Resting in the Garden

7/5/20 – 12/6/20

The gospel of John was the last gospel to be written, perhaps around the year AD 100, to a group of Gentile and Jewish Christians living in Ephesus.  One of the things that separates John’s gospel from others is that this community was not being persecuted or facing hardships for their faith.  As such, the people were able to think about their faith in the kind of deeper ways that often we are able to do only when things are going relatively well.  In many ways, we would relate to John’s original context and will learn a great deal from this in-depth study of this gospel.

The Beginning & the Logos

July 5, 2020

Today Pastor Evan is beginning a new sermon series through the book of John, entitled, “John: Resting in the Garden.” John’s original audience, likely in Ephesus, was not facing the same challenges that Matthew’s and Mark’s original audience had been, and so John is able to spend time delving into the deeper mysteries of the faith. In today’s message, Pastor Evan discusses how John refers to Jesus as the Logos, the Word, of God, and how if we are to know God, we must know him by the Word that is spoken, Jesus the Christ.

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Jarred Traditions

July 12, 2020

In today’s message, Pastor Evan explores the miracle of Jesus changing water into wine. In John’s gospel, this is the very first miracle, or sign (as John calls it), that Jesus does. If you think about it, doesn’t this story seem like a strange one to be Jesus’ first miracle? Not a healing. Not some amazing word of knowledge. No, instead he changes water into wine so that the party can continue. Surely there’s a deeper meaning here. In this message, Pastor Evan explores this deeper meaning and shows us how Jesus may be jarring our traditions as well.

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To Be Born Again

July 19, 2020

In today’s message, we look at the story of that greater teacher of Israel, Nicodemus, as he comes to Jesus at night in order to learn more about God’s kingdom.  In this conversation, Jesus tells Nicodemus something that sounds impossible:  in order to see the kingdom of God, one must be born again, from above.  In this message, Pastor Evan explores what it means to be born again, from above, and encourages us to allow the light of God’s Spirit to shine on the dark spots of our lives.

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The Greatest Love Story Ever Told

July 26, 2020

Today begins a two-part look at the most famous gospel passage (and perhaps Bible passage in general), John 3:16. In this message, entitled, “The Greatest Love Story Ever Told,” Pastor Evan goes back to the beginning, to creation, to look at why it is that humanity needs a savior and how it is that we can begin to know atonement through Jesus.

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The Sequel

August 2, 2020

Today is the second of a two-part look at the most famous gospel passage (and perhaps Bible passage in general), John 3:16. In this message, entitled, “The Greatest Love Story Ever Told: The Sequel” Pastor Evan builds on last week’s message, looking at atonement, trinitarian theology, and Christ’s unique role in bridging the chasm between God and humanity, to show why it is that humanity needs a savior and how it is that we can begin to know atonement through Jesus.

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Wigs & Powder

August 9, 2020

In today’s message, Pastor Evan looks at the bold, radical love of God that we see in Jesus, as Jesus shattered every human-constructed boundary in order to show God’s love to the Samaritan woman at the well. In our lives, we often allow our differences to become roadblocks not only to sincere communication but even love. We should follow the example of Jesus and seek to show respect to and tolerance for those with whom we disagree.

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Signs of a Faithful Life

August 16, 2020

In today’s message, Pastor Evan looks at the faith of a royal official and examines what John calls the second “sign” of Jesus’ ministry. Signs are meant to point us to something, to show us something, and so we examine all the different parts of this “sign” and see how this story is meant to illustrate the signs of a faithful life.

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Accidental Idol

August 23, 2020

In today’s message, Pastor Evan examines the only story of a miracle of Jesus to be told in all four gospels: the feeding of the 5000. Clearly, since all four gospel writers felt the story worth of inclusion, something big is happening in this story; perhaps bigger than first meets the eye. In this sermon, we look in particular at John’s account, note its differences from Matthew and Mark’s version, and see how this story applies to our lives.

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You Are What You Eat

August 30, 2020

In today’s message, Pastor Evan examines the only story of a miracle of Jesus to be told in all four gospels: the feeding of the 5000. Clearly, since all four gospel writers felt the story worth of inclusion, something big is happening in this story; perhaps bigger than first meets the eye. In this sermon, we look in particular at John’s account, note its differences from Matthew and Mark’s version, and see how this story applies to our lives.

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That 20/20 Vision

September 6, 2020

In today’s message, Pastor Evan explores the idea of blindness – particularly spiritual blindness. In our passage from the ninth chapter of John’s gospel, John uses this story of a man born blind to show how it is that the man who was blind could spiritually see better than the Pharisees, who would be expected to be able to see the spiritual truth of who Jesus is. May we all seek to see things as they are that we may follow Jesus as he leads.

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Waiting for My Real Life to Begin

September 13, 2020

Dealing with various types of death is something every person will do, be it the death of a loved one, the death of hopes and dreams, or even the death of a way of life. But with death can come resurrection. In the story of Lazarus, John wanted his original audience (and by extension us) to examine the types of deaths we’ve experienced, and then to see that sometimes we must sit with death for a while in order to be ready for how Jesus works his power of resurrection, thus showing that he truly is the resurrection and the life.

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John Wayne & Jesus

September 20, 2020

For generations, John Wayne has been held up as the epitome of what many men want to be: reliable, independent, always cool, calm, and collected. He was also someone who never needed to ask for help – always giving and never in need of receiving. And yet in Jesus, we see the example of vulnerability and leadership in which it is essential to serve and to be open, in humility, to being served. In today’s message, Pastor Evan explores the implications of authentic relationships, and that give and take, and what that could mean for us as individuals and as the church.

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Mystical Union with God

September 27, 2020

We hear of how we are called to love God above anything else, but often we think of that love in the paternal sense, of God as our Heavenly Father. But in the four chapter discourse of John’s gospel, between the Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane, we see an image of intimacy enjoyed between Jesus and the Father that John likely wanted us to realize is also available to us. In this message, Pastor Evan looks at select verses from these four chapters, as well as the input of some Christian mystics, in order to explore how a deep love for God is available to all of us and how such a love could change not only our lives but this world.

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In the Garden

October 4, 2020

Everyone needs a place of respite or escape from the stresses of the world. It seems like there was such a place for Jesus and his disciples, while they were in Jerusalem: a special garden where they could go and Jesus would teach them, away from the crowds and the critics. But then Judas brought the temple soldiers to this place to arrest Jesus, and the world came crashing down. We too need this place of respite, this garden experience, with Jesus. Such a place does not guarantee we will escape the harshness of the world crashing in around us, as even Jesus and the disciples were found there. But we spend time in the garden with Jesus to be able to hear his voice and to learn to trust him more and more.

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The Unholy Marriage of Faith, Power, & Money

October 11, 2020

What is the relationship between justice and faith? In today’s gospel lesson, Jesus stands before Annas the high priest; Annas interrogates Jesus in a way that was actually contrary to the law. John is the only gospel to record this detail, and I wonder if this story was included in order to highlight the compromises to faith that can be made when one merges power and money with their faith, as Annas did.

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That’s the Truth & I’m Sticking to It

October 18, 2020

Truth is so important for followers of Jesus. As he stands before Pontius Pilate, Jesus says that he came into the world to testify to the truth, and that those who belong to the truth will recognize his voice. Truth is important because Jesus is Truth personified, and in the midst of the difficulties of life, we need something solid, like the one who is Truth, onto which we can hold.

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Who is the One Who is Free?

October 25, 2020

With each subsequent written gospel, Pontius Pilate became a more sympathetic character, until finally in John’s gospel, the last one written, one might almost feel sorry for Pilate. Here was this guy who seemed to want to let Jesus go, who tried every tool at his disposal, and yet was essentially forced into sending Jesus to be crucified. Given this evolving treatment of Pilate, and what we know about him from history, what could John be trying to teach his original audience and, by extension, us? In today’s message, Pastor Evan explores John’s juxtaposition of the one who would seem to be free and powerful (Pilate) with the one who seems to be bound and weak (Jesus) and then asks what is true freedom.

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Famous Last Words

November 1, 2020

The gospel of John records three different sayings of Jesus from the cross, and each one speaks to a different need in John’s community and likely ours as well. In this message Pastor Evan looks at these famous last words of Jesus and interprets their greater meaning for us today.

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Mourning in Darkness

November 8, 2020

After Jesus was crucified, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus stepped up to take care of Jesus’ body. As they did this, they were in mourning, sensing a deep darkness, unaware that in just a few days, a new day – a day of resurrection – would dawn.

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Just By Speaking Your Name

November 15, 2020

When Peter and John came upon the empty tomb that once held Jesus’ dead body, they went away to ponder it all. But when Mary Magdalene encountered the empty tomb, she stayed there and wept. She engaged her pain with her heart. And for that, she got to see Jesus. I think sometimes we choose to engage with things primarily with our minds and thus seek to protect our hearts. This has a place, but there is also a value in being able to come to Jesus with our pain and allow Jesus to address this pain and to redeem it as only he can, simply by speaking our names.

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The Power to Forgive

November 22, 2020

When we think about Christ’s empowering us for our lives, we likely think of receiving the power to achieve our dreams, reach our goals, or sometimes even just make it through the day. But in John’s gospel, the first thing that the resurrected Christ’s empowers the disciples to do is to forgive sins. Often, we need added strength from God to be able to forgive others, as well as forgive ourselves.

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Missed Opportunities

November 29, 2020

When the resurrected Jesus first appeared to the disciples, who were locked behind closed doors because of their great fear of persecution, Thomas missed out because he wasn’t there. Famously Thomas told his friends that he would believe they’d seen Jesus when he could see Jesus too, as well as touch his wounds. While Thomas often is looked down upon for this doubt, we too have doubts. In particular, we doubt what God could do with us and what God wants to do with our lives, if we would but trust God and obey.

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Fruit from Failure

December 6, 2020

As we conclude our journey through the garden in John’s gospel, we come to this passage of Jesus asking Peter, three times, if he loves him. This is often thought to be a reinstatement since thrice Peter denied knowing Jesus. Some have looked at this and wondered why Jesus would so boldly confront Peter about his failure, seemingly rubbing his face in his failure. But could it be, as Pastor Evan puts forth today, that Jesus wanted Peter to learn, and by extension us as well, that there can be fruit to gained from revisiting our failures and learning lessons from those failures, so that we are then able to journey on a bit wiser than we were before?

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