Harrison Ford

The Church as Spiritual Formation

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Christians and churches should always feel a centrifugal force pulling them out towards proclamation in word and deed to the marginalized, the lost, & the vulnerable as well as a centripetal force pulling us towards the places, communities, and families that sustain us.
— Matthew Loftus
Personal sanctification is and intensely corporate and churchly act; being built up in Christ is being built up in the Church.
— E.L. Mascall

(Please note: We are aware that some of our sermon recordings are cutting in and out. Thank you for your patience as we work to resolve this issue.)

1 Peter 2:1-12

1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
    a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,”

and

“A stone of stumbling,
    and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

The Sting of Death

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The monastic discipline of listening aims to still body and soul so that the words of a reading may sink in. Such silence tends to open a person, and opening oneself to a prophet as anguished as Jeremiah is painful. On some mornings, I found it impossible. Like one of my monk friends, who had the duty of reading the prophet aloud through some particularly grim passages, I felt like shouting ‘Have a Nice Day!’ to the assembly. Easier to mock a prophet than to listen to him.
— Kathleen Norris

(Please note: this recording cuts in and out. We are aware of this issue with our sermon recordings and working to resolve it. We apologize and thank you for your patience.)

Hosea 13:1-16

1 When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling;

he was exalted in Israel,

but he incurred guilt through Baal and died.

2 And now they sin more and more,

and make for themselves metal images,

idols skillfully made of their silver,

all of them the work of craftsmen.

It is said of them,

“Those who offer human sacrifice kiss calves!”

3 Therefore they shall be like the morning mist

or like the dew that goes early away,

like the chaff that swirls from the threshing floor

or like smoke from a window.


4 But I am the Lord your God

from the land of Egypt;

you know no God but me,

and besides me there is no savior.

5 It was I who knew you in the wilderness,

in the land of drought;

6 but when they had grazed, they became full,

they were filled, and their heart was lifted up;

therefore they forgot me.

7 So I am to them like a lion;

like a leopard I will lurk beside the way.

8 I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs;

I will tear open their breast,

and there I will devour them like a lion,

as a wild beast would rip them open.


9 He destroys you, O Israel,

for you are against me, against your helper.

10 Where now is your king, to save you in all your cities?

Where are all your rulers—

those of whom you said,

“Give me a king and princes”?

11 I gave you a king in my anger,

and I took him away in my wrath.


12 The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up;

his sin is kept in store.

13 The pangs of childbirth come for him,

but he is an unwise son,

for at the right time he does not present himself

at the opening of the womb.


14 I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol;

I shall redeem them from Death.

O Death, where are your plagues?

O Sheol, where is your sting?

Compassion is hidden from my eyes.


15 Though he may flourish among his brothers,

the east wind, the wind of the Lord, shall come,

rising from the wilderness,

and his fountain shall dry up;

his spring shall be parched;

it shall strip his treasury

of every precious thing.

16 Samaria shall bear her guilt,

because she has rebelled against her God;

they shall fall by the sword;

their little ones shall be dashed in pieces,

and their pregnant women ripped open.

You Don't Get What You Deserve

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Grace perennially waits for us to accept our destruction and, in that acceptance, to discover the power of the Resurrection and the Life.
— Robert Farrar Capon
Until we acknowledge our sin and guilt, we will never come to discover that it can be forgiven. But when we do, actual forgiveness begins to give rise to an awareness of forgiveness psychologically, spiritually, mentally, inwardly. With that comes an increasing sense that the bondage of guilt has been broken. At last, we are set free. Wonder of wonders, we discover that at the very heart of the gospel is this fact: God has taken our guilt upon Himself in His Son Jesus Christ.
— Sinclair Ferguson

Hosea 9

1 Rejoice not, O Israel!
Exult not like the peoples;
for you have played the whore, forsaking your God.
You have loved a prostitute's wages
on all threshing floors.
2 Threshing floor and wine vat shall not feed them,
and the new wine shall fail them.
3 They shall not remain in the land of the Lord,
but Ephraim shall return to Egypt,
and they shall eat unclean food in Assyria.

4 They shall not pour drink offerings of wine to the Lord,
and their sacrifices shall not please him.
It shall be like mourners' bread to them;
all who eat of it shall be defiled;
for their bread shall be for their hunger only;
it shall not come to the house of the Lord.

5 What will you do on the day of the appointed festival,
and on the day of the feast of the Lord?
6 For behold, they are going away from destruction;
but Egypt shall gather them;
Memphis shall bury them.
Nettles shall possess their precious things of silver;
thorns shall be in their tents.

7 The days of punishment have come;
the days of recompense have come;
Israel shall know it.
The prophet is a fool;
the man of the spirit is mad,
because of your great iniquity
and great hatred.
8 The prophet is the watchman of Ephraim with my God;
yet a fowler's snare is on all his ways,
and hatred in the house of his God.
9 They have deeply corrupted themselves
as in the days of Gibeah:
he will remember their iniquity;
he will punish their sins.

10 Like grapes in the wilderness,
I found Israel.
Like the first fruit on the fig tree
in its first season,
I saw your fathers.
But they came to Baal-peor
and consecrated themselves to the thing of shame,
and became detestable like the thing they loved.
11 Ephraim's glory shall fly away like a bird—
no birth, no pregnancy, no conception!
12 Even if they bring up children,
I will bereave them till none is left.
Woe to them
when I depart from them!
13 Ephraim, as I have seen, was like a young palm[a] planted in a meadow;
but Ephraim must lead his children out to slaughter.[b]
14 Give them, O Lord—
what will you give?
Give them a miscarrying womb
and dry breasts.

15 Every evil of theirs is in Gilgal;
there I began to hate them.
Because of the wickedness of their deeds
I will drive them out of my house.
I will love them no more;
all their princes are rebels.

16 Ephraim is stricken;
their root is dried up;
they shall bear no fruit.
Even though they give birth,
I will put their beloved children to death.
17 My God will reject them
because they have not listened to him;
they shall be wanderers among the nations.

The Habit of Prayer

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The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
— St. Paul, Philippians 4:5-7
Let your prayer be completely simple. For both the publican and the prodigal son were reconciled to God by a single phrase.
— St. John Climacus

Acts 4:23-31

23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

God's Promise and Our Suffering

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But this is to be observed as the chief reason for God’s conduct, that as the holy seed was given from heaven, it must not be produced according to the common order of nature, to the end, that we learn that the Church did not originate in the industry of man, but flowed from the grace of God alone.
— John Calvin
[God’s] promise requires an end to grasping and certitude and an embrace of precariousness. It is only God who gives life. Any pretense that the future is secured by rights or claims...is a deception.
— Walter Brueggemann

Genesis 25:19-28

19 These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham fathered Isaac,20 and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife.21 And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 And the Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the older shall serve the younger.”

24 When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau's heel, so his name was called Jacob.[c] Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

27 When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. 28 Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

More and More Hope

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Optimism is a wish without warrant; Christian hope is a certainty, guaranteed by God himself
— J.I. Packer
Q: What is your only comfort in life and death?
A:That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.
— Heidelberg Catechism QA 1

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Fighting Words

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Words are the mirror of the mind — they show what is in the heart.
— Thomas Watson
The cure of an evil tongue must be done at the heart. The weights and wheels are there, and the clock strikes according to their motion.
— Robert Leighton

Proverbs 26:20-28

20 For lack of wood the fire goes out,
    and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.
21 As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
    so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.
22 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
    they go down into the inner parts of the body.
23 Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel
    are fervent lips with an evil heart.
24 Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips
    and harbors deceit in his heart;
25 when he speaks graciously, believe him not,
    for there are seven abominations in his heart;
26 though his hatred be covered with deception,
    his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it,
    and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.
28 A lying tongue hates its victims,
    and a flattering mouth works ruin.

Gathering & Forming by Listening

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The soul can do without everything except the word of God, without which none at all of its wants are provided for.
— Martin Luther
The government of the church, by the preaching of the word, is first of all declared to be no human contrivance, but a most sacred ordinance of Christ.
— John Calvin

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Trusting the Promise

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...though Lot perhaps had the better land, yet Abram had the better title. Lot had the paradise, such as it was, but Abram had the promise...
— Matthew Henry
The vocation of Abraham is to live in an economy of promise...The family of Abraham is called to be heirs, not predators, purchasers, or thieves.
— Walter Brueggemann
  • Service Date: January 21, 2018
  • Worship Guide

Genesis 13:1-18

1 In the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, 2 these kings made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 And all these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). 4 Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 5 In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, 6 and the Horites in their hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the border of the wilderness. 7 Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh) and defeated all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who were dwelling in Hazazon-tamar.

8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim 9 with Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar, four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits, and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. 11 So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. 12 They also took Lot, the son of Abram's brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way.

13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram.14 When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people.

17 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)19 And he blessed him and said,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 and blessed be God Most High,
    who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”

And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. 21 And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” 22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24 I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me. Let Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share.”

The Spirit Intercedes

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The Spirit, as an enlightening Spirit, teaches us what to pray for, as a sanctifying Spirit works and excites praying graces, as a comforting Spirit silences our fears, and helps us over all our discouragements. The Holy Spirit is the spring of all our desires and breathings towards God.
— Matthew Henry