Category Archives: Sermons

Strive for Faithfulness Rather Than Success

The biblical text for this sermon is Mark 10:35-45.

This is the fourth in a sermon series using the themes of Tattoos on the Heart, by The Rev. G. Boyle

James and John don’t come off looking that great in this lesson.  This kind of raw grab for power, prestige and recognition is just not done, not in the day of Jesus and not in our day either. Even the gospel writers are embarrassed by this story.  Luke retells something like 80% of Mark’s stories, but does not tell this one.   Matthew retells the story, but adds James and John’s mother as the one who tries to secure a good spot for her sons.

I get what’s going on in James and John’s head.  They are success oriented.  When we are success oriented, we have in our mind a desired outcome then create a plan to get us there.  These guys believed they were following the Messiah, a Jewish King sent by God to restore the Jewish people to greatness.  They figured when Jesus gets to Jerusalem, he is going to be crowned king through the power of God.  Their goal wasn’t to be king, but to have the best seats next to the king. Continue reading Strive for Faithfulness Rather Than Success

Preparing for Sunday: What is Christian Success?

I am in the midst of preparing the sermon for the week.  It is the last week in our use of the book Tattoos of the Heart, by Father Gregory Boyle.  This last week we discuss the unique way that followers of Jesus understand success.

All but the most dysfunctional among us have some vision of what a successful life looks like and a positive or negative judgment on how their life has lived up to this vision.  Christians need not be different in this respect.  A life with purpose and goals can be fruitful.  The problem becomes when Christians accept the world’s vision of success and ape the purpose and goals of the world.  

Father Boyle in the first chapter tells a story of a gang member named Scrappy who in his mid thirties after twenty years in a gang and ten in jail, finally decides to follow a different path.  He begins to work in Homeboy Industries and to be ministered by God’s grace.  The change in Scrappy is remarkable and celebrated. 

In one of the last chapters of the book, Father Boyle tells the rest of the story of Scrappy.  He is killed in a gangland execution a few months after beginning his new life.  Boyle asks some difficult questions.  “Was he a success story?  Does he now appear in some column of failure as we tally outcomes?  The tyranny of success often can’t be bothered with complexity.  The tote board matters little when held up alongside Scrappy’s intricate, tragic struggle to figure out who he was in the world.” p.169  Good things to ponder as I prepare for Sunday.  Peace, Pastor Karl

Jurisdiction-Expanding our boundries

Story on pg. 129-130

“Junior is a man in his forties who sits outside his second story window and yells ‘I love you G-Dog’ to Father Boyle everyday he walks by. One day he did not hear Junior as he walked underneath his apartment. It wasn’t until he was far off that he heard the familiar voice yelling to him. Father Boyle went back and thanked Junior for his welcome. Junior responded that it was no problem, Father Boyle was in his jurisdiction.”

Continue reading Jurisdiction-Expanding our boundries

Dis-grace: How shame keeps us from God

Carmen story pg. 41-42

“Carmen was a woman who had experienced a difficult life. She is a drug addict, prostitute, and gang member. She comes to sit in Father Boyle’s office before a baptism he is officiating. He keeps looking at the clock thinking about how he is going to be late for the baptism. She continues to pour out her life story and all the mistakes she has made. At the end of her story she says that she is a disgrace and Father Boyle realizes his shame of seeing her as an interruption meets the shame of her life.”

Continue reading Dis-grace: How shame keeps us from God

God Is-Unmasking the love of God

Homeboy Industries is a foolish business.  The employees dress inappropriately and in ways that terrify middle class America.  Their language is full of curse words.  They show up late or not at all.  The people they hire are truly unemployable.  So why employ them?  Father Boyle believes we are to imitate the kind of God we believe in. He believes passionately that God would be hiring them and giving them third, fourth, fifth and sixth chances. Continue reading God Is-Unmasking the love of God

New Sermon Series: Tattoos on the Heart, by Father Greg Boyle

Pastor Thadd and I are excited to be starting a new sermon series this Sunday that will go throughout July. Weekly we will be using different chapters of the book Tattoos on the Heart, by Father Greg Boyle to lift up themes of the nature of God, the power of shame, the narrowness of community and the unique understanding of Christian success. I would encourage all of our members to read this book in the month of July to hear great stories from Father Boyle’s 20 plus years ministering to neighborhoods in LA dominated by gangs. They are so well told. I promise they will make you laugh, cry and grow in your hopefulness for God’s world. On Wednesday nights in July at 6, we will discuss a chapter of the book in a class where everyone will have a chance to share their reaction. Come, grow with us as we share the power of Father Boyle’s good ministry. Peace, Pastor Karl

Cry Tears of Joy

This meditation is based on Luke 7:36-50.

What makes you cry?  Once, on an episode of the Simpsons, Bart was skateboarding and got hit by a car.  His mom was hysterical and I started crying with her.  Something silly and dumb happened next, so it didn’t last long but still the Simpsons made me cry.  Not many people can say that.

For me, all sorts of things bring on tears. When I dislocated my shoulder I cried because it hurt.  When I attended my Aunt’s funeral, I cried because I was sad.  When one of my kids was hurt I cried because they hurt.  Sometimes, I’ll cry just because I am overwhelmed.  Honestly, I think this is what happened when Bart Simpson got hit by a car. It isn’t that I was worried about a cartoon character. The TV sadness triggered some deep sadness inside of me.

The woman in our story today must have been really good at crying.  Continue reading Cry Tears of Joy