June 30, 2019 — Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

“Thy Kingdom Come” : A Homily on the Lord’s Prayer
"Thy kingdom come," Jesus prays. It is a statement, a point of fact that leaves us wondering what he means. When we realize God's kingdom has come we begin looking for it and that search is the source of Rev. Ben's homily this morning. Where do we look and what keeps us from looking? How do we handle barriers and what happens when we realize that God's kingdom comes whether we do anything or not? Join Ben as he explores Christ's word to us this day.

June 23, 2019 — Ninth Sunday after Easter

“Hallowed Be Your Name” : A Homily on the Lord’s Prayer
Jesus came to engage humanity in conversations of old. One of the oldest conversations centers around this question: How do you make God the center of your life? In this homily, Rev. Ben explores the various ways God tries to get back into the center of our lives. In saying, acting, and believing that God's name is hallowed we begin. But there's more. God takes us on a journey of faith that leads us closer to God. Check out this homily to hear more about the journey God wants to walk with each of us. (Note: I'm indebted to Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III, from whom I heard about the story of Olive Schreiner in his homily, "The People Who Could Fly," on 30 Good minutes.)

June 9, 2019 — Seventh Sunday after Easter

“This Way” : A Homily on The Lord’s Prayer
Before Jesus teaches us The Lord's Prayer, he proclaims that we don't know how to pray. In that declaration, he preaches good news--in saying we don't know how to pray, we realize our need for God. But it is hard to get to that point where we recognize our need for God. In this homily, Ben explores what holds us back from relinquishing control and accepting that we don't know how to pray and, therefore, need God. (I'm indebted to Nick Lannon and his introduction to "Life is Impossible." In this homily, I reference his description of the movie,, "All is Lost." Click here to read the article: https://www.mbird.com/2019/03/all-is-...)

June 2, 2019 — Sixth Sunday after Easter

“Pay Attention” : A Homily on the Opening of the Lord’s Prayer
This summer we are looking closely at The Lord's Prayer, but before we look at the actual prayer it is important to note the setting of where Jesus' taught this prayer. In Matthew's gospel, he's the prayer is included in the Sermon on the Mount — so it has particular implications. Before uttering a word of the prayer, Jesus sets the stage for his disciples to pay attention to how, why, when, and what they pray as all of these elements are essential.

May 12, 2019 — Third Sunday After Easter

“Staying in the Box” : A Homily on Acts 14:8-18
Christians experience the adoration and accolades that accompany acts, deeds, and words we'd call divine. When that happens, when we are showered with praise, we have to make a split-second decision as to how we'll respond. Do we accept the accolades as proof of our hard work and tenacity or do we give thanks to God? This may seem easy to answer, but in life, it is harder to give God the glory. In this homily, Rev. Ben explores what happens when we are forced to make that split decision and how God keeps showing up because of and despite our decisions.

April 28, 2019 — First Sunday after Easter

“Are We There Yet?” : A Homily on Matthew 28
At the end of Matthew's Gospel, Jesus sends his disciples out into the world to fulfill his ministry. They are given a task and a call. Despite their lack of faith ("some doubted") and the fact that they were an imperfect eleven, Christ gives them the perfect call. So what do we do with the call Jesus places upon our lives? How do we take that into the world? Rev. Ben explores these questions as he invites us to live into the call Jesus presents to each of us.

April 7, 2019 — Fourth Sunday in Lent

“Staying Focused” : A Homily on Matthew 25
This is the well-known story of the sheep and the goats, the final judgment that causes us to sit upright in our pews and wonder whether we are sheep or goats. At the core of the text, there exists a longing and hunger for connection. God desires those same things with each of us and as we find out in this text, God goes to great lengths to connect with us. Watch as Rev. Ben explores this text and invites us to see how we might connect with God.

Lenten Lecture Series

In some ways, the Beatitudes are to the New Testament what the Ten Commandments are to the Old Testament. Both outline a lifestyle desirable to God. The Beatitudes, however, are not laws – rather they are statements of grace. They overflow with affirmation, accepting love and reassurance. Blessing, gift, hope, encouragement, grace; these are the foundations on which the kingdom announced by Jesus is built. This speaks to the depth of who we are, for so often we are actually more at home ‘trying hard to be good’, than we are in receiving the goodness and gift of God’s love. The Beatitudes take us into a whole new realm of living by and in the grace of God.

"Living Openly" was the theme for tonight's Lenten Lectures on the Beatitudes. Rev. Bob took us through the challenges and invitations of the first beatitude, forcing us to reconcile that what it means Jesus means when he says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit."
Rev. Libby Boehne, Campus Minister at Duke University opened a discussion about Matthew 5:5-6, paying particular attention to the words, "meekness" and "righteousness." What do those words mean in our context and how might they apply to Jesus? This and other questions are revealed in Libby's lecture.
Rev. Ted Churn, Executive Presbyter of New Hope Presbytery led our final Lenten Lecture on Matthew 5: 7-8. Watch as Ted explores what he believes Jesus calls us to embody as peacemakers.

March 31, 2019 — Third Sunday in Lent

“Not Again, Please” : A homily on Matthew 25
The Parable of the 10 Bridemaids seems simple at first: some are wise and others are foolish. The lesson from this text seems simple too: be wise, don't be foolish. But what happens when we become too focused on being wise and prepared? Do we overdo it and become more focused on preparation and less on who God is calling us to be? In this homily, Rev. Ben explores this parable as a glimpse of who God is and who God is calling us to be as God's people.

March 17, 2019 — Second Sunday in Lent

“That’s Different” : A homily on Matthew 20
The parable of the laborers in the vineyard sparks different reactions as to why Jesus would invite us to live our lives that way. If everyone is paid the same, what's the point of working? By sparking different reactions, this parable invites us into deeper territory whereby we ask a basic human question: do I matter? Am I special? In order to understand that we are special, we have to understand who God is and how God challenges the way we live our lives.

March 10, 2019 — First Sunday in Lent

“Here We Go” : A homily on Matthew 18
On the First Sunday of Lent, we begin a journey toward Jerusalem. Jesus leads this journey, guiding our way with stories and parables. In this opening story, we hear about a practical matter for how to be the church. What starts out as a way to discipline one another turns out to be much more than a way to call one another out. In this homily, Rev. Ben walks through this text to illuminate how Christ leads us to deeper a deeper relationship with him and one another.

March 3, 2019 — Transfiguration Sunday

“Two Transfigurations”
On Transfiguration Sunday we read the story of Jesus being transfigured on a mountaintop. We also read about three of his disciples who witnessed this moment. And all of this draws our attention. But there is another transfiguration — one for us that comes in the form of an invitation from Christ to take up our cross and follow him. But we get distracted away from Christ's call and focus on other things. In this homily, Rev. Ben draws our attention back to our call. Do we hear it? Our call is to hear it and accept his invitation.

February 24, 2019 — Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

“Holding the Tension: A homily on Matthew 14”

This text ascends toward a dramatic moment of tension between Jesus and the disciples. When there are thousands of hungry people and only five loaves and two fish, the disciples believe the people should leave; Jesus, however, sees the Kingdom of Heaven at hand. It is in these two differing viewpoints where the tension resides. And this is exactly where Christ calls us to be. In this homily, Rev. Ben dives into the tension, exploring what happens when we live in the tension with Christ (hint: we are transformed!).

February 10, 2019 — Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

“Faithful Decisions: A Homily on Matthew 8”

When Jesus enters Capernaum he's met by a Centurion asking for help. How Jesus responds resembles how Jesus' ministry unfolds: grace always precedes warning. This isn't the easiest of texts because it includes a warning to us that we may end up in the outer darkness, with weeping and gnashing of teeth. While that vivid description draws our attention, it is at the expense of the central part of this text: that Jesus' grace always comes first. Listen to Ben's homily as he helps us explore the ramifications for our lives of an understanding that grace always precedes warnings.