Worship with us Sundays at 11 - Venga a adorar con nosotros los domingos a las 11

Category: Pastor Kaji’s Blog

“The Gates of Heaven are Wide Open”

So, in our passage from Matthew 16 today, Jesus says to Simon Peter, “Peter I give you the keys to the kingdom.”  And this has been really important in the development of the Church, because the Church understands itself as having the power of the keys. What does that power mean? Does that mean that some people can get in and other people can’t? What I understand Jesus to be saying, is that through the Church, you get to know that the gates of heaven are wide open.  So come on in. That’s what I hear Jesus to be saying to each of us. Amen.

Full sermon: https://youtu.be/p6lLXB5B0lg

“God does not bring the storm to you, God is the one who calms it”

See Pastor Kaji’s full sermon here: https://youtu.be/zafcgSoUJeQ

“Bring Them In” by The Rev. Kaji Douša

A family in Panama City, Florida, recently had an experience that taught me something about church. So, it was a normal, hot summer day, and the family decided to go, like many did, to the beach. Because they figured they would get the wonderful refreshment of the water. As the children played along the edge of the beach, the mother perhaps turned away for one second and then looked back, and it was any parent’s worst nightmare. Because as she looked, she did not see her children anymore, and she panicked. And she looks closer and looks all around and sees, wait a minute the children who were just right in front of me, now are way out to sea. So, of course, she did what anyone would, and ran in after her children. As she went closer and closer, she realized what had happened, a riptide had pulled them out into the water and as she went in, she too got caught by the riptide and was stuck. So then others saw what was happening and they heard the yelling, and they came to try to rescue them and they too got stuck by the riptide because each person tried to do it on their own. What they discovered was the only solution was to create a human chain from the shores of the beach. And each person linked arms with each other. And as they each came, and another person came, and another family saw what was happening, they realized that they had a role to play and they went all the way out into the depths of the water. And this woman at the end, then, who was an excellent swimmer, and almost died in the process, pulled in each person who had been stuck. She wouldn’t have been able to do it without that human chain. And this is the lesson we learned: we can’t, we can’t do it, we can’t do these things on our own, but when we connect to each other and we recognize the common humanity between each of us, between every human in the world, we recognize that they each are in the struggle together and then we pull the people in to safety. That’s the role of church. Amen.

Pastor Kaji’s full sermon is available here: https://youtu.be/t1LguDjcMgM

“Here & Now” by The Rev. Kaji Douša

Today I wanted to address a strand of Christianity that seems to be singularly focused on the future. And so they pay very close attention to right now and today as being the opportunity to prepare ourselves for whether or not at some future date we will be able to enter the Pearly Gates.. And here’s the problem with that: if we’re singularly focused as people of faith on whether or not we get to go to heaven, then we’re not paying any attention to what’s going on today in our world. And there are real issues that Christians need to notice and to respond to. So, if we’re only focused on tomorrow, then we don’t care about the earth, because we are going to leave the earth anyway. If we’re only focused on tomorrow, then the only people whose lives matter are the ones who agree with us. So, my hope is that we can focus on today, because God needs us here and now. Amen.

Full sermon: https://youtu.be/z6EkbQPrk_w

 

“No Matter What” by The Rev. Kaji Douša

At the end of the Gospel of Matthew, here’s what Jesus says, “All authority on heaven and on earth is given to me. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And lo, I am with you, even until the end of the age.” Now it’s turned out that what we call in the Church the “Great Commission” has felt like a commission that gives “authority over,” but not necessarily a sense of “joining with.” And there are times when people have gone on mission to convert others with a feeling of superiority, as in they held a position of God’s love that the people they hoped to convert did not have. I think we’ve learned, and I hope that we have learned from God, that that was never Jesus’ intention in offering the Great Commission.  Because, think about the community that Jesus was speaking to – these were people who shared all things in common, people who gave everything they had for the sake of the poor, and for others who had been forgotten by community. And so, in today’s age, I ask us to consider, has Church offered you, or has learning about Jesus offered you, discomfort that made you feel worse about yourself than before you knew anything about him?  Or, has learning about Jesus opened up the beauty and the truth of the Gospels of a God who at the end of the Gospel would say, “Lo, I am with you, even until the end of the age!” I am with you, I will never abandon you, there is nowhere on this earth you can go where I won’t be with you. If Church, or if the words you’ve heard from Scripture have made you feel as if you are separated from God, I hope you will know that God intends better for you. That God is pushing through whatever Church, or those of us who have interpreted Scripture wrong from time to time might offer.  And know the God who said, “I am with you,” is not a liar. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

“God Will Never Leave You Orphaned” by The Rev. Kaji Douša

In the Gospel of John, chapter 14, Jesus says, “I will never leave you orphaned.” What does this mean? Because, so many of us find ourselves in battles, and feeling as if we are on our own, or like we’ve been abandoned. I believe that Jesus says this because he knows that the world will do that. He knows that we will find disappointment and we’ll have moments of hurt and pain. And wondering who’s with us. And as Jesus says this, it’s because he knows how the world works. And he says, “I will not leave you abandoned, I will not leave you orphaned.” Just because he knows that so many other forces will. But when everything else is wrong, it might even feel empty, know that Jesus steps up. Even if everyone else seems to have left you, God never will. God will never leave you orphaned. Amen.

Pastor Kaji’s full sermon: https://youtu.be/ehvLSk_ZnQ0

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“God will help you to find your way!” by The Rev. Kaji Douša

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about roadblocks.  About how, so many times, we can keep persisting and have this way we’re going on, and then we catch a roadblock, or it seems like we’re just about to fall off a cliff. And what I started to realize as I was thinking about Jesus saying, “I am the way, and the truth, and the light,” when I started thinking about that, I realized that sometimes, if we’re coming up against these major roadblocks in our lives, maybe it’s because maybe we’re on our own way, and we’re not on God’s way.  Because if God intends for something to happen, God is going to remove every barrier for it to happen. If God is taking you to a cliff, God is going to build a bridge over it. God is never going to stop until you are able to do what God intends for your life.  So, if you find yourself in a place where you’re stumbling, you can’t find your way, maybe take a step back, and call on God’s help. And just know this: no matter where you are, you are one step away from THE way, God’s way.  And all it takes is the intention, and God will bring you back. Even when you go astray. Even when you mess up.  Even when it seems like you’re not worthy. It doesn’t matter.  God is never going to leave you – and God never did. Amen.

See Pastor Kaji’s full sermon here.

“Being Sanctuary for Immigrants” by The Rev. Kaji Douša

I wanted to talk for a moment about “Sanctuary.”  Here we are in one of the most incredibly beautiful sanctuaries in all of New York City.  But yet, the nation right now is talking about Sanctuary. But what is Sanctuary? Basically, it’s based on the premise that the Holy One of Israel, the Ancient of Days, has already taken sides in the struggle of the oppressed. And yet, we wonder, why haven’t more people of faith taken that side, too? The “Sanctuary Movement” seeks to redress that. As we look at the oppression, we layer upon the people who come to this country, seeking jobs, seeking a place of employment, seeking a way to secure what their family needs for safety, security, and the ability to thrive – which of course is something that we all would want – and yet, and yet, we criminalize immigrants. And so, the Sanctuary Movement says that, as a way of life, we will extend that hospitality to every stranger, just as Jesus has called us to do; that we recognize that whatsoever we do to the least of these, that we also do to Jesus; and we have decided that, therefore, that we will not deport Jesus. So, the Sanctuary Movement says, let us find a way to incorporate immigrants in full thriving with dignity, love, and respect. That is what Sanctuary means. Amen.

See Pastor Kaji’s full sermon here: http://www.parkavenuechristian.com/sermon-video-what-things-refocusing-our-attention-by-rev-kaji-dousa/

“God Meets You in Your Tears” by The Rev. Kaji Douša

Easter is the holiest and most exciting day of the year.  We celebrate because this is the day in which we remember that Jesus Christ, who did die, came back. And that he has risen, and that is such good news.  That is essentially the essence of good news. And the good news of the Gospels is that even if death happens, life always follows. Now, it can be for many of us that we want to jump straight to the resurrection, and we forget the despair and the anguish that Jesus’ followers felt just before they found out the good news. But I want us to remember that, too. We hear the story of Mary Magdalene, who went to the tomb expecting one thing, and seeing the stone rolled away, and she didn’t know. She thought that they have taken her Lord. And through her tears she wept. The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”  And maybe we would hear that story and think that we’re not supposed to weep at death. Maybe someone has told us before that we need to have enough faith and trust in God enough and trust in the the resurrection and we don’t have to weep. But the reason the angels asked Mary why she was weeping wasn’t because they thought she shouldn’t, but it was because they were waiting for this answer: that they had taken her Lord. Her Lord. One who hadn’t met the expectations of Messiah, but the one who rose. She thought that they have taken her Lord, and even though all these other people abandoned him, he was still her Lord. And it was only through her tears that she saw Jesus.  Those tears that we cry can give us the clarity to see God in ways we never could. And so, weep. But Know that God meets you in your tears. Weep, and see even more clearly than perhaps ever before, that sometimes when our hearts crack open, it lets the light in. Know that light now. Amen.

Pastor Kaji’s Easter sermon is here: https://youtu.be/53mf0VMTaL4

“Jesus’ Passion is for You” by The Rev. Kaji Douša

This week marks the beginning of the holiest week of the Christian year. And today we gathered on Palm Sunday to hear the story of Jesus’ Passion, and here’s what I’d like you to know about that. Jesus’ Passion is not just a story of yesteryear, of an ancient time for people who died and have long gone. Jesus’ Passion is for you. Jesus cares about you. Jesus walked a road – the Via Dolorosa (the way of the cross) – so that you would not have to carry such a heavy burden. And so know that, wherever you’ve been, Jesus has been there, too, even to the sunken place. But, that no matter what the story is, there is good news. And there’s good news for you, and even out of the sunken place you can rise with Jesus.  By the grace of God, you do. Amen.