Eunuchs, Cotillions, and the Boundless Love of God

Acts 8:26-39

Jeremy Richards  

The first episode of my favorite TV show, The OC, opens with young teenager Ryan Atwood stealing a car with his brother Trey. They’re quickly caught by the police and Ryan finds himself in jail. He’s assigned an attorney by the state, Sandy Cohen. Sandy gives Ryan his card and tells him if he ever needs anything to give him a call. When Ryan’s mom kicks him out and no one will take him in, he inevitably calls Sandy. Sandy takes him from the dirty streets of Chino to a posh gated community in Newport Beach.

A Ministry of Blessing

Jonah 1:1-6, 12, 15-17; 2:10; 3:1-5, 10; 4:1-4, 11

 Jeremy Richards

“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah…” Can we just stop right there? We’re not even a verse into the book, but hold up. How nice would that be? How many of us, at one point or another have asked for a word from God, have asked for direction, only to get…mixed result? Some of us are asking those kind of questions right now. Life seems uncertain and we want to know what we’re supposed to do next. As a church, this is the question we’re asking as we go through this sermon series: where are you leading us, God? We’re asking for a word from God, and here, in the first line of the book of Jonah the word of God just comes to Jonah. What a luckily guy! Or at least that’s what we would think.

From the Abstract Lord to the Concrete Jesus

Acts 9:1-19a

Jeremy Richards 

For the last 4 Sundays we’ve been talking about journeys. We’ve been talking about how we’re on a faith journey, as individuals and as a church, and we’ve been looking at stories in Scripture about people who travel from one place to another.  From these stories we hope to learn something about ourselves and where God is leading us.

So far this theme seems to resonate with all of us, it’s easy to see ourselves on a journey. We all believe we’re going somewhere, spiritually speaking. We’re travelling from one place to another. But today’s reading asks: what happens when we are, indeed, on a journey, but we’re going the wrong way? What happens when we get the message wrong, when we’re zealous, but our zeal is misplaced. What happens when our faith isn’t healing but is hurting, isn’t helping but hindering?

Sharing

Luke 24:13-35

Jeremy Richards

In this story, two disciples of Jesus’ are walking together, discussing all that’s happened recently – namely Jesus’ death and the recent, dubious claims that he’s risen from the dead. Jesus shows up, begins to walk with them, and strikes up a conversation, though they don’t recognize him. He explains the Scriptures to them, so that they see that everything that happened to him was as it was supposed to be. While he talks, their hearts burn within them (though they don’t really realize that until later), then they invite him into their home. They all share a meal together, and in their sharing a meal with one another they suddenly recognize Jesus. But this recognition lasts only a second, then he disappears. But they know it was real. They get up and travel back to the other disciples and share how Jesus appeared to them, ate with them, taught them, and caused their hearts to burn within them. By sharing this with others, they’re able to strengthen and encourage those who haven’t met the risen Christ yet.

The End of Our Powers

1 Kings 19:1-18

Jeremy Richards

Late in the evening of January 27th, 1956, Martin Luther King Jr. sat at his kitchen table, his family asleep, a cup of coffee in front of him, ready to call it quits. The civil rights movement was still in its early days, and while the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which King led, was a little over a month in and picking up steam, the opposition was growing as well. King had just received yet another death threat over the phone, and while he had been receiving these threats for weeks – up to 40 a day – this one shook him.

Reaching Out

Luke 8:42b-48

Jeremy Richards 

We are in the beginning of a sermon series exploring where we’re headed as a church, but we’re also making a point to ask where we are going as individuals, because our personal faith journeys and our communal faith journey can’t be separated.

In order to explore this idea of where God is leading us, we’ll look at different stories of journeying within Scripture. We’ll look at people who have travelled to God, or with God, or are sent out on a new mission by God. We’ll try, by looking at these stories, to learn something of our own journeys, collectively and individually.

Journeying Toward the Light

Isaiah 60:1-6 | Matthew 2:1-12

Jeremy Richards

This is the first Sunday of the new year, so it’s only fitting that we, as a church, pause and reflect on our past, and also to look forward to the coming year, just like individuals do.

Over the last few months we’ve been having conversations about who we are and where we’re going. My first Sunday here, a little over 2 years ago, there was a celebration of Grant Park Church’s 90th birthday. We watched a documentary put together by Carol and Mitch Schaub describing the history of our church. Since that Sunday over two years ago, a lot has changed. We’ve gained some new members (many of you weren’t yet a part of our church when we showed that video 2 years ago), and we’ve lost a few. We’ve continued some of the old traditions, like the neighborhood clean-up in our parking lot, our hanging of the greens, our Easter potluck, and our Christmas Eve service.

We’ve also started some new traditions, like Wind Down Wednesday and Coffee and Conversation. The last couple of months we’ve started getting more involved in volunteer opportunities outside of our church building. We volunteered with Northwest Children’s Outreach and L’Arche Portland’s tree lot. In the midst of these changes, we’ve also kept some of our tenants, lost one or two, and gained others. We’re excited that we’ve kept a solid relationship with Lee Owen Stone Preschool while also gaining new friends in Small Wonders Preschool.