Virginia White - Palm Sunday - March 20, 2016

March 31, 2016

Pastoral Intern Virginia White tackles Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus triumphantly rides a donkey into Jerusalem while people cheer. Jesus' triumph, however, might just be a story about how we may be empowered to reconsider the worst fears we have in our lives. 

Reading:
From the Gospel of Luke:
After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” 

As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”
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Neil Ellingson - Smelling God - March 13, 2016

March 31, 2016

Co-pastor Neil Ellingson offers a meditation on the story where Jesus' friend Mary washes his feet with expensive perfume and everyone loses their minds. 

Reading:
John 12:
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them[a] with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii[b] and the money given to the poor?” 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it[c] so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
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Andrew Packman - How Do You Know? - March 6th, 2016

March 31, 2016

Root and Branch Co-Founder, Andrew Packman, returns to talk about how we might figure out what God wants us to do (if God even has such a desire) with our lives. Andrew helped start Root and Branch as a pastor and is stepping down from that roll due to circumstances in his life. What circumstances? Listen and find out!!!

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Justin Bloesch - Listening to the Outrage - February 21, 2016

February 26, 2016

Longtime Root and Branch-er, Justin Bloesch, shares some thoughts about what outrage over police violence has to do with hearing the voice of God.

Officially, this is part of our beatitudes sermon series, so keep these two in mind:

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God. 
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

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Virginia White - Body Talk - Jan 23, 2016

February 18, 2016

Pastoral Intern (from the University of Chicago Divinity School) Virginia White on Christianity's long obsession with bodies and ways that might be helpful for us to think the about our fleshy selves today.

Reading:
1 Corinthians 12:12-20
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot were to say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear were to say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 
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Neil Ellingson - Gentle and Agitating - Feb 14, 2016

February 18, 2016

A continuation on our series on the beatitudes:

Blessed are the meek, and Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Aren't these in contradiction? Which is it- are we to be meek and patient and gentle in the face of a world that has hurt us and will probably do so again, or are we to be honest about our dissatisfaction with so many things? Don't tell me the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Ok! It doesn't. It lies in being both to the utmost. That's where we can encounter the joy and full aliveness that comes from God knows where.

Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled. (5:6)
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Neil E. & Tim K. - Bliss, Mourning, Comfort - Feb. 7, 2016

February 12, 2016

Co-pastors Neil and Tim begin a sermon series on the Beatitudes.

The Beatitudes are some of the most memorable and quoted lines from the New Testament. They distill a vision of new ways of living. They only make sense if you can see within and beyond this reality into another one - an upside-down, outside-in, bizarro reality that Jesus of Nazareth not only imagined but saw as if he were rocking contact lenses with a prescription stolen from another dimension.

This week: 
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 5:3)
Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted. (5:4)
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Timothy Kim - Start Over Forever - January 10, 2016

January 13, 2016
Co-pastor Tim Kim on why new years resolutions are GOOD and why each year is an opportunity for us to start over again.

Reading:

Mark 1:4-11

4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”9 

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” 
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Neil Ellingson - Taking Care of God - December 20th, 2015

January 6, 2016
Co-pastor Neil Ellingson on the uniqueness of incarnation, seeing the face of God in toast, and how the birth of Christ is God's asking us to take care of others.
Readings:

Denise Levertov - Annunciation

We know the scene: the room, variously furnished, 
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.
       Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.

But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
courage.
       The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.
         God waited.

She was free
to accept or to refuse, choice
integral to humanness.

                  ____________________

Aren’t there annunciations
of one sort or another
in most lives?
         Some unwillingly
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
uncomprehending.
More often
those moments
      when roads of light and storm
      open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from

in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
                                 God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.

Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’* 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ 34Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’* 35The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born* will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.’ 38Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.
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Timothy Kim - Can You See It? - December 13, 2015

January 5, 2016
Co-pastor Tim talks about the anxiety of waiting, the rawness of Christ, and what it might take to see God coming in the distance.
Readings:

Matthew 3:1-3

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”[a] 3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight.’”
___________________________
No one can celebrate a genuine Christmas without being truly poor.
The self-sufficient, the proud, those who, because they have everything,
look down on others, those who have no need even of God- for them
there will be no Christmas. 
Only the poor, the hungry, those who need someone
to come on their behalf, will have that someone. That someone is God. 
Emmanuel. God-with-us. Without poverty of spirit
there can be no abundance of God. 

- The God We Hardly Knew by Óscar Romero
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