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.

August 1, 2021 Service: “Faith, Doubt, and Spiritual Growth”

What does it mean to have a mature religious faith? Should we stifle our doubts and close our eyes to other religions and belief systems? Or should we explore with an open mind and be willing to embrace whatever ideas and traditions can best inspire us to live a life of higher meaning and conscience? In today’s service we explore the subject of faith, doubt, and spiritual growth. We also tell the story of Thomas Merton, a 20th century Catholic monk whose faith was deepened by interfaith dialogue and exploration of Eastern religions.

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.

Washington Gladden

From our service on July 4, 2021, a story of the inspiring life of Washington Gladden, as recounted by Colin Mills.

July 4, 2021 Service: “A Righteous Nation”

On the Fourth of July, Americans celebrate Independence Day. Why should Christians care to observe the birthday of one particular country? Like the Biblical Hebrews, the United States of America has conceived of itself as a chosen people, called by God to be an example to the world. America has sometimes failed to live up to this calling, but we should continue striving to fulfill our lofty ideals. In today’s service we discuss what it means to be a righteous nation. We also remember Washington Gladden, a prolific minister who preached that righteousness and salvation are not only for the individual, but for society as a whole.

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].

June 6, 2021 Service: “The Mystical Body of Christ”

When Christians take communion, the bread and wine of the Eucharist represent the body and blood of Christ. This sacramental ritual helps us become one with Christ, together with each other in the church. Beyond rituals, how can we feel connected with Christ so that we can grow in his divine image? In this service, we explore the theme of the church itself as the mystical body of Christ, in which we should be united in helping each other become our best selves.

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.

May 16, 2021 Service: “Ascension”

What is the meaning of salvation? Some say that people are saved if they have the right beliefs. Others say we must live a good life, following the example of Christ. And some believe that in the end, everyone will go to heaven. But how do we really ascend from the sinful world of the flesh to the heavenly world of the Spirit and attain to eternal life with God? In this week’s service we explore these important questions. We also tell the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a 20th century minister and martyr who taught that true faith can be costly.

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.