Velda Rose United Methodist Church
5540 East Main Street Mesa AZ 85205
Senior Pastor, The Rev. Dr. Larry R. Norris, preaching,
unless otherwise noted
* asterisk refers to primary preaching text
Sunday, July 15, 2018
Scripture: *Luke 10:38-42
Sermon Title: "Is My Life In Balance"
Luke emphasizes the expectations and requirements of discipleship (9:51-19:27), the difficulty of the mission (10:1-11; 16-20), and the necessity of unconditional service to others (10:25-37). It is natural to wonder how on earth we end up today in the living room of Mary and Martha’s home! At first glance, it appears that we are in the middle of a family squabble. Mary is spending all of her time with Jesus, and Martha is doing all the work to prepare the food. Frustrated, Martha goes directly to Jesus with her complaint, hoping that Jesus will put Mary in her place. Martha does not get the sympathetic ear! Jesus says, “Mary has chosen the better part” (10:42). What is the point of this story? Certainly Luke is writing to show that the life of the disciple is not just action, but also listening and contemplation. The story is a complement to the parable of the Samaritan.
Sunday, July 22, 2018
Scripture: * Matthew 14:13-21
Sermon Title: "How Much Does Lunch Cost?
The feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle of Jesus that is told in all four Gospels. In Matthew’s Gospel, it follows the beheading of John the Baptist, and is set in the context of two contrasting meals, Herod’s birthday party and Jesus’ feeding of the crowds. The former is a tale of diabolical manipulation, and Herod lets himself be caught in a web of hatred and vindictiveness, from which he cannot extricate himself. The other meal, the feeding of the crowds, is driven by need. Jesus moves among the people with compassion and care and miraculously, food is provided for all, with some left over. What does this miracle have to say to us? While some may balk to take it seriously, because it defies rational explanation, that is a premature and shallow judgment. There are great lessons in this story that push us to think about the vitality and purpose of the church.
Sunday, July 29, 2018
Rev. Pamela Wagner, Preaching
Scripture: * Matthew 9:35-38 and Psalm 103:1-13
Sermon Title: “Walking the Streets”
A prominent section of Matthew’s Gospel is devoted to the commissioning of the disciples for a journey. One gets the distinct impression that the commission process in the text is really aimed at the readers of Matthew’s story more than the original disciples, at those who hear the Great Commission found in Matthew 28, and who have an assignment to “make disciples of all nations,” to walk the streets to spread the Word. Are WE called to “walk the streets?”
Sunday, August 5, 2018 Holy Communion
Scripture: * Matthew 14:22-33
Sermon Title: “Why Did You Doubt?"
The story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water is often considered a stumbling block too many believers. Even in the first century it was probably regarded with some skepticism, but for the Jewish believer it would not have been an issue. If the God of the Exodus could liberate his people from Egypt, he could certainly empower Jesus to walk on water. The question would not have been, “Is it possible?” but, “Did it actually happen in this particular case?” This is a story that challenges us to think about faith. It is very clear that when Peter left the boat that was being “tortured” by the waves, he acted with great faith. However, he lost his focus when the violence of the waves and wind distracted him from Jesus. Whether one thinks of only Peter, or the boat as symbolic of the church, there are powerful lessons here for us about risk, faith and doubt.
Sunday, August 12, 2018
Scripture: * Matthew 15:10-20; 21-28
Sermon Title: "Who Are You Calling a Dog?"
This story of Jesus' encounter with the Canaanite woman clearly includes a racial slur, the epithet of "dogs." The Canaanite woman acknowledges Jesus' Jewish status, calling him "Son of David." But she will not keep quiet. The disciples want Jesus to tell her to go away but he reminds them of his first priority: "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Beyond that, the woman is to be commended for her persistence and freedom from posturing. She is willing to risk being the rejected outsider, a Gentile, in order to receive a blessing from Jesus. She is willing to receive "crumbs" from the Master's table. Her Gentile-daughter is healed. Divine grace will soon flow in this way to all outsiders! Some commentators have suggested that this encounter with the Gentile woman may be the only theological debate in the Gospels that Jesus ever lost!