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Sermon Text – 11.18.2018
[Genesis 16:1-16]
          In 1991, Disney released the classic film Beauty and the Beast. It was an instant sensation – catching two Oscars, 5 grammys and roughly 450 million in box office receipts worldwide. Just a few years ago, over 20 years later, Disney brought to the world the live action musical version of the tale as old as time. Capturing 1.28 billion in the box office worldwide. Despite some small controversies, this is a story that rings a chord for many of us. For those who don’t know, or who have never seen either film – the basic premise is that once upon a time, there was a handsome, but very selfish prince. One night he was visited by an ugly old woman, looking for shelter. She offered a single rose in exchange for a place to stay. The prince laughed in her face and sent her away. But the old woman suddenly transformed into a beautiful and powerful sorceress who cursed the prince by turning him into a beast until he could find true love. The core theme seems to be don’t judge a book by its cover, but underneath the obvious is a recurring theme of hospitality and what it means to care for others, and not only for ourselves. One of the most memorable songs in the film is the classic song – Be Our Guest – emphasizing the need to provide for strangers, to break the ice, to turn a prison into a house, to turn a house into a home. And every time I watch the film, in the very beginning, when the old woman is offering the rose, I can’t help but roll my eyes and think – “If only he had helped that woman, things would have been so different.” But then I realized, this ugly process the prince goes through is transformative, and even though it’s painful and hideous – there is growth and he comes out better in the end because of it.



Sermon Text  – 11.04.2018
[Matthew 22:1-14 and Hebrews 9:13-15]
When I was in seminary I took a class on Old Testament history, and it was taught by a well-known and respected Jewish scholar and rabbi. He was an older fellow, sorta cantankerous, and on the very first day of class he said this, “You are all students in a Christian school to be pastors and leaders in the Christian church. I am a Jewish man who knows a lot about the Old Testament. If you have a problem with that, now is a good time for you to leave, to transfer classes.” It was sort like a challenge, and nobody said anything or even moved. And at that moment, I realized, I was in the wrong room. I was supposed to be taking Intermediate Hebrew at that moment, and today is the last day to change classes and the registrar closes in 20 minutes. I have to leave, and so I got up and quietly left the classroom. But of course, because of what he just said – this rumor started spreading around my seminary that JJ has a problem with Jewish people. I felt so horrible when I put two and two together – I had to go back and find this cranky professor and apologize for leaving and explain it was not about him being Jewish, I just had a different class I was supposed to be in.


Love You Like A Brother

Sermon Text – 11.04.2018

[Galatians 3:26-29 and 1 Corinthians 9:20-23]           Today’s sermon is not part of a series, but I thought it would be a good bridge from last month’s series to this month’s sermon series which starts next week called Religions of the World – how do we as Christians interact with different religions that are out there? But to get us started in that theme today we are talking about the family of God – what that means, who that is, and what do we do with that information in our real lives.



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