Sermons

Sermons

Tim Kim - How Long? - July 10, 2016

How long will this go on? This is a question that I am sure many are shouting to God after the brutal murders we have seen these past weeks and months and years, and the volume grows and grows with each name added to the list of black lives that bear witness to a systematic and government sanctioned reality of racism, violence, and exploitation. In Psalm 82, God prepares to indict the gods that "judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked."  We must ask God in these moments, "How long can this go on?" And in Psalm 82, God asks of these wicked gods, "How long will you judge unjustly?" Can these questions exist together?

Tim is a co-founder of Root and Branch Church.

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Sermons

Neil Ellingson - Make Some Joyful Noise - July 3, 2016

What do we all want, deep deep down? Love? Meaning? Purpose? 

The answer is already implied in the question: if we WANT anything, it's the fulfillment of want, of desire. The word for this is joy.
It's different from happiness.
You've probably experienced it, even if you don't remember.
None of the central theological concepts in Christianity make sense without an understanding of joy.
It's not selfish to want to be joyful, in fact, it's selfish to want anything less.
The source of true joy is beyond this world, but joy can be experienced here and now.

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Sermons

Chris Hanley - Learning to Play - June 26, 2016

Contrary to popular belief (i.e., Christianity), perhaps "and a little child shall lead them" isn’t just about a baby born next to a cow who grows up to inspire both the awesome and awesomely awful. What if it also has something to do with the ability to play like we used to? What if this child is to remind us to enjoy the useful uselessness that makes life worth living? What if God's "holy mountain" isn't a metaphor for the love and safety of eternity but for today? WHAT IF?!

Chris Hanley is a graduate of the University of Chicago Divinity School, a soon-to-be minister, a longtime RnB attendee, and an all around cool dude.

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Sermons

Caroline Wooten - Humility + Audacity - June 5, 2016

Caroline Wooten shares stories related to the seemingly antithetical ideas of humility and audacity. Topics include Monica Lewinsky, cars that look like boots, and how the apostle Paul is often annoying but right. 

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Reading:
2 Corinthians 4
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Sermons

Neil Ellingson - What is the Trinity - May 22, 2016

Neil Ellingson waxes poetic on the trinity: what is it? why should we care? does it matter anymore? and so on.

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Reading: 
Proverbs 8
Does not wisdom call,
    and does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights, beside the way,
    at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
    at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
“To you, O people, I call,
    and my cry is to all that live.
O simple ones, learn prudence;
    acquire intelligence, you who lack it.
Hear, for I will speak noble things,
    and from my lips will come what is right;
for my mouth will utter truth;
    wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
All the words of my mouth are righteous;
    there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.
They are all straight to one who understands
    and right to those who find knowledge.
Take my instruction instead of silver,
    and knowledge rather than choice gold;
for wisdom is better than jewels,
    and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.
I, wisdom, live with prudence,
    and I attain knowledge and discretion.
The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
    and perverted speech I hate.
I have good advice and sound wisdom;
    I have insight, I have strength.
By me kings reign,
    and rulers decree what is just;
by me rulers rule,
    and nobles, all who govern rightly.
I love those who love me,
    and those who seek me diligently find me.
Riches and honor are with me,
    enduring wealth and prosperity.
My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold,
    and my yield than choice silver.
I walk in the way of righteousness,
    along the paths of justice,
endowing with wealth those who love me,
    and filling their treasuries.
The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
    the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up,
    at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
    when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
    before the hills, I was brought forth—
when he had not yet made earth and fields,
    or the world’s first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there,
    when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
    when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
    so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
    then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
    rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
    and delighting in the human race.

Sermons

Virginia White - Fire for the Weary - May 15, 2016

Pastoral Intern, Virginia White preaches on spirit that comes for the weary, the scared, the uninspired, the burned out. 

Pentecost Sunday:
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability (from the book of Acts, Chapter 2).  

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Sermons

Tim Kim - Doubting My Own Face - April 10, 2016

Part two of our sermon series on doubt: Co-founder Tim Kim tries to take a stick and poke around at the roots of our doubt. Also there are references to Ludwig Wittgenstein, the movie Hook (top 5 greatest), and how Jenga is whack. 

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Reading:
From the Gospel of Matthew:
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Sermons

Neil Ellingson - Doubt Be Not Proud - April 3, 2016

R&B Co-founder Neil kicks of a sermon series on doubt. Listen, cuz its interesting. 

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Doubt Month:

At Root and Branch, we like to talk a big game about how we’re a safe religious space to question even the most central tenets of religion. And simply because we’re trying to put down roots of commitment and to branch out with faith, doesn’t mean we won’t have moments or months where we feel like we’re treading water, and the waves are choppy, and was that a shark fin are you f-ing serious right now?

But is there a point where doubt itself must be put into question? Is there a fruitful kind of doubting and one that is just plain destructive and unhelpful? What’s the difference between intellectual doubt—say about the truth or falsehood of Biblical claims—and existential doubt—say in our own worthiness, or the basic trustworthiness of life, other people, and the God who gives reality to all of the above? Must they be connected at all?

Join us for our sermon series in April, International Doubt Month, and help us dig into doubt.

Doubt, thou shalt be doubted.

Sermons

Tim Kim - The Nothingness of Resurrection - March 27, 2016

Tim talks on Easter Sunday about asking the right questions and hearing God call our names.

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Reading:

John 20:
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Sermons

Virginia White - Palm Sunday - March 20, 2016

Pastoral Intern Virginia White tackles Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus triumphantly rides a donkey into Jerusalem while people cheer. Jesus' triumph, however, might just be a story about how we may be empowered to reconsider the worst fears we have in our lives. 

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Reading:
From the Gospel of Luke:
After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” 

As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”

Sermons

Neil Ellingson - Smelling God - March 13, 2016

Co-founder Neil Ellingson offers a meditation on the story where Jesus' friend Mary washes his feet with expensive perfume and everyone loses their minds. 

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Reading:
John 12:
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them[a] with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii[b] and the money given to the poor?” 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it[c] so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

Sermons

Justin Bloesch - Listening to the Outrage - February 21, 2016

Longtime Root and Branch-er, Justin Bloesch, shares some thoughts about what outrage over police violence has to do with hearing the voice of God. 

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Officially, this is part of our beatitudes sermon series, so keep these two in mind:

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they will be called children of God. 
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Sermons

Neil Ellingson - Gentle and Agitating - Feb 14, 2016

A continuation on our series on the beatitudes:
Blessed are the meek, and Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Aren't these in contradiction? Which is it- are we to be meek and patient and gentle in the face of a world that has hurt us and will probably do so again, or are we to be honest about our dissatisfaction with so many things? Don't tell me the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Ok! It doesn't. It lies in being both to the utmost. That's where we can encounter the joy and full aliveness that comes from God knows where.

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Blessed are the meek: for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled. (5:6)

Sermons

Neil E. & Tim K. - Bliss, Mourning, Comfort - Feb. 7, 2016

Root and Branch Co-founders Neil and Tim begin a sermon series on the Beatitudes.

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The Beatitudes are some of the most memorable and quoted lines from the New Testament. They distill a vision of new ways of living. They only make sense if you can see within and beyond this reality into another one - an upside-down, outside-in, bizarro reality that Jesus of Nazareth not only imagined but saw as if he were rocking contact lenses with a prescription stolen from another dimension.

This week: 
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 5:3)
Blessed are those who mourn: for they will be comforted. (5:4)

Sermons

Virginia White - Body Talk - Jan 23, 2016

Pastoral Intern (from the University of Chicago Divinity School) Virginia White on Christianity's long obsession with bodies and ways that might be helpful for us to think the about our fleshy selves today.

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Reading:
1 Corinthians 12:12-20
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot were to say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear were to say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body.