Sermons To Go

Pinky Swear

Preached FCCW, March 17, 2019
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

Hooking little fingers together in a “pinky swear” is one of the ways we learn while growing up, the importance of respecting a solemn promise. A pinky swear seems like all fun and games…until you know what it stands for; which is that the consequence of breaking the agreement is to lose your pinky finger! Then, suddenly it all sounds pretty barbaric.

But, still not as barbaric as the way Abram sealed a covenant with God by bisecting a bunch of animals. Let’s face it, any ceremony that includes the necessity of shooing vultures away is not for the faint of heart. Maybe though, it is exactly the faintest of heart who most need promises that come with extreme demonstrations of trust.

Bodily Temptations

Preached FCCW, March 10, 2019 Lent 1C

Luke 4:1-13

It’s not what it sounds like. The sermon title I mean. Whether this comes as a relief or a letdown, you’re not about to hear a racy message about temptations of the flesh.

The Apostle Paul often referred to the Church as the Body of Christ. It’s the temptations that we face as part of that Body – as a community of believers – that we’ll be looking at this morning.

Every Day an Ash Wednesday

Preached FCCW, March 6, 2019, Ash Wednesday

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10 and Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

The church calendar is filled with holy seasons, like Advent, Epiphany, and lent; and holy days like Christmas, Easter, Pentecost – and the one we are here to observe tonight, Ash Wednesday. Often, there are certain visible and tangible practices associated with these special times. Like being anointed with ashes on Ash Wednesday.

Veils

Preached FCCW March 3. 2019

Transfiguration Sunday

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 and Luke 9:28-43a

The quote for meditation on the cover of your bulletin comes from a prominent leader in the early days of the Christian Church, named Irenaeus.

It begins with these words, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”

But, what does it mean to be fully alive?

For some it might involve some kind of thrill-seeking adventure.

Maybe bungee jumping, climbing Mt. Everest, or booking a seat on one of Elon Musk’s SpaceX orbiters.

Transformers or Transmitters?

Preached FCCW, February 24, 2019

Genesis 45:3-11, 15 and Luke 6:27-38

Four trees and an empty field. That is all that remains of the West Nickel Mines Amish School. It’s been that way pretty much since October of 2006. That was when the world was appalled by one of the most horrific mass shootings in a school full of children… at least, up to that time. The parents of the perpetrator, who took his own life, thought for certain that the fury of the victims’ parents would be directed at them.

They were wrong.

Blessed Be

Preached FCCW on February 17, 2019

Jeremiah 17:5-10 and Luke 6:17-26

When I was a kid, my parents gave me a subscription to Highlights for Children, a monthly magazine for kids. Other than the grown-up feeling I got from having magazines delivered in the mail just for me, there’s not a lot else I can recall about the magazine’s content.

Except for Goofus and Gallant.

Goofus and Gallant were the names of two characters who appeared in a comic strip that ran in every issue of Highlights. The intent of the Goofus and Gallant page was to prompt kids like me to think about right and wrong behaviors and hopefully to help us make good choices in life. The comic was always divided into two separate panels presented side by side. One for Goofus and one for Gallant. Neither one ever crossed over to interact with the other one. It was like they dwelt in two totally separate universes. Gallant’s actions were always virtuous and respectful. Goofus’ actions were always rude and selfish.

Go Deep

Preached FCCW, February 10, 2019

Luke 5:1-11

At staff meeting on Tuesday morning – which coincided with the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory parade — someone inferred that this morning’s sermon title had something to do with that game. Since “go deep” is something that a quarterback typically tells a receiver before he throws a long bomb in his direction – like the one Tom Brady threw to Rob Gronkowski to set up the game winning touchdown – it was suggested that maybe that play had some influence on the sermon title.

Be Prepared

Preached FCCW, February 3, 2019

Jeremiah 1:4-10

 

In 1907, Robert Baden-Powell devised the Scout motto: Be Prepared.

When someone asked him, “Be prepared for what?” his answer was, “Why, for any old thing.”

Of course, no matter how laser focused you are on being prepared for “any old thing,” there are some things that you just can’t be prepared for.

Regifting

Preached January 27, 2019

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

 

Sue’s birthday is next week; and while browsing on-line for creative gift ideas I stumbled across a Reader’s Digest article entitled “What Not to Buy Your Wife.”

Certain that this could not be coincidental, I thought it might be in my best interest to stop what I was doing and read it.

Here are a few of the author’s suggestions on what not to buy your wife:

  1. Don’t buy anything that plugs in. Anything that requires electricity is seen as impersonal and housework related.
  2. Don’t buy clothing that involves sizes. The chances are one in seven thousand that you will get her size right, and your wife will be offended the other 6999 times.
  3. Don’t buy anything that involves weight loss or self-improvement. A six-month membership to a gym, for example, could easily be misconstrued as a suggestion that’s she’s out of shape.
  4. Don’t buy jewelry. The jewelry your wife wants, you can’t afford. And the jewelry you can afford, she doesn’t want.

The Water and the Word

Preached FCCW January 13, 2019

Isaiah 43:1-7 and Luke 3:21-22

In the American South, prior to the Civil War, slaves enjoyed few of the same privileges as their white owners. One of the rare exceptions was the freedom to attend church. But, white slave owners made sure that the only sermons preached to black congregations came from those Bible passages that encouraged slaves to obey their masters and accept their lot in life.

On Sunday mornings slaves filled the pews in the churches of their white overseers. But under cover of darkness, their true worship happened in places called “hush harbors.”

Rise and Shine

Preached FCCW January 6, 2019
Text – Isaiah 60:1-6

The prophet Isaiah described a time of “darkness covering the earth and thick darkness over the peoples.” Which raises the question, “What is the difference between darkness and thick darkness?” Can anything be darker than darkness?

On family camping trips when I was a kid, we slept in a big old Army style tent, made of thick canvas that blocked out almost every trace of light. At night the darkness inside the tent was so thick you literally could not see your hand in front of your face. That was thick darkness.

Star Child

Preached FCCW             December 23, 2018    Advent 4C

Luke 1:39-56

TED-43 [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Like many of you, lately I have been spending more time in shopping malls than I typically do other times of the year. Since everybody else seems to have been doing the same thing, I have also been spending more time waiting in check-out lines. I’m not complaining though, because it turns out to have been time well spent. It has in fact, made me pause and pay attention to some current events I might otherwise have missed.

Thanks to all the tabloids and entertainment magazines that line the shelves at every cashier’s counter, and all the extra time available for me to read them while waiting in long lines, I can say with confidence that I am now up to date on all the latest celebrities and otherwise important people who are expecting babies. Practically every magazine cover I saw featured expectant A-List mothers, from Amy Schumer to Meghan Markle.

The Other (Not Quite As) Immaculate Conception

Preached FCCW. December 9, 2018

Luke 1:68-79

 

Improbable pregnancies are a recurring theme in the Bible. None more so than the one we celebrate every 25th of December. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was found to be with child even though she was a virgin. What has come to be known as “The Immaculate Conception.”

While the Immaculate Conception is the one and only perfect 10 on the scale of miraculous births, highly unlikely pregnancies can be found scattered throughout the pages of Scripture. This field of runners-ups to Mary’s story share a few common denominators. Beginning with the fact that those women were all barren; which as the label implies, means that they were about as fertile as the Sinai desert.

Signs

Preached FCCW, December 2, 2018 (Advent 1C)

Luke 21:25-36

 

Jesus once told a parable about signs.

He said. “Look at a fig tree. As soon as it sprouts leaves you know it is a sign that a change of seasons is just around the corner.”

With the season of Advent, comes the many signs that Christmas is coming soon. There are signs in homes and public places, in the form of Christmas trees and bright lights. Even Black Friday doorbusters and Cyber Monday sales are signs of the season in their own way.

Truth on Trial

Preached FCCW November 25, 2018

John 18:33-38a

 

Many courts of law, in various different nations throughout the Western world share a common feature.

That common feature would be a certain statue. A statue of a woman named “Lady Justice.”

Lady Justice may not look exactly the same in every courthouse where you find her.

Some details of her appearance differ according to the differences in how the sculptors who created her, envisioned her in their minds.

But you know it’s her because she almost always carries a sword in one hand, a set of scales in the other, and a blindfold over her eyes.

The sword she wields represents the power of justice to punish wrongdoers.

The scales stand for the weighing of evidence as the means of arriving at a just verdict.

The blindfold over her eyes is a reminder that justice is blind;

judging not according to the status, race or influence of the accused but solely on the truth.

“Lady Justice” represents the noblest vision of how justice should be dispensed.

But it does not always accurately depict the reality of how it is dispensed.