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)

Bodies Matter

…we’re not just shells. All bodies have inherent worth and dignity. Bodies society tends to discard–darker bodies, transgender bodies, poor bodies–matter to God. The church doesn’t seek justice for statistics, but bodies. We don’t show mercy to sociological categories, but bodies. Human beings with emotions, scars, memories, quirks–God breathes life into all of that, and even works through it. Why would God erase all that handiwork in some disembodied paradise?

Curious Love

It’s easier to love someone if we are curious about their experience. If we suspend judgment, even for a brief moment, and begin to inquire, to ask questions, to wonder about why they do what they do, or why they think the way they think, we can love them more deeply. To be curious is an act of agape (love) because it is oriented to the other person. Empathy and compassion don’t appear out of nowhere. “You never truly know someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes,” the old adage goes. Be curious.

Christian Unity

As the refrain in our next hymn goes, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Unified congregations, congregations that can handle conflict in healthy ways have a role to play in this day and age. Christians of all stripes who can work together, despite their differences, can indeed be a peacemaking presence in a polarized society.

Disturbing the Peace

I’m convinced that you don’t have to get arrested to be a faithful Christian. But still, this text messes with me. It burrows into my mind, making me wonder: in what ways have I taken risks for my faith?” How have I “disturbed the peace,” so to speak, by telling a hard truth in my family or my workplace? How does our faith lead us to stand up for somebody who is voiceless?

In the Name of Jesus, Rise up!

It’s not just the church as an institution that has this choice. Each of us within it does. The Spirit can breathe the new life of the empty tomb through our deeds and words. Easter can take become tangible in our families, workplaces, and neighborhoods. We can as Wendell Berry said “every day do something that won’t compute… practice resurrection.” Forgive a grudge. Babysit a neighbor’s child. Visit a lonely person. Apologize. Be the positive voice in a room full of negativity. In the name of Jesus, rise up!

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.