Emmaus Blog

The Sermon on the Mount

Pastor Abraham Johnson

Abraham Johnson

On Sunday we began a sermon series focused on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which can be found in the book of Matthew (the first book in the New Testament) chapters 5, 6, and 7.

The Sermon on the Mount will also be our focus during our Lenten Small Groups.  A quick reminder that if you would like to be a part of a group but didn’t have the chance to sign up, you are welcome to join the group that meets downstairs in the Auditorium this upcoming Sunday.

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Neighboring

Pastor Abraham Johnson

Abraham Johnson

On Sunday I invited people to think about ways that they can love their neighbor this week.  We each had a pink slip of paper and we wrote down the name or names of those we were going to extend love to this week.  At the end of the service we were invited to bring those slips of paper forward and place them in a basket that was right before the cross.  I found that to be a powerful time in our service as I watched so many of you walk forward and bring a name forward.

I’ve been reading a book recently titled “The Neighboring Church”.  It talks about the importance of churches loving their neighbor as Jesus commanded.  The writers use the term “neighboring” to capture their understanding of how individuals and churches can live that commandment out.  Neighboring can look like a lot of things, they admit, but the writers make a case that “loving your neighbor as yourself” is something that we must do in our day-to-day lives.  It also means that a church must not look only inside at its own programs, events, etc., but that a church must also (and perhaps primarily) look outside its walls and extend love to the people not a part of their church.

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Loving Northfield

Pastor Abraham Johnson

Abraham Johnson

In my sermon this past Sunday I sort of re-issued a vision that I believe God has for our church right now.  Namely, to go beyond the walls of our church and find ways to serve our neighborhood and city with the love of Jesus.  To put it another way, I firmly believe that God is pushing us as a church to find ways to “love our neighbor” here in Northfield.

In a sense, this is a rather vague idea, right?  “Loving your neighbor” could mean just about anything.  And if this is the case, then how can this “vision” guide our church in any tangible way?  Does “loving our neighbor” mean we should offer another free meal?  Does it mean that we should volunteer at Greenvale Elementary?  Or should we help with affordable housing efforts?  Or give more money to the CAC?   Fair questions.

But at least for me, these questions do not nullify this vision or confuse it in any way.  They only confirm it!  Dr. Seuss put it this way, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”  Exactly!

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Themes of Advent

Pastor Abraham Johnson

Abraham Johnson

I wasn’t introduced to the themes of the Advent season until my wife and I attended Blackhawk Church in Madison, Wisconsin almost ten years ago.  I remember listening to our Pastor teach our congregation about the meaning of Advent and why Christians for centuries have focused on particular themes and truths during this time of year, the days leading up to Christmas.

Traditionally during Advent (the season leading up to Christmas, including the four Sundays preceding Christmas) a different theme holds focus with each new Sunday, and it carries this focus throughout the week until the next Sunday.  Different Christian traditions have slightly different takes on these themes.  So the four that I will highlight may differ from others.  But here are four traditional Christian themes of the Advent season.

Week One: Hope

Sometimes this theme is associated with the prophets of the Old Testament and their foretelling of the coming Messiah, who will set right the wrongs in the world.  Consider these words from the prophet Isaiah (11:6-8):

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What can I offer?

Pastor Abraham Johnson

Abraham Johnson

I shared a story a few Sundays ago.  Perhaps you will recall it.  Back when I first became the senior pastor at Emmaus, I asked a number of folks in leadership what they hoped for from their pastor; what they needed from me.  I will never forget the way one of them responded.  This person looked at me and said, “I need you to be true to your calling.”

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