Mark 9:30-37

Jeremy Richards

The Sunday I was called to be the pastor at Grant Park Church is mostly a blur. I showed up, everyone told me I was overdressed, I’m sure there were announcements and singing, then I was up front preaching a sermon. After the sermon, I think a few more songs were sung. I don’t really remember. After the service Brie and I went to the conference room and waited for the church to vote, and were relieved when someone (Shelley?) came in and told us that the church would, indeed, like to extend a call to me. Afterwards I was greeted by a flood of people, all telling me their names – most which I immediately forgot – and a little bit about themselves. Even in a church as small as ours, when you try to meet everyone at once, it can be overwhelming. To be honest, I remembered very little from those initial meetings. There was so much going on, so many emotions, so many people.

But there were a few interactions that did stand out. There were a few people who made an immediate impression. One was a small, elderly man in a suit and tie – the only person as dressed up as I was. He told me that he had been at the church since 1958.

On the Way

Mark 8:27-38

Jeremy Richards 

“Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way…”

“On the way…”

Jesus and his disciples are on the move yet again. They have returned from their sojourn in the Gentile regions of Phoenicia and the Decapolis, where they were last week, and are back in the Jewish region of Galilee, in Caesarea Philippi. This week, like last week’s readings, marks a transition. Jesus’ ministry in Galilee is coming to an end. From here on, his face will be firmly set on Jerusalem, on Golgotha, on the cross. Today’s reading is the first time in Mark that Jesus predicts his impending crucifixion.

Be Opened

Mark 7:24-37

Jeremy Richards

There’s a large cherry tree right outside our dining room window. This week, as I was sitting at our table, eating my breakfast, I noticed that two leaves had turned from green to yellow.

Temperatures have dipped from the 90s down to the 70s.

It’s now dark when I walk our dog, Winfield, at night, while it used to be light until around 10:00 PM.

Students and teachers are going back to school. This week I met some brand new Small Wonders and Lee Owen Stone students who were at school for the very first time in their lives.

We’re not supposed to wear white shoes anymore.

In other words, summer is turning to fall.

We have entered a time of change, a time of transition.

So, also, has Jesus’ ministry.


James 1:17-27 | Mark 7:1-15, 21-239

Jeremy Richards

Last Sunday Paul warned us about “the rulers,” “the authorities,” “the cosmic powers of this present darkness,” and “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” – those powers and principalities that influence us from outside. To help us defend ourselves against these outside influences, Paul told us to put on the “armor of God,” which God has given us for our protection. Paul told us to put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. We put this armor on so that we are ready for any spiritual attacks that might come from outside. But what about what’s on the inside? What about spiritual darkness that lurks not outside of us, but inside of us?

Choosing Wisdom

Proverbs 9:1-6 | Ephesians 5:15-20 

Jeremy Richards

One subject that I’ve always wanted to study, but have never had the opportunity to do so officially, is philosophy. So, while on parental leave, I decided to try my best to learn something about philosophy. I read these little Oxford Very Short Introductions on a number of philosophical topics. I tried to read one a week (and almost succeeded). One of the short introductions I read was on existentialism. Now, based on reading a very short introduction on existentialism, I’m going to act like I’m some kind of expert on the topic.


Ephesians 4:25-5:2 

Jeremy Richards        

As we discussed a few weeks ago, Ephesians is written to a church that contains both Jews and Gentiles. The primary theme of this book is unity. The question it seeks to answer is: how do people from very different walks of life become one body – the body of Christ? While the Jew/Gentile divide is the most apparent, there are other divides as well, divides that continue to plague our churches today. Divides based on socio-economic status, cultural background, gender, etc. Despite all these differences, they have been made, through Christ, into one new humanity.

Trust in Me

Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15

Shelley Varner Perez

Trust builds over time. Yovanny and I had been friends for several years. We both attended dinner at a friend’s house a couple of times a month, and we went to the symphony together several times. A turning point came when I sprained my right ankle. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t walk to the bus stop. I couldn’t rely on myself to meet my needs; I had to rely on others to help me buy groceries, get to work, and make it to physical therapy appointments. Yovanny heard about my bum ankle and sent me an email offering to give me a ride anytime I needed. I accepted, so that Sunday he picked me up for church. He lived in Vancouver, and I live in SW, and church is in NE, so I knew it wasn’t a convenient offer for him to make. He came through for me at a vulnerable time. That experience deepened our friendship.