Keri Anderson - The Stakes of Storytelling - Nov 3, 2016

November 11, 2016

Keri talks about the story of Jonah (dude in who ends up in the belly of a whale) and tries to figure out where the @#$%^&*() God is in all of that. She also talks about what we might do with Bible stories that portray God as the oppressor and whether God has a plan for our lives (easy enough!). 


The Story of Jonah (look it up!)

“For I know the plans I have for you,”
declares the Lord.
“Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.
Plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
I will be found by you.”

-Jeremiah 29:1-14

i found god in
and i loved
i loved her

- Ntozake Shange


Tim Kim - Disconnection and Ritual - October 9, 2016

October 12, 2016

Tim talks about the Exodus story where the Israelites, freshly freed from the bondages of slavery, create an idol to worship, which makes God upset. Somewhere in this is something to be said about waiting and distraction and technology. 

Exodus 32:1-14
1 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron, and said to him, "Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." 2 Aaron said to them, "Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me." 3 So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took the gold from them, formed it in a mold, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!" 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, "Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord." 6 They rose early the next day, and offered burnt offerings and brought sacrifices of well-being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel. 7 The Lord said to Moses, "Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; 8 they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!' " 9 The Lord said to Moses, "I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. 10 Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation." 11 But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, "O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, "It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth'? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, "I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.' " 14 And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

Neil Ellingson - Anxious People, Anxious God - October 2, 2016

October 12, 2016

Neil talks about the story of the Israelites escape from Egypt, a story that depicts liberation from bondage as well as a God who seems pretty brutal. 

Exodus 12:1-13; 13:1-8
12:1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: 2 This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. 4 If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. 7 They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. 10 You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the Lord. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

13:1 The Lord said to Moses: 2 Consecrate to me all the firstborn; whatever is the first to open the womb among the Israelites, of human beings and animals, is mine. 3 Moses said to the people, "Remember this day on which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, because the Lord brought you out from there by strength of hand; no leavened bread shall be eaten. 4 Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out. 5 When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore to your ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this observance in this month. 6 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a festival to the Lord. 7Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen in your possession, and no leaven shall be seen among you in all your territory. 8 You shall tell your child on that day, "It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.'

Neil Ellingson - What’s Left When Things Leave - August 7, 2016

August 11, 2016
Neil talks about the reality of loss and how some strange words and ideas from Jesus might help us think about what God has given us.

From "Vulnerability" by David White

To have a temporary, isolated sense of power over all events and circumstances, is one of the privileges and the prime conceits of being human and especially of being youthfully human, but a privilege that must be surrendered with that same youth, with ill health, with accident, with the loss of loved ones who do not share our untouchable powers; powers eventually and most emphatically given up, as we approach our last breath. The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance, our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant, and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.

Luke 12:32-40 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

35 “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36 be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

39 “But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Tim Kim - How Long? - July 10, 2016

July 15, 2016

How long will this go on? This is a question that I am sure many are shouting to God after the brutal murders we have seen these past weeks and months and years, and the volume grows and grows with each name added to the list of black lives that bear witness to a systematic and government sanctioned reality of racism, violence, and exploitation. In Psalm 82, God prepares to indict the gods that "judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked."  We must ask God in these moments, "How long can this go on?" And in Psalm 82, God asks of these wicked gods, "How long will you judge unjustly?" Can these questions exist together?

Tim is a co-founder of Root and Branch Church.

Neil Ellingson - Make Some Joyful Noise - July 3, 2016

July 15, 2016
What do we all want, deep deep down? Love? Meaning? Purpose? 

The answer is already implied in the question: if we WANT anything, it's the fulfillment of want, of desire. The word for this is joy.

It's different from happiness.
You've probably experienced it, even if you don't remember.
None of the central theological concepts in Christianity make sense without an understanding of joy.
It's not selfish to want to be joyful, in fact, it's selfish to want anything less.
The source of true joy is beyond this world, but joy can be experienced here and now.

Neil is a co-founder of Root and Branch Church.


Chris Hanley - Learning to Play - June 26, 2016

July 15, 2016

Contrary to popular belief (i.e., Christianity), perhaps "and a little child shall lead them" isn’t just about a baby born next to a cow who grows up to inspire both the awesome and awesomely awful. What if it also has something to do with the ability to play like we used to? What if this child is to remind us to enjoy the useful uselessness that makes life worth living? What if God's "holy mountain" isn't a metaphor for the love and safety of eternity but for today? WHAT IF?!

Chris Hanley is a graduate of the University of Chicago Divinity School, a soon-to-be minister, a longtime RnB attendee, and an all around cool dude.

Caroline Wooten - Humility + Audacity - June 5, 2016

June 9, 2016

Caroline Wooten shares stories related to the seemingly antithetical ideas of humility and audacity. Topics include Monica Lewinsky, cars that look like boots, and how the apostle Paul is often annoying but right. 

2 Corinthians 4
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Neil Ellingson - What is the Trinity - May 22, 2016

June 9, 2016

Neil Ellingson waxes poetic on the trinity: what is it? why should we care? does it matter anymore? and so on.

Proverbs 8
Does not wisdom call,
    and does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights, beside the way,
    at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
    at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
“To you, O people, I call,
    and my cry is to all that live.
O simple ones, learn prudence;
    acquire intelligence, you who lack it.
Hear, for I will speak noble things,
    and from my lips will come what is right;
for my mouth will utter truth;
    wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
All the words of my mouth are righteous;
    there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.
They are all straight to one who understands
    and right to those who find knowledge.
Take my instruction instead of silver,
    and knowledge rather than choice gold;
for wisdom is better than jewels,
    and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.
I, wisdom, live with prudence,
    and I attain knowledge and discretion.
The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
    and perverted speech I hate.
I have good advice and sound wisdom;
    I have insight, I have strength.
By me kings reign,
    and rulers decree what is just;
by me rulers rule,
    and nobles, all who govern rightly.
I love those who love me,
    and those who seek me diligently find me.
Riches and honor are with me,
    enduring wealth and prosperity.
My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold,
    and my yield than choice silver.
I walk in the way of righteousness,
    along the paths of justice,
endowing with wealth those who love me,
    and filling their treasuries.
The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
    the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up,
    at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
    when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
    before the hills, I was brought forth—
when he had not yet made earth and fields,
    or the world’s first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there,
    when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
    when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
    so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
    then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
    rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
    and delighting in the human race.

Virginia White - Fire for the Weary - May 15, 2016

May 20, 2016

Pastoral Intern, Virginia White preaches on spirit that comes for the weary, the scared, the uninspired, the burned out. 

Pentecost Sunday:

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability (from the book of Acts, Chapter 2).