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Sermon, Gift Horse - First Presbyterian Church of Scipioville, Nov.19, 2023
Gifts from God are meant to be used and then exchanged. Sort of a divine “regifting”. God’s gifts are on loan to us, and God hopes to receive them back well-used, honed, polished and multiplied. The gifts of God are redeemable at the end for Pearls of unimaginably Great Price. Now, if the use of our gifts is so important, what is it that holds us back? Jesus suggests it’s an unhealthy picture of GOD that holds us back. It’s a picture of God that makes us afraid of God rather than helping us be God-fearing. To be afraid of God, is to be apprehensive, anxious, worried that God is dangerous and wants to judge and harm you. To be God-fearing is to be in awe, in humble reverence at the majesty of God.
Sermon, Begin At The End - United Ministry of Auraora, Nov. 12, 2023
Our human tendency if what we want doesn’t look like it’s going to appear in a reasonable time, we give up in disappointment, or decide we really didn’t want it anyway or decide we really want something else. But if what we want is truly valuable, say, like a pearl of great price, or a buried treasure in a field, or the promise of eternal life, it pays to keep our eyes on the prize. If you want to make it to the end: Begin at the end. There’s no better way to persevere than keeping the goal always in front of you. Daily practice of religion is designed to keep the end always before our eyes. Daily prayer, weekly meeting. Scripture reading. Spiritual conversation. These keep the end goal present in the moment. Some may feel, “I don’t need “organized religion”, but without the discipline of daily practice, your lamp can run out of oil when you need it most.
Sermon, Four On The Floor 2 - First Presbyterian Church of Skaneateles, October 8, 2023
For many of us, our religious childhood started with the Nativity and Noah’s ark, then jumped straight to the rules and list of things we ought to get busy and do. Work in that vineyard, pay the rent, obey the big guy. These were the first steps of our Christian life. Good steps, but is it enough? Prayer is the base we need to support our Christian mission of worship, adoration, charity and love. Before we can be changed into people of love, we need to shift gears to become people of prayer.
Sermon, Four On The Floor 1 - United Ministry of Aurora, July 23, 2023 I’d like to do something a little different today. Let’s take a look at one of the less emphasized aspects of our Christian life. One that I think our kids and grandkids are hungry for. Something I think that we here today are hungry for. I think we are all hungry for spiritual experience, the taste of heaven Jesus promised. We’re good at doing good works; we protest injustice, we help the needy. We worship on Sunday. We repent. We love our neighbor. But there’s a nagging something we’re missing. And it’s something God is eager to give us. So let’s take a fresh look this morning.
Sermon, Off-Road Adventure - First Presbyterian Church of Skaneateles, May 21, 2023 Caught between Jesus' Ascension and Pentecost, the disciples want clarity and certainty about God's strategic plan. Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel? Are the Romans going to be thrown out? Will we be in charge? What’s God’s plan and strategy? Jesus gently sets them straight on all they need to know about what's going to happen, and what they are to do. The same instructions apply to us.
Sermon, Peace to a Doubting World - United Ministry of Aurora, April 16, 2023 Our readings today remind us that we are not alone in the face of danger. The Passover was fraught with danger, our world today is full of threat. In weeks that followed our Gospel reading, the disciples were clearly in danger. Jesus had been crucified and the authorities certainly hadn't given up on stamping out the rest of those heretical Christian Jews. The danger was still there, yet Peter stood up boldly preaching Jesus' message.
Sermon, Transformation 5 - February 26, 2023 United Ministry of Aurora Transformation into the Good is not about doing good. It’s a complete change of heart. Jesus asks us to change. Not just do more nice things and fewer evil things. Jesus wants us to change our hearts, to think and feel in a new way, complete transformation. And we do everything possible to avoid it. It’s hard and it goes against our human nature. But, God has plans for us.
Sermon, The Baptism of Baptism - January 8, 2023 United Ministry of Aurora The Baptism of the Lord marks the close of the Christmas season and the beginning of Jesus ministry. It begins at Cana, where he transformed the ritual water of Old Testament Mikvah into the spiritual wine of New Testament Baptism.
Sermon, Money, Money, Money - September 25, 2022 United Ministry of Aurora Is Jesus telling us that unless we repent of our sins in life our sins persist after death? The nameless rich man is unchanged by death! Not even a respectful, “Hello Lazarus, nice to see you. Glad it worked out well for you. Say, could you perhaps spare a little drink of water.” Nope. We hear, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me and order Lazarus over here with at least a sip of water!”
Sermon, Do You Want To Be Made Well - May 29, 2022, First Presbyterian Church of Chittenango Jesus knew the man at the Bethesda pool had been in this terrible condition for a long time. Why did the man sit there all these years expecting something different each day? Jesus asked him, "Do you want to be made well?" Instead of answering, YES, the sick man gave the Lord reasons why he was still sick. The joy of living in Christ in this world and the next is right here. But we need to answer YES, to Jesus' question, "Do you want to be made Well?
Sermon, Do You Want To Be Made Well - May 22, 2022, United Ministry of Aurora (Note this sermon was given on two successive Sundays end of May, 2022) The joy of living in Christ in this world and the next is right here. But we need to answer YES, to Jesus' question, "Do you want to be made Well?
Sermon, If Today You Hear A Voice - April 24, 2022, United Ministry of Aurora Hearing the Spirit isn’t always easy. Most of us are better talkers than listeners. Particularly men. There’s a reason why the term “man-splaining” has become a meme. We all pay a lot of attention to what we say; less to what others say to us. We're pretty good at our outbound messaging to God. Think a minute about how you pray. We do as we’ve been taught: We close our eyes and bow our heads respectfully. In church, Catholics kneel, Protestants crouch. We speak quietly and reverently to God. We don’t harangue God or nag. We never, ever raise our voices. We are sensible and rational. Even when we pray silently, it’s usually in a quiet, reasonable mental tone. Maybe we’ve overdone the restraint, but we are okay at our outbound messaging. But somehow we don't pay nearly as much attention to how to hear the inbound voice.
Sermon, God is Big - March 16, 2022, First Presbyterian Church of Chittenango Lent is a good time to reflect on the greatness of God, and the absolute wonder of God's wanting to be with us, to comfort and encourage each one of us. We sometimes lose track of that assurance and even shut down the lines of communication. Jesus reminds us that the people of God often stoned their prophets. Yet the prophets persisted in listening to the voice of God, and responding. Today, people who hear or see visions are called delusional or mistaken. I suspect the reason behind this is fear. We humans are uncomfortable with things out of the ordinary. But God continues to reach out to us.
Sermon, Let's Take a Break - January 16, 2022, First Presbyterian Church of Skaneateles The Sabbath was made for Man, not Man for the Sabbath. The Creator set up cycles of work and rest weekly, yearly, and daily. Taking time out to rest and reset aligns with our biochemistry. The one who made us knows our needs better than we do. The Creator has our best interest and well-being in mind, so we should pay attention. Even God rested after the sixth Day of creation. A good example for we over-worked and stressed out people.
Sermon, Winter Is Past - August 29, 2021, United Ministry of Aurora As I begin to age, The Song of Songs makes more and more sense to me. Some think it's crazy to have an erotic love story plopped into the middle of the Bible. Lovers peeking around corners, sensual touches, intimacy. What's this doing in the Bible. This is serious business! After all, isn't God the Judge on the Bench? Well, no. The whole Bible is one gigantic, endless love story. It's too easy to forget that.
Sermon, Under God - July 4, 2021, First Presbyterian Church of Skaneateles It's not a placebo, it's the Faith Effect. Your cells have ears. When you believe with all your heart and soul and might, all the cells of your body “get the memo.” If we give the spirit the chance to work, the Spirit can work. If we deny the Spirit, the Spirit cannot work.
Sermon, Bible Literacy at Easter - April 11, 2021 , First Presbyterian Curch, Skaneateles Last week at Skaneateles we began a new Bible Study series connecting the lectionary readings for the week to come. Jesus often taught by making connections. This Sunday's sermon explains to the Church how this solid Christian Education for adults can be helpful.
Sermon, Connecting with Bible Literacy - March 21, 2021 , United Ministry of Aurora Our carefully selected lectionary readings are helpful, they are connected. Asking each of the four readings to shed light on the others, we see more than the plotline and message of the individual readings. This is reading beyond the “letter” of the Bible. Jesus in his life, so often taught about scripture by making connections. This is another way we Christians can follow in his footsteps.
Sermon, Lenten Rainbow - February 21, 2021 , United Ministry of Aurora — YouTube Video — First Sunday of Lent - God is pleased with Noah, and only Noah. Everything else that breathes air, God is done with. The humans were so corrupt, they corrupted everything alive - except for the fish. Restart. We're the new kids. How are we doing in our turn?
Sermon, Intimacy With God - January 17, 2021 , United Ministry of Aurora — YouTube Video — In recent years many mainline Protestant churches no longer proclaim the full lectionary each Sunday. The lectionary includes an Old Testament reading, a responsorial Psalm, a reading from the New Testament Letters or Acts, and the Gospel. These four readings have been selected under the guidance of the Spirit. Hearing and reflecting on the four readings can be a powerful teaching method, since each reading amplifies and comments on the other readings. If we permit our full lectionary to speak to us every Lord's Day, the Bible itself can teach us with connections, hints and glimpses of truths for which there are no adequate words.
Sermon, Vast Resources of Power - November 15, 2020 , United Ministry of Aurora The LORD has assignments for each one of us. By mid-life most of us have some sense of what we’re called to do. Maybe it's teaching, maybe building a family life, maybe giving joy as a performer, maybe being the squeaky wheel. We don't need to understand how our job fits in the divine plan; that's beyond humans' pay grade. But, the Lord provides vast resources of power to those with the faith to accept their assignment wholeheartedly.
Sermon, Voice In The Cloud - October 18, 2020 , United Ministry of Aurora Our faith tradition stops educating us too soon. What’s missing? We’re solid with the ABCs, yet the Letter to Hebrews exhorts us to move beyond elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity. God may speak with us in a voice undetectable by eardrum, but heard in our understanding. God may attract our attention in various ways. But we have to cooperate. We have to agree to listen.
Sermon, Music and Me'odechoh - September 20, 2020 , First Presbyterian Church, Skaneateles — YouTube Video — This is a reminder of the powerful role of music in worship. Me'odechoh means, "With all your might!" Music played, sung and listened to "with all our might," can help us open up, unwrap our tightly bound selves to experience the full power of faith.
Sermon, Jesus On Opposition - September 13, 2020 , First Presbyterian Church, Skaneateles — YouTube Video Every human being deep down wants to be at peace, the peace of wholeness and happiness. Yet we see contention everywhere around us. The Bible teaches us the natural state of the world, perhaps of life itself, is contention and opposition. In a way, we can look at the Bible as a textbook teaching us how to deal with contention and opposition.
Sermon, No Argument - August 30, 2020 , United Ministry of Aurora Few places on earth have had more argument per square foot of land than Israel. This was true in Abraham’s time, true in David’s time and true in Jesus’ time. Religious orthodoxy opposing apathy, pagan Roman troops opposing civilians, prophets opposing apostates, Sadducees opposing Pharisees, extremist assassins opposing those who just wanted to get along, and, of course, political factions all opposing each other. There is nothing new under the sun. Jesus acknowledged opposition. And Jesus' teaching method is a graduate text on how to overcome opposition.
Sermon, Let It Go - August 16, 2020 , First Presbyterian Church, Skaneateles These are not only unusual times, they are difficult times. Things had been going so well for us for so long, we kind of forgot that life is generally full of problems. Scripture tells us that life here outside the Garden of Eden will be troubled. Both Old Testament and New Testament are filled with lessons on how to navigate the expected injustices, stresses and difficulties of life.
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UNDEROOS Ethics A minister asked if I had ever brought a business ethics conflict to a clergyman. He was forming views on the role of the church in teaching business ethics. I have a point of view; teach Jesus, not rules. This was my response.
What a great journey. Thank you...