August 20, 2017: No One Like Jesus

August 23, 2017 @ 10:12 pm

Our Scritpure reading this morning was from John 1:1-5. Pastor Mario discussed John's integration of philosophy and theology as he described Jesus as the eternal Logos (Word). We were encouraged to consider what it might look like if we understood Jesus to be a man of extraordinary ability, who is still as relevant to us today as he was to the people he touched during his earthly ministry 2,000 years ago. Pastor Mario concluded his sermon by sharing some thougths from Dr. S.M. Lockridge's famous, "That's My King." You can find a PDF of one of the variations of his famous sermon here. There is truly no one, quite like Jesus! 

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August 13, 2017: Seeing Like Jesus, Loving Like Jesus

August 15, 2017 @ 5:43 pm

Our Scripture reading was from 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. Pastor Mario connected this passage of Scripture back to our series on Luke 15. We looked at our high calling as ambassadors of Christ, and were encouraged to live and lean into the reality of new creation as we live out our ministry of reconciliation. We are comforted by this fact: While it may be hard to see others, ourselves and the world from the perspective of new creation, we can do it. Why? Paul reminds us: He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf so we can become the righteousness of God. We live in a world in need of reconciliation. How will we respond? 

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August 6, 2017, The Power of Our Story, The Power of Our Meal

August 7, 2017 @ 3:53 pm

Pastor Mario continued his journey into the heart of Luke's Gospel. Our Scritpure reading this morning was from Chapter 24, verses 25-35. As we prepared our hearts to receive from the Lord's Table this Communion Sunday, we journeyed back to Cleopas and his companion's walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus, where Jesus finds them in the midst of their disappoinment, bewilderment and unmet expectations. A fresh reading of Scripture and a sense of awe at the invitation to the Table, with the Spirit as our guide, is needed to point us to a fresh reality of who Jesus is. What better way to live into our sense of call to be a church with open hearts, open minds and open doors? For further reading, check out the UMC's document regarding The Lord's Table, entitled, This Holy Mystery. 

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July 30, 2017: Fear Factor

July 30, 2017 @ 9:22 pm

Our Scripture for today is from 1 Peter 3:13-16. We invite you to listen as Susan Dunlap encouraged us to face our fears and to live wholeheartedly as followers of Jesus. Our calling to live free from fear is a call to serve and love our world. Trust, pray and act! Thank you for this timely reminder, Susan. 

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July 23, 2017, Luke 15, Part IV, Our Prodigal Father

July 23, 2017 @ 10:14 pm

Pastor Mario concludes our 4-week series on Luke 15 by examining the encounter between the older son and his Father. While we often attribute the word prodigal to the younger son in this parable, it is the Father who gives sacrifically of himself on a lavish and generous scale. He loves both sons equally, they are both confronted with his unconditional love. The younger son is now enjoying the celebration the Father throws after receiving back 'safe and sound.' What will the older son do when his Father entreats (pleads) him to come, celebrate and join the party? 

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July 16, 2017, Luke 15 Part III, Jesus Sees Where You Are

July 16, 2017 @ 12:52 pm

Part III of Pastor Mario's series on Luke 15 gives us a closer look at the younger son and his Father. While the younger son thought he was better off without his Father, the Father patiently waits for him to come to his senses and return home. However, the return home is not without its cost as an unwelcoming ceremony awiaits the younger son. Instead of shame and suspicion, the Father receives his wayward son home by taking on the shame that belonged to his son and recieving him back, not as a hired hand, but as his son. The parable still speaks to us today and invites us all to come to our senses, return home and experience the love of Jesus, who sees us when we are still a long way off. 

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July 9, 2017, Luke 15 Part II, The Parable of the Lost Coin

July 11, 2017 @ 6:41 pm

Pastor Mario continues his sermon series on Luke 15, focusing on verses 8-10. These three verses are often overlooked as it sits between two of the more well known stories in this parable of Jesus. However, these three short verses still speak volumes to us today. We can often understand getting lost in the wilderness, but when something is lost in our home, the frustration, the urgency and determination to find it is all the more amplified. (Think about how you turn your home upside down to find your wallet, keys or glasses).

In this parable, the lost coin is finally found, a party ensues, and the coin can now be used for the purposes intended. Being found by Jesus is a lot like that. We are free to become what God desires us to be as his people. Namely, people who will now gladly go and find others who are lost. What does this parable of woman who lost her coin have to tell us today? Give a listen and know that even when we are lost in house, the one who created us searches for us. Once we are found, the party begins!

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July 2, 2017: Luke 15 Part I, The Parable of the Lost Sheep

July 11, 2017 @ 4:27 pm

Have you ever been lost? It's an important question we all must all wrestle with as we consider the three parables. Today's Scritpure reading was from Luke 15:1-7. Jesus tells these stories in response to the Pharisees and Scribes grumbling and complaining about Jesus' social habits. These three stories are meant to be taken as a single unit. In addition to the Pharisees and scribes, we also want to consider the the tax collectors, sinners, and Jesus himself in this famous chapter from Luke's Gospel.

This is the first sermon in a four-week series by Pastor Mario. The first of the three stories begins with a lost sheep in the wilderness and a shepherd who will gladly search until he finds it. This first story ends with a party that the community throws when the lost sheep is found. This story is a glimpse into repentance, reconciliation and restoration. Join us, as we journey together, into the heart of Luke's Gospel and into the heart of Jesus.

*For further reading, see Kenneth Bailey's, The Cross and the Prodigal: Luke 15 Through the Eyes of Middle Eastern Peasants. *

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June 25, 2017: Where are We?

July 11, 2017 @ 2:59 pm

Today's Scripture was found in Genesis 3:1-9. Reflections on the first question ever asked in Scritpure as a way to reflect and consider where Hilltop is in 2017. We are called to be an Oasis in the wilderness, a place of refreshing and refuge to those around us. Like the great sculptor, Michaelangelo, who carved art from stone, we too are called to allow God to use to us to call life out for our friends and neighbors. 

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July 11, 2017: Connected to Our Power Source

July 11, 2017 @ 10:20 am

Scripture Reading: 1 John 4:1-6. On Trinity Sunday, Pastor Dennis encouraged our high school and college graduates to stay connected to Jesus, our true power source as we navigate the many choices we face in life. 

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