Focus: We begin this “new year” with a sermon series on our vision and mission statement at Parkside. We commit to these words that define our discipleship as followers of Christ, “We are a community being transformed by Faith, Hope, and Love. Therefore, by the Grace of God in prayer, we strive to make a difference in these ways.” We begin with the role of faith in our discipleship. Our text for today speaks to the cost of faith. Before we follow Jesus, before we strive to make a difference in the world as disciples, Jesus invites us to count the cost, for grace is free, but it is not cheap.
Function: What does it mean that Christ is our first priority? There are many potential answers to this question, but it begins by asking the question in every circumstance: how does my faith direct me to act at this time in my life? The answer to this question in the times that matter is rarely easy. It’s tempting to imagine that Jesus’ teaching calls us to be “super” Christians, heroes of the faith, who are always heroic. This attitude paralyzes us more often than it inspires us. Instead, maybe faith calls us to respond at times with heroic moments. We all have these moments. Faith directs us to take them for Christ.
September 15, 2019
Text: Luke 15:1-10
Title: “Celebrations of Hope for Resilience”
Focus: We continue our sermon series on the vision and mission of Parkside, as today we turn to hope. The Pharisees are scandalized by Jesus table habits. He eats with sinners. Jesus tells three stories that end with the lost being found and the celebrations of heaven. There is power in the notion of being found. When we are lost, we fight to not give in to despair, to the crippling mindset that there is no hope. When we are found, hope is rewarded, and joy floods our hearts and minds. Hope is the power that moves us from lost to found.
Function: I love the image of celebration in this story. It invites us into an attitude of joy as Christians. We are story tellers of profound good news, and hope is the power store house of our lives and our actions in the world. If we lose hope, we are lost. We stop telling the story. We stop working in the world. We stop taking actions of service for our community. We cling to the power of hope that draws us through to the celebrations of new life. Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning offers a perfect example of the power of hope. Frankl writes, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
September 22, 2019
Text: 2 Timothy 1:1-7
Title: “The Power of Love to Inspire”
Focus: Love is courageous. Courage spurs us into a life that inspires and transforms every part of our community. Jim Wallis wrote that most people are unsure what to do, so they lick their finger, hold it up and see which way the wind is blowing. They follow whatever the crowds command. True leaders (those with real courage) are the wind. Love that directs others to follow is powerful, transformative, and courageous.
Function: Christians are called to be the wind, to live in the Holy Spirit so completely that the love of God sweeps over the community in which we live. If we fall in love with a TV show, a book, or an idea, we never hesitate to share it, to seek to understand it as deeply as we can, and to let it shape our lives in some way. This is the power of love, and it is this power that fuels our discipleship. When we fall in love with Christ, we never hesitate to share, understand, and let Christ shape our lives.
September 29, 2019 Continuing Education
Guest Preacher: Leah Ennis
October 6, 2019 Justice and the Gospel
Climate Change/Destruction of Creation
Text: Romans 8:18-25
Title: “The Creation Groans”
Focus: Young people in our community are passionate about justice for creation. They are concerned about Climate Change and the future of our planet. We may not all agree about Climate Change, but creation, God’s creation, creative Spirit, and our deep connection to creation as part of it, one with it, is a central theme for our Faith. Romans 8 reveals the depth of that connection in the subjugation of creation to futility, the partnership of creation with the children of God, and ultimately our shared freedom in God’s salvation. If redemption takes place in our bodies, then creation is part of that redemption.
Function: Our Faith cannot be separated from God’s creation. We are part of it. We are one with it. There is a vision of hope and possibility in Romans 8. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not on the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for the adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” If we are to experience salvation, then the creation must experience it as well. The Church calls out to the young people in our community, “We share your passion. We are called to justice for creation. Join us, as we work to help creation give birth to a new life, a new way of living together.
October 13, 2019
Text: James 2:1-7, 14-18 (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
Title: “The Gospel Overwhelms Inequality”
Focus: Young people in our community are passionate about justice that overcomes inequality. We can find inequality in many forms: income or wealth, racial, sexual inequality, etc. They are concerned about each one of these inequalities. The heart of the gospel overwhelms these inequalities recognizing that all people are children of God. “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. The gospel overwhelms racial or ethnic inequality, economic inequality, and sexual inequality. We find in Christ that we are one. Because we are one, if any suffer, we all suffer. If any lack justice, we all suffer from that injustice. The gospel seeks peace for all people, but there can be no peace without justice.
Function: The scope of this work is beyond our reckoning in many ways, but we may begin by simply stating the conviction that the good news addresses these issues and does not allow us to bury our heads in the sand from a position of privilege, as if these inequalities do not affect us. We are one, so injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. We will not solve these problems, but we can begin to address them, name them, recognize the intersectionality of each form of inequality, and start with our own lives, letting the truth of the gospel transform us. If we then live it out, we will seek to overwhelm the inequality with the truth of the gospel.