by Marcia Mount Shoop, Richard Coble, and Samantha Gonzalez-Block Romans 14:1-12 “Jesus is a disrupter. Jesus is a truth teller. Jesus is a healer. And if this pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that Jesus hits his stride when the trappings of religion fall away. Maybe this pandemic has finally been the reckoning that Christianity in America needed. Maybe we’re finally starting to taste and see what Eucharist is really about.” Watch . . .
by Richard Coble Romans 13:8-14 “We are the Body of Christ, knit together not by brick and mortar but by the Spirit that knows no boundaries as it connects us, and calls us, and challenges us to put on Christ today. That same Spirit calls us to love, not in an empty, feel good way that forgets the time we are in, but to love by doing hard, Spirit filled work in the midst of uncertainty and . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Romans 12:9-21 “Racist tropes about law and order, about chaos in our streets–we’ve got to be wiser than to fall for those lies again as a country. If we’re ever going to discover together what living the good life truly is, then we have to have our power analysis fully deployed.” Watch the full GCPC service on 8/30/20 here   . . .
by Richard Coble Romans 12:1-8 “Siblings in Christ, we live today with the results of our species pretending as if we could control, manipulate, and simply take without return from creation and from one another as if there were no consequence. It is a time of great peril, yet it is also a moment of invitation to live differently, to live into the deep and essential truth that we are all intertwined, members one of another. May . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Genesis 45:1-15 “What seems to matter most here for us is not if God caused the pain and suffering, but rather what God has done with this pain and suffering. Joseph’s family – his brothers – sought to destroy his life, yet God charted a new way forward to preserve his life, and through him, the lives of many throughout Egypt. God, through Joseph, is not interested in revenge here, God is interested . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Matthew 14:22-33 “White supremacy culture teaches us to mix up making a mistake with being a mistake. And that distortion can put up formidable defenses in us when it comes to seeing the ways we need to get caught. That distortion teaches us to garner all our energy to fight off the pain of shame and embarrassment, of being wrong or of being someone who has done harm. But Jesus wants to teach . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Matthew 14:13-21 “And if you think reparations are right–then you should actively be pursuing our elected officials so they hear from you. If you are white identified, it’s not your place to decide what reparations look like for the Black community. That is the Black communities right–to say what it will take to create wellness and vitality in their community in the wake of all the ways they . . .
Samantha Gonzalez-Block Romans 8:26-29 “We know that God has never required Sanctuary walls. God was here long before brick and mortar. Instead, God needs co-creators of sanctuary: disciples who are willing to do whatever it takes to create holy spaces of refuge and transformation, healing and goodness – wherever we are.” Watch the full GCPC worship service on 7/26/20 here . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Romans 8:18-23 “God is inviting us to put the “y” back onto earning—and give ourselves to the yearning that connects us to our created purpose—to live in right relationship with all things.” Watch the full GCPC worship service on 7/19/20 here . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 “Jesus knew that the world needed people of faith who were instruments of healing, not harm. He also understood how human beings grow best. That same Jesus is sowing seeds today. Because the best way to generate health in a system gripped by disease is to nourish the soil and strengthen the roots.” Watch the full GCPC worship service on 7/12/20 . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Romans 6:12-23 “Whiteness makes the human brain its instrument of wickedness. And the body follows suit. Whiteness creates a whole universe of meaning around fear and exceptionalism, aspirations and success, beauty and power. Whiteness spins out a whole universe in which the terror that whiteness has at its disposal is masked as law and order, decency and respectability, polite society and the finer things.” Watch the full GCPC worship service on 6 . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Matthew 10:24-39 “We follow a God of sparrows and swords. Jesus is reminding us that we must trust both in order to be faithful. God loves us fiercely. And Jesus showed us what that looks like—the lengths to which God will go for God’s beloved. The sword, you see, is not about domination or terror, the sword is about justice and accountability. And God didn’t create us to be helpless . . .
Dr. Heath K. Rada and Dr. Brian Blount Matthew 9:35; 10:1-3, 5-8 “EACH OF US, REGARDLESS OF RACE OR GENDER OR ANY OTHER PART OF WHO WE ARE THAT WE LABEL AS DIFFERENT, BUT AS BELOVED CHILDREN OF GOD, EACH LOVED IN OUR OWN WAYS, ARE BEING CALLED TO GO OUT AS APOSTLES IN THE NAME OF CHRIST. GO AHEAD AND TALK TO THOSE FRIENDS, COLLEAGUES AND FAMILY MEMBERS WHO DO NOT SEE THE LIGHT . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Matthew 28:16-20 “Jesus’ commission is not a passive one, but an active calling for the eleven then, and each of us now. Therefore go and love your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. Therefore go and love your neighbor as yourself. Therefore go and speak truth to power. Teach and lead by example. Listen and learn with compassion. Dare to be as vulnerable, foolish and faithful as . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop, Richard Coble and Samantha Gonzalez-Block Acts 2:1-21 “The Holy Spirit is about disruption, discomfort, even dissonance. Dismantling white supremacy culture within ourselves and within our communities means that we commit to listening, learning, shifting, changing, and then listening some more.” Watch the full GCPC worship service on May 31 . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11 “Christian suffering is redemptive when it serves Christ’s liberating purpose—to alleviate the suffering of the world—and who is suffering these days? And who has been suffering at the hands of empire the most in the history of the United States? It is not white people who want to get back to their church buildings. That is not the suffering Peter had in mind . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Acts 17:22-31 “Paul might ask why any believer would need to grasp at a building to be the church—when God is right here, right now—manifesting in the call to trust this wilderness time because being faithful is not about the right to ignore our impact on others, it is about the love that makes our impact on others our central concern.” Watch GCPC’s worship service on 5/17 . . .
by Lindsay Hamel, Frank Callison and Maggie Kinton Exodus 3: 1-8, 10-15 “Moses reminds us in this moment, that fear does not have the last word. God does.” “Moses’ story is a big reminder for us all that fear should not cause inaction, but instead be what helps us name our need for God.” “We are called to lean into our faith, and to pay attention to signs of God’s goodness, and . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Acts 2:42-47 “Christianity emerges from a related, but distinctive belief about change. Change comes from the ground up, yes. But for Christians the conditions of possibility for social change rise from human relationships knit together by Christ’s revolutionary love, not just our material conditions.” Watch GCPC’s live streamed worship service on 5/3/20   . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Luke 24:13-25 “The freedom of the cross is not about the freedom to abuse one’s power, to do violence for financial gain. The freedom of the cross is about truth—the truth of our sins laid bare for us to see because God actually believes if we can take in the truth, that the truth will set us free. The cross unveils the lies of abusive power and the idolatry of profit . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 20:19-31 “Our brokenness can only be healed if we all can find our way back to the common good we share—we need each other, we need everyone to have a real chance at living lives that aren’t about running scared but are about being at home with ourselves and truly at peace with each other.” Watch GCPC worship service on 4/19/20 . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 20:1-18 “Jesus lived and died to help us see these hard truths—to lay bare the sins of the world. Not recognizing his resurrection means not seeing that our lives are worth what he did for all of us, for the whole world, not seeing that our bodies matter and how we live in this world together as bodies matters. Not recognizing Him means missing the new life that God brings out . . .
by Richard Coble Isaiah 50:4-9a; Matthew 21:1-11 “Friends, do you see it? He never comes as we expect him, and he’s so easy to miss. But Christ rides into the pandemic. Christ in your moments of hope; Christ in the community coming together across distance; Christ in the way we are known and remembered in the hour of our loss and death. Christ right beside you, and beside me, this Holy Week. We are . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 130 “Lament is different than despair. When we despair, we lose sight of God, even the possibility of God. Our song goes quiet and we close ourselves off. When we lament, we remain open – even just a little bit. Our voices, hoarse and weary, join the faithful chorus calling out to God, to remember us and re-member us, to remind us – somehow, someway – that we are not alone, no matter the struggles we . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 9:1-41 “This ancient story should sound even more disruptive to us now that we are in the grip of a global pandemic that is shutting the world’s systems down. Now that the filters we were still clinging to are gone, the filters that obscured our vulnerability or our capacity to do harm and our interdependence are gone. This story is not a cautionary tale about seeing Jesus clearly, it is a . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 4:5-42 “We are hearing Jesus’ story about two people coming together to change the world, on a Sunday where we are learning to put space between us to change the world. On a Sunday when we can’t see each other face to face because it is distance, not proximity, that will help our community and our country and our world have a fighting chance to be well.” Link to live . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Genesis 12:1-4a; John 3:1-17 “Faith is not the absence of skepticism. It is right relationship with skepticism. Faith means we trust God enough to be skeptical about the things that create distortion in us. Faith means we know we are not in control. We know we don’t have all the answers. We know bad things can happen to us. We know we need God.” . . .
by Richard Coble Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Matthew 4:1-11 “We risk losing sight of our truth, that we and everyone who we meet are beloved children of God.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Exodus 24:12-18; Matthew 17:1-9 “The transfiguration takes us into Lent—the transforming mystery of God’s intimacy with the world is what we take with us into the wilderness wanderings, into our deepest questions, into our shadows, our deserts, our how long, O Lord, moments. Mystery and the mundane are not separate worlds, but the same world. Faith is the capacity to be there, to be here believing that to be . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Matthew 5:21-37 “It’s a radical message really—that if heeded could change the world. The way we feel is contagious. We are catching things and spreading things all the time whether we are aware of it or not. We are connected, interdependent, tangled up with each other and with God—all before we ever even say a word.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 58:1-12; Matthew 5:13-20 “Our threshold pace in the life of faith, means sometimes we need to slow down and remember what the Body of Christ can do—remember our stamina, remember our capacity to endure and be carriers of strength and change in a world often exhausted by a feverish and foolish push for power that rarely stands the test of time.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block, Marta Rosal, and Millie Stradley Psalm 15; Matthew 5:1-10 “I guess Jesus’ Beatitudes help remind us that we are all children of God, worthy of dignity, respect and a chance to taste and see Christ’s love. We are called to help each other know that and experience that.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 9:1-4; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18 “As Christians, we must always carry with us a critical understanding of power in every encounter we have with each other. How is it present? How do we share it? How is it concentrated? But the most important layer of our power analysis must be our trust in God’s unique power to inhabit our tension, our conflict, our disagreements with a healing opportunity.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 49:1-7; John 1:29-42 “We are coming together here to this Table more often because we need to be here together more often. We need to practice Eucharist enough times that it starts to sink in—we are being called to be the Body of Christ in the world and we are called to be grateful for the liberating truth of that purpose that we have. We are the Body of . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 42:1-9; Matthew 3:13-17 “God consecrates our every day by filling each and everything we do with the capacity to heal us. Ordinary people doing ordinary things can change the world.” . . .
by Richard Coble Isaiah 60:1-6; Matthew 2:1-12 “Siblings in Christ, the light that illuminated the path to the manager and sowed fear in the violent heart of Herod is in you and me, and it is also everywhere around us. Body of Christ, it is not up in the sky waiting to be discovered. It burns already, and it shines out of us. . . it shines out when we step out in faith into the unknown . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 148; Matthew 2:13-23 “Bethlehem can feel so far away. We can forget about the place where it all began: the places where they fled, the circumstances that they feared, the decisions that spared them, the salvific gift of finding home. What makes us forget the truth about our stories? About Jesus’ story? We mold Jesus into something sweet, and comfortable and fair. We strip him of his refugee status, of his dark . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop “This is a story about vulnerability, marginalization, and a God who turns the world upside down. Too many Christians have been trying to avoid that truth these two millennia since. Too many Christians have been trying to use the story to protect the status quo, to deny that peace on earth means justice on earth—and that Jesus was a marginalized person who died trying to tell us the truth about ourselves, the truth that . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 35:1-10; Luke 1:46b-55 “It is her vulnerability and the strength that her vulnerability gives her that makes Mary able to give birth to God’s hopes for the world. It is her capacity to be present to her own need that allows her to stand in what the world needs from her.” . . .
by Richard Coble Isaiah 11:1-10; Matthew 3:1-12 “Friends, believe in the already and not yet of God’s peace. Find it within yourselves, and your communities. Especially at your lowest. When you are ready to disengage, throw up your hands, turn off the news. When you’re tempted to bury yourself in the cynicism spreading all over this country today, remember the already and not yet of God’s peace. Because the spirit that Isaiah . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 2:1-5; Matthew 24:36-44 “Advent is a threshold space—a liminal time in the rhythm of the church year—we are beginning anew, but the One who gives us new life, is not yet here—things are being made new, even as we wait in an old order, even as we have outgrown it, even as the world yearns for transformation.” . . .
by Richard Coble Jeremiah 23:1-6; Luke 23:33-43 “Christ left us this meal as a way to turn back to him, to one another, to that endless fountain of love and grace that surrounds us wherever we go. Because when we eat this bread, and we drink this cup, together, in Jesus’s name, we remember, and we proclaim the Christ who showed us a different way to be together, a way of love more powerful . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 65:17-25; Luke 21:5-19 “Excess takes hold when consumption dictates our behavior instead of community. Excess is a symptom of the disease of individualism. Abundance is a sign of our capacity to be well together, it defines us when we live the truth of our interdependence. The culture change that we are responsible for in this tumultuous and contested world begins right here at this Table. When we let the things . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Job 19:23-27a; Luke 20:27-38 “Christ calls us to this Table to be put back together, to be re-membered by the truth we carry in our bones, in our bodies, in our common life—that God’s promise of new life is both for the living and the dead, for the stubborn and the willing, for the harmful and the harmed—for all of us belonging to this age.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4; Luke 19:1-10 “Being found means discovering the contours of a faithful life—we seek God even as God seeks us. We rediscover our identity as God’s people in a world that has lost its way where God can be hard to find.” . . .
by Richard Coble Joel 2:23-32; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 “. . . but grace is more foundational than a transaction with a forgiving God. More foundational is the grace of God that names each of us as children of God, of human dignity, the grace of God that calls each of us by name. This grace, freely and abundantly given, stands in such contrast to the world we live in, the world of racist mass incarceration, the . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop, Samantha Gonzalez-Block and Richard Coble Psalm 84:1-7, Luke 18:9-14 “Normalizing our way of doing things is a part of human nature. We want to know where we stand in the scheme of things. Idolatry takes that natural human tendency and attaches divine mandate and the power of God to its authority and its power. When human’s mistake our own will to power and dominance for a God-given right . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 119:97-104; Luke 18:1-8 “Here we meet a Savior, who is on the side of the vulnerable – no matter what. And like the widow, we can trust that Christ will never stop shouting out our names until we awaken to our shared calling to be builders of God’s kingdom here and now.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 111; Luke 17:11-19 “Our journey as a white faith community in America right now is to listen and to learn, to dig deep into the ways we have been shaped by white supremacy culture, to trust where Jesus invites us to go with the truth that he promises will set us all free.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Lamentations 3:19-26; 2 Timothy 1:1-14 “It is a Gospel message really—that invitation for us to get real about the trauma and resilience we have in our bodies, that has been passed down to us and that we carry around the world and pass on to others. God’s healing opportunities define the story of who we are.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Amos 6:1a, 4-7; Luke 16:19-31 “If having a lot for ourselves is worth the misery and death of others, the Bible is crystal clear—we’ve got a problem. If having wealth sequesters us from the realities of suffering and injustice in the world, then we’ve got a problem. If wealth waters down our commitment to equity and economic justice, then we’ve got a problem.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Jeremiah 8:18-9:1; Luke 16:1-13 “Here amongst bread and cup, Jesus invites us into life-saving vulnerability and holy mystery, to remember that his body is broken for us – so they we can be re-membered and live anew as one people who fearlessly work to satisfy God’s hunger for love, justice and tikun olam – the healing of our broken and aching world.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28; Luke 15:1-10 “If we are truly feasting on God’s radical welcome for us, then our lives must communicate such courageous, humble, and consistent generosity. Remember Jesus’ Table Fellowship was his most radical tool of transformation. It defined and distinguished him—and it was a big part of what made the powers that be repulsed by him.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop, Samantha Gonzalez-Block & Richard Coble Isaiah 53:2-5; 1 Corinthians 11:20-26; John 6:32-35 “Let us pray. God our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, May this table continue to call our name, to invite us in, to offer us a chair, a community and a home. May this table always be a challenge to us, may its abundance confront and critique our ways of living in scarcity; may it empower us . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Jeremiah 2:4-13; Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16 “When we place Christ at the center of how we navigate the complexities and ambiguities, the injustices and the promising possibilities of the moment in history that is ours, we will have to change, we will have to get better at being faithful.” . . .
by Richard Coble Isaiah 58:9b-14; Luke 13:10-17 “Sabbath rest is tied to liberation. How strange it is, then, that the laws around Sabbath could have been twisted to such an extent that they would have prevented the liberation this woman experienced by Jesus’s healing.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Isaiah 5:1-7; Luke 12:49-56 “Indeed, Jesus did not come to us in order to take a neutral stand, but rather to stand as God here on earth: to turn a broken world upside down, to comfort the afflicted, to afflict the comfortable, to unsettle social norms and systems in order to save us from ourselves.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 1:1, 10-20; Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 “What does it mean that such a homesickness, such a yearning, defines our spiritual heritage? Especially as we find ourselves in a country intermittently reeling and then at turns wheeling and dealing about who it is that really has the right to be here in this so-called promised-land anyway.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Hosea 11:1-11; Colossians 3:1-11 “The story that defines us began with a strange dream and an unlikely healing opportunity somehow written in those stars. It’s a crazy story really—a baby born in a barn that would save the world, a wandering teacher who spoke truth to power and crossed social boundaries and healed our brokenness ends up executed, life out of death, God amongst humans, compassion in the face . . .
by Richard Coble Genesis 28:20-32; Luke 11:1-13 “Prayer is not passive or escapist, a fantasy or a wish-list. Rather, it is what fuels us to work in the name of love and justice another day.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 52; Luke 10:38-42 “Getting clean has thus become synonymous with becoming one with Jesus – a notion that through the years has been used to liberate and empower, as well as subjugate and divide. We know that certain bodies in our society are deemed cleaner and more precious than others. Some bodies have been considered dirty, sinful, sexual, dangerous or even expendable. Darker skinned bodies. Women’s bodies. LGBTQ bodies. Differently abled bodies . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Luke 10:25-37 “We are simultaneously indicted and invited into a borderless world—where everyone is our neighbor—and where we could be met in our most raw vulnerability with compassion by the one we had considered beyond the pale.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 66:10-14; Galatians 6:1-16 “Accountability is about trustworthy relationships—relationships that can bear the weight of hard truth, relationships that share the load bearing required for holding each other accountable. The beautiful thing about Paul’s call to mutual accountability here is that he bundles it with self-awareness and self-reflection.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21; Galatians 5:1, 13-25 “There was really never a time in the history of people following Jesus when there was not diversity of interpretation. God doesn’t seem to encourage sameness for any kind of system to be healthy—variety, difference can create fruitful conditions, except when those differences become weapons for breaking community instead of tools for building community.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 42; Galatians 3:23-29 “Paul invites us to have the courage to question law when it holds us back from each other, when it keeps us from fostering radical community, when it is used to promote anything other than love and justice.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5 “Our endurance training is about our relationship with the One in Three—the Creator made us for endurance; our Redeemer shows us how to push beyond our comfort zone; and our Sustainer abides with us with the nourishment that empowers us to endure in ways that are courageous and not fearful.” . . .
by Richard Coble Genesis 11:1-9; Acts 2:1-21 “Pentecost is not a call for us all to be the same always, but rather is it a celebration of our abundant particularity, our beautiful diversity, as God calls to each of us in the way and the language we can understand.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 97; John 17:20-26 “It is Jesus’ life that included the depths of human suffering that brought God into intimate and compassionate one-ness with all of humanity. This divine one-ing is what allows God to understand us and to never forsake us.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 67; John 5:1-9 “Living differently is not out of reach. In fact, it is well within our capability. That is exactly what Jesus is telling us beside that healing pool—you have what you need to be well. But it takes seeing the truth about what ails us, it takes unlearning our delusion of helplessness, it takes being ready for something new and being ready to exert ourselves and move away from . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 148; John 13:31-35 “Our young people teach us to take our faith out from the shallow end, and to dive in deep: to hear Jesus’ call to love as a life-long commandment – one that offers no shortcuts or guarantees, only the belief that radical transformation is possible – even in moments – especially in moments – of immense brokenness.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 23; Acts 9:36-41 “Mothering is an iconic disposition of mutual vulnerability—and this disposition is the heart of the matter when it comes to how we are called to live and die as Christians.”   . . .
by Richard Coble John 21:1-14; Acts 9:1-8 “. . . let us live into the uncertainty of this time, and keep looking at how God is calling out to us in the darkness, and keep searching for God today, because God is showing up, again and again and again, sometimes in unexpected places, the places where we might not look, if we thought we already had all the answers.”   . . .
by Rev. Jimmie Hawkins Genesis 4:8-16; 1 Peter 4:7-11 . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop, Richard Coble and Samantha Gonzalez-Block Isaiah 65:17-25; Luke 24:1-12 “The resurrection will never lose its mystery. And God’s transcendence can never be collapsed into our reality. But we can thank God when we are given just a glimpse of it.” (*There were some technical difficulties with the sermon audio this week, but it is available for listening . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Isaiah 50:4-9a; Luke 19:28-40 “With our palms made bare, Luke invites us to make our hands open and visible to God coming into the city, coming into our lives. We can ask for mercy and for challenge and for direction. With hands wide open, we are ready to embrace Christ.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 43:16-21; John 12:1-8 “When’s the last time you really dusted off your imagination and let it run full throttle? When’s the last time you let yourself dream about extravagant love pouring out into the world? When’s the last time you let yourself believe in God’s power to deploy our imaginations in the service of healing the deepest, most shadowy, most stark conditions that afflict our world . . .
by Paige Kemper, Emma Maney, and Kaegan Parks Psalm 32; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 “No matter where we are on our faith path, God in all of his grace accepts us. The son endured fear, but moved forward. The son felt shame, but was greeted with grace. The son was lost, but found he was home.” “The older brother reminds us that even though we think we do everything correctly, we are never too perfect . . .
by Richard Coble Isaiah 55:1-9; Luke 13:1-9 “Grace means you can lay down the façade, the fantasy that you and I are always right, that we have to prove ourselves as better than or perfect.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 27; Luke 13:31-35 “Jesus following is not about safety or acceptability. It is about a way of life that knows and lives and breathes good trouble—trouble that disrupts the powers and principalities, trouble that lets go of fear and takes hold of the freedom we find in Christ’s revolutionary love, trouble that resists the temptation to give up or give in.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Luke 4:1-13 “The harsh truth about faith is clear in the wilderness of Jesus finding his Messianic identity—faith is about disrupting the powers and principalities, faith is about one’s core identity truly being that you are God’s very own, faith is about letting your identity as God’s own lead the way when another way is presenting and it is truly enticing.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Exodus 34:29-35; Luke 9:28-36 “Transformation is not just a new attitude or a new perspective. Transformation is a change in form, a material, cellular, radical change that defies our expectations, that doesn’t just change us, but changes the world.” . . .
by Richard Coble Genesis 45:3-11, 15; Luke 6:27-38 “Forgiveness, real reconciliation, individual and collective, when it is for harms that affect our lives, our communities. . . that takes time; it can take years, or generations, and it takes work.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Jeremiah 17:5-10; Luke 6:17-26 “Jesus is declaring a radical, liberating truth: God is on the side of those who suffer. So, if you are feeling comfortable and safe (behind a locked door, or a high wall, or in your silence): ‘Woe to you,’ says Jesus. ‘Wake up and see the world through God’s fresh, wise eyes: a world where the first are last and the last are . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 6:1-8; Luke 5:1-11 “Conocimiento begins in pain, in a major life change, in some breaking point—in some situation of rupture that forces us to look deeply into our own identities and reevaluate how we are in relationship with one another and with ourselves. We lay down the parts of our life that are stagnant, that turn us against ourselves. For Anzaldúa, conocimiento, deep knowing that builds community, begins . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Jeremiah 1:4-10; Luke 4:21-30 “Part of welcoming conflict is us acknowledging that we must, we must practice (not just value) true power sharing. And that means we lay down our need to be right all the time. We lay down our need to dominate a conversation. We lay down our need to control, to feel comfortable, or to prove we know everything. Because we don’t know everything.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a; Luke 4:14-21 “This Table is about liberation from oppression—that means the comfortable arrive here confronted with the impact of our comfort on those who are languishing. The hard reality mirrored back to us is where our freedom lies.”   . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 62:1-5; John 2:1-11 “Christians must always, already be tuned to that dissonance. God’s abundance gives us the vision, the moral courage, the perseverance to never tire of working for justice and mercy and love. And the pain we see gives us the urgency, the compassion, and the determination to do healing work.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Isaiah 43:1-7; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 “Together, we celebrate who we are and whose we are. We are followers of God’s beloved son “with whom God is well pleased.” And we recognize our mutual responsibility to support each other in our pain, in our joys, in our growth side-by-side – as siblings made one, made whole in Christ.”   . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 60:1-6; Matthew 2:1-12 “You have forgotten how to dream, you have forgotten that you can journey to a place where the truth will change you forever. The truth of God born in you, the truth of God born in resistance to enthroned power, the truth of God born into a world come home to itself.”   . . .
by Richard Coble Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:41-52 “Love is not a permanent state of being, not a destination that you have to reproach yourself for not already being there. Love, and thankfulness, and compassion are practices.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 1:1-14 “Each week of Advent, we have together fixed our gaze on an image of redemption—glimpses of God’s love, God’s justice, God’s mercy, God’s welcome home inviting us to come closer, come closer and see what God’s love looks like when it takes on flesh. These glimpses of redemption abide in a world where injustice, hatred, and harm persist.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Micah 5:2-5a ; Luke 1:39-47 “Yes, in this moment, in this ordinary doorway, Mary affirms Elizabeth’s prophetic witness and Elizabeth affirms Mary’s divine calling. Within both women, God’s joy and hope are already stirring. And in their wombs, something new and transformative is waiting to be born.”   . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Zephaniah 3:14-20; Luke 3:7-18 “John the Baptist says forget about relying on your culture, your heritage, your faith tradition, your ethnic origin. The only sure footing is love that is unafraid to let love be love and to let love do love.”   . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Malachi 3:1-4; Luke 3:1-6 “The big change we are preparing for is that divine justice is coming, right relationship is coming, and the truth is coming. How are we making room in our communities, in our cultures, in our societies for right relationship with God and with each other?” . . .
by Richard Coble Jermiah 33:14-16; Luke 21:25-36 “The promise of advent, this season of expectation, is not utopian, or escapist; it’s not an illusion or a fantasy. The promise does not ask you to ignore your grief or the world’s suffering. Rather, the promise empowers you to proclaim, in word, in deed, and in hope: that God is here, that God draws us close . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block 1 Samuel 23:1-7; John 18:33-39 Vocalist: Jonathan Ross Pianist: Jeff Jones “We must face what is challenging, ask the hard questions, wrestle with discomfort – even in ourselves – in order to make way for God’s truth to be carefully taught and embraced.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Daniel 12:1-3; Mark 13:1-8 “Jesus calls us to be present in the anguish, in the turmoil, in the grip of labor’s most intense contractions, with the disposition of faith, not fear.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 1 Kings 17:8-16; Mark 12:38-44 “. . . the one thing that the Bible does not contradict itself about is how people of faith are mandated to treat the most vulnerable in our society. The Bible does not equivocate about economic justice and about how the most at risk in society should be the recipients of the most attentive care by people of faith.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Deuteronomy 6:1-9; Mark 12:28-34 “This Table teaches us not to be afraid of the cost of love, not to be afraid of grief. This Table teaches us the beautiful symmetry of love doing what it does best—not giving up. Love doesn’t quit, love doesn’t die—it knows how to hold on, it knows how to let go, it knows how to grow things in hard places and soft . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Job 42:1-6, 10-17; Mark 10:46-52 “No matter how many walls we build, or gates we construct, or locks we put on our doors, or judgments we make about “them,” and blind spots we willfully maintain about “us,” we breathe in the same oxygen, we are poisoned by the same toxic anger, we are diminished by anyone’s dehumanization.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Job 38:1-7, 34-41; Hebrews 5:1-10 “So, why is it so often that our suffering isolates us from each other? Why is it so easy for us to lapse into mentalities of entitlement and blame? The hierarchies of worthiness that define our society of haves and have nots are conspiring to snuff out the flame of Christ that burns in each of us.” . . .
by Richard Coble Amos 5:6-7, 10-15; Mark 10:17-31 “It takes work to be a church and a city and a country where people really can lay down their burdens and be who God calls them to be, and not be victimized, not be run over by systems or powerful people who use others for their own gain. It takes work to be a people who actually trust that God really is in this place . . .
Psalm 51:1-4, 10-12; Psalm 63:1-7; Psalm 146; Psalm 100 Samantha Gonzalez-Block, Heather Ferguson, Marcia Mount Shoop, & Richard Coble “The centering words of the psalmist are meant to bring us back to ‘what is true.’ Our task is to remember and to return. This rhythm, this building of muscle memory is what prepares us for the storms and celebrations of life… to remember and return. At the center, we find the . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29; James 5:13-20 “As people of faith, James reminds us that we do not face life’s challenges or questions alone. Christ calls us to lean on one another: to seek out answers and healing together, to recognize the quality of these relationships, and to commit ourselves to each other for the long haul. This is what it means to be faithful siblings in Christ. This . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Jeremiah 11:18-20; James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a Selfish ambition and envy are diseased ways of being in the world. Wisdom from heaven is not arrogant, but gentle, humble, willing to yield. Envy teaches us to hoard. Heaven reminds us nothing we have was ever ours to start with. Envy tells us we’ll never be enough or have enough. Heaven heals us, down deep in our souls—and tells us we are . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Proverbs 1:20-33; James 3:1-12 “In times of tension and stress, honoring the creative and the sacred power of speech requires that we take time to examine our thinking, our feelings, our hearts, our souls, our sensations—the things that give rise to speech.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop, Richard Coble, Samantha Gonzalez-Block and Jeff Jones Isaiah 35:4-7a; Acts 16:19-34 “Grace Covenant, we sing because we trust the new thing that God is doing in and through us. We sing because God has promised to provide for us. We sing because God is God–because Christ shows us the power of being brave in thin spaces, in spaces of tension, in spaces where things could go either way . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9; James 1:17-27 “We cannot call ourselves Christian and not engage in our economy with an embodied, active, and engaged commitment to economic justice. Prophets and profits do not have equal status—and we are called to active pursuit of social justice even when it is not in our self-interest.”   . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 35:15-22; Matthew 26:36-46 “Prayer connects us with the One who will not rest. The one who keeps moving and reacting, listening and understanding, surprising and shifting, radically transforming the lives of those who pray and the world as we know it.” . . .
by Richard Coble Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58 “We think of God’s eternity as bearing on our deaths and the deaths of those we love, and while that is certainly true of the promises of God, those promises are much more about the lives that we live today than about the distant future, the end of the age.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33; Ephesians 4:25-5:2 “Genuine faith does not flee from such difficult realities, but stays present and open to the growth that truth carries with it. Genuine faith is all about moral triage—about being able to prioritize what faith practices are most life-giving in spaces where competing moralities are in play.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 51:1-12; John 6:24-35 “Forgiveness is not about perfection or being able to repair all the harm we’ve done or the suffering we have created. Forgiveness is about trusting God’s grace to do far more than we can do for ourselves. Forgiveness is freedom.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block John 6:1-15; 2 Samuel 11:1-15 “To put it simply, to be made in the Lord’s image is to have the capacity and the faith to recognize that we are broken and we need God.”   . . .
by Richard Coble Jeremiah 23:1-6; Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 “If we believe in a God who stands with us rather than over us, who asks us to love as God loves, and who holds us in grief, in the fragility of life, then this God is calling us to something deeper than simple submission to a kingly decree.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19; Mark 6:14-29 “Without conflict, community is a parody of itself—mimicking relationships that make and give life, while actually trivializing who God created us to be together. With conflict, and the Spirit’s help, community can become a vivid expression of the very nature of God—love that goes the distance healing requires and doesn’t count the cost.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Ezekiel 2:1-5; 2 Corinthians 12:2-10 “What a beautiful way to orient ourselves to the thorns in our sides—the things that challenge us the most, the things that threaten to destroy us, to discourage us, to isolate and insult us. These thorns are not impediments to trustworthy revelation; they are prerequisites, because they keep us from becoming distorted by our own interpretations and pridefulness, and our own agendas.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Lamentations 3:22-33; Mark 5:21-43 “In the end, we can never prove the existence of God. We can only let it pour out of the stirrings in our souls.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Job 38:1-11; Mark 4:35-41 “These tumultuous times are no time to lose your faith, brothers and sisters. These are the days when faith is our most powerful weapon against violence, against hatred, against the commodification of people, against the criminalization of poverty, against the failure to see and respect the humanity of all people.” . . .
by Richard Coble Ezekiel 17:22-24; 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 “Being invited into the ministry of reconciliation means calling out the human view of objectification, of abuse, wherever it is practiced, when we practice it against others, when we practice it against ourselves, when we see the human point of view in full force in trusted places, like the church, like this country.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 121; John 15:1-17 “God calls us to be branches willing to be pruned, to adapt, to reform in order to better create God’s kingdom here on earth.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 139; 2 Corinthians 4:5-12 “The world does not need our self-righteousness or our feigned perfection, the world needs our clay pots in all their God-infused glory, to tell the stories only we can tell—of how the fragments of our broken lives tell the truth of God’s unparalleled power to raise and redeem the lost and shattered pieces of our pain.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 29; Romans 8:12-17 “The Trinity is about divinity and darkness—the Holy Mystery of a powerful love willing itself into every crack and crevice, every shadow and seed of human existence.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Acts 2:1-21; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15 “The Spirit was there when the church was born—in tongues of fire, in wounded human beings finding the courage to try a new way of being together. The church was born of the courage to prove the world wrong about the things that seek to divide us.” . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 1; John 17:6-19 “God looked out at the world – and all its brokenness – and instead of turning away, God chose to get into the ring like never before – to climb into human skin and walk beside us. God came to empathize and engage and empower, to understand, to upset and to unify.” . . .
by Richard Coble John 15:9-17; 1 John 5:1-6 “Imperfect, loving people, brought together by God, asked to love one another, empowered to love one another by the example and the Spirit and the Grace of God in Jesus Christ. We come together because we have tasted perfect, and unending love and grace, and we want so desperately to follow it, and to show it to others.” . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 22; 1 John 4:7-21 It is only when we look straight on at fear that we can hear the power of the Gospel. In a world that idolizes might and systematizes violence, Jesus comes on the scene with a ridiculous promise: God is love and those who abide in me abide in God and God abides in you . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 23; 1 John 3:16-24 The salamander is telling us something about ourselves. We are hard on the permeable things—the things that soak up our pain, our greed, our short-sightedness. Salamanders tell us about our out-of-sight-out-of-mind way of avoiding the hard truths we need to look at to heal ourselves, to heal the world. Love needs truth. And love needs action. That’s the only way love . . .
by Dr. William Jeffrey Jones 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36-48 “But glory be to God for Dappled things! What some see as an imperfection or blemish . . . God sees as a testimony to the perfect unity and infinitude of His creative power! We are called to celebrate the diversity of God’s creation and Richard embodied that in our midst!” . . .
by Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop “And so those who profess to follow in Christ’s way, must first trust Him, and must next be trustworthy—and not just any kind of trustworthy—the kind of trustworthy that is to life, that is to love, that is to healing.”   . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block, Mary Lou Nash, Elizabeth Propst and Keaton Hill Acts 4:32-35; John 20: 19-31 “Resurrection practice is a mysterious movement, its rhythm echoing the sacred unity of death and life, sorrow and joy.” . . .
by Richard Coble, Samantha Gonzalez-Block, and Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 25:6-9; John 20: 1-18 “Resurrection is in our bones, in our muscle twitches, in the energy that we share with each other without saying a word, in the deep narratives of broken hearts able to love again. Resurrection is built into the way our bodies are made, that way communities are made—in the ecosystems of God’s good creation, death does not have the . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 50:4-9a; Mark 11:1-11 Listen, brothers and sisters, to this profound invitation—to be a source of healing in this world, to be a faithful person in this world, you must open yourself up to become someone you have trouble believing you can be . . .
by Richard Coble Jeremiah 31:31-34; John 12:20-33 God is not the cause of suffering, but rather accompanies us in our suffering, gets lost with us in our suffering, but also, and also, God accompanies us as we grow, and growth is painful sometimes, and necessary. Sanctification, theologians call it, by the power of the Holy Spirit; it’s not for the faint of heart . . .
by Hannah Shealy and Sidney Shoop Psalm 121; Matthew 17:14-20 How does your faith help you move mountains . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 19; John 2:13-22 Righteous anger is a carrier of our deep interdependence. An affront to the humanity of one person is an affront to your humanity, to mine. Righteous anger is an explosion of love—for a world that can never be healed on the backs of the misery of any . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 22:23-31; Mark 8:31-38 When Jesus says, “take up your cross and follow me,” he is telling us not to pack light on our journey in his service. He is asking us to bring our whole selves. Bring all your shame, your suffering—the suffering you bear and the suffering you cause, the suffering that has made you stronger and the suffering that has left you weary, diminished, not sure if you . . .
by Richard Coble Psalm 25:1-10; Mark 1:9-15 There is no wilderness in which God does not walk beside us. There is no disillusionment that can make God stop holding on to you. There is no depth that God will not sink with us. No way to get lost where God will not get lost with us . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop 2 Kings 2:1-12; Mark 9:2-9 Being a person of faith in this tumultuous world is about belief, not certainty. It is about mystery, not mastery. It is about trust, not control. Breathe that in for a minute—these are more than just words. These are dispositions toward human life that call on us to give ourselves to the world with such generosity, with such open hearts, with such confidence in God’s . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Mark 1:29-39; Isaiah 40:21-31 God is here and now – as God has always been – reaching out in compassion, pushing us from pain to new life, working tirelessly for peace and reconciliation. We need only awaken and see . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 Food can bring us closer to God. It’s not a legalistic way to control our relationship with God or a golden ticket to achieve righteousness. Food needs love for it to heal us. And God is yearning for us to taste that, to savor that, to cultivate that nourishing, nurturing love deep within ourselves . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 As Christians we are called to live in time collapsed, time conflated—in the layers of truth that every moment entails—layers of history, generations, layers of present realities, complexities, and perspectives, and layers of future possibilities—full of both promise and peril . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Because you see what Paul is trying to tell us is something we so desperately need to hear. We’ve got the whole “self-care” thing all wrong. When you care for your body you are not just caring for yourself, you are caring for your community. Care of your body is care for our Body. Care of your body is care of Christ’s . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block Psalm 29; Luke 2:41-52 Here at the font, our journeys of faith begin. Something old is gone and something new awaits us at the surface. Here we jump into the unknown and immerse ourselves in terrifying, glorious water. We let the danger, the risk of faith wash over because the good news is this: we believe, we know that God is always here – ready to catch us . . .
by Samantha Gonzalez-Block and Richard Coble Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:22-40 …faith is not really about expectation, about having all the answers. The essence of faith is trust . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop John 1:1-14 John’s Gospel doesn’t tell the story of the nativity that Luke’s and Matthew’s Gospels tell—instead this Gospel writer tells us the story of the cosmos—before there was time, before there was anything—this source of all wisdom, the source of light and life, yearned to come close to us—and the Incarnation is that yearning becoming as concrete, as mind-blowing, as world changing as a . . .
by Marcia Mount Shoop Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Luke 1:46b-55 Faith waits like Mary did—with confidence that God can turn the places where we have everything to lose, into a panacea—a remedy for what truly ails us all—not just some of us, but all that lives and breaths—that God is calling you and me to shed the way the world distorts our lives and our life together, that God gestates in our . . .
Isaiah 40:1-11; Mark 1:1-8 For when we recognize this brokenness – when we really do – we may also recognize our need for God to help put the pieces back together. We recognize the urgency of Advent. We see the necessity to construct a path for Christ to enter into the wilderness of our lives and to completely shift the world as we know it . . .
Isaiah 64:1-9 Mark 13:24-37 And yet expectation remains a part of the faith; it is central to the faith. We Christians believe in something bigger than ourselves; we find hope in a God who is love, who is justice; we hope that love is bigger than the biggest institution, that justice is more powerful than all the earthly powers that touch us, that can eat away at us, that marginalize and pummel our neighbors and the . . .
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Matthew 25:31-46 The Good Shepherd can separate the sheep and goats with just whistles and sounds, and gentle movements. The sheep and the goats know how to move to each side when the Good Shepherd tells them it is time. Within minutes they will be separated. The Good Shepherd is able to separate the sheep from the goats, from the fat sheep who have been eating more than their share, the . . .
But in this parable, God does not call us to wait. God does not call us to harbor our gifts. God does not call us to play it safe. God calls us to live with fearless faith: to open our hands and courageously show the talents we’ve been given . . .
To be called by God is to be humble and hopeful enough to speak truth out of love without knowing fully how it will be received. To be called by God is to be faithful and foolish enough to follow the path that isn’t safe or secure, but only promises a glimmer of Christ’s hope for the future . . .
Exodus 32:1-14, Philippians 4:1-9 The Rev. Dr. Richard Coble, Associate Pastor A man in his fifties, in a circle of women and men of a variety of ages, all of them seated in grey metal folding chairs, some sipping coffee, some with their hands holding up their faces. He stands and he tells his story: Hello, My name is Jake and I am an alcoholic.1‘Hi Jake,’ they respond, all in union. And Jake . . .
“PRESS ON” SCRIPTURE: EXODUS 20: 1-4, 7-9, 12-20; PHILIPPIANS 3: 4b-14 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC October 8, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Imagine for a minute that your moment has arrived—the moment you’ve dreamed of—your moment when you are called on to shine, to really do your thing— whatever that is—and the world is watching. This is your moment—what would your sound track be? In . . .
Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 24 September 2017 Sermon: “Getting in Line” Rev. Samantha González-Block Jonah 3:10-4:11 Matthew 20:1-16 As a child growing up in a soccer-loving town in New Jersey, virtually all of my friends were great athletes. There were dozens of soccer leagues for every age and on the weekends parks were pretty much packed with back-to-back games. Now, my siblings and I are the product . . .
Exodus 15: 1B-11, 20-21; Romans 14: 1-12 Look at us all, given this thing we call church, that we call tradition, full of histories of love, and struggle, striving and trying. It’s a history of people reaching out to a God who ever always draws near and reaches out to us. Feel this spirit that binds us, that holds us upright, that gathers us just as the skeleton gathers the flesh. It holds us upright even . . .
1 YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS SCRIPTURE: PSALM 119: 33 – 40; ROMANS 13: 8 – 14 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC SEPTEMBER 10, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Greg and Andrea Smith had a plan. 1 Houston had only been their home since July, so their plan was the result of asking people who understand hurricanes more than they do. Andrea was due any time now and she had been having contractions off and . . .
1 POSSIBILITIES AND DEPENDENCIES SCRIPTURE: JEREMIAH 15: 15 – 21; ROMANS 12: 9 – 21 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC September 3, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor I have a question for you. I hope you will give me an honest answer. Tell the truth. Are you ready? How many of you spent at least part of your Satu rday watching football ? (show of hands) Yes, f ootball season is here. Oh, the joy of it . . .
“ROCKING THE WORLD” SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 51: 1 – 6; MATTHEW 16: 13 – 20 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC August 27, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Isaiah 51:1 – 6 51:1 Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the LORD. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. 51:2 Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you . . .
GCPC, 8/20/17 Matt 15:21 – 28 The Outsiders – Richard Coble Have you ever felt like you were on the outside , looking in ? On the margins; stuck on the sidelines as the game plays on; a pariah to the cool kids; not invited to the party; ignored at promotion time; or even not getting a call back from the interview? Aunt Gladdis didn’t invite m e to the family reunion. M y son Bruce never calls . . .
1 SINKING, SWIMMING, FLOATING SCRIPTURE: PSALM 85, MATTHEW GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC August 13, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor SINKING T he RMS Titanic sank just after 2am on April 15 1912 after striking an iceberg . 1500 people perished. Shipbuilders magazine boasted before Titanic sailed that she was “practically unsinkable” because of her revolutionary design . P eople believed she was a sure thing — the “practically” faded and the “unsinkable” stuck . But nothing is unsinkable. They . . .
1 PRACTICING ABUNDANCE SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 55: 1 – 5; MATTHEW 14: 13 – 21 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC August 6, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Yesterday under a venerable old tree in the high desert of New Mexico, people gath ered to remember one of the greatest practitioners of abundance this world has ever seen. The Community Farm in Santa Fe always seemed to have more than enough of what people needed — nourishment, community, connection . . .
1 Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 30 July 2017 Sermon: “Simple Acts” Rev. Samantha Gonzalez – Block Micah 6:1 – 8 Acts 8:26 – 40 Every morning as the sun rises, Timoteo begins his long as cent up the mountain by foot to his pri zed, closet – sized piece of farm land that looks over the city of San Miguel, Guatemala – the place he calls home. He has been making that journey up the mountain . . .
“SEED SOWING AND CHURCH GROWING” SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 55: 10 – 13; MATTHEW 13: 1 – 9, 18 – 23 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC July 16, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Isaiah 55:10 – 13 55:10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater . . .
“YOU DID NOT DANCE” SCRIPTURE: SONG OF SONGS 2: 8 – 13; MATTHEW 11: 16 – 19, 25 – 30 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC July 9, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Song of Solomon 2:8 – 13 2:8 The voice of my beloved! Look, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills. 2:9 My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Look, there he stands behind our wall . . .
TABLE MANNERS SCRIPTURE: JEREMIAH 28: 5 – 9; MATTHEW 10: 40 – 42 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC July 2, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor If you and I were gathered on a Communion Sunday in the 1500s in Geneva or in 17 th century Scotland or even today in some Church of Scotland congregations or some Presbyterian congregations in this country , this homily preceding Communion would have one purpose and one purpose only — to make . . .
HER – STORY SCRIPTURE: GENESIS 21: 8 – 21; HEBREWS 11: 1 – 3, 8 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC June 25, 2017 Katie Rosenson, Marcia Mount Shoop, Samantha Gonzalez – Block, Preaching INTRODUCTION Samantha: Abraham didn’t know where he was going? Marcia: He sure didn’t have any trouble telling Hagar where she needed to go. Katie: Is it ok to be disappointed in the heroes of our faith? Samantha: Is it ok to be disappointed in . . .
IT TAKES THREE SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 6: 1 – 8; MATTHEW 28: 16 – 20 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC June 11, 2017, Trinity Sunday The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor My first introduction to the mystery, the divine trans cendence of the numb er 3 dazzled my eyes and sang its sweet melody into my ears as a little girl once a week in Danville, KY — (Jeff play tune from “Three is a magic number” from School House . . .
HOMILY “TOGETHER IN ONE PLACE” SCRIPTURE: ACTS 2: 1 – 21; JOHN 20:19 – 23 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC June 4, 2017 Pentecost The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor It started with a curious look through the window on the door outside m y office. After our worship service on Sundays they used our Fellowship Hall for their worship services. From inside my office I could hear the tambourines and the shouts and the cadence of . . .
Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 28 May 2017 Sermon: “The Glorified Heart” Rev. Samantha Gonzalez – Block Psalm 68:1 – 10 John 17:1 – 11 “Inside this little wooden box – is God. ” (Samantha hold s up box ) This is what Ms. Roberta said to her antsy fifth grade Sunday School class. “Do you want to see what God looks like?” All of her students beg an to jump high in their seats. “Ooo, Ooo, Yes . . .
THE BIG REVEAL SCRIPTURE: PSALM 66: 8 – 20; JOHN 14:15 – 21 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC May 21, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Psalm 66:8 – 20 66:8 Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard, 66:9 who ha s kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip. 66:10 For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us . . .
1 “WAYS AND MEANS” SCRIPTURE: PSALM 31: 1 – 5, 15 – 16; JOHN 14: 1 – 14 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC May 14, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Psalm 31:1 – 5, 15 – 16 31:1 In you, O LORD, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me. 31:2 Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge . . .
1 “SAY IT AGAIN” SCRIPTURE: PSALM 23; JOHN 10: 1 – 10 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC May 7, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Churches don’t build themselves. They are born out of aspiration, out of vision, and out of a commitment that moves people to believe in something they can’t yet see. Such commitment to build something new is not for the faint of heart , nor is it for t he tepid of . . .
1 Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 30 April 2017 Sermon: Seeing is Believing” Rev. Samantha Gonzalez – Block Psalm 116:1 – 4, 12 – 19 Luke 24:13 – 35 “How is this night different from other nights?” Growing up in an interfaith home, with a Jewish father and Presbyterian mother, the Easter season was always coupled with the cherished Jewish holiday of Passover. As many of you know, Passover is a time to sit at table . . .
“BELIEVING IS SEEING” SCRIPTURE: PSALM 16; JOHN 20: 19 – 31 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC April 23, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor It’s a week past Easter, and Jesus’ followers are hold up behind closed doors — locked doors. Story goes that they were scared — afraid of “the Jews.” Seems like they’d be afraid of the Roman officials — they are the ones who executed Jesus after all. Bu t they were afraid of “the . . .
1 “RISE UP” SCRIPTURE: EZEKIEL 37: 1 – 10; MATTHEW 28: 1 – 10 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia W. Mount Shoop, Pastor Fifty – eight years ago, April 16, a young couple just beginning their twenties and just shy of a year into their marriage, are caught up in the wonder and delight of their new baby daughter — just five days old: a beautiful baby by all accounts, and . . .
1 “SACRED SEMANTICS” SCRIPTURE PSALM 118: 1 – 2, 19 – 29; MATTHEW 21: 1 – 11 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC April 9, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Matthew 21:1 – 11 21:1 When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphag e, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 21:2 saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey . . .
1 Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 26 March 2017 Youth Sunday Sermon: “ Be the Bridge ” Luke Shealy, Makahla Stout Mark 12:28 – 34 Hebrews 13:1 – 3, 5 – 7, 12 – 16 Music led by Isabel Parker , along with: Owen Gast, Hannah Engels, Emily Frye , Paige Kemper , Kaegan Parks LUKE: Las t fall, I had the opportunity to travel with other students from my school, to Denmark. Our flight was from Atlanta to Copenhagen. The . . .
HE SAID, SHE SAID SCRIPTURE: EXODUS 17:1 – 7; JOHN 4: 5 – 29, 39 – 42 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC March 19, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor John 4: 5 – 29, 39 – 42 4:5 So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar (su – char) , near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 4:6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired . . .
1 “AGAINST THE WIND” SCRIPTURE: GENESIS 12: 1 – 4a; JOHN 3: 1 – 17 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC March 12, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor John 3:1 – 17 3 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs . . .
1 “WELCOMING WILDERNESS” SCRIPTURE: GENESIS 2:15 – 17; 3:1 – 7 ; MATTHEW 4:1 – 11 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC March 5, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor The Peace of Wild Things, Wendell Berry When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the . . .
1 Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 26 February 2017 Sermon: “Our Eyes to the Hills” Rev. Samantha Gonzalez – Block Exodus 24:12 – 18 Matthew 17:1 – 9 When I was eight years old, I learned how to ski – at least, I thought I did. T here was a deal in town for five Saturday morning classes for kids and my mother generously signed me up. At 6 AM, a bus would come to fetch me . . .
1 THE PROBLEM WITH PERFECT SCRIPTURE: LEVITICUS 19:1 – 2; 9 – 18; MATTHEW 5: 38 – 48 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC February 19, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor I have a confession to make. You may think I am a bad parent. You m ay think I am a good parent. But the truth is, this is what I use to do when my kids were little and someone gave them a toy . . .
DID HE REALLY JUST SAY THAT? SCRIPTURE: DEUTERONOMY 30:15 – 20; MATTHEW 5: 21 – 37 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC February 9, 2017 The Rev. Samantha Gonzalez – Block and The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastors PART ONE: DISORIENTATION/CHAOS HOW DO WE KNOW WHERE WE ARE GOING? Pulpit (MMS and SGB move to center of Chancel and take off stoles) Reading One — S GB : A reading from the Gospel of Matthew. 21 “You have . . .
1 ADD SALT TO FAST SCRIPTURE : ISAIAH 58: 1 – 2; MATTHEW 5:13 – 20 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC February 5, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Matthew 5:13 – 20 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. 5:14 “You are . . .
1 G race Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 29 January 2017 Sermon: “ Walking Uphill ” Rev. Samantha Gonzalez – Block Micah 6:6 – 8 Matthew 5:1 – 12 I wonder if Jesus ever got stage fright. Did his voice ever crack, did his hands ever twitch? Di d his eyes wander when he spoke or did he shift his weight from side to side? Did he clear hi s throat over and over again or twist his fingers . . .
1 GOODBYE NETS AND BOATS SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 9: 1 – 4; MATTHEW 4: 12 – 23 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC January 22, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor In 1999 Eric and Phillipa Kempson decided to make a change in their lives. 1 They wanted out of the rat race. And they had fallen in love with the island of Lesbos while there on vacation. They had dreams of a simple life. Eric, an artist, would . . .
1 TAKEN BY THE HAND SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 43:1 – 9 ; MATTHEW 3: 13 – 17 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC January 8, 2017 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor 13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ 15 But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for it . . .
1 “OF WONDER AND WEARY DREAMS” SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 7:10 – 15; MATTHEW 1: 18 – 25 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC December 18, 2016 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Matthew 1:18 – 25 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in t his way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 1:19 . . .
1 Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 11 December 2016 Sermon: “ Expecting the Unexpected ” Samantha Gonzalez – Block James 5:7 – 10 Luke 1:26 – 38 I will never forget that particular Christmas morning. My eleven – year – old brother and a seven – year – old me flew down the stairs ( in our matching reindeer o nesie pajamas ) and dove strait towards the foot of our family’s Christmas tree. We grabbed the two biggest . . .
1 “CORE STORY” SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 11: 1 – 6; MATTHEW 3: 1 – 12 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC December 4, 2016 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor A 600 page book tells me the story of the Christmas of my dreams in small town Kentucky in 1978 . The in – breaking of my Christmas vision emerges from 100s of thin pages crowded with vivid descriptions. Hopes realized , unmet needs answered, and dreams come true — the template for . . .
1 Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 20 November 2016 Sermon: “ Good Neighbors ” Samantha Gonzalez – Block Luke 23: 33 – 43 Jeremiah 23:1 – 6 Lucy and Ethel were good neighbors . As many of you know, this sweet pair was featured on the “I Love Lucy” television show back in 1950’s. It was ground – breaking for its time – the first to feature a marriage between a Caucasian – American and Cuban immigrant, and the . . .
1 “TRUST FACTOR” SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 65: 17 – 25; LUKE 21: 5 – 19 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC November 13, 2017 , 10:30am Service The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor When I was a little girl, I had big plans. I wanted to be President of the United States. I wanted to make an impact on the questions that mattered — racism, nuclear disarmament, economic justice. I wanted to make the world a better place. At some point . . .
“RE – MEMBERING” SCRIPTURE: JOB: 19 – 23 – 27a; LUKE 20:27 – 38 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC November 6, 2016 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Luke 20: 27 – 38 20:27 Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him 20:28 and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall . . .
1 Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church Asheville, North Carolina 30 October 2016 Sermon: “ Come on Down! ” Samantha Gonzalez – Block Isaiah 1:10 – 13, 16 – 18 Luke 19:1 – 10 This may come as surprise to you all, but I am told that when I was very young living in New Jersey, I spoke English with a very thick Southern – Spanish accent. Now I am not quite sure what that sounds like, but the source of my . . .
1 “CALL YOUR NEXT WITNESS” SCRIPTURE JOEL 2: 23 – 32; LUKE 18: 9 – 14 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC October 23, 2016 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Old men dream ing dreams Prophetic daughters Young ones with fresh visions And captives come into wide – open spaces No more shame The survivors will flourish The humble justified The arrogant dismantled Contempt evaporates And a witness’ silence abates O to inhabit such a world Strange and . . .
1 LIFE KEEPING GENESIS 32: 22 – 31; LUKE 18:1 – 8 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC October 16, 2016 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor A Sabbath Poem by Wendell Berry No, no, there is no going back. Less and less you are that possibility you were. More and more you have become those lives and deaths that have belonged to you. You have become a sort of grave containing much that was and is no . . .
1 RISKY BUSINESS SCRIPTURE: JEREMIAH 29:1, 4 – 7; LUKE 17: 11 – 19 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC October 9, 2016 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Luke 17:11 – 19 17:11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 17:12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 17:13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us . . .
(Available only as audio) Samatha Gonzalez-Block, Marcia Mount Shoop & Rebecca Gurney . . .
DANGEROUS IMAGINATION AND OTHER KEYS TO HEALTHY LIVING SCRIPTURE: AMOS 6a, 4 – 7; LUKE 16: 19 – 31 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC September 25, 2016 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor No one thought he had a prayer of winning the Olympics — except for him. Billy Mills made a decision to believe. The first race he ever ran as a young boy from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, he ran in blue jeans . . .
1 GOD’S HONEST TRUTH SCRIPTURE: JEREMIAH 8: 18 – 9:1; JOHN 3: 13 – 17 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC September 18, 2016 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor “ What is truth? ” Pontius Pilate asks Jesus this question. Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life. “ What is truth? ” Pilate says with truth staring him right in the face. Pilate is an opportunist. A political animal. A man who does not impress with his moral courage . . .
(available only as audio) Kathleen O’Connor . . .
1 “LET US COUNT THE WAYS” SCRIPTURE: PSALM 139: 1 – 6, 13 – 18; LUKE 14: 25 – 33 GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC September 4, 2016 The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor Luke 14:25 – 33 14:25 Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 14:26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even . . .