Sermon Series: More Than the Twelve

6/13 - 8/1/2021


7/31 - 8/1/2021 | Mother Teresa (1920-1997)

We are called to servanthood, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked. Simply put, we are called to do, not merely to hear. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus’ last parable is the judgment of the nations, the all-important question of “How well did we do?” One disciple who responded to God’s grace with faithful action was Mother Teresa, who, in 1950, founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation that has over 4,500 nuns and was active in 133 countries in 2012. Her dedication to serving the poor is a model of faithful leadership, embodying the truth that we all are called to bring God’s mercy and abundance to others.

7/24 - 7/25/2021 | Polycarp

As the decades passed, the Christian movement found itself increasingly under threat from the Roman Empire. Though Empire-wide persecution would not come for a couple of centuries, even in those early years Christians lost their lives for nothing more than their allegiance to Jesus. Polycarp, the Bishop in Smyrna, was one of them. He had been a student of John the Apostle, and the story of his death is told in the aptly named Martyrdom of Polycarp. As we venture beyond the pages of scripture and into stories of the early church, is crucial for us to know and remember that Christians, to this day, are martyred for their faith in Jesus. How are we blessed by their loyalty to God?

7/17 - 7/18/2021 | The Disciples of Romans 16

So many names! As we come to Romans 16 it is so tempting to skip the first sixteen verses of this chapter. What are we to do with these strange names? So many people we have never heard of! But we cannot skip a single one. There is hardly a better place in the NT to grasp the energy, diversity, and dedication of the first-century Christians than Romans 16. Women, men, Gentiles, Jews, families, a woman apostle, and more! We might not know a lot about all these people, but we know more than we might think at first. Without them and others like them, we would not be Christians now.

7/10 - 7/11/2021 | Priscilla and Aquila

As we continue to learn about the large network of disciples, we will discover Prisca (Priscilla is a nickname) and her husband, Aquila, are the ones who correct Apollos’s errors about baptism. This is how God has created the church to be: we all strive to pull in the same direction, helping one another as needed. As we read their story, pay attention to the little details about Prisca and Aquila, their roles in the work of God’s Kingdom, and the unique ways they participated in the early church. As Paul would put it, diverse gifts, many members, one Lord.

7/3 - 7/4/2021 | Apollos

Who is Apollos? He gets a lot of space in the New Testament for a man few Christians have thought about. Apollos was an evangelist who traveled preaching the Good News of Jesus. He didn’t have everything right, but he was a worker in the field. As we read Paul’s words, he is teaching us the value of Apollos work in the midst of mistakes we can still fall into as modern Christians. Apollos might not be perfect, but God takes imperfect offerings and transforms them into worthy gifts of grace.

6/26 - 6/27/2021 | Stephen and the Seven

After Jesus’ resurrection, the work of the Kingdom is focused on the apostles (the Twelve). Soon after it quickly broadens, as the apostles find that they must delegate and others are invited into the work that must be done. As we read the names of Christians from ages past, we are called to realize their participation in the work of God. When Luke writes decades later, the community has remembered the names. Each of us matters.

6/19 - 6/20/2021 | The Seventy

Jesus sends seventy out in pairs. Even in the early days, the “Jesus movement” is large, with an evangelistic zeal. Jesus is putting a lot of people to work in his proclamation of the kingdom’s arrival, and he sends them in partnerships to carry the Gospel message. Kingdom work is to be done with others; isolation is not our way.

6/12 - 6/13/2021 | Mary Magdalene

So many Marys. Let’s take time to get to know Mary Magdalene, understanding her role as part of Jesus’ ministry, working and traveling alongside the Twelve. As we confront falsehoods about her life, we will read John’s story of Mary in the Garden, revealing her essential work in the Christian movement.

All Series

More Than Conquerors
5/14 - 6/19/2022
In the early first century, culturally speaking, everything was positioned around the idea that a nation ought to expand and conquer to accumulate power and influence. In this way, the movement that began with Jesus was positioned well to be a religion that was focused on going out in the world, spreading its message to new nations, and converting others to this system of beliefs. The world was primed for a religious movement that would respond to the great commission, and in effect, go forth and conquer. Yet, the church was not about conquering. It did not hope to extinguish and assimilate every other person and culture. Instead, the early church grew on the basis that it had the ability to universally speak to the human condition of brokenness and offer hope and promise in the wake of that very condition. The church would be more than the conquerors. Everyone was coming to believe in the promise of God. The Gospel reached into different cultures, differently idioms and languages altogether. In this message, they preached and believed that Jesus would return again, and would return again sooner rather than later. Nobody could have fathomed the idea that 2000 years into the future, we would still be waiting on this return. They were teaching each other lessons and lifting each other up in the hopes that they would be alive to see the grand return. However, those lessons taught have a practicality that transcends any time period. In growing over this time, the church moved beyond the disciples. What was once an effort of individuals and leaders who had all had direct connections to, and conversations with, the risen Lord now transitioned to a movement of different ages, nations, and races of converted believers who had simply heard the Good News of the Gospel. They would lean on their own spiritual experiences of the divine rather than tangible interactions with God Incarnate. What will leadership look like in this new Church? Who can be a part of this faith movement? What will be required to participate? Most importantly, how do those messages speak to us today?
4/23 - 5/8/2022
Easter has come, Christ has been resurrected. We have enjoyed the big celebrations, the Easter egg hunts, and the family meals, but we forget that there was more than an empty tomb after Christ was resurrected. There were more visits than the brief encounter of the women in the garden. A fully resurrected Christ is a free Christ. Jesus could have gone anywhere and done anything after the resurrection, and yet he chose to search for the disciples. Jesus sought out the ones who abandoned and failed him more than anyone else. The ones who swore loyalty disappeared. The ones who followed in his footsteps for three years turned their backs on the suffering Savior. The ones who pledged to help transform the world abandoned the mission in fear and shame. Yet the story of the cross and resurrection is true for each of us through the power of God’s grace: we are more than our worst moments. The worst thing is never the last thing. What might those disciples have been feeling after the cross? Can you imagine the deep silence between them? The shared knowledge of their failures? The unrelenting question: “What now?” Brene Brown defines shame as “an intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love, belonging, and connection.” It is not hard to imagine the deep shame of these disciples, one that each of them knew intimately and yet did not want to name. Shame assigns identity based on our worst moments. It thrives on secrecy. It is “the fear that something we’ve done or failed to do, an ideal we’ve not lived up to, or a goal we’ve not accomplished makes us unworthy of connection” (Brene Brown, Atlas of the Heart, 137). We see over and over again in the Gospels and Acts scenes of redemption and healing through God’s grace. Jesus could have chosen to abandon the ones who left him at the cross, who pretended they did not even know him, to start from scratch with better disciples. Yet in God’s infinite grace and unrelenting love, the disciples were chosen for connection, relationship, and entrusted with the mission of Christ. Jesus confronts their failures head on. This is the Christian story: our deepest shame is redeemed and we are transformed into world-changing disciples