Within our faith, we have truths and Truths. Lowercase "t" truths are things that are simple, provable facts. For instance, we know Paul traveled all around planting churches because of his letters. We even know which ones he did write and the ones he didn't write. But we also have Truths with a capital "T" throughout our faith. Those are the ones we can't prove, but our faith tells us are true. These can be tough to handle, because they are the foundation of our faith, and yet we cannot prove them, no matter how much we wish we could! The Transfiguration of Christ is one of these Truths. And when we have a challenging story like that, the main goal isn't to determine if we can or cannot prove it, but what it tells us about our faith. So what Truth can we discover in the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus? Take a listen and find out!
This is our third week reading the Sermon on the Mount. And it suddenly gets decidedly more difficult this week! While trying to lead into the spirit of the Beatitudes and trying to be the salt and light for the world aren't necessarily easy, the passage consists of four of the six phrases beginning: "You have heard it said"...followed by "but I say to you..." We read Jesus words on anger, adultery, divorce, and oath-taking. Those first three, especially, are hard for us to hear today. That is, unless you remember an important lesson from the previous weeks. As we look at the Sermon on the Mount, we must remember that each week doesn't stand alone, but are a part of a larger narrative. So the idea of looking at the will of God standing behind each commandment that we heard before helps us better understand these commandments. When we do that--we will hear just how radical the teachings of Jesus were and still are to this day!
We're continuing our look at the Sermon on the Mount, and how we can live into Jesus' teachings to help bring the kingdom of heaven closer to earth. In this passage, Jesus reminds us that we are to be the salt of the earth. We all know how much flavor salt can bring out in foods, and our role as disciples for the church is to bring out that goodness around the world. Christ is telling us we can't be satisfied with the status quo, that we should shake things up by realizing the value of those people who have been viewed as worthless for too long. Christ also tells us to be the light of the world. Even though we are comfortable proclaiming our faith in the church, too frequently we hide the light of God in the world. Jesus reminds us that we must go into the dark places and hold he light of God's love high about our heads, so the glory of God can illuminate even the darkest corners. Finally, Jesus commands us to have an exceeding amount of righteousness by understanding the will of God that stands behind the commandments, which Jesus is here to fulfill!
Today, we begin to understand exactly how we do kingdom work by "doing" the Beatitudes. As well known as they are, the Beatitudes are frequently misunderstood as commands, rather than as promises from Christ. We do kingdom work when we live into the Beatitudes--when we understand them through simplicity, hopefulness, and compassion. Once we realize that, we won't be able to do anything but continue to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Beatitudes, when viewed as promises, become a guiding principle in our pursuit of righteousness and love for all our neighbors. So today, as we begin the Sermon on the Mount, let's live into the spirit of these powerful words of Jesus everyday of our lives.
is week, we find ourselves living between Christmas/Epiphany and Lent/Easter. As important as those times of the year are, this Ordinary church time is a powerful reminder that we spend a majority of our lives doing the grunt work of spreading our faith. And though our churches are often far more filled on those Sundays, it's really these other weeks that give us the strength to continue on our Christian journey. Today, we heard the call* stories of the first four disciples. How can we be fishers of people today? Do we need to give everything up in our lives to travel the world near and far to spread the gospel message? Can we differentiate the many voices claiming to do God's work? Most importantly, what can we do each and every day to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth? What kingdom work will we choose to do?
*a divine vocation or strong inner prompting to a particular course of action
Rev. CHRIS HOUTZ
Welcome to the pastor’s blog! This page will have sermons uploaded so you can listen to them whenever you want, and I will add a brief reflection on the text, the sermon, or a little bit of both. My hope is that you will be able to see that the Bible can still speak to our world today, and that we can always find a note of God’s grace in any passage, whether it is one of the most well-known and beloved passages, or one of the most difficult readings to grasp.
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1295 Oak Tree Road
Iselin, NJ 1295
20 Middlesex Ave, Iselin, NJ
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Our Mission Statement
We are a friendly, multi-cultural congregation that welcomes all to worship with us as we glorify our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; sing praises to God, the Father; and let the Holy Spirit guide our footsteps. As faithful witnesses to our Christian beliefs, we dedicate ourselves to worship, stewardship and discipleship. We will always endeavor to nurture the youth in our congregation to grow in their commitment to God and the Church and to become active participants in the life and work of the Church.
We commit ourselves to evangelism and mission to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to all people in a variety of ways in our community and beyond.
We will continue to be open to God’s presence, leading us into new pathways of ministry and service for the betterment of the community and to the glory of Jesus Christ our Savior. -
-ratified by congregational vote, January 27, 2008
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