Sermons

Faith in Spite of…

Rev. David Baak

Sermon    
Sunday, April 13, 2014

A sermon by Rev. David Baak on Luke 19:28–42. The sermon title this week is: "Faith In Spite of..." In spite of what? Whatever is going on, and so we explore what mature faith looks like. Jesus' lament in Luke was, "If only you knew what makes for peace." What helps us is that we know how the story turned out and we can apply that knowledge.


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Changing Our Questions

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, April 6, 2014

A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Micah 6:1–8. The gospel assumes at its root that we can mature, that we can be changed. But sometimes, in desiring change, the questions we’re pursuing aren’t the right ones. By asking better questions—“When did you feel loved today?” or “What can I do to help you right now?”—we can better come to terms with God’s call on our lives, just as the Israelites did from our text in Micah.


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Maturity as Freedom

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, March 30, 2014

A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Exodus 17:1–7. Quite often the way we experience the freedom of the gospel, the way we experience our personal liberation, is through love. Lose assuages the fear that keeps us from freedom, from the maturity that is freedom. Sometimes we seemingly experience that love from God. And sometimes, far more commonly, God’s love seems to be mediated through others.


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Desiring Truth

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, March 16, 2014

A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Luke 18:9-14. Psalm 51 says that God desires truth in the inward being. Maturity in Christ is to want that truth ourselves. The story of the Pharisee and the Publican from this text in Luke is a plain parable about that truth that God desires: We need the truth in us; we seldom want it; but we need it. The good news is that the truth is always right there, waiting to be acknowledged. God believes in us enough to forgive us and give us a chance to develop wisdom in the inner being, to change and to grow—to mature.


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Expecting Change

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, March 9, 2014

A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on I Corinthians 3:1–9. We’ve been talking about Christian maturity, and there will indeed be change as a mark of that maturity. God is not finished with us yet, and everyone we know who is “mature” in Christ is still growing—no matter how old they are. As soon as we think we’ve learned all we need to learn, and we’ve decided that we are as in touch with God as we’re ever going to get, we stop growing and stop being in touch. Christian maturity thus includes a kind of humility that says, “I’m not there yet”—all the time.


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Trusting the Fire

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon     Lent Ash Wednesday
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Matthew 7:15–20 on Ash Wednesday. “Lent can be a dangerous time. People come to the church looking for discipline and a new way to live; they come to be challenged—prepared for the heartache and joy of the cross to come. The problem with Lent, however, is a direct outgrowth of this urgency: we contain the season to six weeks of doing good, rather than building a Lent that becomes a life.” ―Maryetta Anschutz (For this service, the lighting in our sanctuary was dimmed for ambiance, hence why the resulting video looks so dark.)


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Grace: Living with the End in Sight

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, February 23, 2014

A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Revelation 4:9–11 and ‘Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.’ The book of Revelation is a testimony—a vision, a holy imagining. John is painting a picture; that’s the way with this strange language called “apocalyptic language.” He doesn’t communicate by making one logical point after the other; rather, he paints a picture—tells a story. He tries to describe to us what he sees, and what he sees is that in the end, Jesus is Lord. John starts at the very ending, and in the end, Jesus rules, Jesus reigns, Jesus is Lord. Like John, we too profess that Jesus is Lord—not just here when we join the church or become officers. This is how we “cast our crowns before him” now: by proclaiming him Lord, by proclaiming Love as the Lord of our lives.


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Grace: Social Justice

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, February 16, 2014

A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Matthew 25:31–46, and ‘God of Grace and God of Glory,’ part of our continuing series on the hymns of the church. Tom Long tells the story of chaplains at a university; one remarked how well the students were doing: “They tutor kids, work in the night shelter and soup kitchen, and protest apartheid.” But another said, “I was just thinking the one thing they lack is a vision of salvation. If you don’t have some vision of what God is doing to repair the whole creation, you can’t get up every day and work in a soup kitchen. It finally beats you down.” Maybe one reason Westminster has not left downtown is that, across generations, we built Camp Henry, Porter Hills, Ferguson House, Dwelling Place, WCDC, and the Downtown Food Pantry. And all throughout that time we’ve sun ‘God of Grace and God of Glory.’ The message of that hymn inspires our mission work—and the vision of salvation and God’s Kingdom that makes it possible each day.


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God in Christ: Incarnation

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon     Incarnation Christ
Sunday, February 9, 2014

A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Daniel 4:37 and John 1:1–5 and 14. The promise of the Incarnation is not only that God has entered into every aspect of our human living—that God has experienced everything that human life has to offer, all the pain, suffering, and even death—but also that God, by entering human life, has also laid claim to every part of our living. God enters into our flesh and says, “This is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone. I cannot live without you.” And then, with every word and gesture of His fully-human life, He touches and teaches and says, “I understand. There is a way.” Our first pastor, in addition to being an abolitionist and intellectual, was a revivalist; he believed that the gospel was intended to change people’s lives. Part of his legacy is embodied in Camp Henry and in our ongoing conviction that God intends to change our lives for the sake of God.


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God the Creator: Grace and Sin

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, February 2, 2014

A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Genesis 1:1–5, 26–31, Romans 1:16–23, and ‘Immortal, Invisible.’ God transcends us; that truth requires humility and grace on our part. That humility and grace called Courtney Smith, our first pastor in 1861, to read the Bible with a critical lens, and we have followed the same path. To celebrate that we can have our hearts and minds opened and learn to love in new ways, we come to the table of the Lord’s Supper, where we are intimately connected to others, who may indeed change our understanding by helping us see a part of God we couldn’t before, and where we are called to love as Jesus loved.


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God the Spirit: Universal and Particular

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, January 26, 2014

A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on I John 4:7-21 and ‘Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,’ continuing our series on the hymns of the church. Our hymn this week is a Beethoven tune with text by Henry Van Dyke—a Presbyterian. The theological focus of this cheerful text is the Holy Spirit. Westminster’s first pastor, Rev. Courtney Smith, was a revivalist and abolitionist called to the church in 1861. In the Van Dyke text, there’s a powerful affirmation of God as love and Spirit, there’s an intellectual coherence to the music, and there’s a revivalist joy to both the text and the music. So there’s a lot of theological room here, and that is the kind of “room” we identify with the Holy Spirit.


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Hymns: Tradition and Change

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon     hymns Music
Sunday, January 19, 2014

A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Psalms 46 and 90:1–6 and A Mighty Fortress is Our God and Our God, Our Help in Ages Past. This week begins a new series looking at the hymns of our faith alongside Scripture. Winter tends to be an introspective time, and so our worship in January and February has become a time when we focus on “basics”—the core of our tradition. The hymns in the series are those that this congregation has sung consistently for at least the last decade. We want to point out what the hymns say about God and about us—even us specifically at Westminster. In this series, we both celebrate “old standard” hymns as well as introduce a new hymnal.


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The Rehabilitation of Creation

Rev. David Baak

Sermon    
Sunday, January 12, 2014

A sermon by Rev. David Baak on Isaiah 42:1–9 and Matthew 3:13–17 on The Baptism of the Lord Sunday. Matthew announces the ministry of Jesus in terms of his “bringing justice to the nations…” But the message is even more comprehensive, as Walter Brueggemann suggests, in that the “Creator’s intent is that the [whole] creation should be rehabilitated to full, fruitful function”—which surely involves us somewhere in the effort.


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The Land of Beginning Again

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, January 5, 2014

A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on 2 Corinthians 5:16–21 to start the year: “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” The title for this week’s sermon, ‘The Land of Beginning Again,’ comes from a poem of the same name by Louisa Fletcher, which begins this way: “I wish that there were some wonderful place In the Land of Beginning Again. Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches And all of our poor selfish grief Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door and never put on again.”


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Hide and Seek

Rev. Katherine Baker

Sermon    
Sunday, December 29, 2013

A sermon by Rev. Katherine Baker on Matthew 2:13–23. The hidden years of Jesus Christ seem like a missed opportunity to address the journey from adolescence to adulthood. Why is it that these years go missing in the gospels? What can we learn from the hidden years? And what will we find when seeking Jesus Christ where he may be found? Join us as we explore these mysteries alongside beautiful music and liturgy as we continue our worship of our Lord.


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