Sermon “Rekindle The Gift”

On World Communion Sunday, October 6, 2019, Pastor Jennifer Smith-Walz preached a sermon titled “Rekindle The Gift.” The Scripture for the week is 2 Timothy 1: 1-14.

World Commuion DayDo you ever waver in your faith? Not sure what you believe? Are you perhaps feeling like your faith isn’t quite enough? Or maybe it’s not God you question so much as the church – or how people receive you as a Christian?

There’s the story of Tim, a young pastor struggling a lot about his faith. It seems hard. He looks foolish. He is perhaps tired of defending Paul in prison or Jesus Christ on the cross. If the resurrection is real and Christ has conquered death, why is life still so difficult? Maybe Tim’s been prosecuted himself. Or he is probably exhausted helping others navigate as well. In whatever way, it takes guidance, courage, perseverance, and patience to grow strong in faith.

In the Scripture, Paul knew Timothy’s sincere faith was a result of the godly influence of his mother and grandmother, who taught him the Scriptures. Here’s what he told him: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” Parents and grandparents are there to provide godly training in the home and pass their faith to the next generation. When we believe in God, we should encourage our children and grandchildren to keep believing and following Christ.

Combined Choirs World Communion Sunday

Many conversations show that a lot of people have a spiritual hunger, for they do not connect to something bigger or one another. That’s what Paul is doing here for Tim. He is rekindling the gift that is within. Remember Lois and Eunice and what they did for their family? We must pray and worship always, even in times of adversity. Prayer in faith is not something the world still understands. Jesus has destroyed death and brought life and immortality so we should not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord. But know that the joy of church and worship rekindle in us a gift, for which we must give thanks.

We don’t know all of where God is leading us, but we are and can be a witness. We need each other! Let us dismantle racism. Let the Holy Spirit give us the spirit of power, love, and self-discipline and help us remove the feeling of cowardice. We need one another’s differences, worship styles, biblical understandings, life experiences, questions. We need dreams of multiculturalism, sincere worship, and even more courageous conversations.

As we come to the worldwide Communion table, remember to be inspired. Be encouraged to connect with something bigger than ourselves. Learn to connect and have a greater love for one another as Christ himself did. “Guard the good treasures entrusted to you.”

The sermon is a podcast on this webpage under the category worship. Here is the link

For the complete video of the October 6 service, found on Princeton United Methodist Church Facebook page, click here.

Sermon: “Come Holy Spirit!: Make Us Fruitful”

On Sunday, June 30, 2019, Pastor Jennifer Smith-Walz preached on the topic “Make Us Fruitful” from the sermon series “Come Holy Spirit.” Her sermon is based on the scripture reading from Galatians 5:1, 13-25. 

For Freedom, Christ has set us free, so that we may enjoy the benefits of freedom. How appropriate this is on the 4th of July. Freedom is our current culture. Many grew up in the US, far removed from the experience of foreign rule or political oppression. Yet still, they grapple in some way with concepts, experiences – freedom and bondage; many terms – political, economic, religious, psychological, spiritual, physical. We can also be held captive by loneliness, addiction, abusive relationship, fear, bitterness, jealousy, our own pursuits, disordered passions, sin, selfishness, pride, subtle avoidance, or isolation. 

Paul says, “Christ has set us free! We are no longer bound, or captive. If we ever moved from captivity to freedom, liberation is a process, a limited space in the wilderness. For what then are we freed?  Paul says very clearly: “Freed for love.” Deep, sacrificial, radical, messy love.

Now, the Galatians were a young congregation of new Christians. They were embroiled in debates and infighting, which are outward signs of inward enslavement. Biting and devouring one another through jealousy, strife, discord, factions, and widespread envy.  Have you been to places like this? Maybe, even at Church. This was a different way, which doesn’t make sense of the conventional ideas of freedom or freedom in Christ. This was doing what we want, the way we want, and when we want. This was one of fierce independence, such as freedom from attachment or obligation. 

Freedom in Christ frees space in us to let the Holy Spirit in. It reorders our passions, attachments, and desires and moves us from the realm of being self-serving to focusing on others. It engages us in a call to love – not from a distance, not on the surface, not part-time, but to know how much we need Christ and others. This kind of love shown by Christ and taught by Paul requires deep bonds and attachments with others and God. This may not make sense to our modern sensibilities, especially in our self-centered world.

This is why the Church exists. Religion comes from the Latin word ‘Ligare’ which means ‘to bind together’ – with God and others. We must invest ourselves deeply in God and one another. Feeding and being fed. Not at arm’s length but up close. It can be risky, hard, counter-cultural, even vulnerable to let others love us, knowing that we won’t do this perfectly. Churches indeed bring out the best and worst of people. Yet, I have great hope for the Church and the way it could be, even if this depth of love is elusive, even if there are seeds of a rift that lead to a gorge, distance, and friction. But I have also seen people that have enormous patience, kindness, generosity, and faithfulness. This could only be borne by the Holy Spirit, which makes one want more, bond more deeply and see God and Christ more dearly in one another, in love, in a relationship. 

Brothers and sisters, Christ sets us free in faith and trust. The Holy Spirit produces fruits in us to know Christ more.  Let us open ourselves to the Holy Spirit and trust that we are free. Look around!  How is the Holy Spirit making you fruitful? How is the Holy Spirit freeing you to love and be loved? 

The sermon is podcast on this webpage under the category “worship.” Here is the link

For the complete video of the June 30 service, found on Princeton United Methodist Church Facebook page, click here.

Sermon “Body Building: Equipped”

The Body of Christ

On Sunday September 16, 2018, Pastor Smith Walz preached from the sermon series “Body Building” on the topic ‘Equipped’. Her sermon is based on the scripture reading ‘One Body With Many Members’ from 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

To hear the sermon live, go to the Princeton United Methodist Church Facebook page here

Also the sermon will be podcast soon on this webpage under the category “worship”.

This is a summary of her message:

What is your part in the Body of Christ? Are you a Foot? A Heart? A Hand? Brain? Arm? Knee? Eye? Ear? Mouth? Funny Bone? Stomach?
The Body of Christ
Hundreds of different parts work together.

This is the image Paul uses to talk about the Church, which we also call the Body of Christ. But Paul also uses humorous images to tell us there is no hierarchy in the Body of Christ.

EVERY part matters. EVERY ONE matters. EVERY ONE is needed to be the body, to be whole. Those who do manual jobs are no less important than the elected leaders or speakers. Those who work behind the scenes are just as crucial as the ones who are seen and heard. What then is your part in the Body of Christ?

Last Sunday, if you heard nothing else from the sermon of the same series ‘Body Building’, I hope you heard “You are called!” Each one of you is called by God to do God’s work of love, reconciliation and unity in the world. God equips you with one or several spiritual gifts to enable you to fulfill that calling. As we become aware of our calling and the gifts the Holy Spirit has given us to do the work, we find our place in the Body of Christ.

You are called! You are gifted! And you play a crucial role in the Body of Christ, which is the Church.

I was called to be a pastor. So, God helped me over the years to overcome my fear of public speaking, with the guidance and support of friends. And I’ve continued to hear God’s call on my life to be a pastor and to help others too. Thus, through my preaching, I am seeking to engage you, teach, inspire, connect you with God, and with your everyday life. The Holy Spirit called me, equipped me with gifts and I align myself with God’s call. My gifts are teaching, knowledge, shepherding, administration, leadership.

You too are called, you are gifted! You are equipped! God has called you. God has equipped you with one or more gifts. These are your natural gifts. You have to open the gift, use the gift, allow the Holy Spirit to keep equipping you – an active aligning of oneself with God’s intentions, open to being used by God.

Therefore, Let Your Light Shine