Sermons

The story of Christ’s birth is a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary love. So, what happened? What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists. And when it’s all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling of missed purpose. Is this what we really want out of Christmas? What if Christmas became a world-changing event again? Welcome to Advent Conspiracy. (www.adventconspiracy.org) [vc_video link='https://youtu.be/2yfnlhvmr-k'] The word conspiracy comes from the...

We are the body of Christ. That’s what the Apostle Paul claims. The living, breathing, body of our Lord. The visible presence of the Risen Christ. And each of us, an individual part of that body, with far greater value and responsibility than we can possibly imagine. The motive for Paul’s 19 verse soapbox on “body ethic” was to address the toxic matter of social distinctions that had begun to emerge within the Corinthian community of faith. It was assumed then and there, just as it is possible to assume here and now, that some members of the Body of Christ are more important,...

For more than 430 years the descendants of Jacob resided in Egypt. They had come there under the leadership of Jacob’s most beloved son, Joseph, who had been sold into slavery there and yet (by God’s providence) ascended to a position of prominence and power, second only to Pharaoh himself. It was by his invitation that his brothers and their families (seventy persons in total) settled in the land of Egypt. Now, faithful to the creational commission to “be fruitful and multiply,” and in keeping with the promise made to the Patriarch Abraham, they were becoming “more numerous than the stars.” In the...

There is an alternative to a life of chaos, isolation, fear, and self-destruction. Despite all evidence to the contrary, we didn’t begin as lost or abandoned as we sometimes feel. The Bible begins with a vision of what life with God, and in God, and for God is intended to be. We begin with the potential for extraordinary freedom, love, intimacy, community, beauty. Yet that vision is frequently blurred by the stark realities of our lived experiences. With reckless abandon of our hoped-for design, we chart paths of our own undoing; or, perhaps better said, own “un-being.” For a world grown weary from its...

Advent is about preparing for the coming of the Christ. If that is so, the truth is it takes a little work preparing for that preparation. That’s exactly what has been underway at JCBC for the past week. At Christmas, one of the simple gifts we enjoy at JCBC is the beauty of our campus. It is simply stunning. Within the span of one week, the campus is transformed. Trees, garland, lights, and wreaths signal the season of Christ’s birth is at hand. But here’s the thing. It doesn’t get that way on its own. As I walked the halls of our campus last week, I was struck by...

There are some mysteries too profound for words. Some encounters defy simple explanations… and require more. That’s why we sing. We sing because when we do, our highest hope and our deepest longing take flight… so we can see them, hear them, feel them… And marvel. Nowhere is that more true than in the carols we sing at Christmas. Deeply imbedded in the lyrics of the carols we sing each year are profound and provocative declarations of hope, peace, joy and love. Sometimes haunting, sometimes exuberant. And most, a sojourn in-between. The carols of Christmas call believers to enter once more into the mystery of our Lord’s birth, and marvel...

Every 500 years, the church throws a rummage sale. That’s how Episcopal Bishop Mark Dyer puts it. Since the birth of the church, there have been at least three significant turning points in which the church, faced with an identity crisis, made significant shifts in its way of existing in the world. These shifts resulted in deliberately relinquishing old and familiar ways of doing and being the church in order to engage the church’s mission in ever-changing contexts. Rummage sale. Brilliant. Out with the old. In with the new. The first of these rummage sales occurred around 500 A.D., as the church became the official religion of...

Sylvan Hills Baptist Church Professor of Church History and Spiritual Formation Ph.D. 1984, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Master of Divinity 1978, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, B.S. 1974, University of Montevallo, Alabama Dr. Allen holds the Sylvan Hills Chair of Baptist Heritage and is Professor of Church History and Spiritual Formation at McAfee. He received his B.S (1974) with a double-major in psychology and sociology from the University of Montevallo in Alabama. His training for Christian ministry took place at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, which awarded him the M.Div. (1978) and Ph.D. (1984) degrees. During his years as a...