Sermons

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We strive to show the intersection between our faith, lives & the world.

Blind Spots
John 9:1-12/ September 3, 2017
Tom Hostetler

Beyond physical blind spots, I would dare to say that we all have deficits of awareness about ourselves. How great it would be if we could have a chart showing us where they are. The nature of blind spots, of course, is that we are unaware of them even though others may see them clearly in us. It’s hard not to look at the story of the healing of the blind man and not see the politicization of health care. Think about it. The man’s situation was pretty desperate. In his culture, blindness was an imperfection that alienated him from all of the systems of support that others enjoyed.

 

Wise Woman of Abel Beth Maacah
2 Samuel 20:14-22/August 27, 2016
Susan Boyer

Ever heard of the wise woman of Abel Beth Maacah? She negotiated with an army of men who were trying to tear down the wall of her city.

 

Paul & Silas’ European Adventure
Acts 16:15-40/August 13, 2017
Susan Boyer

Paul and Silas did some traveling together for missionary work. They had some interesting adventures and met some fascinating people. Luckily the Spirit of God was their constant guide.

 

Sticks and Stones
2 Kings 2:19-25/ August 6, 2017

Susan Boyer

Elisha was a bald man.  We know that because a group of children teased him about it one time….but only one time.

 Hope in the Land of the Hopeless
Ezekiel 37:1-14/ July 30, 2017

Susan Boyer

As we struggle with whether our denomination can survive, our moderator, Carol Scheppard, invited us to risk hope. Is a sea of dry bones, God invited Ezekiel to see life.

 

PEACE CAMP SUNDAY

Finding a Peace the World Cannot Give
Philippians 4:6-9; John 14:25-27/ July 23, 2017

Susan Boyer

Jesus promises to give us a peace the world cannot give. It seems that the world mostly takes or gives only for a brief time. Jesus’ brings peace and leaves peace. Not a sometimes, half-hearted peace but a peace that includes everyone.

 

A Commitment to Truth: The Practice of Healthy Communication
July 16, 2017

Reba Herder

 

Eat, Pray, Love….Repeat
Ezekiel 3:1-3, James 5:13, 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 /June 25,2017

Susan Boyer

Pastor Susan named her sabbatical Eat, Pray, Love. The Bible is full of images of how to eat, how to pray, and how to love.

 

FATHERS DAY

The Task at Hand
Matthew 9:35-10:8/ June 18, 2017
Joel Kline

“Thus the task at hand: to envision the God of peace. For our souls and for our world. The more we envision and grasp the image of the God of peace, the more we’ll fathom Jesus’ teachings, comprehend how to be human, become a peacemaking church of all-inclusive love, and come upon a way or two to help disarm a world armed to the teeth.”
–John Dear, Put Down Your Sword

TRINITY SUNDAY
Remember How You Wish to Live
Psalm 137/ June 11, 2017
Joel Kline

“The heart of most spiritual practice is simply this: Remember. Remember who you are. Remember what you love. Remember what is sacred. Remember what is true. Remember that you will die, and this day is a gift. Remember how you wish to live.”
–Wayne Muller, How, Then, Shall We Live?

PENTECOST SUNDAY
A New Way Beyond Our Darkness
Acts 2:1-21/ June 4, 2017

Joel Kline

“Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements well and pray that our inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close all around us.”
–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Hard Work of Listening
John 14: 15-21/ May 21, 2017

Joel Kline

“Deep within us all, there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, to which we may continuously return. Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with intimations of an astounding destiny, calling us home unto itself.” –Thomas Kelly, A Testament of Devotion

The Loss of Certainty
Luke 24:13-35/ April 30, 2017

Joel Kline

“Risk, the willingness to accept an unknown future with open hands and a happy heart, is the key to the adventures of the soul. Risk stretches us to discover the rest of ourselves—our creativity, our self-sufficiency, our courage. Without risk we live in a small world of small dreams and lost possibilities.” –Joan Chittister, Between then Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life.

 

We Have Our Work Cut Out For Us
John 20:19-31/ April 22, 2017
Joel Kline

“What the world needs is better religion, new forms of old faith, religion reborn on the basis of deep spiritual connection—these things need to be explored instead of ditching religion completely. We need religion imbued with the spirit of shared humanity and hope, not religions that divide and further fracture the future.” –Diana Butler Bass, Christianity after Religion

 

Living in Fear and Joy
Matthew 28:1-10/ April 16, 2017, Easter
Susan Boyer

In the Gospel of Matthew, two women went to the tomb that first Easter morning and were greeted by an angel who told them not to be afraid. They left the tomb in joy….and fear. But Jesus stopped them and told them not to be afraid. Sometimes we live in the borderland between fear and joy.

Father, Forgive Them
Luke 23:26-43 / April 9, 2016, Palm Sunday
Susan Boyer

Just moments after they nailed Jesus’ hands to the cross he looked out over the crowd and said, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Who was he talking about as he looked out over that crowd?

The Power of Fear
John 11:43-57/ April 2, 2017
Susan Boyer

After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the Pharisees, out of fear, began to plot to kill Jesus. They felt vindicated. Surely Jesus will frighten the Romans and it is better that one man die than all of them die. The news got back to Jesus and he went to the live in the borderlands. Fear has so much power.

Seeing is Believing
Dawna Welch / March 26, 2017

Jesus saw beyond religious/theological boundaries and offered the woman at the well “living waters” of love and, thus, his treatment of her was life giving to both of them.

In the World of Not Enough
John 6:1-14/ March 19, 2017

Susan Boyer

Into the world of not enough, Jesus brings a different message. To the people who live in the borderlands, Jesus invites them to share. What they find out is that there is enough, and, better yet, there is more than enough.

Talking to Those in the Ditch

Luke 10:25-37John 4:1-26/ March 12, 2017
Susan Boyer

The hearers of the parable of the Good Samaritan would have identified with the man in the ditch, not the Good Samaritan. Jesus tells them a story about how old enemies become neighbors. It is amazing what can happen in the borderlands.

Impossible Dream?
Acts 4:32-37 / February 26, 2017
Susan Boyer

Imagine a church community where everyone is of one heart and soul, and there was not a needy person among them. Is that an impossible dream or a statement of resurrection faith?

The Ties that Bind Us
I Samuel 18:1-5, 2 Samuel 9:1-13a / February 12, 2017
Susan Boyer

After David kills Goliath, Jonathan – the son of King Saul – is so impressed with David. The scripture says that Jonathan loved David “as his own soul.” It always seemed as if Jonathan was the kind of friend we would all like to have but probably don’t deserve. David was not that kind of friend. But after Jonathan died, he was loyal to that love. It changed him.

The Value of Friendship
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 / February 5, 2017
Susan Boyer

Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health. Lacking social connections is as comparable a risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity. The author of Ecclesiastes talks about the importance of connection.

 

A Blessing?
Matthew 5:1-12/ January 29,2017
Susan Boyer

Ever heard someone say that a person’s death was a blessing? Blessing seems like a hard concept to correlate with death. Jan Richardson writes, “A blessing meets us in the place of our deepest loss.” If that is true, all of us have been blessed. On this Sunday we will light a candle and remember the members of our church family who died in 2016.

 

Shaking it Down to What Matters
Romans 13:8-10; Deuteronomy 5:1-22/ January 22, 2017
Susan Boyer

The Moderator of the Church of the Brethren, Carol Sheppard, says the Ten Commandments can be condensed to “Love God alone and take care of each other.” Paul says if we love we fulfill the law. Sounds like they are saying the same thing.

A Sign Opposed
Luke 2:22-36 / January 8, 2017
Susan Boyer

When Simeon sees the infant Jesus in the temple, Simeon reacts with pure joy because he believes he has seen the one to redeem his people. But then he turns to Mary and weaves a minor chord into his song. He says, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed.” The “consolation of Israel” is not going to be welcomed by all.

What’s Your Sign?
Luke 2:1-20/ December 25, 2015
Susan Boyer

The heavenly host speaks to the shepherds of the sign they will find – a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. What is your sign of God’s presence in the world?

 

Watching for the Signs: Believing the Signs
Luke 1:39-56/December 18, 2016
Susan Boyer

When pregnant Elizabeth greets her young relative, Mary, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb kicks. Elizabeth takes it as a sign that Mary has been chosen to carry the Messiah. Seems like a bit of a leap, doesn’t it? What signs are we missing?

Watching for Signs: Joseph sees a Sign
Matthew 1:18-25/December 11, 2016
Tom Hostetler

When Joseph learned that his betrothed was pregnant, he chose to divorce her quietly. The scripture said he did that because he was a righteous man. But when he dreamt, he encountered an angel of God who told him to go ahead and marry Mary, for the child she carried was of the Holy Spirit. What should we do when we get conflicting signs?

 

Watching for Signs: The Sign of Hopelessness
Isaiah 11:1-10, Isaiah 40:1-11/ December 4, 2016
Dawna Welch

It seems the problem with our faith is that our hope is too small. As the Jews waited for the Messiah, they were told to look in hopeless or impossible places – a stump, a pregnant virgin, in the wilderness. We need to hope bigger.

 

Watching for Signs: Left Behind?
Matthew 24:36-44/ November 27,2016
Susan Boyer

In 1995, Tim LeHaye and Jerry Jenkins came out with the first book in the 16-book series calledLeft Behind. The series was a fictional account of what will happen in the end times. Most of us have seen a movie or read a book in which the apocalypse is depicted as a time when the faithful are taken up to heaven in the blink of an eye. The unfaithful are left behind. But is that depiction faithful to scripture?

The Gift of Noticing
Luke 17:11-19 / November 20, 2016
Susan Boyer

The story of Jesus healing ten lepers is a favorite scripture text for the season of Thanksgiving. It is important to remember that even though only one returned to say”Thank you,”all ten were healed. Sometimes the gift is in the ability to notice

Confidence:
where vision, action, and community meet
Isaiah 65:17-25, Matthew 26:6-13/ November, 13 2016
Reba Herder

We’ll know the results of a historically bitter election by this Sunday. No matter who wins, however, we will still need to work for justice, heal brokenness, and speak up for peaceful solutions. Join us as we reflect on how to cultivate the confidence you need to continue the work of Jesus peacefully, simply, and together.

The Brethren and Politics
Matthew 6:24a, Romans 13:1-7/ November 6, 2016
Susan Boyer

On this Sunday before the General Election when we are voting on a president and seventeen propositions, it is good to stop and take a look at what it means to the Brethren to be involved in the political process.

Jesus and Tax Collectors
Luke 18:9-14 / October 30, 2016
Susan Boyer

Have you ever thought about the role tax collectors played in Jesus’ life? While they are considered an enemy in Jesus’ time, he ate with them, used them as role models in parables and even called one to be a disciple. How did Jesus see tax collectors?

Jesus and Widows
Luke 18:1-8 / October 23, 2016
Susan Boyer

Widows play a certain role in the stories of Jesus, according to the Gospel of Luke. In addition to being vulnerable they are his models of those who are prophetic, active and faithful.

Jesus and the Lost

Luke 15: 3-32/ October 16,2016
Dr. Eric Bishop

On this Homecoming Sunday, when the University of La Verne celebrates 125 years in the community and many of its alumni find their way home, Eric Bishop explores the three parables of being lost and the many ways in which we are considered lost in our current societal contexts. But if the parables mean being found is becoming free of sin, do we really want to be found today?

Baptism and Communion
Matt Boyer

As part of the worship service worship, Matt Boyer reflects on the meaning of baptism.

 

Walking Across the Centuries of Deliverance
Psalm 121; 2 Kings 2:1-12/September 25, 2016
Susan Boyer

On the last day of Elijah’s life he walks seven miles with his constant companion, Elisha. They walk from Gilgal to Bethel to Jericho to the Jordan. It is a walk through Israel’s history of deliverance.

 

Peacemakers
Matthew 5:9/ September 18, 2016
Tom Hostetler

We are a people of peace. The Brethren have spoken for and acted on the scripture’s call to be peacemakers in the world for 300 years. What does it mean for us today?

Who Am I to Hinder God?
Revelation 21:1-5; Acts 11:1-18 / September 11, 2016
Susan Boyer

“Who am I to hinder God?” asks Peter when he learns that God’s welcome is more important than his religious practices. Making Peter understand it is one thing. Having to convince his friends that it was true is another.

The Day the Sun Stood Still
Joshua 10:1-15 / September 4, 2016
Susan Boyer

In Joshua 10 we find one of the most difficult stories of the Bible to understand. In this story, Joshua commands the sun and the moon to stand still for a whole day so that the Israelite army had more time to defeat their foes. This miracle story has resulted in a long debate between religion and science.

Bored to Death
Acts 20:7-12 / August, 28 2016
Susan Boyer
If you have ever wondered if youth in ancient times were bored by preaching, look no further than our scripture for today. Eutychus falls asleep during Paul’s very long sermon and falls out a third story window to his death. Yup. That really is in the Bible.

 

Getting Along With Our Religious Siblings
John 14: 1-6, Luke 20: 25-37 / August, 14,2106
John Gingrich

On this Sunday, Dr. John Gingrich, Moderator of La Verne Church of the Brethren, will bring the morning message. John retired from ULV, having served them as a teacher, department chair, division chair and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

 

Bel and the Dragon
Bel and the Dragon / August, 7 2016
Susan Boyer

In some of your Bibles you will find a set of books called the Apocrypha. These are texts found in the Septuigant (the primary Greek translation of the Old Testament) but not found in the Hebrew Bible. There are some interesting stories in that set of books. We will look at the story of Daniel and the god Bel and the dragon that would eat anything.

 

Practice Generosity
Exodus 23:1-9; Isaiah 58:6-10 / July 31, 2106
Susan Boyer

True peace is only available to those who treat the most vulnerable of society with respect and dignity. You cannot have an ethic of peace without love for your community.

A Fishy Story

Matthew 17:22-27 -/July 24, 2016
Susan Boyer

When Jesus is asked about paying the temple tax he uses it as a teachable moment about freedom. Then he sends Peter fishing for money. Is this a story about freedom or obligation?

Living in the Light 

1 John 2:7-11 / July 17, 2016
Susan Boyer

The theme for our conference this year invited us to Carry the Light. In a year filled with issues of controversy and division the scripture from 1 John is especially important for it reminds us that we cannot walk in light unless we love our brothers and sisters.

The Writing on the Wall
Daniel 5:1-12 / July 10, 2016
Susan Boyer

In this story, Daniel is brought before the King to interpret some writing on the wall. Daniel delivers bad news and is rewarded for it. Daniel’s like Teflon.
The Unending Promise
Psalm 107:1-9 and 43 / July 3, 2016
Peggy Wallace

Peggy is an ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ. She served 7 churches in Massachusetts as an intentional interim, specializing in conflict resolution and systems theory. Peggy has been married to Bob Wallace, an American Baptist Pastor, for 33 years; and they have seven children, one in heaven. They also have six grandchildren and one great grandchild. Peggy and Bob live at Pilgrim Place in Claremont.

Revolutionary Rest
Exodus 31: 16-17/Mark 1: 32-33, 35/ Sabbath, By Wayne Miller/ June 26, 2016
Linda Himes
In a society where being “busy” seems to be a badge of honor, taking time to rest and renew often feels counter-cultural and revolutionary. Inspired by the book, Sabbath, by Wayne Muller, Linda will explore the God-given purpose of Sabbath rest.

All Our Fathers
Esther 2:5-7 / Matthew 1:18-25 / June, 19, 2016
Emily Earhart

Emily is a chef, food anthropologist, and food educator who is immensely passionate about food! Emily grew up in the La Verne Church of the Brethren, studied at UC Berkeley, and lived in London for three years while completing graduate study and working on an inner-city farm. She currently leads “Farm to Plate” cooking workshops for children at the Huntington Library and Botanical Collections in Pasadena. Emily lives in Seal Beach with her husband, Ryan, and her vintage Wedgewood stove!

 

Circle of Friends
Mark 2:1-12. / June 12, 2016
Susan Boyer

Mark tells a story about people who carried a paralyzed friend to Jesus that he might be healed. There were so many people crowding around Jesus that they couldn’t get close…well at least not in any conventional way. So they cut a hole in the roof and lowered their friend down to Jesus. We all need friends like that.

Mark tells a story about people who carried a paralyzed friend to Jesus that he might be healed.  There were so many people crowding around Jesus that they couldn’t get close…well at least not in any conventional way.  So they cut a hole in the roof and lowered their friend down to Jesus.  We all need friends like that.

 

The Spirit Has Left the Building
Acts 2: 1-12/May 15, 2016
PENTECOST
Janet Ober Lambert

When Jesus was no longer with them, the disciples sought the safety of the familiar. They returned to a place that felt secure, where they had been together with Jesus before everything had gone wrong.  They prayed, worshipped and took care of church administration.  That is, until along came the Holy Spirit.

Listening for Mother’s Voice
Isaiah 66:10-14/May 8, 2016
Janet Ober Lambert

We need our mother.  We need our Mother God, who binds up the brokenhearted, who comforts and restores, who reminds us that there in nothing in heaven or on earth, in life or in death that can separate us from her love, who says, “You can do this” and “I will help you”.

When the Dead Won’t Stay Dead…
Luke 24:1-12/March 27, 2016
EASTER SUNDAY
Susan Boyer

In the story of the resurrection from Luke, the women went to the tomb and had an encounter with two men in dazzling clothes that told them, “He is risen.”   The women return to tell the rest of their community who think  they are crazy.  Even the ones who should have believed had a hard time believing in resurrection.

A Tale of Two Donkeys
Luke 2:39-52/March 20, 2016
PALM SUNDAY
Janet Ober Lambert

Is Palm Sunday about a parade, protest art or political theater?  In a word? Yes.

Raising a Teenager
Luke 2:39-52/March 13, 2016
FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT
Susan Boyer

When Jesus is twelve he goes missing for three days. When his parents finally locate him, they are focused on their anxiety. Jesus reminds them that he needs to be allowed to grow up.

The Office as Lion’s Den
Daniel 6:11-26/March 6, 2016
FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT
Susan Boyer

When we look at the story of Daniel in the lion’s den we rarely look at the back story. What did Daniel do that was so heinous as to be sentenced to such a punishment? This story is really a tale of the pitfalls of office politics.

Noah’s Ark and the Heart of God
Genesis 6:9b-22; 7:23-24; 8:13-22/February 21, 2016
SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
Susan Boyer

When we tell the story of Noah’s Ark we focus on the ark, the animals, and the rainbow, but we leave out the part about the heart of God. Is God a God of grace or a God of retribution?

Jesus Wept
John 11:32-44/January 31, 2016
Memorial Sunday
Susan Boyer

The shortest verse in our English Bibles is “Jesus wept.” In our Bible saturated culture we have all heard it.  But do you know what made Jesus cry?

Tested By Fire
Daniel 3:19-30/January 24, 2016
Susan Boyer

In the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, we find three men who choose fire over oppression, faith over safety and God over the Empire.

Daring to Dream
Psalm 121:1-2; Joel 2:28-29/January 17, 2016
Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday
Susan Boyer

Several years ago, Bill Moyers, an American journalist and political commentator, interviewed Joseph Campbell, a writer who specialized in American mythology.  Campbell told Moyers that a myth is a public dream.  He said that when your personal dream doesn’t coincide with the public myth, then “you’ve got an adventure in the dark forest ahead of you.”

A Christian Vocation
1 Corinthians 12:14-31/January 10, 2016
Dedication of Church Leadership
Susan Boyer

When Paul talks about the church he uses the image of a body. The body has many parts but they only work when they are connected to each other.

The More Things Change
Matthew 2:1-12/January 3, 2016
Janet Ober Lambert

Change is inevitable.  How we respond to it is not.   Yet, even amid change, there are some constants. As one year changes into the next, we will celebrate the constant love of God-with-us by sharing in the bread and cup communion.

Throwing Light on the Empire
Micah 6:6-8, Luke 1:39-55/December 20, 2015
FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Susan Boyer

While the darkness isn’t bad, bad things happen in the dark because we hide them from the light. In a world of events like – Ferguson, oppression by Boko Haram, Syrians fleeing their homeland – we must call out that which is hidden.  We are called to declare God’s message to the Empire.  Mary, the mother of Jesus, filled with the Spirit of God, sang out her song of prophecy to the kingdoms of this world.

Darkness Gives Definition to the Light
Isaiah 40:1-5, 2 Corinthians 12:7b-10/December 13, 2015
THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Susan Boyer

St. John of the Cross, in his poem the Dark Night of the Soul, describes those times of spiritual crisis that move us toward deeper union with God.  Photographers will tell us that we need shadow and darkness to give texture to the light.  We all have dark nights. We are embarrassed by them, but they are actually times of deep spiritual growth, giving definition to the light.

The Gift of Darkness
Genesis 1:14-18; Matthew 1:18-25/November 29, 2015
Janet Ober Lambert

We are in the season when days shorten and darkness deepens. Darkness can be a place of danger; but it can also be a place of beauty, growth and restoration. Darkness brings us stars, allows seeds to grow, and helps us sleep and dream.  It is a partner to Light: night and day, moon and sun.  And God has pronounced all these things “good”.

Images of Abundance
Psalm 92:1-5a, Matthew 6:24-34/November 22, 2015
THANKSGIVING SUNDAY
Susan Boyer

Jesus turned to people heavy with worry and said, “Look up. Look at the peace of wild things.  Rest in the grace of the beauty around you.  Find freedom in the abundance that is your home.  Seek the reign of God and your whole focus will change.  Don’t let the world own you, for God is with you.”

Faith That Works
Psalm 134, James 2:14-18/November 8, 2015
Susan Boyer

Brethren know this scripture from James about faith without works being dead like Lutherans know about grace and Presbyterians know about order. We are genuinely perplexed when people want us to recite what we believe. We say, “Watch what I do and that will tell you what I believe.”  We Brethren want to be known by the manner of our living.

125 Years and Counting
Hebrews 11:1-3; 12-1-2/November 1, 2015
HERITAGE SUNDAY
Susan Boyer

We stand today at this threshold moment. We look backward at the last 125 years of ministry here in the City of La Verne and its neighboring communities.  We look back at the clarity of vision it took to sign that charter on November 1, 1890…

Who Do You Say We Are?
Mark 8:1-30/October 25, 2015
Janet Ober Lambert

Because it is sometimes important to use our words. Actions speak volumes.  The way we live our lives does help identify us as Brethren, followers of Jesus.  But so is the way we use our words.   So, with that, let me ask you . . .
“What’s your church like?”
“What do you believe?”
“What 3 words are key to your faith?”

Dibs!
Mark 10:35-45/October 18, 2015
Susan Boyer

Imagine if everyone called dibs on a life of service. If everywhere we went people were dripping in love and eager to serve. On our pledge sheets here at the church during stewardship season, we used to have a question, “Where would you like to serve in the church?”  Every year, one pledge sheet would return with words like, “Place me where I am needed.  It is my privilege to serve.”  Every year I would be re-invigorated for the work of the gospel merely by the example of that person.

What Do These Stones Mean?
Joshua 4:1-7; Philippians 2:1-7/October 4, 2015
HERITAGE SUNDAY
Susan Boyer

In the scripture from Joshua 4, the Israelites are poised to cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land. They are excited and they are a bit frightened. Joshua tells them that as they cross over, each tribe should pick up a stone and pile it on the other side of the river. It is a sign and a memorial. It is a sign that says, “God was here.” It is a memorial so that someday when their children see that pile of rocks and say, “Why are there rocks piled here?” they can tell the story of their people’s history and God’s presence with them.

It is that kind of storytelling…that kind of memorial that prompts us to look back this year when we celebrate our 125th anniversary as a church and our 85th anniversary of worshipping in this building. As a community we must remember where we have come from because it will guide us in the future.

What Does it Mean to Love Your Enemies?
September 20, 2015
Cory Townsend

I didn’t become convinced of Christian non-violence in an ivory tower, or because I grew up in a religious tradition that taught it; I adopted non-violence after the first time I shot at someone. I don’t say that as a point of pride, but instead to show that my experience is not theoretical or idealistic. For me, non-violence existed in the streets of Fallujah, Iraq. On my two deployments to Iraq, my fellow Marines and I were under constant threat of roadside bombs, suicide bombers, mortars, and sniper fire that injured and killed close friends. In spite of my desire to retaliate for injuries and death of friends with violence, I am fully convinced that responding to evil with violence is antithetical to the Christian life.

The Kingdom of God is Like…
Matthew 13:10-17; 31-34/September 13, 2015
Susan Boyer

When we hear the phrase “Word of God” we think of words written on a page in a dusty Bible on the shelf. Jesus took the ordinary and extraordinary stories he saw around him and he asked people to see and hear the Word of God all around them. He invited them to see God with them, not in some by and by, in the sky, after you die kind of way. He invited them to see the Kingdom of God on earth. He invited them to see the divine community now.

Leah’s Plot
Genesis 29:13-30; Genesis 48:7; 49:29-33/September 6, 2015
Susan Boyer

Leah, the woman with the ambiguous eyes…were her eyes weak or were they lovely? Scholars have been debating this word in scripture for years. I guess it depends on how you choose to see her eyes. I want to believe that Jacob who only saw Leah as the wife he was saddled with…the one with the weak eyes…learned to love those lovely eyes.

Abide in My Love
1 John 4:7-12, John 15:12-17/August 23, 2015
ANNUAL CONFERENCE REPORT SUNDAY
Susan Boyer

Annual Conference was not about the business this year. Annual Conference was about our brothers and sisters in Nigeria.   About 60 members of the Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria traveled to the States to bring us the news of their plight. Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria directly translated means Church of the Children of the Same Mother of Nigeria. We were reminded in profound ways that we are the children of the same mother with our Nigerian siblings who are suffering under the terror of Boko Haram.

Uncloaked in Mystery
Mark 14:32-52/August 16, 2015
Susan Boyer

In this church, when we celebrate the full re-enactment of the Last Supper, reminding ourselves of the events on the night before the crucifixion, we read, “All of them deserted him and fled,” and we stop right there. Then we are invited to leave in silence with a question on our hearts: What kind of disciples are we? Do we desert Jesus when it gets tough? Do we run into the night at the point when he needs us most to keep the message alive?

Is It Really So Bad to be a Pillar?
Genesis 19:15-26 / August 9, 2015
Susan Boyer

In the Babylonian Talmud is this line:  “The Rabbis taught that the one who sees…Lot’s wife [as a pillar of salt] shall give thanks and praise before God.”[1]  That seems like an odd thing to say about someone who has been punished for all eternity.

[1]

Peace, Love and Understanding
Matthew 5:38-48 / July 26, 2015
Susan Boyer

Our scripture for today is an important one for the Church of the Brethren.  For many it has formulated their pacifism stance.  The problem is, it has been misunderstood and is often interpreted to paint pacifists as wimps. If someone hits you on the right cheek turn the other one to her.  If someone sues you for your outer garment, give him your under garment.  If you are forced to walk a mile, go a second.  It makes Jesus sound acquiescent.  It makes Jesus sound like he is telling the powerless to allow themselves to be bullied.  It sounds, well, cowardly. But cowardice is not a word most people would use to describe Jesus.  To me Jesus seems fearless, forthright and strong.  So what can he possibly mean by these words from the Sermon on the Mount?

Showing Hospitality
Matthew 10:40-42 / June 21, 2015
Susan Boyer

I do believe that hospitality and welcome are at the foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  No hospitality equals no Gospel message.  We speak the words of foundational welcome often at the La Verne Church of the Brethren.  Welcome – it means may those who come find wellness here…Well-come.

Pentecost in a Graveyard
Ezekiel 37:11-14; Acts 2:1-12 / May 24, 2015
Susan Boyer

We’ve all be in the valley of dry bones.  It is a place of danger.  When we are in the valley of dry bones we are in danger of giving up.  We are in danger of making accommodations that will make us hate ourselves later.  We are in danger of hopelessness.  We are in danger of losing our faith.

Ennobling Our Spirits
Psalm 98: 1, 4, 8;  Ephesians 5:15-20 / May 3, 2015
Susan Boyer

In the letter to the Ephesians, the author says that we should make the most of our time in these evil days by meditating on psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making music to God in our hearts.  The writer is saying that we should sing songs as a response to the evil of our days.

The Story of God
Psalm 19:1-2; Acts 13:14b-33a / April 26, 2015
Susan Boyer

We are inspired by the stories we read.  We are shaped by stories.  One year before she died, at the young age of 39, novelist Flannery O’Connor gave a speech at Georgetown University in which she said, “We have to have stories in our background.  It takes a story to make a story.”

When God Suffers
Job 3:24-26; Matthew 27:38-54 / March 22, 2015
Susan Boyer

We have a hard time dealing with a suffering savior and God on a cross so some people pull it out or rewrite the story, but if you miss that part you take the heart right out of the story.

When God is Silent
Psalm 130:1-6; Job 23:1-9 / March 8, 2015
Susan Boyer

The Book of Job has a way of enticing us in because we can all relate to the story of Job in some way.  Perhaps through the friends who messed up when they stopped listening and started speaking for God.  Perhaps you have suffered deeply and you have cried out to God for answers and justice with the same dogged determination as Job.  Perhaps your pleas have been met by God’s silence.

With Friends Like That…
Job 2:11-13; Job 4:1-8 / March 1, 2015
Susan Boyer

This is a conversation that begins among friends and totally breaks down.  The friends who came to comfort and console Job start preaching a sermon in which Job is a sinner in the hands of an angry God.

The Book of Job
Psalms 8:1-4, Job 2:1-10 / February 22, 2015
Susan Boyer

The Book of Job is a story…a story that holds up the human condition of life.  It delves into our profound questions about blessing and suffering

Called to be Just Christians
Matthew 5:1-12, Matthew 25:33-45
Dr. Eric Bishop

Monument or Movement
Matthew 21:33-44/February 8, 2015
Susan Boyer

This Quasquicentennial year when we celebrate 125 years of Brethren in La Verne, we do our spiritual ancestors a disservice if we worship a monument.  A monument is built to entertain large audiences.  A movement focuses on equipping the saints.

Can’t and Can’t Not
Psalm 137/February 1, 2015
Susan Boyer

Psalm 137 is a song that says, “We don’t feel like singing.”  It is a singer who can’t sing and a singer who can’t not sing.

More Than a Fairy Tale
Matthew 2:1-12/January 4, 2015
Susan Boyer

David Lose says we often tell the story of the magi for the ears, hearts and minds of children.  But there is another story inside this story and we tell this one less often. It is the adult version of the Epiphany story.  It is a story of power and intrigue

Away in a Manger

Luke 2:8-19/December 21, 2014
Susan Boyer

I believe with all my heart that Incarnation is personal and yet, it isn’t about us.  It is about God wanting to be born in our world.  It is about us having the privilege of being carriers of the incarnation.

Love Came Down
John 1:1-14/November 30, 2014
Susan Boyer

At the center of Christmas is Incarnation.  This time of year we hear that word quite a bit.  Incarnation is the heart of this season.  Incarnation comes from the Latin and means “to make into flesh.” In Spanish we say, “Encarnacion” or “God in the meat”.

A Food Community
Luke 22:7-20 / November 23, 2014
Susan Boyer

Growing food, buying food, making a meal, eating food….these acts consume major parts of our lives.  When we want to get to know people, we invite them to our house or out to a restaurant for a meal.  Eating together is sacramental.

The Brethren Ethos
I Thessalonians 2:9, Ecclesiastes 9:10a, Acts 20:35 / November 16, 2014
Susan Boyer

There is something about the Brethren that makes them peculiar.  It is hard to put your finger on it.  This ethos is primarily unspoken but it is visible.

On Earth as it is in Heaven

Matthew 6:7-13 / October 5, 2014
Susan Boyer

Jesus came to preach good news.  His message wasn’t about offering you a seat on the life raft to heaven and away from hell.  He came to invite us to do God’s will.

Vindication

Isaiah 50:7-9 / August 10, 2014
Susan Boyer

Vindication.  It is such a satisfying word.  It rolls off our tongues with the delicious after taste of honey.  Vindication.  We find that word in our scripture from Isaiah 50: “God who vindicates me is near.”  In other words, the God who calls us, vindicates us.

The Hard-Edge of Jesus
Mark 11:12-33 / July 27, 2014
Susan Boyer

Just who is Jesus?  This is a major question for Christendom.  Because how we understand Jesus directs our whole faith journey.  It directs how we live out our faith every day.

Protest Art
Micah 6:8, Ezekiel 4/ July 20, 2014
Susan Boyer

Every summer I do a couple of sermons in a series I call:  “Is That Really in the Bible?”  It is my impression that many progressive Christians, well, actually most Christians, don’t know their Bibles.  They let others read it for them and tell them what is in it.

I Have Learned to Be Content
Psalm 131:1-2; Philippians 4:4-14/June 22, 2014
Susan Boyer

The reason I wanted to preach on contentment today is because our denominational moderator asked us to spend time with the Book of Philippians this year.  When I read through Philippians again, the sentence that popped out at me was, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have”.   The Apostle Paul writes that sentence while he is in prison awaiting trial.  “I have learned to be content in a jail cell while others decide my future.”  What strikes me is the word learned.  “I have learned to be content.”

The Spirit’s Arrival
1 Corinthians 2:7; Acts 2:1-12/June 8, 2014
Susan Boyer

In our connection to technology and our dependence on immediate answers, I believe we are dying of starvation….. mystery starvation.   With so much information at our fingertips we have lost our comfort with the Unknowable…and that is where Pentecost comes in.

Singing a Song for Others
1 Samuel 1/May 11, 2014
Susan Boyer

While I languish in the worry that my children didn’t think I was the best mother ever and will forget me on Mother’s Day, I do know that some of the best women I know have wanted to be mothers and for one reason or another it didn’t happen for them and this day assaults them with the vengeance of a category five hurricane.

Art and Faith
Jeremiah 18:1-6; 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 / May 4, 2014
Susan Boyer

Paul tells us that God, the potter, chooses us, even as clay jars….even as imperfect vessels, to carry the Gospel in our very bodies.  Paul tells us that we carry a treasure within us.  We are entrusted with the treasure of the Gospel.

Tell Is in a Whisper
John 20:1-18 / April 20, 2014
Susan Boyer

We love Easter.  This is our highest, holiest time.  We pull out all the stops in order to celebrate this most amazing day.  Some churches had trumpets announce that Christ is alive.  Banners have been unfurled.  Lilies are everywhere.  This is the best news we Christians have to announce and we do it with abandon.  We put exclamation marks in our Calls to Worship.  We buy new clothes.  We sing the Hallelujah Chorus.  This is the day we go all out and talk loud and sing triumphantly. 

Frederick Buechner points out another truth about this day: It has always struck me as remarkable that when the writers of the four Gospels come to the most important part of the story they have to tell, they tell it in whispers…

Loving the One
Luke 6:27-38/March 30, 2014
Susan Boyer

The Bible isn’t about hate.  Jesus doesn’t hate anyone.  No human being is to be despised or thrown away, even those who are so harmful, even the one who shall not be named.  Twice in our scripture today, Jesus says, “Love your enemies.”  He also says, “Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”  Jesus wants to make sure we get the message.  Love your enemies.  In case we didn’t hear it, Jesus says it again.  Love your enemies. 

Nature Deficit Disorder
Job 12:7-10; Isaiah 55:12/March 16, 2014
Susan Boyer

Can you think of a time in your life when you were out enjoying nature and all of a sudden its beauty captivated you beyond description? Sometimes we forget that we live in the house of God.  It takes moments like the ones I described to remind me of that fact.  We have worked so hard over the centuries to build churches to house God that we have forgotten that God cannot and will not be confined in the places we create.

The Kingdom of God is at Hand: Through the Eyes of a Child
First Sunday of Lent/March 9, 2014
Janet Ober Lambert
Matthew 18:1-7, 10-14

Jesus was not lifting up children for their sense of wonder and natural curiosity.  He was not pointing out children who took family holidays to Paris or waved at strangers from the windows of their parents’ SUV.  He pointed to the children who were the most vulnerable members of his society and said, “Be like these.  Welcome these.  Learn from these.”  Learn that you are no more important than they are.  Learn that you are all God’s children.  Learn that they need you and you need them to discover God’s true purpose for your lives.

In Fits and Starts
Psalm 15; 1 Corinthians 1:18-19/February 2, 2014
Janet Ober Lambert

We all know people who seem stuck in an endless loop of mistakes and regret.  It is painful to watch.  It is even more painful to be one of those people.  But the truth is, while this film is sort of silly, it tells real truth.  Change, transformation, redemption can be a slow process.  Sometimes it is two steps forward, one step back.  Other times we only get one foot in front of us before we lose ground.  In the journey to our fullest potential, we usually make our way in fits and starts.

The Saints We Know
Psalm 31:23, Ephesians 1:15-20/January 26, 2014
Susan Boyer

St. Paul gives us an understanding of saints that isn’t in our dictionaries.  In the letter to the Ephesians Paul writes one long thank you letter to God.  It is a hymn, filled, not with moralisms, but with reminders to God’s people.  In our scripture for today we hear Paul’s words, “I have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.”  For Paul, the saints were the people who made up the body of Christ – living or dead.  They were the people who gathered together to keep on trying to be faithful followers of the Jesus way.

Tell Them About the Dream
Galatians 5:1, Joel 2:28/January 19, 2014

 It wasn’t until very recently I learned what you all heard in the video this morning. That when Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to the 250,000 people who showed up on August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington he moved away from his script.   He heard Mahalia Jackson yell out, “Tell them about the dream, Martin.” 

Misplaced Expectations
Matthew 11:2-11/December 8, 2013

Hope Out of Place
Isaiah 35:1-7a/December 1, 2013

After Giving Thanks
John 6:1-11/November 24, 2012

The Theology of Eating
John 21:9-13, I Corinthians 11:23-26

The View From the Tree
Luke 19:1-10/November 3, 2013

The Constant Contest
Matthew 5:1-12/October 27, 2013

A God Moment?
Acts 12:4-17/October 20, 2013

God’s Love for All Creation or Will I See My Cat in Heaven?
Psalm 35:5-7, Revelation 21:1-5 / September 29, 2013

Surrendering Ourselves
Psalm 146:1-4, Matthew 6:25-34 / September 15, 2013

Courageous Disciples
Proverbs 29:18, Luke 4:14-30 / September 8, 2013

Find Me a Witch
1 Samuel 28:3-25/September 1, 2013

Jael:  Most Blessed of Women
Judges 4:11-22; 5:24-31a / August 25, 2013

Come as you are! God’s good news for ALL people
Psalm 139, Luke 14:7-24, Galatians 3:28 and 5:1

The After List
Romans 12:9-21/July 21, 2013

Move in Our Midst
Philippians 2:13, Ephesians 4:29-32/July 14, 2013

Ineffectively Silenced
Luke 18:1-8/July 7, 2013

Good Men
Mark 4:26-34/June 16, 2013

Children’s Sunday Reflections
June 2, 2013

An Eye For an Eye Leaves the Whole World Blind
 Judges 13-16/ May 26, 2013

And Where Is the Mother?
Luke 15:11-32/May 12, 2013

The Gift of Music
1 Samuel 16:14-23; Luke 2:8-14; Luke 19:29-40 / May 5, 2013

Voice Recognition
John 10:11-16 | April 28, 2013

A Whole Library
John 20:30-31; John 21:24-25 / April 21, 201

 Made in God’s Image
John 20:19-29  | April 7, 2013

When You Can’t Believe Your Eyes
John 20:1-18 | Easter Sunday | March 31, 2013

I Am Thirsty
John 19:16b-30 | Palm Sunday | March 24, 2013

What Happens When You Leave Without Jesus
John 6:15-27 | Fifth Sunday of Lent | March 17, 2013

Leaving Her Water Jar
John 4:5-42 | Fourth Sunday of Lent | March 10, 2013

We Provide the Water
John 1:24-34 | Second Sunday of Lent | February 24, 2013