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The Branch Church

The Branch Church

By The Branch
Messages from The Branch Church in Grand Rapids Michigan
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Detour - Week 4 (1.23.22)
One of the emotions we encounter when life gets detoured is disappointment. And while we may be able to move beyond some disappointment fairly easily, some disappointment carries deep pain, confusion and even shame. We consider this emotion -- and what is behind it -- this week as we also consider stories found in Mark 3 and 10.
January 25, 2022
Detour - Week 3 (1.16.22)
As challenging and disorienting as disruptions and detours are, this week we consider what opportunities detours might offer us as we take a look at the story of Saul's detour in Acts 9.
January 18, 2022
Close to Home - Week 1 (11.28.21)
Our first week in Advent did not include a typical sermon, but a mixture of music, prayer and reflection. There were two main sections of reflection, both introduced by Chris. The first one set up the series, inviting us to consider what the idea of "home" might mean to us and how we might be homesick. The second reflected on one of the lectionary texts for this Sunday in which hope is found in the midst of separation and distance.
November 30, 2021
Upside Down - Week 6 (11.21.21)
Our final week of the series invites us to interrogate what vision we have built our lives on. We close by focusing on something as simple and stunning as a flower to help us remember who we are and what we are invited to do.
November 23, 2021
Upside Down - Week 5 (11-14-21)
What does it mean to be blessed? And how do we experiencing the blessing Christ talks about? By accumulating power? Putting on a good face? By protecting our interest? What if openness, humility and vulnerability were the door through which we experience a blessed life? To see the google doc we created together in worship, click here.  
November 16, 2021
Upside Down - Week 3 (10.31.21)
Jesus ends the Sermon on the Mount with three passages that carry a similar theme: a life of faith, life in the Kingdom, is more than just lip service or idle listening. We are called to bear fruit. Which perhaps begs a question: how? How does one bear fruit? Together we consider some ideas and encourage each other to be intentional this week. See the google doc we created at the end of the message.
November 02, 2021
Upside Down - Week 2 (10.24.21)
Presence, Not Performance Matthew 6:1-18 (The Message) In the second week of this series we consider the temptation to turn faith into a performance. We can so easily try to leverage gifts like prayer and generosity for our own benefit -- to gain the attention of others or the approval of God. Jesus is clear: this is an upside down way to live. The call is not to perform, but to be present. To go away to a solitary place, shut the door, put away the pretense and open ourselves us as best we can to the grace God always offers us. Here is a link to the google doc we created together.
October 26, 2021
recalibrate (Participate) - Week 5 (10.10.21)
Our final week looks at a core value that pushes against one of the strongest currents in modern day life.
October 14, 2021
recalibrate (Partnership) - Week 4 (10.4.21)
Good news: this week's podcast is nice and short. Bad news: it's nice and short because only the first half got recorded. Back to the good news: the 2nd half was really just us giving time for people to reflect on Romans 16:1-15, write their thoughts in a google doc (which you can find here) and then mention a few notes to finish up. If you're giving this a listen, we invite you to add to the google doc. What did you notice in the passage, especially around partnerships. And...what partnerships are currently in your life, or do you feel called to form?
October 05, 2021
recalibrate (Simplicity) - Week 3 (9.26.21)
Week three brings us to the core value of simplicity. Yes, the world is in need of renewal; and yet, God does not intend for us to burn out as we try to be everything to everyone. Instead, we must choose simplicity. We must discern what is ours to do and not to do.  Here is a link to the google doc we created. And here is the link to the blog post Chris references from Nadia Bolz Weber.
September 28, 2021
recalibrate (Incarnation) - Week 2 (9.19.21)
Week 2 of our series on our core values takes us through the value of incarnation. We consider what it means to be incarnational and what we might do to embody the presence of Christ in our everyday lives.
September 21, 2021
recalibrate (Liberty) - Week 1 (9.12.21)
Our first week in a series on our core values takes a look at Liberty -- a commitment we have made to practice humility, proximity and curiosity when we encounter those who we disagree with, dislike or are different from. Here is the google doc we created together. And here is an excellent podcast that covers some of the same ground we did.
September 15, 2021
Faces of our Faith
Our final Sunday in our series. Together, we look back at the series as a whole, and consider three themes we see in the collective of characters.
August 31, 2021
Faces of Our Faith - Week 10 (7-25-21)
This week, instead of focusing on one or two biblical characters, we're looking at 28. Most of these folks, from Romans 16, are never mentioned again in the biblical text, and yet this passage (Romans 16:1-16) helps to remind us of how God calls us to live, and how that might differ from the current of our culture.
July 27, 2021
Faces of Our Faith - Week 7 (6.28.21)
Guest preacher Deborah McCreary invites us to consider what Shiphra and Puah's story may have to say to us today.
June 28, 2021
Faces of Our Faith - Week 5 (6.13.21)
Elliot leads us through the extremely short, and often overlooked book of Philemon - inviting us to ask what Onesimus, Philemon and Paul may have to teach us about our vocation.
June 15, 2021
Faces of Our Faith - Week 4 (6-6-21)
After considering the 'After-Times' in the month of May, we pick up a series we started in April: Faces of Our Faith. This week, we look at Priscilla and Aquila. They are only mentioned in four places in the NT - and yet their story instructs and challenges us for what our lives might look like today. 
June 08, 2021
The After-Times - Week 3 (5.16.21)
What do we want our lives to look like in the After-Times? As the pandemic wanes and we move out of a period of disorder, how will we re-order our lives? We continue that conversation in week 3 of our series.
May 19, 2021
The After-Times - Week 2 (5.9.21)
The pandemic is not over and yet things are beginning to change. This raises a number of questions, including: what have we learned and who do we want to become on the other side of the pandemic? Week 2 of this series invites us to look inward and ask questions about what we've gained and what we've lost and how that might inform that kinds of people we want to become in the After-Times.
May 11, 2021
Faces of Our Faith - Week 1 (4.18.21)
We begin our series in which we'll look at a number of often-overlooked biblical characters. Yet, despite their lack of notoriety and short screen time, these people are examples to us -- providing insight, wisdom and instruction for what our lives might look like today.
April 19, 2021
Easter 2021
The promise of peace. This is what Jesus offers. And not just peace in the sense of an absence of tension or conflict -- but peace in the sense of wholeness and restoration. We consider the resurrection and what it means for us as we wrestle with the fears of our everyday lives, and how that fear is put in its proper place in light of what Jesus has done. 
April 16, 2021
Vocation Debrief (Week 6 - 3.31.21)
Our final week (for now) of debriefing on our look into vocation. We've enjoyed this six week journey, and your participation with us! Stay tuned as we consider how/when to keep this conversation going.
March 31, 2021
Intersection - Week 6 (3.28.21)
Our final week in this Lenten series, we consider two of the gifts Jesus gives to us as he sends us out to be people of shalom in the world. 
March 30, 2021
Vocation Debrief (Week 5 - 3.23.21)
Our fifth week of looking back on Sunday's sermon (what it means to walk together when we live out our vocation) and saying a few things we didn't have time for (just how hard it can be to walk together).
March 24, 2021
Intersection - Week 5 (3.21.21)
Jesus sends out his disciples in pairs. This was not an accident. To be people of shalom - people who live out our vocation - we will need each other.
March 21, 2021
Intersection - Week 4 (3.14.21)
Discerning our vocation can be aided by considering a unique intersection. Where does our deep gladness, the world's deep hunger and the work of God's Spirit intersect? We explore this together by looking at Luke 10 and the sending of the 70.
March 16, 2021
Vocation Debrief - Episode 4 (3.14.21)
A quick look back at Sunday's sermon and a discussion about a cycle that can all too easily show up when we try to live out our vocation.
March 16, 2021
Vocation Debrief (Week 3 - 3.9.21)
Did you miss Sunday? Or, want to go a bit deeper on vocation? You can do both in the time it takes you to get to the grocery store (this week - the episode is just over 7.5 minutes!). We're having fun looking back on Sunday's sermon, and sharing one thing we didn't get to cover. Thanks for listening!
March 09, 2021
Intersection - Week 3 (3.7.21)
Last week we considered this truth: that when we live out our vocation we are joining in God's work of restoring shalom to the world. This week, we take the idea of shalom and look inward. Could living out our vocation not only change the world, but us as well?
March 09, 2021
Vocation Debrief - Episode 2 (3.2.21)
Our second 'special' podcast that goes along with our Lenten series on vocation. We take a look back at Sunday's sermon and discuss one or two things we didn't get to cover on Sunday.
March 02, 2021
Intersection - Week 2 (2.28.21)
As we continue a look at the the idea vocation, we consider the end goal. What is every calling and vocation leading us toward? (Luke 4:1-21)
February 28, 2021
Vocation Debrief (Week 1 - 2/23/21)
There's a lot to say about vocation -- more than we can cover in worship.  So join us each week for this brief recap of Sunday's message as well as an additional thought or two that we didn't get to on Sunday. Music: Answered by Ketsa This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
February 24, 2021
Intersection (2-21-21)
As we begin Lent we begin a conversation about vocation. Vocation is often thought of quite narrowly -- as something that applies to only a select few. But vocation, or calling, is something the Scriptures tell us we all have. But what does that mean? And what is our calling? We begin by remembering that our vocation, whatever it may be, must be rooted in who we are. Music: Summer-Sessions by Ketsa This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
February 22, 2021
Stories of (Unexpected) Strength - Week 5 (2-14-21)
In our final week of this series we look back on the last four weeks and consider an idea that makes all the others possible: I need you.
February 14, 2021
Stories of (unexpected) Strength - Week 4 (2-7-21)
One of the most destructive voices in our lives is the voice of shame. Shame tells us that we'll never be enough -- that there's no way we are worthy of love. If people only knew the real us... The Scriptures speak to us not with a voice of shame, but compassion. In a story from Luke 15, we see shame at work in the lives of two brothers. The way out is to listen to the words of their father. Can we do the same?
February 12, 2021
Stories of (unexpected) Strength - Week 3
This week we look at Acts 15 and 1 Corinthians 18 -- windows into how some of the first Jesus followers navigated disagreement. This is a critical topic as today, our handling of disagreement, both personally and societally is far too often dysfunctional at best. Where do we need to grow so that disagreement becomes a transformative opportunity?
February 02, 2021
Stories of (unexpected) Strength - Week 2
Showing up is an incredible act of strength. To show up as we are, with what we have, takes great courage and vulnerability. And...and...showing up is what is required to grow, heal and be changed.
February 02, 2021
Stories of (unexpected) Strength - Week 1
Strength is typically through of as muscle and grit -- it leads to success -- it's powerful and bold. And while that is true, this view of strength is one-dimensional. What makes a person strong is more than muscle or a superior intellect. Strength comes in unexpected ways; ways our world may even tell us are weakness. Join us as we look at a number of stories from the Scriptures of (unexpected) Strength. Week 1 in a five-week series.
January 20, 2021
Those Who Dream - Week 4 of Advent (12.20.20)
Week 4 of our Advent Series: Those who Dream
December 21, 2020
Those Who Dream - Week 3 (12.13.20)
Week 3 of Advent brings the theme of joy, something that has often felt in short supply this year. The lectionary text (Luke 1:39-55) invites us to consider how joy might find its beginnings in anticipation of what is to come; in faith and trust in a promise made. 
December 16, 2020
Those Who Dream - Week 2 of Advent (12-6-20)
Those who dream God's dreams not only heed the call to stay awake (week 1) but also to prepare the way. We look at Isaiah 40 and Psalm 85 (two of this week's lectionary texts) and then reflect together what it might mean for us to make straight a highway for God.
December 08, 2020
Those Who Dream - Week 1 (11.29.20)
The first week of Advent brought a Sunday filled with the art of A Sanctified Art and the lectionary texts of Mark 13 and Psalm 80 as we focused on the need to stay awake through the practice of lament.
December 01, 2020
A New Humanity - Week 7 (11.15.20)
We've been talking a lot about love - love of our neighbor, love of enemy. This week we consider love from a different angle, viewing as a creative force for redemption. What would it mean to love creatively? What new, innovative ways do we need to think about love? 
November 17, 2020
A New Humanity - Week 6 (11.8.20)
The election is over. Now what? One thing is clear: a new humanity is needed now more than ever.  So, what do we hold onto -- what do we need to focus on in the weeks ahead? This week we consider seeds, stones and sparrows.
November 08, 2020
A New Humanity -- Week 5 (11.1.20)
Those we disagree with -- those who offend us -- those who are our 'enemy' -- create great discomfort, unease and even hurt. And it seems quite human to try to avoid those emotions. To do our best to wall ourselves off from the discomfort. But what would happen if we did exactly the opposite? As we look at sections of Matthew 7 and 5 we see Jesus calling us to look inward. To ask what the discomfort may have to teach us. To carefully reflect on what may be in our 'eye' -- to pray for our enemy (an act that does a great deal to change us).  Yes, it's radical, but if lived into, it could change us, and the world.
November 03, 2020
A New Humanity - Week 4 (10.25.20)
During this fourth week we consider how we might work to find commonality -- a transformative work that can lead us to greater compassion for our enemy/other, and even open the door to collaboration.
October 27, 2020
A New Humanity - Week 3 (10.18.20)
This week we lean into Luke 10:25-35 and Christena Cleveland’s book, Disunity in Christ, to consider the ways we categorize each other, how it causes so much damage, and a possible alternative as we work to live into God’s new humanity.
October 18, 2020
A New Humanity - Week 2 (10.11.18)
Last week we considered our shared identity as a starting point for loving our enemies. This week, we build on that identity by considering  the call to humility. What does humility look actually like? What might we do and say if we embodied humility more greatly?
October 11, 2020
Liminal Spaces
Liminal Spaces Recording of Zoom Meeting from May 5th 2020
May 08, 2020
The Gospel of Mark Chapter 10
Teresa teaches on Mark Chapter 10
March 08, 2020
Chris teaches on Mark 9:2-13
Chris teaches on Mark 9:2-13
March 01, 2020
Mark Chapter 8 - Teacher - Ricardo Talverez
Mark Chapter 8 - Teacher - Ricardo Talverez
February 24, 2020
The Gospel of Mark (Ch 7)
Chris teaches on Mark Chapter 7
February 16, 2020
The Gospel of Mark (Ch. 6)
Kelly Buist teaches on Mark chapter 6
February 12, 2020
The Gospel of Mark (Ch. 5)
Mark Chapter 5
February 09, 2020
The Gospel of Mark (Ch4)
Details tba
January 26, 2020
The Gospel of Mark (Ch. 3)
Guest preacher Deborah McCreary led us through the first six verses of Mark 3, inviting us to consider how Jesus might be asking us to take a bold step of obedience.
January 26, 2020
The Gospel of Mark (Ch. 2)
If we’re honest, we often work hard to maintain the status quo. And yet, when we look at Jesus of Nazareth, he seems to be disrupting the status quo. Regularly. What might that mean for our lives? We consider Mark 2 and that question together.
January 26, 2020
The Gospel of Mark (Chapter 1)
We begin our 16 week journey through the Gospel of Mark in Chapter 1, focusing especially on the 1st half of the chapter.
January 26, 2020