The Long Road of Becoming

Mark 10:35-45

Jeremy Richards

I grew up in a family that loved sports. In high school, my mom ran track, my dad played football, and they both played basketball and tennis. This love of athletics continued into their adulthood. My mom’s favorite pastime is jogging. Even in the midst of all the busyness of being a mother, she always found time to sneak away and squeeze a run in. Likewise, during his career as a jr. and sr. high school science teacher, my dad coached football, as well as men’s and women’s basketball.

What if?

Mark 10:17-31

Jeremy Richards

So, as I have said at the beginning of every sermon for the last few weeks: Jesus’ teachings have been especially hard lately. In this section of Mark’s Gospel Jesus is describing what the life of discipleship looks like.

It’s occurred to me that, for some of us, this word disciple and this idea of discipleship might be new to some of us. You may be thinking, I thought the disciples were those 12 guys (and a number of women who really don’t get the credit they deserve) that followed Jesus when he was on this earth. What does that have to do with us?

On Divorce

Mark 10:2-16

Jeremy Richards 

Basically, this passage is a preachers nightmare. It’s a minefield. The possibility that I could do great harm to some of you is very real. And, at the same time, I’m grateful for this passage. I’m thankful that our faith isn’t abstract but is nitty and gritty. God isn’t too transcendent to deal with the mundane day-to-day struggles and concerns that constitute our lives. Instead, God enters into all that messiness in the person of Jesus. Jesus lived this life, and promises to continues to live it with us. Jesus talks about poverty and taxes and money and marriage and divorce and children and food and life and death and work.


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?