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Why Religion Matters Pt. 1

Every generation since the scientific revolution of the 1600s have wondered if religion is just a vestige of a primitive past and full of nonsensical claims. But religion is something far larger and sweeping than merely a set of truth claims. Religion seems to be an expression of something deep within the human spirit - a longing for that which transcends our mundane reality. Join Dr. Jim Keck for a three part sermon series on Why Religion Matters

As One We Rise Pt. 3

In this sermon series about striving for unity in fractured times, Dr. Jim Keck has looked at the political divisiveness of our times, the erosion of our sense of community and now will explore the spiritual experience of oneness. Perhaps the core religious experience is an awareness of being at one with all things. The mystic has a "unitive experience" where she feels connected with the ultimate reality. Join us this weekend as we worship the God in 'whom we live, move and have our being."

As One We Rise Pt. 2

In this second part of a three part sermon series on unity, Dr. Jim Keck will explore how the hyper-individualism of our time is eroding our ability to maintain friendships and take part in community. Human beings long for a sense of belonging and identity - the central gifts of unity - but we lead increasingly isolated lives and feel less part of a larger communion. Striving for unity in fractured times will require a commitment to help re-fashion the bonds of community.

As One We Rise Pt. 1

First- Plymouth celebrates diversity and revels in wide spectrum of political and theological viewpoints within our own congregation. We believe that our dappled quality is beautiful. We do not strive for unanimity or groupthink but foster difference and individuality. But is there a higher unity that is essential to our flourishing? Is there a sense of oneness that Christ desires for us? Yes, in the Gospel of John Jesus explicitly prays that we may experience a unity. What does this unity look like? If it's not theological or political, what type of spiritual unity should we strive for? This week Dr. Keck will launch our 2019-20 church theme of Unity with a new sermon series about striving for unity in fractured times

Weapons of Love

Love is anything but passive. Love is not fluff with a smile. This is why New Testament writers liked to describe people of love as God's weapons. They were NOT trying to portray God as violent. They were simply crafting a vivid analogy: life feels like a war between good and evil. Evil has brought to the battlefield suffering, injustice, and hatred as its heavy artillery. To face this, God has brought us: heaven's weapons of love.What has this looked like in the past? What might it look like today? Let's talk.

3 Bible Verses That Almost Ruined the World… but then Jesus Saved them

Dr. Jim Keck will examine three bible verses that have had some horrible consequences in history - the verses that seems to justify slavery, promote a rejection of science, and exclude women from being a minister or priest. But thankfully, the ministry of Jesus transcends these texts and points to a better world. Join us this weekend for a faithfully provocative look at the role of the Bible in our faith.

Losing to Win

Dr. Jim Keck will examine the enigmatic line by Jesus "Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it." We all have a conception of our lives - who we are and why we are doing what we are doing - and maybe Jesus is suggesting that we become less attached to our conceptions and simply live life with a greater spontaneity and simplicity. See you in church!

A Lesser God (and Less is More)

Psalm 50 speaks of a mighty, stupendous and judgmental God. This psalm conveys the old school version of God that has been primary in the religious imagination of Humankind. It's a BIG GOD - a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious God that is both awesome and fearful. But our complex and beautiful Christian faith also speaks of far more subtle and sublime God that comes to us in the still, small voice of weakness, suffering and sadness. Dr. Jim Keck will explore the smaller God this weekend at First-Plymouth.

3 Bible Verses that Could Change Everything

Deep into the Nebraska summer - Dr. Jim Keck will turn to three scriptures that, if taken seriously, would completely revolutionize how we view religion, reality and politics. Notice I just snuck the word reality in between religion and politics :) These passages would change EVERYTHING. Come find out which three verses are the game-changers!

When in Rome

Have you ever binge-watched a tv show or devoured a book series because the story was so good? You get lost in the plot as the suspense builds to see how it will all come to an end. The book of Acts is a binge-worthy book. It builds and builds with an action-packed journey to Rome as Paul appeals for justice directly to Caesar! Finally, in the last chapter, the apostle arrives in Rome AND... the book ends with Paul's indefinite imprisonment.

Is it the worst ending of all time? Or, is it a powerful portrayal of a kind wisdom we need? Let's talk about it.

Let Your Weary Heart Sing

Angelic Jailbreak

Now, here's a story! A threatened king kills off a rebel who has been stirring up trouble. To the king's surprise, that execution sparks a rise in his approval ratings. Emboldened, the king arrests the the top dog of this rebellion and throws him in chains. His power seems unstoppable. Until it's thwarted by an angelic jailbreak. Pastor Patrick in taking watching what happens when violent tyranny and heaven collide right in the middle of our lives.

How Great Thou Art

This great song was originally in Swedish, then moved into the German and Russian languages and somehow kept its power and greatness as it was translated into English. We will let our souls sing in awesome wonder at this special worship service. Dr. Keck will preach a sermon on this splendid hymn and musicians Erin-Ann Scott and Ariel Merivil will deliver a deeply affecting rendition of "How Great Thou Art."

The Buddha on Lake Minnetonka

Buddhism is one of the great religions of the world, but many Christians know very little about it. With only about 1 percent of Americans being Buddhist many of us never rub elbows with this fascinating view of life. Dr. Keck will explore the idea that understanding the depth and power of another religion can strengthen ones own Christian faith.

The (Holy) Spirit of Stonewall

It has been 50 years since the uprising at the Stonewall Inn. On June 28, 1969, a brutal police raid of this gay bar sparked a spontaneous act of resistance that birthed a new movement of pride and human rights. Celebrate the spirit of this movement while tracing that same Spirit back to a watershed movement in the Bible - the movement the Spirit anoints the queering of gender and sexual norms.

Time to be Bold

We live in contentious times. Everyone seems to have a strong opinion, a soapbox, and skin too thin to hear anything different. With such combativeness in the air, it might seem like the most Christian thing to do is to hold our tongues, smile wide, and keep the peace. But, the Jesus movement was much more than a commitment to be neutral and nice. It was a movement compelled by love that was bold, vocal, and visible. This Sunday, let's take a closer look at the early shockwaves of that movement so we can see how those same shockwaves of love are coursing our world.

Delighting in the Human Race

There is a remarkable passage in Proverbs where cosmic wisdom is personified in the form of a woman. Although Christianity has been very lopsided in imagining the divine as primarily male, this part of our Bible gives a creative opportunity to bring the feminine into our concept of the divine. At the end of this scripture it says that wisdom knows to take "delight in the human race." Dr. Jim Keck's sermon this week will lift up some of the delightful aspects of our humanity.

How Many Candles

Pentecost - the day the Holy Spirit came upon the believers in Jerusalem - is often called the "birthday of the Christian Church." But some scholars believe the church did not really begin until much later, and that is was unclear that Christianity was not simply another form of Judaism for almost three centuries! Dr. Jim Keck will be our tour guide through the early history of the church and the incredible movement of the Holy Spirit through the ages.