Preached FCCW June 17, 2018
1 Samuel 17: 32-47
At the 1913 Kentucky Derby, the smart money rested on one of three horses. Their names were Yankee Notions, Ten Point, and Foundation. True to the odds-makers predictions, those three swapped the lead back and forth between them as they rounded the track at Churchill Downs. As the horses churned into the stretch, Ten Point was leading. Then something happened that almost nobody saw coming: a 91-1 long shot named Donerail drove from the rear of the field and captured the lead. When he crossed the finish line, he was half a body length ahead of Ten Point. To this day, Donerail’s incredible upset stands as the highest paying, long shot victory in Kentucky Derby history.
Preached FCCW, June 3, 2018
2 Corinthians 4:5-12 and Mark 2:23-3:6
Whenever we gather at the table of Communion, as we do this morning, we pause to be reminded of a few things. You could say that this is when we “set the table” for the meal we are about to share together.
We begin with an acknowledgement of whose table it is. It is not ours. It is the table of our Lord. Next, we are reminded of why we are invited to this table. Not because we are fulfilled, but because we are empty and in need of being refilled with God’s grace. Thirdly, we hear again how we are to approach this meal. That this is not an occasion for expressing our opinions, but a time to seek God’s Presence and to pray that we might come away from this table with a renewed spirit of service to others in Christ’s name.
Preached FCCW May20, 2018
There is a lot to like about the month of May.
The weather usually begins to take a decisive turn to the warmer.
The leaves start popping out on what had been bare tree branches and colorful flowers grace the eye with their beauty.
That is, unless you are prone to allergies.
In that case, May might grace the eyes with itching and watering, instead.
Preached FCCW May 13, 2018 (Mothers’ Day)
A young woman – who had just graduated from college – was going on her first interview to try and launch her new career, when her mother called her to wish her success on her interview. Before she hung up she asked her to be sure to stop over on her way home.
The interview went well and the young woman got the job. She went right from the interview to her mother’s home calling her on the way to tell her the good news. When she got there she saw that the table was set with the best china, and her mother had prepared her favorite meal. Next to her plate she found a note. It read: “Congratulations! I knew you’d get the job! I prepared this dinner to show just how proud I am of your accomplishments!”
Preached FCCW May 6, 2018
Your worship bulletin will tell you that the passage I just read comes from the Book of Acts. But if you had your Bible open you may have noticed that Acts is shorthand for the full title of the book, which is “The Acts of the Apostles.” This is not a book about random acts. It is about the very specific acts of a unique group of people; Jesus’ apostles. An apostle is someone who knows a truth and whose role it is to witness that truth to others.
In the last earthly conversation that his closest followers would have with him, they asked him if, now that he had been resurrected the time had come when he would restore the kingdom of Israel to its former glory. As he almost always did, Jesus gives them a sideways answer to their question. He refuses to offer them a “when” with regards to the fulfilment of God’s plans. But he does give them a “what” and a “how” to their question.
Preached FCCW on April 29, 2018 (Confirmation Sunday)
Have you ever noticed that whenever you are about to part company with someone you really care about, and it’s going to be a long while before you see them again, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to say everything you want to tell them? It must have been like that for Jesus and his disciples on the night before he was crucified.
In John’s gospel Jesus has a real long and deep conversation with his disciples that night. In the course of that conversation, Jesus uses one word over and over. That word is “abide.” He said to them, “Abide in me as I abide in you.”
What does that mean?
1 John 3:16-24 and John 1-:11-18
Preached FCCW April 22, 2018
In the immediate aftermath of World War II, London was a royal mess. Many buildings had been reduced to little more than piles of rubble. But the worst damage was not to structures but to families. Many children had become orphans, some of them starving in the streets.
Early one cold, foggy morning, an American soldier was returning to his barracks in London. As he rounded a corner in his jeep, he saw a little boy standing in front of a pastry store window. His nose was pressed against the glass as he watched the baker kneading the dough for a fresh batch of donuts. The soldier pulled the jeep over to the curb, got out and walked quietly over to the little boy and stood behind him. They both watched as the baker pulled out a fresh batch of donuts from the oven and meticulously placed the piping hot pastries onto the glass-enclosed counter. The boy was literally drooling. An unconscious groan escaped from deep within him.
Preached April 15, 2018
Acts 3:12-19 and 1 John 3:1-7
A woman was driving toward home in Northern Arizona when she saw a Navajo woman hitchhiking. Because the trip had been long and monotonous, she stops the car and the Navajo woman climbs in. In the course of their small talk, the Navajo woman glances surreptitiously at a brown bag on the front seat between them. “If you’re wondering what’s in the bag,” says the woman, “it’s a bottle of wine. I got it for my husband.” “The Navajo woman is silent for a while, nods several times and says, “Good trade.”
There are good trades and there are bad trades and then there are notoriously bad trades that never get lived down. Like trading Manhattan Island for a bushel of trinkets. Or trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees. But, hands down THE worst trade off EVER was when a crowd demanded that the life of Jesus be exchanged for the life of a murderer named Barabbas.
Preached FCCW, April 8, 2018
When I was in junior high I had a friend who had a prominent birthmark. It was one of those strawberry colored stains and it covered the entire lower half of one side of his face. While I don’t recall anybody making a big deal about it then, it’s hard to imagine him making it through childhood without having to endure a lot of teasing and humiliation.
There are many old wives’ tales to explain where birthmarks like the one my friend had come from; including superstitions that they are the result of some fearful or traumatic experience suffered by the mother during pregnancy.
While only a tiny fraction of babies enter life bearing external birthmarks on their bodies, not a one of us goes through life without acquiring invisible blemishes on our soul. Since we are not born with these blemishes, they aren’t birthmarks. Perhaps a good name for them would be Life-marks, because we acquire them over the course of our life experiences.
Preached April 1, (Easter Sunday) 2018
In the British comedy film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are on a quest to locate a sacred relic, the Holy Grail, the cup that Jesus used at the Last Supper. Their mission brings them to an underground cave where they discover mysterious words in Aramaic carved into the cavern wall.
A monk is summoned to translate the writing in hopes that it holds a clue to the whereabouts of the Grail. Their hopes are raised as the monk translates the first words: “These are the last words of Joseph of Arimathea” because they know that Joseph of Arimthea’s tomb is the place where, according to the Gospels, Jesus was buried.
Preached FCCW, Palm Sunday 201825
The title of this sermon comes from a very old Epic tale from Estonia.
It tells of an Estonian king who wanted to wage war on Finland.
Which might have just made everyone here of Finnish descent sit up a little straighter.
The King sent his four sons out to the corners of Estonia to gather an army for the invasion.
Preached FCCW March 18, 2018
The time for the festival of Passover was approaching, and as was typical on the eve of such an important holy day, Jerusalem was swarming with people.
Many in the crowds that filled the streets were faithful Jews who had made the pilgrimage to worship at the city’s great Temple.
Many, but not all.
Preached FCCW March 4, 2018
In his book Blue Like Jazz Donald Miller says, “The goofy thing about Christian faith is that you believe it and don’t believe it at the same time. It isn’t unlike having an imaginary friend.”
He goes on to say: “I believe in Jesus; I believe He is the Son of God, but every time I sit down to explain this to somebody I feel like a palm reader, like somebody who works at a circus or a kid who is always making things up or somebody at a Star Trek convention who hasn’t figured out the show isn’t real.”
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 and Romans 4:13-25
Preached FCCW February 25, 2018
In the quiet, rural town of Rutland Massachusetts, on a non-descript road, beside the driveway of an unpretentious home, stands a maple tree. This tree is as commonplace as its surroundings. You would likely drive by it without a second glance, except possibly when it is showing off its Autumn foliage. The one feature that sets it apart is the small post and beam fence which forms a box around its trunk. And the sign that hangs on the fence, that identifies the spot where its roots are sunk as the geographical center of the Commonwealth. Which has earned it the name of Central Tree among the locals. So, now you know where to go if you want to see for yourself the answer to the question, “Where is the center-point of Massachusetts?”
Preached FCCW, February 18, 2018 (Lent 1B)
Jesus did many things that we, his followers and disciples will never do. Walking on water, bringing the dead back to life and turning water into wine are a few that spring quickly to mind.
But, I can just as easily name two things Jesus did that most, if not all people in this sanctuary today also have done. And, they are both found in the passage from Mark’s Gospel that I just read.
One is being baptized. The other is facing temptations.
Granted, our baptisms, if we can remember it at all, most certainly lacked the drama and spectacle of what Jesus experienced when he emerged from the waters of the Jordan River.