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.

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?