Facing the Mountain
1/5/20 – 4/12/20
The gospel of Matthew was originally written to a group of Jewish Christians after the destruction of the temple in the AD 70s. Given the Jewish context of this gospel, there are numerous stories that had a different meaning to the original audience than they do to us now. In this series, Pastor Evan explores unique Matthean stories in order to help gather new insights into this gospel.
Strangers in a Strange Land
January 12, 2020
When King Herod heard the Magi had not returned, and realized he had been tricked, he was so furious he ordered the killing of all children aged 2 and under in Bethlehem. Fortunately an angel had warned Joseph in a dream that he needed to take his family and flee to Egypt. In this message, Pastor Evan explores this passage and how sometimes God may call us to revisit a place of pain, an Egypt, in order to grow into the person God is calling us to be.
January 19, 2020
Matthew begins his gospel with what, for many of us, may seem like a boring and pointless list of names, tracing the genealogy of Jesus all the way back to Abraham. But to Matthew’s original audience, these names would have been far from boring or pointless. This was their history! These are their people! And they would have known and understood the lessons Matthew was wanting to instill in them by this recitation of names. In this sermon, Pastor Evan teaches on this genealogy and helps us to grasp the underlying importance of Matthew beginning his gospel this way.
Baptized into a New Promised Land
January 26, 2020
When the Pharisees and Sadducees came to John the Baptizer to be baptized, John called them a brood of vipers. In many ways, these power players could represent the things with which we have unhealthily aligned our faith. They could be institutions, powers, traditions, or even the voices we hear within ourselves, telling us that we shouldn’t take risks or steer out of our lane. Repentance is about changing our mindset; baptism is about death and resurrection. Together, these things challenge us to let the unhealthy parts within us die, that we may cross into a new promised land in God’s Spirit.
Finding Strength in Temptation
February 2, 2020
Often after a particularly joyous moment of life, people may experience a time of struggle or testing. After Jesus’ baptism, he went into the wilderness where, after forty days of fasting, he was tempted by the devil. Continuing this series on the gospel of Matthew, Pastor Evan discusses each of these temptations and what was at the heart of them for Jesus, for Matthew’s original audience, and for us today.
Being Salt & Light Without Lite Salt
February 9, 2020
Jesus said that his disciples were the salt of the earth and the light of the world, and the amazing thing about both salt and light is that just a little goes a long way. In this message kicking off a three part look at the Beatitudes, Pastor Evan examines how Matthew’s original audience may have heard these Beatitudes, as well as their meaning for us today.
Our Relation to Others
February 16, 2020
The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ longest sermon recorded in scripture, includes many timeless bits of wisdom, such as “turn the other cheek” and “go the extra mile.” But what is behind such wisdom, and how would Matthew’s original audience have heard these statements? In this message, Pastor Evan explores these ideas, while stressing the importance God places not just on our relationship with God but also our relation to others.
Our Relation to God
February 23, 2020
One of the boilers that controls the heat in the main church sanctuary went on the fritz over the weekend. We therefore had the opportunity to worship in our wonderful chapel, which happens so rarely. While it was so wonderful to hear everyone's voices in this smaller space, and it was a tremendous worship service, the chapel is not equipped with video recording, and so we were not able to record the sermon for this week.
The Cost of Discipleship
March 1, 2020
After Jesus has entered Jerusalem for what would be the last time before his death, Matthew relates the story of the chief priests conspiring to kill Jesus and Judas' betrayal of Jesus. But sandwiched between these stories is the story of a woman who "wastes" an entire alabaster jar of perfumed ointment by pouring the entire bottle on Jesus' head. Why would Matthew, who has been a supreme story-teller, place this woman's story at this point in his gospel? What message is he trying to send to his original audience and, by extension, us today? In this message, "The Cost of Discipleship", Pastor Evan explores this idea and comes to the conclusion that regardless of which we way go - either the way of this woman or the way of Judas - we all pay a cost of discipleship.
Guess Who's Betraying at Dinner?
March 8, 2020
We know that Judas is the one who betrayed Jesus, and yet Jesus said it would be the one who dipped their hand in the bowl with him. Thing is, all the disciples dipped their hands in that bowl, and all 11 asked Jesus, "Surely not I, Lord?" - until they came to Judas who said, "Surely not I, Rabbi?" Do you see that? Jesus - is he rabbi, a teacher, or Lord? Because it's one thing to disagree with one's teacher and a whole other matter to disagree with the Lord. In our lives, we need to ask how we view Jesus - as a teacher with good life lessons and interesting things to say, or as the Lord of all creation to whom we give our lives. In the end, we should want him to be Lord. It's because he is Lord that we can be assured of being forgiven and restored, as Jesus taught, when he changed the meaning of the Passover meal and instituted what we now call communion.
March 22, 2020
After the last supper, Jesus and his disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane; the word "Gethsemane" means, "a place where olives are pressed." In other words, it's a place where things are under pressure in order for something good to come out. In our current context, many of us have felt like we're under pressure in one way or another. In this message, Pastor Evan explores how this text still is speaking into our lives, particularly in light of Matthew's entire message, as we seek to find our way during this challenging time.
A Tale of Two Sorrows
March 29, 2020
Peter and Judas both betrayed Jesus and both felt immense sorrow, but Peter took the steps that led to repentance and restoration. Judas did not, and that made all the difference. In this message about repentance, Pastor Evan talks about what it truly means to repent and how we can take such steps ourselves when we've fallen short of being the people God has called us to be.
April 5, 2020
The kingdom of God is one in which things are often apparently contradictory. It's when I'm weak that I'm strong. Greatness is found in service and not in being served. The first shall be last. Perhaps in our time of being forced out of our normal routines, now is the time to seek God most and see God moving in the upside-down aspects of our lives, as we see in this passage from Matthew, leading up to the crucifixion.