Sermon Replay: To Rise

phoenixText: Matthew 5:38-42

Precis: [T]he Christian faith is …. not disembodied spirituality. The body counts. This stuff God cares about – how we approach art, how we approach government, how we approach justice, how we approach all these things. God cares about it. Every single thing …. He is going to redeem every aspect of Creation….that is a radical thing …. when the early church said, “resurrection,” they didn’t take that to mean a spiritual awakening … but an actual ‘changing’ … it changed how they treated each other with their stuff, with their bodies, with their hands, with their money. (Quoting NT Wright) “[T]he very earliest church persisted in declaring roundly not only that Jesus was raised from the dead but also that “the resurrection of the dead” had already occurred. What is more, as we have observed, members of the church busily set about redesigning their worldview—their characteristic praxis, their controlling stories, their symbolic universe, and their basic theology—around this new fixed point. They behaved, in other words, as though the new age had already arrived.”

Speaker: Rev. Jason Davison
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Dying To Know

knowing-godWhen we talk about “knowing God”, it can feel a bit like, perhaps, “knowing the number of planets in every galaxy” or “knowing whether I will win the jackpot next week.” If it is possible to know those things, we certainly haven’t figured out how yet.
And yet when we encounter the stories and accounts of the historical Jesus, one may get a strange feeling that, if there is a God, this God wants to be known. Suddenly, the accounts of Jesus become much more than inspirational stories. They become a key, like an anonymous tip that the person you have a crush on does not, in fact, hate your guts.
If one reads the account of Jesus’ life all the way to the end, however, they find that knowing this God also means experiencing some sort of death.

Death is at the very center of the Jesus story.

The kind of death associated with following Jesus is different from the death he experienced himself. It is a kind of death that everyone, religious or non-religious, has become accustomed to: the death of our hope.

Death, not disappointment. Disappointment is when we are passed up yet again for a job promotion and spend the evening re-watching an entire season of Friends. Death is when the same thing happens and we watch every season of Friends for the next week. Disappointment is a night drive to clear the head. Death is an impulse move to Tucson, Arizona to live with your grandparents.  Death is attaching all of your hope for acceptance in one thing and having that thing ripped from you. When we experience this kind of death, we generally attack it with one of two strategies: we quickly replace our hope with another one, or we detach ourselves completely from any hope at all. The first strategy sends us spinning in a cycle of death and rebirth, replacing our old hope with a new one as fast as we can produce it. The second strategy looks slyly at hope and says “I’m onto you – I’m not letting you trick me again.”

A third strategy is proposed, however, by an unexpected source: a letter written in the first century from the apostle Paul to a small community of friends in Philippi. In it, Paul writes a long list of all his privileges and achievements – everything gained and worked for in his life that could secure his hope of being admired and accepted. After listing all of these, he wrote “I’ve dumped all [these things] in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him.” (1)
Paul does not try to move quickly past the experience of death for anything else to place his hope in. He also does not deny this kind of death by rejecting hope altogether.
He is instead so enraptured by another thing entirely that death feels inconsequential. Instead of continuing the cycle of death and rebirth, Paul proposes one final death and rebirth: the death of all our hopes into a birth of “knowing God.” But this kind of knowing has nothing to do with what we have earned or accomplished. It is born out of what Jesus has earned and accomplished for us.

It is one thing to embrace the extraordinary. It is another thing to be embraced by the extraordinary. (2)
A young, aspiring politician would no doubt dump everything for a chance to meet with Barack Obama. But what if Barack Obama dumped everything to come meet with the young politician?

To know God is to be embraced by God.

To know God is not to lose the self, but for the true self to finally be found in God.
To know God is to be so secure that one is finally able to turn their gaze outward to the well-being of others.

To know God is to die and not even notice.


-Gabriel Molinaro

(1) Philippians 3:8-9, the Message

(2) quote from Ed Park


Sermon Recap: To Know and Pursue

14495426_1160178944040882_2115299182038006279_n“Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences.” C.S. Lewis made this statement to point to the difference between knowing about Jesus, and truly knowing Him in an intimate way. Too often we tend to look at Jesus for inspiration or out of tradition and custom–rather than aligning our lives around His life as our source, our greatest love and ambition. In Philippians 3, Paul provides the reader a window into his heart before and after he came to know the risen Jesus. Paul’ mentality prior to Jesus was to honor God out the source, tradition and ambition of his ethnic lineage and his crowning achievements. Yet once He met the One who knew Him, and whose righteousness outweighed his privileges and merits–Paul made it his life’s goal to know and pursue Jesus. In this section of Philippians Paul’s words offer a portrait of a healthy Gospel mentality we are to emulate, (Phil 3.15)–a life that finds its purpose and devotion solely in the person and work of
Jesus Christ rather than what we are born with or attain in this life.

~ Rev. Jason Davison

Fall Teaching Series

knowing-godFor the upcoming weeks we will be re-visiting our purpose as a church: Knowing God.

Knowing God entails death and resurrection – a death as we put our deadly doings down and stand in Christ, Him alone, gloriously complete. And to the measure that we do so, we experience a resurrection, a newness of life … for ourselves …..and for the neighborhood.

Last Sunday we talked about how staying patiently engaged in adversity has a way to help us know God, as God. Here’s the text for our study:

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. ~ Phil 3:7-11