Filled With Messages
By Ruth Farrell
Life is filled with messages. At best, most of them are forgettable. Plenty of them are confusing and anxiety-inducing. Filled With Messages are the sermons of Ruth Farrell, the lead pastor of a church in Chicagoland. If you want to fill your life with encouraging, transforming messages, listen in.
Choose A Better Way
When Joseph decided to divorce Mary, he was making an acceptable choice. But God had a better way and invited Joseph to choose it instead.
December 20, 2022
Let It Be
Sometimes fear is overwhelming and anxiety weighs so heavily. In those time, God invites us to let our fear be what it is and also to rest in his presence with us.
December 15, 2022
A Chosen Family Tree
There are a lot of genealogies in the Bible and often skip over them. However, some of them (in particular, Jesus’ family trees) contain good news and grace for us. Listen in to hear more.
December 05, 2022
Mama Cockroach, I Love You
Jesus often invites us to see the world through new lenses. In Luke 6, he even goes so far as to asks us to love our enemies.
November 07, 2022
The Zacchaeus Illusion
We all know the adage, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Yet many of us do judge others based on their outward appearances. God invites us to look at peoples’ hearts instead.
November 03, 2022
The Humility Trap
No one likes those who act self-righteously. And most people would agree that humility is a good thing. But there are some humility traps. Listen in to hear more about how we can avoid the traps of both self-righteousness and humility.
October 26, 2022
When is it time to stop praying for a miracle? In today’s scripture text, Jesus encourages us to not lose heart, but keep on praying.
October 20, 2022
The Hopeful Animal Kingdom
Many of us find great comfort in our pets, perhaps partly because they are a stable presence in our chaotic world. Scripture uses scenes from the animal kingdom to remind us we can have hope that God is still at work in this world.
October 06, 2022
Bringing the Heat
God brings the heat on injustice, provides shelter from the storms of life, and invites us to join him in this work.
September 14, 2022
The Challenge of Time
Time is often challenging for us. The good seasons of life seem to go by too fast and the difficult seasons seem to last too long. God sees our struggle with time, has empathy for us, and invites us to learn to be present in each moment.
September 07, 2022
Kneading with Love
God is always kneading, stretching, growing us. The process isn’t always fun, but God always does it with love.
August 17, 2022
Yeast or No Yeast
God invites us to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice on whatever adventure he has in store for us next.
August 11, 2022
Watering Each Other
There is so much in life which dries us out, so much that sun-bakes our souls. We are invited to work alongside God in watering others so we all can grow, flourish, and thrive.
July 27, 2022
Our tongues have the power of life and death. God asks us to use our words to bring life and healing. Listen in to hear more.
July 20, 2022
God is patient with us no matter what. Even when we struggle to trust, God still give us peace. Listen in to hear more.
July 13, 2022
Be the Pattern
Often we’re called to be a pattern, an example for others to follow. But what does that look like in everyday life? Listen in for some ideas.
June 29, 2022
Boasting in the Trinity
Many days, it’s hard to have faith. On those days, Jesus’ faith (and the faith of our siblings in Christ) keep us deeply connected to God and the Holy Spirit’s grace, hope, peace, and love which enables us to boast joyfully, even on the worst days, about the Trinity’s goodness.
June 22, 2022
I Shall Paint My Life
Lists are often good tools to help us reflect on our lives. One of the most famous lists in the Bible can also help us ponder our lives and our relationship with God.
June 16, 2022
Raise an Ebenezer
Many of us take time to remember those who have passed on. For instance, we memorialize our fallen soldiers with wreaths on Memorial Day or perhaps we place flowers on the graves of loved ones on their birthdays. In the Bible we find several people raising stone moments to remember God’s faithfulness. Perhaps it might help us to trust God especially in the hard times of life if we did something similar.
June 01, 2022
A Way to Peace
So often, life is confusing, disorienting, hard. Jesus didn’t promise that life would be easy, but he did provide ways to experience his peace even in the midst of the struggle.
May 25, 2022
The Church’s Top Exercises
Most of us struggle with change, but God is always doing a new thing and invites us to join him in blessing the world through making earth more like heaven.
May 19, 2022
From Surviving to Thriving
It can be so easy to get stuck in survival mode, but God wants to help us move to a thriving, abundant, expansive life. Listen in to find out more.
May 04, 2022
Maybe He’s Born With It
Sometimes there are things which terrify us, but we also know need to be addressed. We can trust Jesus to safely lead us to and through those things and into a life of peace and joy.
April 26, 2022
Joining the Cosmic Concert
Some days it feels like oppression and evil are winning. But God will not be silenced and invites us to join the cosmic concert singing messages of peace and God’s favor into the darkness of this world.
April 12, 2022
Grace is one of the defining characteristics of God and therefore it should be of us. But we struggle to offer abundant grace. Listen in to hear Jesus’ call to offer prodigal - abundant and overflowing - grace.
April 06, 2022
Try A Little Tenderness
Tenderness isn’t something we experience a whole lot these days, yet it has the power to change the world. Listen in to a story from the last week of Jesus’ life which invites us to overflow with tenderness.
April 04, 2022
The Problem with the Fig Tree
Humans are a mix of amazing, wonderful, admirable traits and stuff we’ve got to work on. In today’s scripture text, Jesus invites us to work on the stuff that needs to change so we can live more abundant lives.
March 31, 2022
Under God’s Wings
All of us want to be loved, but sometimes we resist the love offered to us. Even when we resist Jesus’ love, he continues to brood over us with care and faithfulness.
March 25, 2022
Stardust in the Desert
Humans are literally made of stardust. But there are many days where we feel like regular old dust. On the good days and the bad, God and the Holy Spirit are with us, giving us the wisdom and strength we need.
March 23, 2022
All of Me
Many of us have learned there are parts of ourselves which need to remain hidden from others, from ourselves, even perhaps from God. But God invites us to bring our whole selves to him because he loves us, all of us.
March 14, 2022
Trying Something New
Many of us hesitate to try something new, but Jesus tried new things and invites us to do the same. And oftentimes when we try new things we experience more of the abundant life Jesus has for us.
March 07, 2022
The Strength of Smallness
Most of us have been taught to believe that our weaknesses should be hidden, covered up, kept out of sight because they make us vulnerable. But throughout scripture we often find God giving people strength through the things that make them feel small.
March 07, 2022
Be Kind to Yourself
God is abundantly kind to each of us and invites us to learn to be the same.
February 28, 2022
We are often told that forgiveness is an imperative to the Christian life. But how we forgiveness is defined doesn’t often match up to what we see in scripture. Listen in to learn more about kind forgiveness.
February 24, 2022
The Discipline of Kindness
One of Jesus’ most famous, and hardest, teachings helps us see us that kindness is a muscle which we need to learn to use with great discipline and intentionality.
February 24, 2022
Jesus often asks us to put other people’s needs before our wants. But that request doesn’t always sit well and sometimes even causes us to get pretty angry. Listen in to hear Jesus again calling us to care for those who are suffering.
February 16, 2022
Blessings and Wows
One of the reasons God sent Jesus to earth was to help us see the world in new ways. In todays’s scripture text, Jesus invites those who are suffering to see the blessings God has for them and those who have privilege to be careful with how they use it.
February 14, 2022
Rise and Shine
Many days it feels like deep darkness covers our world and maybe even our lives. Scripture calls us to rise and shine even in the darkness, reflecting God’s light and glory all around us.
January 02, 2022
The Right Way to Be
Kindness. It’s good in principle, but is it worth the effort or even possible in our world? Listen in to hear why living with love and kindness are the right way to be.
August 25, 2021
The Importance of Saying No
Most of us struggle to set healthy boundaries, know our limits, say no at key moments. Jesus models how we can do so well.
August 04, 2021
Road Tripping with Emmanuel
We’d love for life to be filled with amazing road trips to fantastic vacation destinations. But more often our life’s journeys are boring and even difficult. Learning to feel God is with us every step of the way can help us navigate all the roads we walk.
August 04, 2021
Michael Packard and the Whale
We want to follow God. But sometimes God seems to be leading us in crazy ways to ridiculous places. What do we do when we disagree with God’s direction for our lives?
June 26, 2021
Life Can Only Be Lives Forwards
We are so often tempted to live in the past, in our comfort zones, but life can only be lived forwards. Jesus invites us to follow him in forwards living.
June 09, 2021
Everyday Spirit Life
When we think of the Holy Spirit, some pretty astonishing moments in God’s story come to mind. But how can we learn to experience the Holy Spirit’s presence in our everyday lives?
May 24, 2021
A Growing Person
All of us want to be happy, to have good lives. The author of Psalm 1 shares some things we can do to make that happen.
May 24, 2021
Green Meadows, Still Waters
God uses nature to restore, redeem, and recreate us, so let’s work to restore, redeem, and recreate it.
May 06, 2021
Abide with Monty Don
Monty Don is a master gardener. He so tenderly and expertly tends the flora and fauna in his care. Jesus used a metaphor in which God is a master gardener to call us to make our homes with God for there we find all we need for a good, healthy life.
May 06, 2021
The Kintsugi Master
All of us have scars. Most of us try to cover them up. But what if God didn’t want us to cover them up but allow him to make something beautiful and meaningful out of them?
April 24, 2021
Laughter Is Good, Godly Medicine
An old adage says “laughter is the best medicine” and God would pretty much agree. Listen in to hear why.
April 15, 2021
Bless This Resurrected Mess
Christ is risen! Yet we still experience pain and suffering. How might we reconcile Christ’s resurrection with our still messy world? Listen in to find out.
April 07, 2021
Bless This Savior
All of us are in need of saving from hurts, pains, heartbreaks. Blessedly, a Savior came in the name of the Lord to heal all of us.
April 07, 2021
Bless This Death and Rising
Jesus reminded us that in order for delicious food to rise from the ground first a seed has to be buried. We have a sense of what this meant for his life, but what does it mean for ours?
March 24, 2021
Sometimes it’s hard to see the ways God is blessing us. Scripture encourages us to look in life’s rearview mirror from time to time to see the ways God has redeemed us from trouble in the past. Doing so will fill our hearts with gratitude and joy.
March 24, 2021
Often anger is seen as unchristian. But Jesus gets angry so anger can’t be inherently wrong. So when is it ok to get angry?
March 08, 2021
Be A Blessing
God blesses us and calls us to be a blessing. Are we blessing just the loudest voices around us or are we listening especially for marginalized voices so we can be sure to bless all people?
March 01, 2021
You Are a Beloved and Beautiful Mess
Most of us tend to see our so called faults and failures more than we see the good things about ourselves. Yet first and foremost God sees us as his beloved and beautiful children and calls us to see ourselves in the same way. Listen in to hear more.
February 22, 2021
A Better Fast
Many of us choose to give up or fast from something during Lent. What sort of fast might God be calling us to this Lent?
February 18, 2021
White As the Sun/Bleach/Lightening/Snow
We all tend to see Jesus for who we want him to be, which isn’t necessarily wrong or bad, but there are times when God invites us to see Jesus more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly.
February 09, 2021
She Doesn’t Fear Snow
One of the messages we often hear (implicitly and explicitly) is that we should be amazing, perfect, put together all the time. There are even Bible passages that seem to say this. But is that actually how God expects us to live? Listen in to find out.
February 03, 2021
Wash Me and I Will Be Whiter Than Snow
Confession is something many of us shy away from because it’s been used hurt us or control us. But scripture offers us a different way to see confession - one steeped in merciful love and leading to joyful community.
January 19, 2021
Have You Been to the Storehouses of Snow?
When we’re suffering, it’s natural to ask God “why?” Oftentimes, in response to our heartfelt questions, God invites us to see the world and our pain through a different perspective which helps us trust God even if the pain continues.
January 12, 2021
Guide Us To Thy Perfect Light
The Magi are some of the people in the Bible who most pique our imaginations. Thinking about them helps us as we follow the stars God places in our lives.
January 06, 2021
What Child Is This?
Throughout our lives, we face difficult moments when we are filled with questions. How do we faithfully, respectfully, lovingly, but also honestly respond to God when those times come? Listen in to hear how Mary handled a moment just like this.
December 24, 2020
Far As the Curse Is Found
There’s a lot of heartbreak and brokenness in our lives, in this world. God invites us to join him in bringing his peace, healing, joy far as any hurting is found.
December 16, 2020
Mild He Lays His Glory By
Most “important” people don’t act with gentleness, humility, mildness. They milk their glory for all it’s worth. But Jesus - himself God - willingly laid aside his glory mildly and invites us to do the same.
December 07, 2020
Go Tell Hope
How do we find hope when all seems hopeless? By looking for hope in unusual places, choosing to hope even when we’re at our limits, and remembering how God has fulfilled hope in the past.
December 06, 2020
We know we should practice gratitude, but sometimes it’s hard. Perhaps our temperaments aren’t given to it. Maybe we’re crazy busy. Possibly we’re going through a really tough time. But there are practical steps we can take to develop gratitude in our lives and implementing these things will bring us more joy.
November 24, 2020
Rejoice for Faithful Friends
Life is filled with difficult seasons and situations. How can we not just endure these circumstances, but learn to be content, even grateful and joyful in them?
November 16, 2020
Rejoice to Find Peace
To be human is to experience anxiety at times. It can be so hard to find peace when we are worried. But if we choose to connect deeply with God when we are stressed, then we will be lead to God’s peace and joy.
November 09, 2020
Rejoice with Confidence
Some days, we find ourselves lacking confidence. On those days, Christians are encouraged to turn not just to family, friends, trusted professionals, even ourselves to find courage and hope, but to also turn to Jesus and in him find supernatural confidence.
October 19, 2020
Rejoice By Shining
It is so tempting to argue and complain about life. Certainly, God doesn’t want us to ignore our problems and pain, but rather encourages us to share our frustrations honestly, while giving thanks. When we do, we shine like stars and bring joy to others, God, and ourselves.
October 12, 2020
Rejoice By Imitating
One of the ways we can bring more joy into our lives and the world, the authors of scripture tell us, is by imitating Jesus. But what does that mean and how do we do it? Listen in to find out.
September 28, 2020
Rejoice in Community
Some days it is hard to rejoice, but when we are surrounded and supported by a healthy community, they empower us to rejoice in our God always. Listen in to hear more about how we can rejoice in community.
September 16, 2020
Heaven in the Real World
Sometimes we think that a change of scenery will solve all our problems. If only we could find a new job, move to a new town, go on a trip, we’d feel so much better. But rarely do these geographical changes solve all our problems. The Good News is that God is bringing healing and goodness and solutions right here to us in the real world, our goal is to learn to see heaven all around us.
August 24, 2020
Great and Small
God created each of us both great and small. Keeping these contrasts in balance helps us see ourselves honestly and answer some of life’s biggest questions.
August 19, 2020
Only At Night
A lot of us are afraid of the dark, especially of the times when life feels dark. But there are wonderful things that can only happen when it’s dark and oftentimes, in the darkness, we see God more clearly as other distractions are diminished.
August 04, 2020
Contrast out of Sameness
Recently, it’s kind of felt like we’re living in a time warp, in Groundhog’s Day, repeating the same day over and over again. Following God’s example and creating contrast out of sameness can help us get through weird and strange times.
July 29, 2020
Most of us are exhausted, weary, carrying heavy burdens. Jesus invites us to rest, not necessarily by taking a vacation or even a nap, but by taking on his way of life which leads us to places of freedom and peace.
July 09, 2020
You Be You
We have such a hard time seeing the beautiful things about ourselves. There are so many forces in our lives (family, friends, culture, work, even our religious traditions) which focus in on the things they want to change about us. But God loves us exactly the way we are right now and wants us to learn to love the awe-inspiring and wonderful people he created us to be.
June 21, 2020
Black Lives Matter
George Floyd’s friends described himself as someone who was the change he wanted to see in the world. God calls us to follow Mr Floyd’s example and work to ensure black lives matter in our homes, communities, and world.
June 11, 2020
Blown and Burned
When life is moving at its normal pace, it can be difficult to see what needs to change in our lives. But the Holy Spirit is always wanting to blow and burn things out of our lives that are no longer good or useful so she can bring us to beautiful new places of freedom and purpose.
June 11, 2020
Deliver Us From Evil
Waiting is hard. Sometimes, particularly when we are suffering deeply, it’s nearly impossible. Where is God when we are waiting? How do we hold onto hope when our pain seems to never end?
May 24, 2020
Holy Is Your Name
When we pray the Lord’s Prayer and say, “hallowed be thy name,” what do we mean? Does God’s holiness have any relevance for us, for our lives, for our world?
May 11, 2020
Our Father Friend
When we’re feeling anxious, struggling to feel grounded, mental health professionals recommend thinking about a happy place or person or memory. Jesus taught that God was one such person to whom we can turn for help. Listen in to hear more about how God comforts and care for us.
May 03, 2020
Touching Is Believing
Thomas is often labeled “The Doubter” as if doubt is a terrible thing. But really, Thomas was just honest and vocal about his needs. Jesus heard Thomas’ demands, met them, and will surely do the same for us.
April 27, 2020
What I Have, I Give
Most of us tend to give way more (time, energy, money, etc) than we actually have. When we give beyond our limits, we hurt ourselves or we hurt others. How can the Holy Spirit help us find a better balance?
April 26, 2020
So often in life, dreams, hopes, plans, expectations unravel. Where is God when life is falling apart? How do we continue to have hope when life is in tatters?
April 06, 2020
It’s important to be empowered and have agency, but sometimes things are out of our control and sometimes God asks us to follow his lead. How can we reframe those times in life when we’re feeling like things are unraveling out of control and in doing so find God’s hope and new purpose? Listen in to hear more.
March 29, 2020
Unraveled Beyond Our Control
How does God call us to respond when life - not just for us but for our communities as well - is unraveled by things over which we have no control?
March 26, 2020
There are a lot of disappointing messages in our world and we can become pessimistic and bitter because of all the disappointment we experience. But God is always at work brining us hope and joy. Listen in to be reminded of the ways our loving God brings light to our darkness.
March 17, 2020
One of the messages we hear often is that our county and world has a growing mental health epidemic. How did Jesus interact with those struggling with their mental and emotional health and how does he call us to support them? Listen in to hear more...
March 12, 2020
Ben Franklin famously said there are only two things in life that are certain: death and taxes. So what do we do when things we were certain about start to unravel? Or what do we do when we realize things we are certain about need to be unraveled? How do we seek God when life is unraveling?
March 04, 2020
Mourn With Those Who Mourn
At any given moment there are people in our lives who are suffering, grieving, experiencing pain. We want to support these people, but how can we do that well? What wisdom does God have for us on this matter? Listen in to ponder these questions together.
February 11, 2020
One of the messages we often hear, especially in Christianity, is that we should be happy and joyful at all times. But when we’re suffering, it can feel disingenuous to be cheerful. How does God want us to feel and act when we’re (or someone or something we love) is in pain?
February 06, 2020
Boast About God
One of the messages a lot of Christians hear is that we should keep our faith to ourselves. Certainly it’s very important to be respectful of other people’s belief systems, but is there anyway we could boast about God respectfully and carefully? Listen in to hear more...
January 23, 2020
Gain a Heart of Wisdom
To whom do you listen when you’re in need of wisdom? There are so many “experts”, self-help gurus, programs which promise wisdom that it’s hard to know who to listen to. This message considers how the Psalms encourage us find wisdom.
January 06, 2020
Listening to Ourselves
There are so many messages clamoring for our attention that it can be hard to hear ourselves in the midst of all the noise. This episode considers why learning to listen to ourselves is so important.
December 22, 2019
Listening To Others
Our world is filled with messages encouraging us to speak early and often. But if we learned to listen well, might we be able to bring more peace into our hurting, angry, violent world? Listen in to ponder the idea. (This episode contains quotes from The Listening Life by Adam McHugh. Many thanks to him for his words and work.)
December 12, 2019
The Listening King
Our world is filled with so many competing messages about the characteristics of a good leader. How can thinking about Jesus as our leader help us sort out the true markings of good leadership?
November 26, 2019
Reason to Hope
So many of the messages we hear are hopeless, perhaps because there are so many things in this world that seem to be falling apart. Are there reasons to hope that our broken world won’t always be this way? Listen in to find out.
November 21, 2019
We are bombarded by so many messages about what should come first in our lives. Listen in to think a little about setting priorities as a follower of God.
November 14, 2019
A Gloaty GOAT
Our culture is filled with stories of GOATS (the greatest of all time). The subtle message behind these stories is that all of us should try to be the greatest of whatever we do (parenting, friendship, work, etc). But as Christians, is greatness the goal? Is that the message Christ speaks into our lives? Listen in to hear more.
November 06, 2019
Bless and Do Not Curse
When I listen to the world around me, I hear a lot of messages that might not contain actual "swear words," but are filled with curses. God, though, calls those of us who seek to follow him to bless others. Listen in to hear how we might do that. Barbara Brown Taylor's book An Altar In the World is quoted several times in this sermon. Many thanks to her for her thought-provoking work.
October 24, 2019
Waiting Even 70 Years
One of the messages that comes across loud and clear today is that waiting is bad. In our Instagram world, we should be able to have anything we want instantly. But this sermon, based on Jeremiah 29:1-14, reminds us that God sometimes asks us to wait, perhaps even as long as 70 years. IT was preached October 13, 2019 at St. Peter United Church of Christ in Lake Zurich, Illinois. The guided spiritual practice at the end of the sermon (Welcoming Prayer) was found in Beth Ann Estock's book Discernment.
October 16, 2019
Crying at the Sad Parts
Sometimes it seems as though one of the messages of Christianity is that those who trust God aren't supposed to cry. We're supposed to be brave and say "It is well with my soul", even when life is awful. But is that really what God asks of us? Is it ok to cry at the sad parts of life, even if we believe that God is working all things together for his glory and our good? This sermon, preached at St. Peter United Church of Christ in Lake Zurich, on October 6, 2019, explores these questions through Psalm 137.
October 09, 2019
This sermon was preached at St. Peter United Church of Christ (Lake Zurich, Illinois) on September 22, 2019. Rev. Ruth Farrell is preaching. The text is Luke 16:1-13 which is either titled, "The Parable of the Shrewd Manager" or "The Parable of the Dishonest Manager." Listen in to hear how God is calling us to live shrewdly not just during life's crises, but all the time.
October 03, 2019
No Fences in God's Family
What brings a church together? What makes it thrive? Simple answer: Jesus. Jesus tears down the fences that divide us building us into an amazing home where God feels completely at home (Ephesians 2:19-22).
October 03, 2019
This sermon was recorded at St. Peter United Church of Christ (Lake Zurich, Illinois) on March 17, 2019. The Rev. Ruth Farrell is preaching. The scripture text is Mark 5:21-43 and the quote about labyrinths at the end of the sermon is from Barbara Brown Taylor's book An Altar in the World. This was sermon 2 (even though the episode says it was sermon 1) in a Lenten series entitled "Everyday Spirituality: Becoming more like Jesus through our everyday activities."
May 08, 2019
Get Lost to Be Found
This was the first sermon in our Lent 2019 Series entitled Everyday Spirituality: Becoming more like Jesus through our everyday activities. The Rev. Ruth Farrell is preaching. The scripture text was Matthew 4:1-11 and the sermon also contains quotes from Barbara Brown Taylor's An Altar in the World and N.T. Wright's commentary Matthew for Everyone.
May 08, 2019
The Dance of Doubt and Faith
This sermon was recorded at St. Peter UCC (Lake Zurich, Illinois) on May 5, 2019. Rev. Ruth Farrell is preaching. The texts are Matthew 28:16-20 and John 20:24-29. The two quotes are from Rob Bell's What We Talk About When We Talk About God.
May 08, 2019