Jesus Christ calls us to be a joyful community that celebrates God's love, transforms lives, and is a force for justice in the world.

Sermons by Bart Smith (Page 11)

God’s Joke

The joke of Easter morning was God’s. The joke was on the authorities who conspired against Jesus. The joke was on the Romans; the mightiest empire couldn’t keep down a peasant from Galilee! The joke was on death itself, the ultimate divide and “last enemy,” as the Apostle Paul called it, that ultimate reality over which no one has control.

Broken & Repaired: the Cross

This is a God who is present in suffering, who suffers with us, who has tastes human experience. This is a God whose heart breaks at injustice. This is a God who chooses to be in solidarity with all who are scared, excluded, oppressed, hurting, and ashamed. We don’t look at the cross and see a bloodthirsty God who needs to be appeased, who relishes the pain of God’s child out of some perverted sense of justice; we behold a God of compassion, literally “with-suffering.”

Broken & Repaired: Everything

We humans like to speculate about the future; it’s in our nature. You can see it in the disciples’ anxiousness when they say: “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?” But Jesus’ directed their gaze and directs ours to the present moment. “Look!” Christ urges us, “Look around you right now! Keep alert! Watch for the new thing I am doing. I am present in the midst of this tragedy and all of this mayhem. I know it’s hard to see, but keep your eyes peeled for how I am coaxing new life out of hopelessness.”

The Prophet’s Price

That’s the thing about prophets: they’re not provocative for provocativeness’ sake. They sense a Spirit-breathed call. That’s what gives them the courage, the conviction, the stamina. Firm trust in the loving justice of God fuels ordinary people to risk telling the truth. But that’s another aspect of being prophetic: the price. There’s always a price…

Lessons for Leaders

We are all called, wherever we are to, by our words and deeds, point the way toward the infinite compassion and peace that we find in the God revealed in Jesus. Like Jairus, faithful leaders realize that they cannot heal the world by themselves or bring hope to others by themselves. They are the ones who push through a laughing, cynical crowd saying, “No, death and despair never have the last word… and like the woman who had the tenacity to grab hold of Jesus’ tunic, leaders of this sort lead from their own struggle to find God in the midst of pain and confusion.

To: Jesus / From: Bart / Re: Seeds

[Jesus replies] The seeds are scattered in rocks, thorns, shallow dirt, and rich soil; they’re no respecters of ground. So it is with God’s kingdom– God’s radical love showers upon all without consideration for merit or response or inherent goodness. Yes, it’s true, that people respond differently to me, what I’m about, and the kind of world I’m trying to shape. There are powers that try to stamp out my kingdom at every turn, you know that. But that’s my concern. I am still going to sow wildly and indiscriminately.

Those People

We don’t welcome because WE have deemed people tolerable. We don’t accept others because WE find them acceptable. We do so because we recognize that this world belongs to God and we are not entitled to any corner of it. We do so because we, too, are broken, imperfect people in need of grace and mercy. We are or can be, on any given day, “those people.”

Unclean Spirits

Naming those demons and inviting the presence of Jesus in those experiences can be healing. I’ve prayed for people who can’t seem to shake a destructive habit before along the lines of, “God, set them loose from this awful thing.” Or someone whose life is in ruins because of depression, I find myself saying, “God, free them from this weight!” So many people have stories about how appealing to a higher power has delivered them (they use that language). It seems that, through the Spirit, Jesus is still about the work of casting out such demons, releasing people from what binds them and leading them to wholeness.

Messy Christmas

It is radical enough to suggest that God donned human flesh, let alone in this manner. The messiness of Christ’s birth reveals the character of a God who is present in the stuff of real life, in lives like ours, in a world as chaotic and disordered and scary as the one we live in. God is present in the mess. God chooses to come among us in the broken, poor, and rejected, those others would discard. That is the good news in the grittiness of Christmas. That is the depth and extraordinary wonder of the love of God made flesh.

Guide Our Feet

Our God is open to the risks of freely loving creatures. God prefers to “guide our feet in the way of peace,” to put the onus on us for shalom. God prefers to set the example for living through one human life. God prefers to redeem the world through the messiness of community, composed of free moral agents such as ourselves. As some Hasidic rabbis are fond of saying, “Human beings are God’s language.” It is through people like Zechariah and Elizabeth, through people like us (and unlike us, too) that God works for shalom. Even when we’ve lost the words, the Spirit moves within us, frees our tongues, and allows us to speak, “Peace be with you.”