Questions and sermon topics have been submitted (25 in all) and I have distributed them over 12 sermons during the summer.
In this guide you will find the theme for each service based on the questions asked. After each sermon there will be a few minutes to discuss the questions and the sermon with your neighbors. During the coffee hour we will meet in the sanctuary for a longer discussion.
If you have a creative element (poem, song, children’s sermon, etc.) for one of the services, it will be most welcome! Send me an email!
Here is the line-up of questions. Sermons (text and audio) will be posted here.
June 21st Lament and Faith
- How did the death of your son impact your faith? Did the impact include changes or affirmations? Honestly, does such an event impact everything in your life?
- Not believing in a supernatural God, or heaven, how do you comfort people who are dying?
- You don’t believe in “afterlife” but would you tell a grieving person that their loved one is just “dead and done” – what would you say to them? In reading what you believe, this no-afterlife is the one I struggle with most. I agree with no heaven/hell places or no God person but I want to still believe that my loved ones are somewhere peaceful and happy and loved, or that their spirit is with me. I sense or believe in something, a creator that unites us all; science has an important role but did not give me love. Reading you has gotten me to focus on what I believe – good news – so I will ponder ‘afterlife’ some more. On a lighter note, does belief in no afterlife mean no ghosts or spirits so would you walk through a graveyard at night?
June 28th Talking Theology with Family (and others)
- Why does it seem that Western culture has so much difficulty discussing, with any degree of rationality, the big three of Sex, Religion and Death?
- It seems to me the most strident of fundamentalists are frightened of the ambiguity of nothingness represented by death. What are John's views on that subject?
- It's fun to talk about theology but it can be divisive too, and it can degenerate into cant, or worse, doctrinaire judgment, prejudice and hatred. What guidelines would you give for discussing theology with members of our congregation? With our families? With acquaintances?
- How do I describe to my 90+ year-old Mother your belief system? If God doesn’t tell you what is right and what is wrong, how do you know?
July 5th Mission Trip Sunday Led By Our Youth
Our youth lead the worship and inform us about their exciting adventures over the summer!
July 12th Deconstructing Sacrifice
- The whole thing about sacrifice in the Bible. Animals sacrificed in the Old Testament & Jesus sacrificed. I don’t see why God just can’t forgive without a sacrifice.
- If Jesus was not born of a virgin (that being a myth) then he is not God's begotten son, and could not be expected to die for the sins of the world. Furthermore, if God said he didn't require sacrifice but justice, and he saved Abraham's son at the last minute, he would never require Jesus to be a human sacrifice. In fact, a God who requires any human sacrifice is repugnant to most of us. So how are we to see Jesus' death on the cross? Not as propitiation for my sin? I'd like to hear some discussion of this.
July 19th A Belief-less Christianity
- So, you’ve been quoted as referring to a belief-less Christianity. What does that mean? And since the Presbyterian faith is grounded in numerous “beliefs,” how is it that you’re Presbyterian?
July 26th The Bible and the Universe Story
- What poems, songs, works of art, novels, short stories, movies, cartoons, etc., from the last 50 to 100 years might/should be included in a bible that would be canonized 400 years from now? Why? Extra points for ones that actually do more than echo familiar portions of the current canon.
August 2nd A Heart for the Existential Jesus
- You use the term Jesus ________???? ( Ask John what phrase he uses and fill it in.) What do you mean by that.
- Please talk about Sartre, Camus and other existentialists (maybe Tillich, maybe not) and whether or not they have a strong kinship with Jesus and how some of that might be important to Southminster.
August 9th Deconstructing (and Reimagining) God
- If God is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient and all powerful and needs nothing then why does "He" need 8+ billion of these little critters here on earth to worship "Him" to feel complete?
- What phraseology do you use to speak of God? How do you internalize it or find meaning in it (the phraseology)?
- What do you mean when you say you don’t believe in God? (or a supernatural God)
August 16th unKingdom of the unGod
- Have we succeeded as Christians but failed as followers of Jesus?
- From your very new perspective is Southminster alive with respect to the building of the kingdom of God? What makes you answer that way?
August 23rd Prayer in a New Key
- How to understand prayer; does God intervene in human affairs? Are we to praise God? Thank him?
- I saw an electronic church notice board today with "help is just a prayer away". What would Jesus say about that? Would he agree or disagree? Would he tell a parable? One he used before or a new one? What would Kushner say? How does the gift of free will constrain prayer? Why pray? How do modern people sort that out? Be sure to mention "apocalyptic" and "sapiential".
August 30st A God That Could Be Real
On this Sunday we review the book we have been reading over the summer, A God That Could Be Real: Spirituality, Science, and the Future of Our Planet by Nancy Ellen Abrams. But here is the cool part: the author herself plans to be with us via Skype on the big screen. The sermon will be a conversation between Nancy and I and then the congregation will have the opportunity to ask her questions. By the way, a podcast of our Religion For Life conversation will be available June 28th. www.religionforlife.com.
September 6th Celebrating our keyboardist, Kenn Wilson, and Some Softball Questions
- What has been the most asked question from us, what topic of most concern, and is there a question you thought we would ask but no one asked? Was there a big response? Let us know how this experience has been for you!
- What are your impressions of Oregon and of Southminster? Are there things you miss or especially like or were surprised by? You probably find beauty everywhere, but seriously, isn’t Oregon just the most beautiful place ever??
September 13th A Community Without Answers
This will be another dialogue sermon. Associate Pastor, Rev. Don Ludwig and I will discuss these three questions:
- As a Progressive Christian I do not believe in a Supernatural Deity. Therefore there is no reason to think that the man Jesus was the Son of this Deity. So he was bound by all the natural laws that bind us. i.e. No miracles, no Resurrection, no Second Coming, and no dying for my sins either. Now Jesus seen in the proper context of his times was a wise man who talked about a very different approach to life. A way that deserves consideration and implementation. Many other wise men and women of history and the present have done likewise. We should take wisdom from where ever we find it. So here is my question, given all this, how does the Christian Church not just become another civic club doing good works? Or is that where it is headed?
- What do you see our church becoming? Are there changes you would make in the direction we are going? The issues upon which we focus? Less biblical? Would you speed up the timeline? Does what you want for us always include room for those less inclined to jump in?
- As a congregation we wrestle with some of the seemingly negative aspects of traditional and progressive Christianity. At the same time we teach our kids about the Bible and faith in Sunday school. How can we present the discoveries and clarifications given by Borg, Crossan, Spong, et al, to our children as part of that teaching?
September 20th Interview an Atheist at Church (special guest, Kile B. Jones)
Interview an Atheist at Church Day is a project created by Kile B. Jones, a Ph.D student at Claremont Lincoln University, an inter-religious school to train ministers. Kile is an atheist who is interested in helping liberal religious people work together with unbelieving communities for the betterment of society.
Some questions for Kile include:
How does your atheism influence your day-to-day actions?
Why don’t you believe in God?
How do you find meaning in an atheistic universe?
Where do you think morality comes from?
How can we find a way to work together?