The Reality of Evil: What It Is and Why It Matters

From our service on October 3, 2021, a sermon by Pastor Eric Stetson. Watch video below.


In today’s sermon we begin a three-part series about evil. Evil is an important topic for any sincere spiritual seeker, or indeed any thoughtful human being to consider. Today we’ll discuss the question of what is evil? — and perhaps more importantly, why it matters that we discuss it. In fact, why is it so important that I’ve decided to do three sermons on evil instead of just one?

Evil is real, and it’s a major aspect of the human condition. It’s popular nowadays, especially among liberal-thinking people in relatively free, stable, and prosperous countries, to discount the power and pervasiveness of evil and the human tendency to fall prey to it. Many optimistic, I would say naïve people believe that evil is merely the absence of good, and that the average person is essentially good and does not naturally feel any evil impulses that exert a powerful pull on the psyche. I profoundly disagree.

The Simple Life

From our service on September 5, 2021, a sermon by Pastor Eric Stetson. Watch video below.


Many of us have heard the famous Shaker song, “Simple Gifts.” It begins,

’Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
’Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be …

And so on, about the importance and joy of turning away from worldly pride and living the simple life.

In the Gospel, Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” [Luke 12:15]. This was the preface to an extended soliloquy we heard in our Scripture reading today, on the topic of simple living and relinquishing our anxious grasping for more and more stuff [vss. 16-34]. Jesus made it clear that if we wish to live according to his faith, we should live for God and our fellow man, rather than the things of this world.

Faith, Doubt, and Spiritual Growth

From our service on August 1, 2021, a sermon by Pastor Eric Stetson. Watch video below.


Imagine that your faith is so strong that you never have any doubt. You know, with absolute certainty, that your religious beliefs are correct. The possibility that you could be wrong, or that some other religion might be true, never crosses your mind.

That’s some mighty strong faith — isn’t it? Actually, no, that’s not faith at all.

A Righteous Nation

From our service on July 4, 2021, a sermon by Pastor Eric Stetson. Watch video below.


Today is the Fourth of July, the day each year when Americans celebrate the birth of our nation. Nearly 250 years ago on this day, the United States of America declared its independence from the British Empire. Patriotism is a natural human instinct, but how does this relate to religion, one might ask? Why should a church, just because it’s based in the USA, celebrate Independence Day and preach a sermon about national pride?

Although Christianity transcends any nation, any political or geographical grouping of human beings, the United States of America has a rich history of striving to embody the national ideal of God’s chosen people — a holy people, set apart for a special purpose in the world, much like the self-conception of the Biblical Hebrews.

The Mystical Body of Christ

From our service on June 6, 2021, a sermon by Pastor Eric Stetson. Watch video below.


Last Thursday, June 3, many Christians celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi, an annual remembrance of the presence of the body and blood of Christ in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. Different types of Christians have different opinions about whether Christ is literally present in the elements of communion, or whether it’s a symbolic ritual through which we can focus our minds upon our connection with Christ and what he has given us by sacrificing his life for the salvation of humanity.

I hold to the symbolic view of communion — and I believe there are many ways that we can connect with Christ, through prayer, meditation, ritual acts, as well as acts of service to our fellow human beings.

No matter what we do to seek connection with the Divine Human who was embodied in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is essential that we do so, for it is through such connection that we discover and come to manifest our truest selves. For when we receive him, in the words of John the Apostle, we “become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” [John 1:12-13].

Come, Holy Spirit!

From our service on May 23, 2021, a sermon by Pastor Eric Stetson. Watch video below.


Today is Pentecost, the holy day in the Christian liturgical calendar commemorating the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ, fifty days after Easter. The term Pentecost means “fiftieth” in Greek, and was used by Greek-speaking Jews to refer to the Jewish harvest festival called the Feast of Weeks, which was celebrated on the fiftieth day after the offering of the first fruits of the harvest to God.

Metaphorically speaking, Jesus can be considered as the first fruits of the resurrection of humanity from corruption and death to eternal life in heaven. Fifty days after the tomb was found empty on Easter Sunday, another celebration of the amazing work of God took place, as the harvest of human souls to be gathered into God’s Kingdom was bountifully expanded. As recorded in the Book of Acts,

Ascension

From our service on May 16, 2021, a sermon by Pastor Eric Stetson. Watch video below.


Last Thursday, May 13, was the Feast of the Ascension, the holy day in the Christian liturgical calendar commemorating the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, forty days after his resurrection from the dead on Easter. The first chapter of the Book of Acts describes how the resurrected Jesus ministered to his disciples and spoke to them about the Kingdom of God, and then, at the end of the forty days, he rose into heaven and has never publicly returned to the earth again.

As we call to remembrance the departure of Jesus, in his glorified and exalted state of immortal perfection, from this imperfect world to the eternal world beyond, it is an appropriate time to consider what it means for any human soul to ascend from the earthly plane to heaven. Going to heaven to live forever with God — salvation, as Christians call it — has been characterized in various ways. Some believe we go to heaven if we have the correct religious beliefs. Others believe we must live a Christlike life of love and service to our fellow human beings if we wish to attain the heavenly state of salvation. Still others believe everyone will go to heaven no matter what, even if they had the wrong beliefs and lived a life of sin.

Heavenly Mother

From our service on May 9, 2021, a sermon by Pastor Eric Stetson. Watch video below.


Today is Mother’s Day, a day when people in many countries around the world honor the mothers of their family and celebrate the loving bond between a mother and her children. On this day, we should also consider the spiritual dimensions of motherhood. To be a mother is to be like God, for God not only is our Father in heaven, but also our heavenly Mother.

Technology and the Apocalypse

From our service on May 2, 2021, a sermon by Pastor Eric Stetson. Watch video below.


Most Christians can agree on basic teachings such as “love your neighbor” and “Jesus is Lord,” even though we might disagree about what those things mean. But there’s one teaching that was central to the belief system of the earliest disciples of Jesus that is very controversial today — so controversial that some Christians embrace it with relish while others avoid talking about it at all. That teaching is the prophecy of the coming apocalypse — the end of the age, perhaps even the end of the world.

Seasons of Renewal

From our service on April 25, 2021, a sermon by Pastor Eric Stetson. Watch video below.


The past few years have been a time of tremendous change. Imagine if, like the legend of Rip Van Winkle, you had gone to sleep in 2015 and woken up in 2021. After an extended bear-like hibernation you stumble out of bed and start a pot of coffee brewing.

While waiting for the caffeinated beverage to percolate, you go outside to look around. In your suburban neighborhood, people are walking down the street wearing face masks. They’re not criminals but old ladies. On somebody’s car you notice a bumper sticker: “Re-elect Trump for President 2020.” Re-elect? Trump? you think to yourself in disbelief.