In the Middle // Rebuilding // Kate Murphy

We are midway through this year, and being in the middle can be a difficult place to be. Grand beginnings are exciting and carry their own kind of energy and promise (hello, new year’s resolutions) and happy endings are, obviously, satisfying. The trouble is getting from one to the other. The trouble is being in the middle—when the initial excitement has long since disappeared. This is when work feels tedious, the mind and body have worn out, and progress appears minimal. The middle is when the crowd has moved on, the money has run out, unanticipated challenges have sprung up like weeds, and carrying on seems delusional. When you are in the middle, you can barely hear anything over the voices saying, “You’ll never finish,” “You’re wasting your time,” “You’re not enough.”

This Sunday, we’ll worship in the middle—and we’ll listen to the voice of Nehemiah who was called by God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah knew the despair and danger of the middle, and his story will inspire and encourage us all as we find ourselves in the middle of our own journeys.

Pentecost Sunday // Being Filled With What Matters // Kate Murphy

It’s Pentecost. The day that God opened up the heavens and, for the first time, poured out the Holy Spirit—the Spirit that indwelled and empowered Jesus—into the open and waiting hearts of all disciples. It’s the day when holiness was unleashed and altars became unnecessary.  It’s the day Moses’ wish came true. It’s the day the curse of Eden was reversed.

But even though God was sharing with us the greatest gift imaginable—God’s own Spirit—we don’t always actually want it. Sometimes we look to God only to fill our physical needs and ignore the much greater spiritual gifts that are right before us. The Israelites, our spiritual predecessors, often were the same way. So this Pentecost we look back to a story in the Book of Numbers, from the Hebrew Scriptures, about how the Israelites misunderstood God’s gifts much as we do and suffered the consequences.

Follow Through // Religion // Kate Murphy

Jesus was a terrible dinner guest. Invited to an impromptu supper with the Pharisees, Jesus offends everyone by refusing to wash his hands before the meal. When his host protests, Jesus lays into him, accusing all the Pharisees of caring more about religious purity rituals than ethical integrity. He says they are like white washed tombs—beautiful and clean on the outside, but inwardly full of decaying flesh. When a lawyer, a fellow dinner guest, sticks up for the host, Jesus slams him (and all of his kind) for murdering the prophets.

Jesus wasn’t at this supper for food and polite conversation; he came hungry for a fight. What was it about their rule-following that had Jesus so bent out of shape?  Listen in to find out.

Luke 11:37-54

Follow Through // Weakness // Kate Murphy

At the moment God called Gideon a “mighty warrior” and chose him to lead the Israelites into battle against a vast and powerful army, Gideon was hiding—trying to thresh the family wheat in a wine press so that he wouldn’t be seen and attacked by the enemy.  Gideon was the youngest member of the weakest tribe in Israel.

Gideon—the young, fearful, wouldn’t-be warrior—wasn’t the type of leader we would expect. He was physically, mentally, and spiritually weak.  But God didn’t choose Gideon in spite of his weakness.  God chose him because of it.  Looking at Gideon’s story in Judges 7:1-12, we actually get the sense that God delights in our weakness.  But God does not use our weakness to then make us strong.  God uses our weakness to show God’s own strength.  Gideon’s story is also an example of the tragedies that can happen when God’s anointing on us makes us overly confident in our own abilities.

Listen in as we learn how we can prepare to trust God and delight in his faithfulness when we need it most.

Follow Through // Success // Kate Murphy

We’re always going to feel “too something” to follow Jesus—too busy, too scared, too sad, too whatever. There isn’t an ideal time to choose to follow—only now.  This Sunday, we tackle what might be the most difficult thing to follow Jesus through—our own “success,” at least as our culture defines it.  How can we choose to follow when we feel like we don’t need to follow to get what we want? And when we feel that way, how do we go abut trying to change the things we want?  Listen in to find out.

Follow Through // Fear // Kate Murphy

This week we talk about what it means to follow Jesus through our fear.  Jesus’s disciples said “yes” to trusting him even when experiencing circumstances outside their comfort zones, and part of us being disciples means learning to do the same.  We learn to be led in the “valley of the shadow of death,” where we are willingly guided past our ability to control.  If we are honest, we know that most things — and certainly most important things — are beyond our control.  It’s when we follow Jesus past that point where we truly experience the beauty and holiness of trust. 

Follow Through // Doubt // Kate Murphy

The weeks after Easter is where the magic happens. That’s when we do the life-changing work of responding to the resurrection. And so, we’re starting a new worship series called “Follow Through” where together we’ll be thinking about how we can walk into new life with Jesus Christ during all the different seasons of our lives. We’ll think about how we can follow Jesus through — not merely in spite of — our doubt, weakness, despair, fear, and, perhaps most challengingly, our own success.

Listen in and subscribe so you don’t miss out.  You’ll be glad you did.

Easter Sunday // Resurrection Is An Invitation // Kate Murphy

Matthew 28:1-20

When we gather to celebrate Easter, most of us think we are showing up to remember something miraculous that happened on the other side of the world two thousand years ago.  If we’re really optimistic, we imagine it has something to do with God’s promise for us after death.  But the truth is so much better.  We’re not merely celebrating something that has happened or will happen; we’re celebrating Christ’s resurrection—something that is still happening.  God is still in the business of redemption, and the power of the resurrection is what it does in us and in all of creation.  The evidence is not merely in a risen savior.  It’s in our lives.

Last Words // Part 6: Making an Entrance // Kate Murphy

This Sunday, we gather for what churches often call “Palm Sunday,” the day when we celebrate Jesus returning to Jerusalem to give up his life and fulfill the prophecies about him.  But in keeping with our “Last Words” theme, we are side-stepping the waving of palm branches (which only show up in one gospel account anyway) and focusing in on what Jesus was telling us by choosing to enter the city on a donkey.  Why do all four gospel accounts include that detail?  What can Jesus’s journey teach us about his kingdom that is hard for us to embrace?

Last Words // Part 5: Haters Gonna Hate // Kate Murphy

Jesus finishes his last words to the disciples with a sobering warning, ‘If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” Jesus is telling us that if we love people like he did, we can expect to be belittled and disregarded by those who prefer the status quo.

But why should we, if we commit to loving others, expect to be hated? Won’t everybody just love us back?

Listen in to hear why we can provoke such opposition when we love people like Jesus did. And then consider the choices we have and what you’re going to do about it.