Ainsley kicks off our year together by introducing the focus area for H3O this year. She invites us to consider what it looks like for the church to be a lighthouse in our communities as we reflect on what it means for God to be the light in our world.
In this sermon, Ainsley explores how true mercy from God—and others—is a completely undeserved gift. Those who flourish in the Kingdom are not those who somehow made it happen through their own character or actions. Instead, it is those with nothing to offer who are able to inherit the Kingdom. The merciful, Ainsley explains, are those with empty hands.
In this sermon, Jed clarifies the meaning of “righteousness” as something more like restorative justice, and explores how God’s Kingdom is characterised by a reconciling form of justice. And God’s justice does not match our standards of equality. This new way of living, Jesus says, is not based upon rewards for good deeds. There is no principle of proportionality at work here, but a new kind of upside-down economics. God’s economy is an economy of grace, where God showers generosity on those who might least deserve it, and at the same time God is unfailingly trustworthy to those who have nothing left to count on, nothing to hold on to at the end of the day. God’s reign is characterized by restorative justice.
In this sermon on meekness, Jed reminds us that Christ was described as “meek.” Jesus, the gentle and humble in heart, was no coward. There is a difference between being docile and being humble. There is a difference between being weak and being gentle. The humble, the gentle, and the meek have surrendered their wills to God. They won’t compromise when the world wants them to fashion their lives after ambition, wealth, and arrogance. They are, instead, God’s hands and feet on this earth. And as we fashion the world into the image of God’s Kingdom—as we extend God’s radical love—we inherit a world that is God’s world; the meek participate in the world they inherit.
In this sermon on “Blessed are they who mourn,” Jed recommends that rather than be suspicious of mourning, rather than buy into the narrative of our world that is terrified of grief, and which tries to forget suffering, the Christian community is called to bear the world’s suffering. Christ on the cross is a picture of a God who bears our brokenness, and who loves us and dies for us. To model this kind of love is similarly to bear with our world in its brokenness: to be saddened, grieved, and mournful for a world that is profoundly messed up, and then to go ahead and get into those spaces where love can make a way.
In this opening sermon on the Beatitudes, Jed explains that the Beatitudes are an announcement, not an analysis. This good thing is starting to happen. It is gospel, an announcement of a better way. The Beatitudes are not Jesus telling people how to behave, but instead Jesus telling those people who mourn, who are poor in spirit, who are meek, that they are in good shape. The kingdom is open to them.
In the final sermon on the Psalms of the Kingdom, Jed explores Psalm 91’s extraordinary picture of God’s nearness and trustworthiness. It is a record of a traveller in the midst of trouble, who can confidently say that God is our refuge and our sure companion. And it also points to a God that does more than simply speak: for a people who did not call out, did not deserve grace, did not demonstrate adequate faith, did not live lives of righteousness, for those people—who were still sinners—Christ came, and Christ died.
In the third and final sermon on psalms of disorientation, Jed discusses Psalm 73 and the way that it offers us a testimony from one who ventured away, and who discovered, anew, how pleasing it is to be in close fellowship with God. Psalm 73 is a beautiful picture of our wandering hearts, and the journey back to the Father who has never left us. It reminds us that the movement from disorientation into new orientation involves coming to God, and learning that He is with us.
In his second sermon on psalms of disorientation, Jed explores Psalm 109 and its honest and startling expression of rage toward an enemy. Psalm 109 reminds us that rage is real, and that it must be carried to heaven. To love our neighbour, as Jesus commands, might also involve praying their grief and anger with them. Jed suggests that a prayer like this is a model for us as we pray for ourselves and others, in articulating our rage, in submitting it to God, and in moving past our anger. In speaking to God, and interceding for our world, we are invited to remember that disorientation is a real and painful reality, and that God is working to make all things new. This is the voice of disordered life yearning for a new way of living.
In this first psalm of disorientation, Jed explores what some have labeled “the darkest psalm,” asking what we do with a psalm where God appears not to answer. Jed suggests that the silence of God in Psalm 88 isn’t met with demands for explanation, but with a rich combination of patient waiting and impatient demand. In darkness, we are most mindful, as was the psalmist, of our need for God. But we are left, as was the psalmist, waiting, praying more intensely but mostly without resolution. In such circumstances it is an act of faith to continue praying. And this is the gift of Psalm 88 to a community of faith: a language for those times God seems most absent; a reminder to continue speaking.
In this sermon on the second psalm of orientation in our series, Beck unpacks what it looks like for God’s people to trust Him. God’s faithfulness to creation—ourselves included—is absolute, and God’s creative word speaks life into our communities. His word and spirit convey the reality of power in action, as well as God’s intimacy in breathing life into our lungs, and the response of the psalmist is one of praise. How extraordinary to meet together as people of the kingdom and declare, along with the psalmist, our trust in God!
This is the first sermon in a series on the Psalms where we will be following Walter Brueggemann's outline of psalms of orientation, disorientation, and new orientation. In this sermon, Jed introduces the idea that the Psalms are about speech: our human need to speak to God and trust that he hears us; our experience of those times that God seems to speak back in words and in action; those moments where God’s part of the conversation seems totally silent; and the very real fact that the Psalms offer us voices of the dead who, like the great cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12, testify to God’s past goodness, and our future hope. Looking at Psalm 145, Jed unpacks this exuberant psalm of praise and its implications for us as communities who share our stories of God's goodness, and who long for our hope to be the hope of all.
Guest speaker Louise Bartlett (Baptist Association Coordinator of Families and Children's Ministries) shares the joys and challenges of living and serving in an intergenerational community. Despite our tendencies to cordon off ages and life stages into ministry groups, Louise reminds us that God's Kingdom is for all, and there is so much to be gained through the messiness and beauty of coming together as one.
In this sermon Ainsley reminds to wait patiently, watch expectantly, and to wonder readily at the outworking of the Kingdom in our midst. The Kingdom is like yeast, working its priorities throughout our whole lives, and the world itself. The Kingdom is like a mustard seed sown deep into the world's soil: hardy, pervasive, and eternally enduring.
Looking at the watershed parable of the gospels, Ainsley discusses the Parable of the Sower and its ramifications for those of us who wish to have hearts and communities full of good soil. In this sermon, we encounter God as the sower, Jesus as the seed, and the different soils that receive the Word. The Word--that is Jesus--is sown everywhere in abundance, and will do good work, if only we are willing lay down our priorities and anxieties and get out of the way.
This sermon is out of order, but is a rerecording of the second sermon in Jed's series on goodness. In this sermon we turn from our own goodness as children of light, to the goodness of God. If the quality of goodness we looked at in the sermon on our goodness was an outcome of the gracious perspective of God on his children, this sermon is about God’s goodness as the hope for our world.
This is the first sermon in our series on "The Parables of the Kingdom." In this introductory sermon, Jed discusses how this series is not about having the final say on what the parables mean, but instead thinking about the truths that they point towards—or indeed, the person that they direct us to follow. Our hope in immersing ourselves in these parables is ultimately to learn to live and love like Christ, and to see how each of our lives might reflect the radical and generous hope of the Kingdom.
What does it mean to live in a way "against which there is no law" (Gal 5:23)? Jed unpacks the idea of our goodness, and speaks about the good lives that we have been freed to live.