The Universal Wrapped Up in the Particular

Isaiah 12:2-6 | Philippians 4:4-7 | Luke 3:7-18

Jeremy Richards

Imagine this: it’s a sunny, summer day, and you decide to get out of the city and go for a hike in the Gorge. You’re looking for something that’s becoming increasingly hard to find, even in the great outdoors around Portland: solitude. You want to get away from other people, away from the sound of traffic, away from fluorescent light bulbs and computer screens, away from the smell of exhaust fumes, away from all the things that stress you out. You want to feel the sun on your face and the breeze on your back. You want to hear the subtle, calm sounds of creeks flowing and birds singing. You want to smell earth and wood and flowers.

Practicing Thanksgiving

Joel 2:21-27

Jeremy Richards

How well do you know your prophets? You probably know or have at least heard of the big ones, the major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. But how well do you know the 12 minor prophets? Can anyone list them, or can we come up with them together? I can’t list them from memory, but here they are: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

Sowing in Tears

Job 42:1-6, 10-17 | Psalm 126

Mitch Chilcott

I used to love the story of Job. Growing up in the church, the book of Job was this great story of one person’s steadfast commitment to god against all odds. At the beginning of the book, Job has it all. He has money, land, a great family, and perfect health. And then, over the course of the narrative, he loses it all—the oxen and the donkeys, the sheep and the camels, his sons and daughters. He loses his spouse. He loses all of his wealth. And to top it all off he gets really sick. He’s inflicted with painful sores all over his body and he sits in ashes. And, yet, through all of this, Job remains steadfast in his faith, believing that god is still with him and will one day bring him out of the muck and the mire that we call life. And so what does Job do? He endures. He pushes through and in the midst of all his turmoil, he utters those famous words: “I know my redeemer lives” (Job 19:25). And then, at the end of the story, after everything Job goes through, god “restores” Job’s life. God gives job more wealth than he had before, more children, and a bunch more camels. God gives all these things to Job, including a long, healthy life. And finally, at the very end of it all, the text says that “Job died, old and full of days.”

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.

Be

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.