Sermons

Seeing With Empathy

We’ve come to end of our series on relationships (that can make or break you!) having talked about friends, family, and our enemies. So in conclusion, let us focus on this thing which is at the center of all this relationship stuff: empathy. Empathy is sexy (some say) and it’s difficult to get away from the word these days. Many see it as the way out of this dystopian political state we are in, or its lack as the reason we are here in the first place. But what if we are all a bit confused about what it means and what it actually looks like in our day to day interactions? When the Good Samaritan does his thing, is he driven by empathy, compassion, sympathy, duty, all of the above? Is the idea of incarnation, God becomes human, an act of empathy?

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Sermons

On Family

“Blood is thicker than water,” that old devilish saying goes. The meaning of this phrase is pretty straightforward: family (blood) relations are inherently stronger than any other kind of non-familial (water) relationship or bond. Right? Nah. This rendition of the phrase actually carries the complete opposite meaning from the original phrase: “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” Funny how words get twisted.

Familial relationships can be great, aaaaand they can be the worst. Join us this week as we continue our examination of the relationships that make and break us. We will examine one of Jesus’s most famous parables - the prodigal son - and see what sense we can make of family, loosely defined.

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Sermons

A Brief History of Friendship

This week we focus our attention on friendship. On one hand, maybe it's weird for a community of adults to talk about this thing which seems to hold diminishing importance for us as we move through the world. It is also not exactly the most famous of topics when it comes to Christianity and religion and spirituality in general. At the same time, adult friendships are important! Particularly so for a generation that is super transient, getting married later (if at all), having less kids, and has the internet (insert anti-tech screed here). Furthermore, there is actually a rich and robust history of thought around friendship as a theological and philosophical topic. One could even argue that when Jesus talked about love and relationships, he was informed more by his friendships than familial or romantic bonds. In any case, join us as we start to unpack the relationshipthat St. Augustine said was “sweeter than all the sweetness of [his] life."

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People of Invitation

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There is this thing called the Great Commission, the last five sentences that close out the Gospel of Matthew. It says things like “Go out and make disciples of all nations,” for which it has become a rallying cry for all sorts of efforts to evangelize and convert people. That makes a certain sort of sense, but divine command mixed with human fallibility is formula for disaster, perhaps THE formula for disaster. The kinds of so-called Christian efforts taking place in Alabama and elsewhere underscore just how deep fallibility runs, as well as how fraught the idea of evangelizing can be when mixed with bad theologies, politics, and a prejudiced view about what it means to actually show love. Before we consider if there is a better way to do this, it might be necessary to ask what “this” actually is. In other words, what does it mean for us, our community in particular, to share something with the world?

Cringey Moments of Regret

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Have you ever been gossiping about someone and then they walked in and overheard you? Or maybe lost your temper at your partner and said that one thing that you know they are really insecure about just to hurt their feelings? Or dipped out early from your friend’s birthday party because you got a better offer? Every one of us has, at various points in our lives, done things that have hurt the people we care about. And as much as we might wish we could turn back time and do things differently, the painful truth is that we can’t.

Instead, we have to deal with those cringe-y moments of regret as they come, and find ways to not let our mistakes be the death of our relationships or our sense of self-worth. We have to seek forgiveness from those we’ve hurt, and forgive ourselves (which might be even more difficult). This week, as we continue the Easter season, we are going to explore whether this whole resurrection thing wasn’t just a one time miracle that happened to Jesus all those years ago, but something that still happens today, even in our very own lives. What if resurrection looks less like a dead man walking, and more like forgiveness? At first glance, it might seem less incredible, sure, but it just might be the key to bringing us back to life when we are most down and out.

Advent 2018 - Change

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If everything you’ve ever known was turned on its head how would you feel? Probably not calm, confident, and comforted. But, distraught, uncertain, and uncomfortable. Yet, Isaiah’sprophecy (Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God) tells us that everything must change to prepare for Christ to come into the world. Valleys need raising and mountains and hills flattening. We’ve got to boldly shake it all up. So why don’t we? Why is change, even change that we know will be good for us—like saying “no” to that toxic relationship or giving up our facebook profiles—so hard?

This week we are going to talk about change. The changes that we yearn for, the changes that scare us, the changes that we might even be too afraid to admit that we need. We’ll grapple with the heart of the Advent message: that things don’t have to stay the same as they are—in fact, that they can’t stay the same if we do our work in preparing the way for Christ to come. Maybe we’ll discover a little of that comfort that Isaiah seemed to think change has to offer us, and some of the courage and hope that we need to change our lives for the better.

Grace as a Lack of Control

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Grace is kind of a big deal in Christianity. Yet, it often takes a massive back seat to things like faith and love (so boring). Why is that? Maybe part of the reason is that grace is like the beginning stages of a romantic relationship. All that “hi, I like you” stuff is really fascinating until you get married and have kids and blah blah and then it's like it was just a point on a linear line towards death. But grace isn’t just a thing that gets us from A to Z. It is the thing that actually creates and shapes our destinations. And not just one time but continuously, again and again. It isn’t just the opening up of a possibility. It is possibility itself opened up to us as possibility. Which is why it’s so strange that we often think of grace as something like avoiding disaster or damnation. After all, why would a life that is all about the absence or avoidance of terrible things worth being thankful for?

 

A Lonely God

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If everything you’ve ever known was turned on its head how would you feel? Probably not calm, confident, and comforted. But, distraught, uncertain, and uncomfortable. Yet, Isaiah’sprophecy (Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God) tells us that everything must change to prepare for Christ to come into the world. Valleys need raising and mountains and hills flattening. We’ve got to boldly shake it all up. So why don’t we? Why is change, even change that we know will be good for us—like saying “no” to that toxic relationship or giving up our facebook profiles—so hard?

This week we are going to talk about change. The changes that we yearn for, the changes that scare us, the changes that we might even be too afraid to admit that we need. We’ll grapple with the heart of the Advent message: that things don’t have to stay the same as they are—in fact, that they can’t stay the same if we do our work in preparing the way for Christ to come. Maybe we’ll discover a little of that comfort that Isaiah seemed to think change has to offer us, and some of the courage and hope that we need to change our lives for the better.

Sermons

Doing and (not?)Believing - Tim Kim

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We're spending sometime with this Jesus as bread, eat and drink, weird cannibalistic language thing: "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day.”

Before we jump too quickly into the realm of metaphor, the word used here for “eat” is a Greek word that means something like to gnaw, crunch, and chew. This isn’t some sort of “Jesus please feed my soul” kind of thing. It depicts something quite literal. Eating together is a ritual of the Root and Branch community. We’ve always done it. We’ve done it many many many times. We’ll keep doing. Which begs the question: Why? What do such ritual things have to do with our idea of what is true, our beliefs, our sense of God? When we eat bread does it mean we believe? Or do we believe because we eat bread?

Sermons

Within Good and Evil - Virginia White

A man in a position of immense power seriously screws up. He lies and connives to cover his ass. His misdeeds cast a pall over his entire administration. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT KING DAVID ;). The same one credited with writing the Psalms. The one typically remembered as the godly man who led Israel through its glory days. But he's just violated a married woman, ordered her husband’s murder, and he’s still king. What are we to do when the people who are supposed to be on our side, to have our interests at heart, let us down? When they might even be outright evil? 

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Sermons

A Good Goodbye

How does one say goodbye well? Co-founder Neil Ellingson gives his farewell sermon (July 15, 2018).

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Reading:

Revelation 21:1-7
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”

And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

Sermons

Neil Ellingson - Easter: Object Permanence - April 1, 2018

On Easter we are asked to focus our attention on something that is hard to look at. Not because it is disturbing or painful (that would be Good Friday when we remember Jesus’ brutal crucifixion, and the brutality of oppression and death in our lives and our world); quite the opposite, because what we’re asked to look at on Easter is too good to be true. We can’t fix our gaze on the resurrection because it doesn’t fit our experience or understanding of how things go. People live, they die, and then their bodies decompose, eventually even all memory of them wisps away after a few generations. That’s all we know, anything else is wishful thinking, land of make believe, childish illusion.

OR IS IT??????

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Sermons

What is Community at Root and Branch? - January 21, 2018

Sermon by Tim Kim

As the year begins, we are starting a series of talks and conversations around the core values and beliefs at Root and Branch. We begin here with the question: What does community look like at Root and Branch? Co-pastor Tim shares reflections on how getting to know one another is the first step in getting to know God. 

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Reading:
Mark 1:14-20
1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God,
1:15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."
1:16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea--for they were fishermen.
1:17 And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people."
1:18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
1:19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets.
1:20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

Sermons

Manifesto for the Manyfesto

New R&B Conver-Sermon Series:

Time to Get REorganized Religion: A Community Manyfesto

Where Is Our Solid (Or At Least Holy) Ground In These Shifty Times and In Our Blessed, Unsettled Lives?

In our first time gathering as a community in 2018, those who came to church received "R&B-Incarnation Cards," each with a unique word we were invited to ponder and seek to embody over the next year. (If you weren't there we have plenty more - we'll have them in a basket Sunday Mornings this month and next). It's our hope that these can also be the basis for soul-opening conversations, informal and formal, about what we're each living out and into. (Shout out to Anna T.)

We also want to ask: as our weird, winding lives-on-the-way-to-the-divine come together, what do we hope to "incarnate" as a community?

We who hang around Root and Branch are on the cutting edge of a growing, loosely defined movement of people who are unsatisfied both with what's been presented to us as “organized religion” and the self-serve, rootless, go-it-alone spirituality that emerges to fill the gaps left in its wake. 

What is this other way we're after? Sometimes it can feel like our underground spirit mission is a lot of groping in the dark with a flickering headlamp for whatever this new/old something is. We can lose sight of the loves, longings, and truth-glimpses that brought us here in the first place. 

What are the stakes of all this for our lives?

Does this soul spelunking lead to any wide gleaming places? What do we hold--or seek to hold--sacred? We're pretty sure we value conversation and openness and the quest itself--is that the most we can positively affirm? Is that enough to carry us through life's inevitable holy sh*t moments? Is it enough to bring us to love's front porch, let alone it's living room?

Over the next few months, in Sunday Morning and Welcome Table reflections and conversations, we'll be attempting together to give sharper definition to where we stand/sit/want to grow from in relation to six themes. Each is a central aspect of what we think brings most of us to be interested in co-soul-searching. Our goal with each will be to draw clearer connecting lines with Christian story and theology, and also to our tragically, hilariously tangled times and individual lives right now.

By the end, with community reflection and conversation forming an integral part of our Manyfesto, we hope to have a bolder, more fertile-grounded sense of where we grow from here:

1. Community

2. Personal Transformation

3. Social / World Transformation

4.  Purpose Finding

5.  Creativity

6.  Accountability