Sermon Study Resources
In her book Interior States, writer Meghan O’Gieblyn puts her departure from the Christian faith in these words, “Despite all the affected teenage rebellion, I continued to call myself a Christian into my early twenties. When I finally stopped, it wasn’t because being a believer made me uncool or outdated or freakish. It was because being a Christian no longer meant anything. It was a label to slap on my Facebook page, next to my music preferences. The gospel became just another product to sell me, and a paltry one at that…” It seems we live during a time in which many who were raised in the church resonate with O’Gieblyn’s words here. And yet, being a Christian does mean something. It isn’t just another label to apply to one’s self. To be a Christian is to be united to the person of Jesus Christ. In this series we will dig into why being united to Jesus is better than anything else this world has to offer.
August 27 // He is Better
September 3 // He is True
September 10 // He is Good
September 17 // He is Beautiful
September 24 // He is Just
October 1 // He is Gracious
October 8 // He is Challenging
The Gospel According to Joseph
What does it mean to call the life of Joseph a gospel? The earliest Christian commentary on the story of Joseph emphasizes Joseph as a foreshadowing of Christ. Just as Joseph was mistreated, yet saves God’s people through his faithfulness, so also Christ came and suffered to rescue the entire world from sin. We turn to the story of Joseph to find both the encouragement to live faithfully before God as his people, regardless of circumstances, as well as an image of the one who lived faithfully for us, God’s Son Jesus Christ, so that we would be restored to the Father. In this way, we can find the Gospel in Joseph as his life testifies to the grace poured out for the world in Jesus Christ.
Dead Guy Summer
We all have heroes. We all have people in our lives who we look up to and desire to emulate. In many ways, who we set as our heroes shapes the trajectory of our lives. Throughout her history, the church has recognized heroes of the faith as saints. Of course, on account of Christ, we are all saints before God. And yet, we see throughout church history, various people have demonstrated what it looks like for Christ to shine through them in profound ways. As followers of Jesus, we are invited to look at the lives of saints as they point us to our ultimate hero, Jesus. Join us for “Dead Guy Summer” as we reflect on the lives of those who have gone before us in the faith.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins… But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” The resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to the entire life of the Church and the mission God has given to us, and everything we do is empowered by it. In this series, we are going to walk with the risen Jesus as he appears to his followers in the days following his resurrection.
Sojourn // A Journey Through 1 Peter
Perhaps you’ve heard it said, “Life is about the journey, not the destination.” The apostle Peter would agree with part of this sentiment. Of course, the journey of life is important. But, it’s the promise of our ultimate destination that shapes the journey. As he writes to the first century church, Peter continually reminds the early Christians that they are exiles, strangers, and sojourners in this world. He reminds them that the trials and sufferings they undergo now are temporary, and are shaping them for a glorious future in the Kingdom of God. This wisdom of Peter is a timeless truth for Christians to grab hold of for our sojourn today. Join us this Lent as we journey through 1 Peter on our way to the cross and empty tomb.
February 22 // The Path of Trial
February 26 // The Path of Holiness
March 5 // The Path of Maturity
March 12 // The Path of Honor
March 19 // The Path of Suffering
March 26 // The Path of Community
April 2 // The Path of Humility
April 6 // The Path of Love
April 7 // The Path of Death
April 9 // The Path of Life
Non-Negotiables // A Series on Our Values
The past several years have been unquestionably disorienting for Christians our country. The pandemic, increasingly polarized political rhetoric, turbulent economic questions, and the ongoing reality of declining church membership have all taken their toll on our lives and communities. This disorientation has left most of us feeling fragmented internally and disconnected relationally. In response, there are countless opinions on where the Church should plant its flag as we look ahead to what feels like an uncertain future. But, what kind of people are we actually called to be as followers of Jesus? As we take a look at our values as a church, we want to recover these “non-negotiables” for our lives as we strive to be a people who not only proclaim the coming kingdom of God, but a people who also live as signs of it.
January 8 // I/We
January 15 // Foster Genuine Relationships
January 22 // Extend Authentic Hospitality
January 29 // Experience Visible Grace
February 5 // Live Out Active Faith
February 12 // Celebrate Kingdom Partnerships
February 19 // The Temple is the Community
As We Wait // An Advent Series
Advent is a season of waiting. We anticipate the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas. We wait expectantly for Christ’s return to fully bring God’s healing rule and reign in our world. And, of course, our lives are filled with waiting. Waiting to graduate. Waiting to get the promotion. Waiting for our kids to grow up. It’s in these moments of waiting that God is at work in our lives to shape us more and more into the image of his Son. So, as we wait, we want to look for the ways God is growing us in Him. How does God do this? How can we be open to what he’s doing in our lives as we wait? Join us for this series to learn about all that God is doing and will do to shape and grow you as a follower of Jesus in the everyday stuff of life.
November 27 // Waiting for Peace
December 4 // Waiting for Justice
December 11 // Waiting for Comfort
December 18 // Waiting for God’s Presence
December 24 // Waiting for Salvation
December 25 // Waiting for Good News
January 1 // Waiting for Renewal
God has a way of grabbing hold of unlikely people in unlikely places for his good purpose.The story of Ruth puts this fully on display. In the midst of tragedy, a young woman turns from idols that will not deliver to the God who redeems and saves. As Ruth follows after God he provides for her again and again, and God ultimately uses her for his greatest purpose, the coming of his son Jesus. The story of Ruth is our story. It’s your story. When we are tempted by the idols of our world, God comes to us again and again and shows us that he is the only one who can redeem and save. And as God grabs hold our lives, may he use us to show Jesus to the world.
If someone calls you “basic,” it’s not a compliment. In contemporary slang it means you’re unoriginal or unexceptional. And yet, the term “basic” is traditionally defined as “the essential principles of a subject.” So, in this series we are asking, what are the essential principles of the Christian faith? Who is God? What is Grace? What is the Church? So often we assume answers to these basic questions, but our hope is that we can engage these questions with fresh eyes and be renewed and strengthened in our core convictions as followers of Jesus today.
September 4 // Who is God?
September 11 // What is the Bible?
September 18 // What is Grace?
September 25 // What is Faith?
October 2 // What is the Church?
October 9 // What is Discipleship?
October 16 // What is Mission?
October 23 // What are the Sacraments?
Theologian John Stott writes about the book of Romans, “Paul’s letter to the Romans is a kind of Christian manifesto… a manifesto of freedom through Jesus Christ. It is the fullest, plainest and grandest statement of the gospel in the New Testament. Its message is… that human beings are born in sin and slavery, but that Jesus Christ came to set us free.” This letter covers the entire spectrum of Christian life and teaching, addressing both the seriousness of sin and the great hope of the Gospel. In the center of it all is the conviction that we stand righteous before God solely through the perfect work of Jesus Christ for us. Join us as we spend the summer reflecting on this manifesto and what it means to live life in the freedom of the Gospel.
June 5 // God’s Righteous Judgment
June 12 // The Righteousness of Faith
June 19 // From Adam to Jesus
June 26 // Death to Life
July 3 // The Cycle of Sin
July 10 // Life in the Spirit
July 17 // God’s Sovereignty
July 24 // Loved & Sent
July 31 // Grafted In
August 7 // Living Sacrifices
August 14 // Life
August 21 // The Law of Love
August 28 // The Hope of the World
There may be no more universal experience in all of human life than the experience of fear. From kids afraid of the dark to adults fretting over planning for retirement, fear touches all of us. No wonder the Bible talks so much about fear. Over the next six weeks, we are going to take a look at the way the human experience of fear is woven into the biblical story and be reminded, as 1 John 4 tells us, that the perfect love of God has the power to cast out fear.
His Mercy is More // A Series on Lamentations
The book of Lamentations is made up of five poems expressing grief over the fall of Jerusalem after Judah was overtaken by the Assyrian Empire. Like a funeral eulogy, these poems express immense pain and mourn the loss of the once glorious city that was home to the temple where Yahweh, the God of Israel, promised to dwell with his people. As we reflect on the poems of Lamentations, we are reminded that there is still much in our world worthy of grief: division and hatred, violence and warfare, sickness and death. Perhaps above all of these, it is our own sin and brokenness that has separated us from God that demands grief and cries of lament. But, the season of lament does not call us to grief that leads to self-loathing and nihilism; it is a grief that anticipates the perfect work of Jesus for us. It is in these cries of lament that we discover not only the reality of our sin but also the hope we find in the gift of the Gospel.
March 2 // The Lonely City
March 6 // The Anger of God
March 13 // The Rod of Wrath
March 20 // The Steadfast Love
March 27 // The Call to Repentance
April 3 // The People Scattered
April 10 // The Cry for Restoration
April 14 // Maundy Thursday
April 15 // Good Friday
April 17 // The Living Among the Dead
Perhaps you’re familiar with the oft-used idiom, “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.” It’s not about one’s size, but about the fight inside someone. This is how we ought to think of the Epistle of Jude. It’s not a big book of the Bible. (only 25 verses!) But, it packs a punch. In this short letter, Jesus’ half-brother Jude dismantles false teachers, proclaims the gospel, and encourages the early church to remain faithful to the hope they have in Jesus. Jude’s timeless message to never stop contending for the faith that “was once for all delivered to the saints” is pressing for us to lean into as Christ’s Church today. Join us as we contend, commit, persevere, and hold onto this hope we have in the gospel.
Rule of Life
Remember when you first were learning how to drive? You were conscious of every move you made. And now, if you’re like me, you sometimes find yourself getting in your car at work and ending up at home without realizing how you even got there. As we habituate ourselves into certain actions they become second nature to us. And yet, these habits are not neutral. Our habits shape and form us towards certain ends. In many ways, habits shape who we become. As the philosopher William James once said, All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits. What might it look like to embrace a life of habits that form us as followers of Jesus? Our hope is that in being intentional with our habits we will experience that life which is truly life found within the grace of God. Join us for our series on forming a rule of life here at ULC.
January 9 // Embrace Devotion in a Time of Distraction
January 16 // Embrace Community in a Time of Isolation
January 23 // Embrace Service in a Time of Grasping
January 30 // Embrace Rest in a Time of Exhaustion
Come and See
If the Bible were a series of peaks and valleys, the first chapter of John’s Gospel would undoubtedly be one of the highest peaks. With beautiful prose and incisive philosophic argumentation, John invites the reader of his Gospel into the most staggering claim in all of human history, God has become man in the person of Jesus Christ. And then, towards the end of the chapter, through the Apostle Philip, John invites us to come and see this Jesus. This Advent and Christmas season join us as we journey through John 1 to come and see the Jesus who came to us that first Christmas as a baby and is coming again as our triumphant king..
November 28 // In the Beginning
December 5 // Light in Darkness
December 12 // Children of God
December 19 // Word Became Flesh
December 24 // Dwelt Among Us
December 26 // Behold the Lamb
January 2 // Come and See
There are few characters in the story of the Bible as strange as Elijah. Little is known about him before he was called to serve as God’s prophet to the people of Israel, but we see in Elijah a peculiar and complicated character. He embodies a mix of boldness and fear and swings between unhinged overzealousness and genuine uncertainty. Yet, in spite of failures and flaws, God uses Elijah for his clear purpose: to call his people back to himself. In this way, we see in Elijah a picture of our own calling and how God uses broken vessels to carry his message to the world.
In 2014, President of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass wrote, “The balance between order and disorder is shifting toward the latter. Left unattended, the current world turbulence is unlikely to fade away or resolve itself. Bad could become worse all too easily.” In the 7 years since Haass wrote these words, this deepening disorder brought about by a global pandemic, political polarization, economic uncertainty, and the erosion of many of the institutions we once put our trust in has caused an ensuing confluence of crises in the lives of individuals. But in the midst of crisis, God invites us to be renewed by His Spirit so that we would build something lasting by returning to Jesus and His Kingdom as the source of our hope.
September 5 // Renewal of Truth
September 12 // Renewal of Authority
September 19 // Renewal of Community
September 26 // Renewal of Meaning
October 3 // Renewal of Purpose
October 10 // Renewal of Hope
The Gospel According To Luke
Jesus Christ is the central figure in all of history. Our calendars are marked by his birth. Cities across the globe are named after his followers. Billions of lives have been, and continue to be, changed by him. The Gospel of Luke, perhaps more than any other biography of Jesus, presents the history altering impact of the life of this one man. In this 21 week(!) sermon series we will take time to dive deep into the life of Jesus to more clearly see who Jesus is and what Jesus does.
April 11 // Jesus Does
April 18 // Jesus Obeys
April 25 // Jesus Starts
May 2 // Jesus Ministers
May 9 // Jesus Calls
May 16 // Jesus Teaches Pt. 1
May 23 // Jesus Teaches Pt. 2
May 30 // Jesus Fulfills
June 6 // Jesus Raises
June 13 // Jesus Sends
June 20 // Jesus Invites
June 27 // Jesus Overcomes
July 4 // Jesus Warns
July 11 // Jesus Laments
July 18 // Jesus Challenges
July 25 // Jesus Confronts
August 1 // Jesus Reveals
August 8 // Jesus Rules
August 15 // Jesus Subverts
August 22 // Jesus Submits
August 29 // Jesus Wins
The sort of idolatry that plagues most of us on a daily basis is far more dangerous than the worship of false deities that so clearly rival the worship of the Triune God. The idolatry that plagues us has a way of stealing our affections while allowing us to outwardly and even cognitively maintain our religious convictions. It is a sort of idolatry that allows us to, as Yahweh says through the prophet Isaiah, draw near with our mouths and honor him with our lips, while our hearts are far from him. James K.A. Smith writes, “To be human is to love, and it is what we love that defines who we are. Our (ultimate) love is constitutive of our identity… Our ultimate love is what we worship.” So, what do you love most? As we take the season of Lent to reflect on idols in our lives this lent, this is ultimately the question we need to ask ourselves, because what we love is ultimately what we will worship.
February 17 // Idolatry
February 21 // Traditionalism
February 28 // Experientalism
March 7 // Legalism
March 14 // Materialism
March 21 // Nationalism
March 28 // Individualism
April 2 // Killing Our Idols
April 4 // Triumph Over Idols
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality
There is an inescapable connection between our emotional health and our spiritual health. Often times we fail to see this connection and therefore fail to grow either emotionally or spiritually. Fortunately, Scripture speaks to the whole person and can teach us how to live emotionally and spiritually healthy lives as we look to God’s grace in Christ. In this series we’ll use God’s Word and Pete Scazzaro’s book “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” to guide us to fruitful lives as followers of Jesus.There is an inescapable connection between our emotional health and our spiritual health. Often times we fail to see this connection and therefore fail to grow either emotionally or spiritually. Fortunately, Scripture speaks to the whole person and can teach us how to live emotionally and spiritually healthy lives as we look to God’s grace in Christ. In this series we’ll use God’s Word and Pete Scazzaro’s book “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” to guide us to fruitful lives as followers of Jesus.
In his influential book, Start With Why, author Simon Sinek writes, All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year. Of course the Church’s “WHY” is to be faithful to Christ. And as a local expression of the Church, ULC has a unique “WHY” to fulfill in seeking to be faithful to Jesus. We exist to mobilize generations to join Jesus on his mission. But, what does that actually mean? What does that actually look like in our daily lives? In this short series we’ll answer those questions and find the “why” behind our life together.
Matriarchs // The Women of Jesus’ Lineage
For most of us, biblical genealogies are one of those parts of Scripture that make our eyes glaze over and put us to sleep. But, genealogies remind us of a profound truth: God works through ordinary, mundane, broken people. As we look at the genealogy of Jesus, we might notice a few peculiar things that aim to say some important things about Jesus. We find in it some people we might not expect from an ancient record of the Messiah’s birth, namely, it includes women. As we look at the lives of these women, we see profound examples of faith, coupled with the reminder that we await a kingdom in which “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Greater Than // A Series on Colossians
The church in the ancient city of Colossae found themselves in a tricky spot. They were a young church experiencing pressure from both inside and outside the church to conform their beliefs and lifestyle in order to make Christianity more palatable to their neighbors. In the midst of this pressure, St. Paul wrote a letter to remind this church of one fundamental truth; Jesus is greater. He’s greater than suffering. He’s greater than legalism. He’s greater than sin. He’s greater than isolation. Join us as we hear these needed words spoken into our lives today!
We live in a world of polarization and either/or thinking. Progressive or conservative, traditional or modern, religious or secular. This list is never-ending. Too often, this either/or thinking causes us to think wrongly about our faith. We create boundaries that are man-made and make dichotomies where Jesus intended tension. What if the answer to being a faithful Christian in a world of polarization is not to adopt “this-or-that” but to faithfully embrace “this-and-that” as we love God AND our neighbors?
September 6 // Affirm & Critique
September 13 // Grace & Truth
September 20 // Faith & Reason
September 27 // Honor & Accountability
October 4 // Biblical Values & Social Justice
October 11 // Global & Local
October 18 // Sinner & Saint
October 25 // Law & Gospel