Luke 1:5-7 and Mark 1:1-8
Preached FCCW, December 3, 2017
Friday morning, while posting the daily UCC Devotional to the Church Facebook page, a post in my news feed from the Westminster Police Department caught my eye.
It wasn’t the usual warning about telephone scammers, an Amber Alert or even a traffic advisory.
This post announced that Santa Claus is coming to town.
That’s right! He’s coming here to Westminster!
The announcement listed the times and places where he would be, and detailed instructions to follow if you wanted to meet the jolly old elf in person.
Ephesians 1:15-23 and Matthew 25:31-46
Preached FCCW November 26, 2017 (Christ the King Sunday)
There is a story that comes to us from out of the 16th century about a great leader of the church by the name of Bishop Hugh Latimer.
One Sunday morning he entered his pulpit and looked out to see King Henry VIII in the congregation.
I’m guessing that Old Henry wasn’t hard to spot out there in the pews.
He might have worn his crown and carried his scepter.
At the very least, he would have been wearing his Sunday best, which is saying something when you’re talking about a King’s wardrobe.
You might think that Bishop Latimer would have been greatly honored at the unexpected presence of his sovereign monarch in his church.
Except that he knew that the sermon he prepared to preach that day would not go well with King Henry.
He thought for a moment and then said to himself, but out loud for all to hear, “Latimer, be careful what you say today; King Henry is here.”
Almost as quickly as Latimer felt the pressure to tailor the sermon he was ready to preach so that it would not offend King Henry, something reminded him of another monarch who was also in attendance.
Preached FCCW November, 19, 2017 Thanksgiving Sunday
Could there ever be a Biblical passage better suited for the Thanksgiving holiday than today’s Old Testament reading from Deuteronomy?
Moses whet the Israelites’ appetite for the Promised Land that awaited them by focusing on the easy access to food they would enjoy there. He portrayed Canaan as a land of olive trees, fruits and honey, and bread without scarcity. Which I think meant the same thing then as it does now – all you can eat. Not exactly turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce, but certainly a lot better than the diet they had been used to.
Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
Preached FCCW, November 12, 2017
The story that the Bible tells often reads like a family tree of faith.
Interspersed throughout the Old Testament and the gospels are genealogies, like mile markers along a road. Those are the passages that never get read in worship, and the ones that we most likely skip over when we read the Bible ourselves.
Why take the time to wade through lists of people who most have never heard of with names that few can pronounce? What purpose does it serve?
Preached FCCW November 5, 2017 All Saints Day
In Coventry, England there stands a very uniquely modern cathedral.
The massive south wall of that structure is made entirely of glass.
And etched into the glass are the huge figures — four feet wide and ten feet tall — of saints and angels.
Preached October 26, 2017 Reformation Sunday
Jesus said to some Jews who believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
By his own admission, the people he was talking to believed in him, which probably meant they accepted on an intellectual level that he was the Messiah that the Jewish people had been waiting for. But that did not quite make them disciples. To be truly his disciples, they had to, as he said, continue in his word. That expression, to continue, is related to the word abide, which means to make someplace or something your abode. Your home. It implies permanence and continuation and relationship. To become a disciple of Jesus requires something more than intellectual belief in him. It demands a commitment to a relationship to him that shapes all our other relationships and determines our choices.
Preached FCCW 10-22-2017
Matthew 22:15-22 and 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
According to the laws of Newtonian physics, no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time.
Which, long before an apple ever dropped on Newton’s head, was already an established fact.
Not based on any Law of physics, but on the Law of simple common sense. The kind of common sense that the Pharisees and Herodians trusted in to rid themselves of Jesus.
Preached FCCW, October 15, 2017
Like most of you, I’ve been watching the frightening images of the deadly wildfires that are ravaging Northern California.
It’s hard to believe it’s the same place of such serene beauty that Sue and I saw when we vacationed in Napa Valley years ago.
Philippians 3:4b-14 Preached FCCW, October 8, 2017 Are we there yet? Anyone who has traveled with children has heard those words, right? They remind us how anticipation of something good that awaits us down the road can affect the way we feel about the present moment. And, while we may outgrow the impulse to say more »
Preached FCCW 9-24-2017
Jesus taught about many things, but by far, his favorite talking point was the Kingdom of Heaven.
Now, the Kingdom of Heaven is not the kind of Kingdom, that can be located on a map. Neither is it Heaven – as in a place with angels on clouds strumming harps. When Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of Heaven, what he was describing was the world as God intended it to be. A world of righteousness, mercy and justice.
Preached FCCW October 1, 2017 Matthew 21:23-32 In order to understand the full meaning of the story I just read, you need to rewind the clock by 24 hours. That would take you to a different scene in the Jerusalem Temple. There is Jesus, flipping over the tables of the money changers and chasing everyone more »
On the Sunday chosen to kick-off our “Generous Giving” campaign, you think that there must be a better starting place than a parable about a man who is so deep in debt that he comes within a hairsbreadth of having himself and his family sold into slavery as restitution.
Or, who, after being graciously forgiven the large debt he owes, turns around, seizes another man by the throat and demands that the man immediately repay a very small debt owed to him or be sent to prison.
Preached FCCW, September 10, 2017 (Church School Kickoff Sunday)
Have you ever noticed how much we use stones of one kind or another to tell our stories?
There are birthstones to mark our coming into the world, and tombstones to mark our leaving it. In between, monuments of marble and granite are erected to that which is deemed noble and praiseworthy in life; while stone and concrete are the foundation of the homes where our actual life-stories unfold.
Text Exodus 3:1-15 and Mathew 16:24-26
Preached FCCW, September 3, 2017
A street in London named Brick Lane has gained a reputation as the most dangerous place in the city for mobile phone users. This dubious distinction comes from the fact that it claims the highest rate in the country for people bumping into lampposts because they’ve got their eyes glued to their phone screens.
One group of concerned citizens went so far as to propose cushioning lampposts to decrease the frequency of injuries. And, I suppose, embarrassments.
Romans 12:1-8 and Matthew 16:13-20
Preached FCCW, August 27, 2017
I don’t know where the expression, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” originated; but I’m willing to bet that it didn’t start with the Apostle Paul. After all, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” is basically saying that you should conform to your cultural surroundings. That you should blend in; follow the crowd.