; Mark 4:35-41 “These tumultuous times are no time to lose your faith, brothers and sisters. These are the days when faith is our most powerful weapon against violence, against hatred, against the commodification of people, against the criminalization of poverty, against the failure to see and respect the humanity of all people.” . . .
by Richard Coble Ezekiel 17:22-24; 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 “Being invited into the ministry of reconciliation means calling out the human view of objectification, of abuse, wherever it is practiced, when we practice it against others, when we practice it against ourselves, when we see the human point of view in full force in trusted places, like the church, like this country.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 121; John 15:1-17 “God calls us to be branches willing to be pruned, to adapt, to reform in order to better create God’s kingdom here on earth.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 139; 2 Corinthians 4:5-12 “The world does not need our self-righteousness or our feigned perfection, the world needs our clay pots in all their God-infused glory, to tell the stories only we can tell—of how the fragments of our broken lives tell the truth of God’s unparalleled power to raise and redeem the lost and shattered pieces of our pain.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 29; Romans 8:12-17 “The Trinity is about divinity and darkness—the Holy Mystery of a powerful love willing itself into every crack and crevice, every shadow and seed of human existence.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Acts 2:1-21; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15 “The Spirit was there when the church was born—in tongues of fire, in wounded human beings finding the courage to try a new way of being together. The church was born of the courage to prove the world wrong about the things that seek to divide us.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 1; John 17:6-19 “God looked out at the world – and all its brokenness – and instead of turning away, God chose to get into the ring like never before – to climb into human skin and walk beside us. God came to empathize and engage and empower, to understand, to upset and to unify.” . . .
by Richard Coble John 15:9-17; 1 John 5:1-6 “Imperfect, loving people, brought together by God, asked to love one another, empowered to love one another by the example and the Spirit and the Grace of God in Jesus Christ. We come together because we have tasted perfect, and unending love and grace, and we want so desperately to follow it, and to show it to others.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 22; 1 John 4:7-21 It is only when we look straight on at fear that we can hear the power of the Gospel. In a world that idolizes might and systematizes violence, Jesus comes on the scene with a ridiculous promise: God is love and those who abide in me abide in God and God abides in you . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 23; 1 John 3:16-24 The salamander is telling us something about ourselves. We are hard on the permeable things—the things that soak up our pain, our greed, our short-sightedness. Salamanders tell us about our out-of-sight-out-of-mind way of avoiding the hard truths we need to look at to heal ourselves, to heal the world. Love needs truth. And love needs action. That’s the only way love . . .
by Dr. William Jeffrey Jones 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36-48 “But glory be to God for Dappled things! What some see as an imperfection or blemish . . . God sees as a testimony to the perfect unity and infinitude of His creative power! We are called to celebrate the diversity of God’s creation and Richard embodied that in our midst!” . . .
by Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop “And so those who profess to follow in Christ’s way, must first trust Him, and must next be trustworthy—and not just any kind of trustworthy—the kind of trustworthy that is to life, that is to love, that is to healing.”   . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block, Mary Lou Nash, Elizabeth Propst and Keaton Hill Acts 4:32-35; John 20: 19-31 “Resurrection practice is a mysterious movement, its rhythm echoing the sacred unity of death and life, sorrow and joy.” . . .
by Richard Coble, Samantha Gonzalez-Block, and Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 25:6-9; John 20: 1-18 “Resurrection is in our bones, in our muscle twitches, in the energy that we share with each other without saying a word, in the deep narratives of broken hearts able to love again. Resurrection is built into the way our bodies are made, that way communities are made—in the ecosystems of God’s good creation, death does not have the . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 50:4-9a; Mark 11:1-11 Listen, brothers and sisters, to this profound invitation—to be a source of healing in this world, to be a faithful person in this world, you must open yourself up to become someone you have trouble believing you can be . . .
by Richard Coble Jeremiah 31:31-34; John 12:20-33 God is not the cause of suffering, but rather accompanies us in our suffering, gets lost with us in our suffering, but also, and also, God accompanies us as we grow, and growth is painful sometimes, and necessary. Sanctification, theologians call it, by the power of the Holy Spirit; it’s not for the faint of heart . . .
by Hannah Shealy and Sidney Shoop Psalm 121; Matthew 17:14-20 How does your faith help you move mountains . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 19; John 2:13-22 Righteous anger is a carrier of our deep interdependence. An affront to the humanity of one person is an affront to your humanity, to mine. Righteous anger is an explosion of love—for a world that can never be healed on the backs of the misery of any . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 22:23-31; Mark 8:31-38 When Jesus says, “take up your cross and follow me,” he is telling us not to pack light on our journey in his service. He is asking us to bring our whole selves. Bring all your shame, your suffering—the suffering you bear and the suffering you cause, the suffering that has made you stronger and the suffering that has left you weary, diminished, not sure if you . . .
by Richard Coble Psalm 25:1-10; Mark 1:9-15 There is no wilderness in which God does not walk beside us. There is no disillusionment that can make God stop holding on to you. There is no depth that God will not sink with us. No way to get lost where God will not get lost with us . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 2 Kings 2:1-12; Mark 9:2-9 Being a person of faith in this tumultuous world is about belief, not certainty. It is about mystery, not mastery. It is about trust, not control. Breathe that in for a minute—these are more than just words. These are dispositions toward human life that call on us to give ourselves to the world with such generosity, with such open hearts, with such confidence in God’s . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Mark 1:29-39; Isaiah 40:21-31 God is here and now – as God has always been – reaching out in compassion, pushing us from pain to new life, working tirelessly for peace and reconciliation. We need only awaken and see . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 Food can bring us closer to God. It’s not a legalistic way to control our relationship with God or a golden ticket to achieve righteousness. Food needs love for it to heal us. And God is yearning for us to taste that, to savor that, to cultivate that nourishing, nurturing love deep within ourselves . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 As Christians we are called to live in time collapsed, time conflated—in the layers of truth that every moment entails—layers of history, generations, layers of present realities, complexities, and perspectives, and layers of future possibilities—full of both promise and peril . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Because you see what Paul is trying to tell us is something we so desperately need to hear. We’ve got the whole “self-care” thing all wrong. When you care for your body you are not just caring for yourself, you are caring for your community. Care of your body is care for our Body. Care of your body is care of Christ’s . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 29; Luke 2:41-52 Here at the font, our journeys of faith begin. Something old is gone and something new awaits us at the surface. Here we jump into the unknown and immerse ourselves in terrifying, glorious water. We let the danger, the risk of faith wash over because the good news is this: we believe, we know that God is always here – ready to catch us . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block and Richard Coble Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:22-40 …faith is not really about expectation, about having all the answers. The essence of faith is trust . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 1:1-14 John’s Gospel doesn’t tell the story of the nativity that Luke’s and Matthew’s Gospels tell—instead this Gospel writer tells us the story of the cosmos—before there was time, before there was anything—this source of all wisdom, the source of light and life, yearned to come close to us—and the Incarnation is that yearning becoming as concrete, as mind-blowing, as world changing as a . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Luke 1:46b-55 Faith waits like Mary did—with confidence that God can turn the places where we have everything to lose, into a panacea—a remedy for what truly ails us all—not just some of us, but all that lives and breaths—that God is calling you and me to shed the way the world distorts our lives and our life together, that God gestates in our . . .
Isaiah 40:1-11; Mark 1:1-8 For when we recognize this brokenness – when we really do – we may also recognize our need for God to help put the pieces back together. We recognize the urgency of Advent. We see the necessity to construct a path for Christ to enter into the wilderness of our lives and to completely shift the world as we know it . . .
Isaiah 64:1-9 Mark 13:24-37 And yet expectation remains a part of the faith; it is central to the faith. We Christians believe in something bigger than ourselves; we find hope in a God who is love, who is justice; we hope that love is bigger than the biggest institution, that justice is more powerful than all the earthly powers that touch us, that can eat away at us, that marginalize and pummel our neighbors and the . . .
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Matthew 25:31-46 The Good Shepherd can separate the sheep and goats with just whistles and sounds, and gentle movements. The sheep and the goats know how to move to each side when the Good Shepherd tells them it is time. Within minutes they will be separated. The Good Shepherd is able to separate the sheep from the goats, from the fat sheep who have been eating more than their share, the . . .
But in this parable, God does not call us to wait. God does not call us to harbor our gifts. God does not call us to play it safe. God calls us to live with fearless faith: to open our hands and courageously show the talents we’ve been given . . .
To be called by God is to be humble and hopeful enough to speak truth out of love without knowing fully how it will be received. To be called by God is to be faithful and foolish enough to follow the path that isn’t safe or secure, but only promises a glimmer of Christ’s hope for the future . . .
Exodus 32:1-14, Philippians 4:1-9 The Rev. Dr. Richard Coble, Associate Pastor A man in his fifties, in a circle of women and men of a variety of ages, all of them seated in grey metal folding chairs, some sipping coffee, some with their hands holding up their faces. He stands and he tells his story: Hello, My name is Jake and I am an alcoholic.1‘Hi Jake,’ they respond, all in union. And Jake . . .
“PRESS ON” SCRIPTURE: EXODUS 20: 1-4, 7-9, 12-20; PHILIPPIANS 3: 4b-14 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC October 8, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Imagine for a minute that your moment has arrived—the moment you’ve dreamed of—your moment when you are called on to shine, to really do your thing— whatever that is—and the world is watching. This is your moment—what would your sound track be? In . . .
Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 24 September 2017 Sermon: “Getting in Line” Rev. Samantha González-Block Jonah 3:10-4:11 Matthew 20:1-16 As a child growing up in a soccer-loving town in New Jersey, virtually all of my friends were great athletes. There were dozens of soccer leagues for every age and on the weekends parks were pretty much packed with back-to-back games. Now, my siblings and I are the product . . .
Exodus 15: 1B-11, 20-21; Romans 14: 1-12 Look at us all, given this thing we call church, that we call tradition, full of histories of love, and struggle, striving and trying. It’s a history of people reaching out to a God who ever always draws near and reaches out to us. Feel this spirit that binds us, that holds us upright, that gathers us just as the skeleton gathers the flesh. It holds us upright even . . .
1 YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS SCRIPTURE: PSALM 119: 33 – 40; ROMANS 13: 8 – 14 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC SEPTEMBER 10, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Greg and Andrea Smith had a plan. 1 Houston had only been their home since July, so their plan was the result of asking people who understand hurricanes more than they do. Andrea was due any time now and she had been having contractions off and . . .
1 POSSIBILITIES AND DEPENDENCIES SCRIPTURE: JEREMIAH 15: 15 – 21; ROMANS 12: 9 – 21 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC September 3, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor I have a question for you. I hope you will give me an honest answer. Tell the truth. Are you ready? How many of you spent at least part of your Satu rday watching football ? (show of hands) Yes, f ootball season is here. Oh, the joy of it . . .
“ROCKING THE WORLD” SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 51: 1 – 6; MATTHEW 16: 13 – 20 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC August 27, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Isaiah 51:1 – 6 51:1 Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the LORD. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. 51:2 Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you . . .
GCPC, 8/20/17 Matt 15:21 – 28 The Outsiders – Richard Coble Have you ever felt like you were on the outside , looking in ? On the margins; stuck on the sidelines as the game plays on; a pariah to the cool kids; not invited to the party; ignored at promotion time; or even not getting a call back from the interview? Aunt Gladdis didn’t invite m e to the family reunion. M y son Bruce never calls . . .
1 SINKING, SWIMMING, FLOATING SCRIPTURE: PSALM 85, MATTHEW GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC August 13, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor SINKING T he RMS Titanic sank just after 2am on April 15 1912 after striking an iceberg . 1500 people perished. Shipbuilders magazine boasted before Titanic sailed that she was “practically unsinkable” because of her revolutionary design . P eople believed she was a sure thing — the “practically” faded and the “unsinkable” stuck . But nothing is unsinkable. They . . .
1 PRACTICING ABUNDANCE SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 55: 1 – 5; MATTHEW 14: 13 – 21 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC August 6, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Yesterday under a venerable old tree in the high desert of New Mexico, people gath ered to remember one of the greatest practitioners of abundance this world has ever seen. The Community Farm in Santa Fe always seemed to have more than enough of what people needed — nourishment, community, connection . . .
1 Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 30 July 2017 Sermon: “Simple Acts” Rev. Samantha Gonzalez – Block Micah 6:1 – 8 Acts 8:26 – 40 Every morning as the sun rises, Timoteo begins his long as cent up the mountain by foot to his pri zed, closet – sized piece of farm land that looks over the city of San Miguel, Guatemala – the place he calls home. He has been making that journey up the mountain . . .
“SEED SOWING AND CHURCH GROWING” SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 55: 10 – 13; MATTHEW 13: 1 – 9, 18 – 23 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC July 16, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Isaiah 55:10 – 13 55:10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater . . .
“YOU DID NOT DANCE” SCRIPTURE: SONG OF SONGS 2: 8 – 13; MATTHEW 11: 16 – 19, 25 – 30 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC July 9, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Song of Solomon 2:8 – 13 2:8 The voice of my beloved! Look, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills. 2:9 My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look, there he stands behind our wall . . .
TABLE MANNERS SCRIPTURE: JEREMIAH 28: 5 – 9; MATTHEW 10: 40 – 42 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC July 2, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor If you and I were gathered on a Communion Sunday in the 1500s in Geneva or in 17 th century Scotland or even today in some Church of Scotland congregations or some Presbyterian congregations in this country , this homily preceding Communion would have one purpose and one purpose only — to make . . .
HER – STORY SCRIPTURE: GENESIS 21: 8 – 21; HEBREWS 11: 1 – 3, 8 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC June 25, 2017 Katie Rosenson, Marcia Mount Shoop, Samantha Gonzalez – Block, Preaching INTRODUCTION Samantha: Abraham didn’t know where he was going? Marcia: He sure didn’t have any trouble telling Hagar where she needed to go. Katie: Is it ok to be disappointed in the heroes of our faith? Samantha: Is it ok to be disappointed in . . .
IT TAKES THREE SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 6: 1 – 8; MATTHEW 28: 16 – 20 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC June 11, 2017, Trinity Sunday The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor My first introduction to the mystery, the divine trans cendence of the numb er 3 dazzled my eyes and sang its sweet melody into my ears as a little girl once a week in Danville, KY — (Jeff play tune from “Three is a magic number” from School House . . .
HOMILY “TOGETHER IN ONE PLACE” SCRIPTURE: ACTS 2: 1 – 21; JOHN 20:19 – 23 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC June 4, 2017 Pentecost The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor It started with a curious look through the window on the door outside m y office. After our worship service on Sundays they used our Fellowship Hall for their worship services. From inside my office I could hear the tambourines and the shouts and the cadence of . . .
Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 28 May 2017 Sermon: “The Glorified Heart” Rev. Samantha Gonzalez – Block Psalm 68:1 – 10 John 17:1 – 11 “Inside this little wooden box – is God. ” (Samantha hold s up box ) This is what Ms. Roberta said to her antsy fifth grade Sunday School class. “Do you want to see what God looks like?” All of her students beg an to jump high in their seats. “Ooo, Ooo, Yes . . .
THE BIG REVEAL SCRIPTURE: PSALM 66: 8 – 20; JOHN 14:15 – 21 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC May 21, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Psalm 66:8 – 20 66:8 Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard, 66:9 who ha s kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip. 66:10 For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us . . .
1 “WAYS AND MEANS” SCRIPTURE: PSALM 31: 1 – 5, 15 – 16; JOHN 14: 1 – 14 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC May 14, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Psalm 31:1 – 5, 15 – 16 31:1 In you, O LORD, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me. 31:2 Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge . . .
1 “SAY IT AGAIN” SCRIPTURE: PSALM 23; JOHN 10: 1 – 10 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC May 7, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Churches don’t build themselves. They are born out of aspiration, out of vision, and out of a commitment that moves people to believe in something they can’t yet see. Such commitment to build something new is not for the faint of heart , nor is it for t he tepid of . . .
1 Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 30 April 2017 Sermon: Seeing is Believing” Rev. Samantha Gonzalez – Block Psalm 116:1 – 4, 12 – 19 Luke 24:13 – 35 “How is this night different from other nights?” Growing up in an interfaith home, with a Jewish father and Presbyterian mother, the Easter season was always coupled with the cherished Jewish holiday of Passover. As many of you know, Passover is a time to sit at table . . .
“BELIEVING IS SEEING” SCRIPTURE: PSALM 16; JOHN 20: 19 – 31 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC April 23, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor It’s a week past Easter, and Jesus’ followers are hold up behind closed doors — locked doors. Story goes that they were scared — afraid of “the Jews.” Seems like they’d be afraid of the Roman officials — they are the ones who executed Jesus after all. Bu t they were afraid of “the . . .
1 “RISE UP” SCRIPTURE: EZEKIEL 37: 1 – 10; MATTHEW 28: 1 – 10 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia W. Mount Shoop, Pastor Fifty – eight years ago, April 16, a young couple just beginning their twenties and just shy of a year into their marriage, are caught up in the wonder and delight of their new baby daughter — just five days old: a beautiful baby by all accounts, and . . .
1 “SACRED SEMANTICS” SCRIPTURE PSALM 118: 1 – 2, 19 – 29; MATTHEW 21: 1 – 11 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC April 9, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Matthew 21:1 – 11 21:1 When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphag e, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 21:2 saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey . . .
1 Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 26 March 2017 Youth Sunday Sermon: “ Be the Bridge ” Luke Shealy, Makahla Stout Mark 12:28 – 34 Hebrews 13:1 – 3, 5 – 7, 12 – 16 Music led by Isabel Parker , along with: Owen Gast, Hannah Engels, Emily Frye , Paige Kemper , Kaegan Parks LUKE: Las t fall, I had the opportunity to travel with other students from my school, to Denmark. Our flight was from Atlanta to Copenhagen. The . . .
HE SAID, SHE SAID SCRIPTURE: EXODUS 17:1 – 7; JOHN 4: 5 – 29, 39 – 42 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC March 19, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor John 4: 5 – 29, 39 – 42 4:5 So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar (su – char) , near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 4:6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired . . .
1 “AGAINST THE WIND” SCRIPTURE: GENESIS 12: 1 – 4a; JOHN 3: 1 – 17 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC March 12, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor John 3:1 – 17 3 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs . . .
1 “WELCOMING WILDERNESS” SCRIPTURE: GENESIS 2:15 – 17; 3:1 – 7 ; MATTHEW 4:1 – 11 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC March 5, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor The Peace of Wild Things, Wendell Berry When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the . . .
1 Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 26 February 2017 Sermon: “Our Eyes to the Hills” Rev. Samantha Gonzalez – Block Exodus 24:12 – 18 Matthew 17:1 – 9 When I was eight years old, I learned how to ski – at least, I thought I did. T here was a deal in town for five Saturday morning classes for kids and my mother generously signed me up. At 6 AM, a bus would come to fetch me . . .
1 THE PROBLEM WITH PERFECT SCRIPTURE: LEVITICUS 19:1 – 2; 9 – 18; MATTHEW 5: 38 – 48 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC February 19, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor I have a confession to make. You may think I am a bad parent. You m ay think I am a good parent. But the truth is, this is what I use to do when my kids were little and someone gave them a toy . . .
DID HE REALLY JUST SAY THAT? SCRIPTURE: DEUTERONOMY 30:15 – 20; MATTHEW 5: 21 – 37 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC February 9, 2017 The Rev. Samantha Gonzalez – Block and The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastors PART ONE: DISORIENTATION/CHAOS HOW DO WE KNOW WHERE WE ARE GOING? Pulpit (MMS and SGB move to center of Chancel and take off stoles) Reading One — S GB : A reading from the Gospel of Matthew. 21 “You have . . .
1 ADD SALT TO FAST SCRIPTURE : ISAIAH 58: 1 – 2; MATTHEW 5:13 – 20 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC February 5, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Matthew 5:13 – 20 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. 5:14 “You are . . .
1 G race Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 29 January 2017 Sermon: “ Walking Uphill ” Rev. Samantha Gonzalez – Block Micah 6:6 – 8 Matthew 5:1 – 12 I wonder if Jesus ever got stage fright. Did his voice ever crack, did his hands ever twitch? Di d his eyes wander when he spoke or did he shift his weight from side to side? Did he clear hi s throat over and over again or twist his fingers . . .
1 GOODBYE NETS AND BOATS SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 9: 1 – 4; MATTHEW 4: 12 – 23 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC January 22, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor In 1999 Eric and Phillipa Kempson decided to make a change in their lives. 1 They wanted out of the rat race. And they had fallen in love with the island of Lesbos while there on vacation. They had dreams of a simple life. Eric, an artist, would . . .
1 TAKEN BY THE HAND SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 43:1 – 9 ; MATTHEW 3: 13 – 17 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC January 8, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ 15 But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for it . . .
1 “OF WONDER AND WEARY DREAMS” SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 7:10 – 15; MATTHEW 1: 18 – 25 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC December 18, 2016 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Matthew 1:18 – 25 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in t his way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 1:19 . . .
1 Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 11 December 2016 Sermon: “ Expecting the Unexpected ” Samantha Gonzalez – Block James 5:7 – 10 Luke 1:26 – 38 I will never forget that particular Christmas morning. My eleven – year – old brother and a seven – year – old me flew down the stairs ( in our matching reindeer o nesie pajamas ) and dove strait towards the foot of our family’s Christmas tree. We grabbed the two biggest . . .
1 “CORE STORY” SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 11: 1 – 6; MATTHEW 3: 1 – 12 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC December 4, 2016 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor A 600 page book tells me the story of the Christmas of my dreams in small town Kentucky in 1978 . The in – breaking of my Christmas vision emerges from 100s of thin pages crowded with vivid descriptions. Hopes realized , unmet needs answered, and dreams come true — the template for . . .
1 Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 20 November 2016 Sermon: “ Good Neighbors ” Samantha Gonzalez – Block Luke 23: 33 – 43 Jeremiah 23:1 – 6 Lucy and Ethel were good neighbors . As many of you know, this sweet pair was featured on the “I Love Lucy” television show back in 1950’s. It was ground – breaking for its time – the first to feature a marriage between a Caucasian – American and Cuban immigrant, and the . . .
1 “TRUST FACTOR” SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 65: 17 – 25; LUKE 21: 5 – 19 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC November 13, 2017 , 10:30am Service The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor When I was a little girl, I had big plans. I wanted to be President of the United States. I wanted to make an impact on the questions that mattered — racism, nuclear disarmament, economic justice. I wanted to make the world a better place. At some point . . .
“RE – MEMBERING” SCRIPTURE: JOB: 19 – 23 – 27a; LUKE 20:27 – 38 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC November 6, 2016 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Luke 20: 27 – 38 20:27 Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him 20:28 and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall . . .
1 Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 30 October 2016 Sermon: “ Come on Down! ” Samantha Gonzalez – Block Isaiah 1:10 – 13, 16 – 18 Luke 19:1 – 10 This may come as surprise to you all, but I am told that when I was very young living in New Jersey, I spoke English with a very thick Southern – Spanish accent. Now I am not quite sure what that sounds like, but the source of my . . .
1 “CALL YOUR NEXT WITNESS” SCRIPTURE JOEL 2: 23 – 32; LUKE 18: 9 – 14 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC October 23, 2016 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Old men dream ing dreams Prophetic daughters Young ones with fresh visions And captives come into wide – open spaces No more shame The survivors will flourish The humble justified The arrogant dismantled Contempt evaporates And a witness’ silence abates O to inhabit such a world Strange and . . .
1 LIFE KEEPING GENESIS 32: 22 – 31; LUKE 18:1 – 8 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC October 16, 2016 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor A Sabbath Poem by Wendell Berry No, no, there is no going back. Less and less you are that possibility you were. More and more you have become those lives and deaths that have belonged to you. You have become a sort of grave containing much that was and is no . . .
1 RISKY BUSINESS SCRIPTURE: JEREMIAH 29:1, 4 – 7; LUKE 17: 11 – 19 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC October 9, 2016 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Luke 17:11 – 19 17:11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 17:12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 17:13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us . . .
(Available only as audio) Samatha Gonzalez-Block, Marcia Mount Shoop & Rebecca Gurney . . .
DANGEROUS IMAGINATION AND OTHER KEYS TO HEALTHY LIVING SCRIPTURE: AMOS 6a, 4 – 7; LUKE 16: 19 – 31 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC September 25, 2016 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor No one thought he had a prayer of winning the Olympics — except for him. Billy Mills made a decision to believe. The first race he ever ran as a young boy from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, he ran in blue jeans . . .
1 GOD’S HONEST TRUTH SCRIPTURE: JEREMIAH 8: 18 – 9:1; JOHN 3: 13 – 17 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC September 18, 2016 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor “ What is truth? ” Pontius Pilate asks Jesus this question. Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life. “ What is truth? ” Pilate says with truth staring him right in the face. Pilate is an opportunist. A political animal. A man who does not impress with his moral courage . . .
(available only as audio) Kathleen O’Connor . . .
1 “LET US COUNT THE WAYS” SCRIPTURE: PSALM 139: 1 – 6, 13 – 18; LUKE 14: 25 – 33 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC September 4, 2016 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Luke 14:25 – 33 14:25 Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 14:26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even . . .