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Morton Presbyterian Church
Mary Harris Todd
Sermons from Morton Presbyterian Church, Rocky Mount, North Carolina
May 10, 2020
Even When: Sermon on Psalm 23 and John 10:1-15
Our life-giving Shepherd is with us even when we travel through the darkest valleys.
May 3, 2020
Ordinary and Holy: Sermon on Luke 24:13-35
The risen Christ makes his loving presence known among ordinary people in ordinary situations, like walking and talking together, and sitting down to a meal.
Apr 26, 2020
Probing Questions: Sermon on John 20:19-31
To move into the future with Jesus it is critical to ask probing questions.
Apr 19, 2020
Lockdown: Sermon on John 20:19-23
No barrier can stop the risen Christ. He comes wherever fearful, overwhelmed people are and gives them the peace of his presence, the breath of new life, and the call to continue his life and work.
Apr 15, 2020
While It Is Still Night: Easter Meditation on John 20:1-18
While it is still dark God is already up and doing the work of resurrection.
Mar 22, 2020
Squeezing Water From a Rock: Sermon on Exodus 17:1-7
This pandemic season is a wilderness journey of uncertain duration, and our fears are many: fear about the sickness itself, fear for loved ones, fear that there won’t be enough of needed resources, financial fears, and more. As they struggled with thirst in the wilderness, the Israelites cried out, “Is God with us or not?” God invited them to trust, and God provided what they needed from an unexpected source: water from a rock. Even now God is working to provide for us, and to deliver the world, and it may happen in ways as creative, unexpected, and seemingly impossible as squeezing water from a rock.
Mar 1, 2020
Making Deals with the Devil: Sermon on Matthew 4:1-11
When the church seeks the power of the state to accomplish its goals, however good they may be, the church is in danger of making deals with the devil. Because they appeared to offer expedient ways to accomplish good, the devil’s deals were appealing. Through prayerful discernment of God’s will, Jesus said “No deal!” Jesus continued to choose the more difficult way of the cross.
Feb 25, 2020
The Sunlight of His Face: Sermon on Matthew 17:1-9.
Thanks be to God for those precious times when heaven and earth touch, and we glimpse God’s big picture in the shining face of Christ.
Feb 21, 2020
The Road Less Traveled: Sermon on Matthew 5 and Joshua 24
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus sets before us the less-traveled way of God. We must choose whether or not to walk in it.
Feb 12, 2020
Where Heaven and Earth Connect: Sermon on John 1:42-51 and Genesis 28:10-19.
Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of Jacob’s dream. He is the connecting point between heaven and earth. He is the place where time and eternity intersect.
Feb 2, 2020
What We Have Seen: Sermon on John 1:35-51
Inviting others to come and see Jesus is simply about telling what we have seen. Our stories do not have to be dramatic to be helpful to others.
Jan 28, 2020
Behold the Lamb of God: Sermon on John 1:29-42
Christ is the Passover Lamb whose life, death, and resurrection delivers liberation to the cosmos. The Lamb sets us free from every form of death, sin included.
Jan 21, 2020
Come and Converse. Sermon on John 1:29-42
Jesus models the way to invite people into his company. Prepared to listen to them, Jesus asks people what they are looking for, invites them to come and see, and a relationship is born in the conversation. Jesus calls us who follow him to approach others first of all with listening ears, and to open ourselves to real involvement and real friendships with them. In real presence with each other we can experience the presence of Jesus.
Jan 12, 2020
Powerful Gentleness: Sermon on Isaiah 42:1-9 and Matthew 3:13-17
Jesus' first act of ministry was to go down to the river where the sinners were, and get in the water with them. Christ continues to pursue justice and righteousness in the gentle, yet persistent way of the servant in Isaiah 42.
Jan 12, 2020
A Christmas Vision: Sermon on Matthew 2 and Revelation 12
The vision of the dragon in Revelation 12 points to the shadow in the Christmas story: evil operating through agents like Herod, aiming to destroy the child and the child's siblings. Its agents are still at work, but Christ's people take the way of the wise ones in Matthew 2. They don't cooperate with Herod, and they don't bow before the emperor.
Nov 11, 2019
An Investment in Hope: Sermon on Jeremiah 32:1-15
Jeremiah bought a field that he would never be able to use as a sign of hope. It was an investment in God’s future.
Nov 3, 2019
Our Assignment: Sermon on Jeremiah 29:1-11
God called the exiles to put down roots and seek the wellbeing of Babylon. God calls us to seek the wellbeing of the communities in which God has placed us.
Sep 24, 2019
God Sees: Sermon on Luke 13:10-17 and Exodus 3
Just as God saw the misery of the Israelite slaves and was determined to do something about it, Jesus saw the bent over woman in the synagogue and was determined to do something about it. God sees and knows what is going on with all who are bowed down. God is going to do something about it, and so are those who follow God.
Sep 1, 2019
You’re In God’s Plans! Sermon on Jeremiah 1:4-10.
Like Jeremiah, young folks, old folks, and everybody in between are called to take part in what God is doing. The One who calls is the One who knows you through and through, who has been with you all along, and who will be with you always. There is no one who is too young, too old, or too anything to take part in what God’s doing in this world. God supplies what is needed.
Aug 6, 2019
What is the Most Important Thing? Sermon on Luke 10:38-42
Whether we are being faithful to Jesus by serving, or by sitting at his feet, the heart of what we do is love. Both are expressions of love of God and love of neighbor. The most needful thing of all is love.
Aug 6, 2019
Long-Term Care: Sermon on Luke 10:25-37
The parable of the Good Samaritan certainly challenges any attempt to put boundaries on who our neighbors are. While the story is about an emergency response, it also notes that long-term care is critical. It challenges the church to be like the inn and the innkeeper, caring for people over the long haul, and trusting Christ to provide the resources to do that.
Jul 14, 2019
Holy Fieldwork: Sermon on Luke 9:57-10:12
Jesus sees a great harvest of people to be drawn into the Reign of God. He calls his followers out into the field.
Jul 7, 2019
The Abundant Table: Sermon on Luke 9:1-17
Holy Communion is a sign of God’s great grace and generosity. It is a thankful celebration of God’s abundant gifts to us, and most especially the gift of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ life overflows with love for us like cups overflowing with wine, and baskets overflowing with bread.
Jun 30, 2019
Standing Against the Chaos: Sermon on Luke 8:22-39
Jesus stands against the forces of chaos in a storm at sea and in a legion of unclean spirits oppressing a man in the country of the Gerasenes. That is where he can be found today: standing against the forces of chaos in our personal storms, and in the storms of our world. We are called to put our faith in this One, and to stand with him.
Jun 23, 2019
Jesus Is Touched: Sermon on Luke 7:11-17
When Jesus saw the grieving widow, he was touched to the core with compassion.
Jun 23, 2019
A Family of Dreamers: Sermon on Acts 2:1-17.
When the Holy Spirit of God gets into people, they start dreaming God’s dreams.
Jun 4, 2019
Unexpected Faith: Sermon on Luke 7:1-10
While many would have seen the face of the enemy in the Roman centurion, Jesus was amazed and appreciative of the faith and the fruits of faith that he saw in him. What if we saw through the eyes of Jesus and marveled at the gifts and goodness in people from whom we’ve been conditioned not to expect it? What if we recognized God already at work in unexpected places through unexpected people?
May 19, 2019
A New Understanding: Sermon on Acts 11:1-18
So that the good news of Jesus could move unhindered towards the ends of the earth, his followers needed to give up “us vs. them” thinking. God showed Peter that there are no clean or unclean people. God led Peter to a new understanding of the sacred tradition, and made it clear that God was also working among Gentiles like Cornelius and his household. What might we need to re-examine, and what practices might we need to change so that the good news can spread unhindered?
May 5, 2019
Necessary Questions: Sermon on John 20:19-31.
Being willing to ask questions can take us into deeper faith. In fact, they are necessary.
Apr 21, 2019
And It Was Morning: Easter Sermon on John 20:1-18
Jesus was raised from the dead while it was still night. God’s work of resurrection gets underway in the darkness. Even now the risen Christ is making his way towards us in the gloom, and we will hear his loving voice calling our name.
Apr 15, 2019
The Hand on the Table. Communion Sermon on Luke 22:14-34.
At the last supper Jesus noted that the hand of his betrayer was on the table. The hands of many who betrayed Jesus were on the table that night, and on his table now. Yet also on the table are his body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. We all need to eat and drink it.
Apr 12, 2019
A Fragrant Offering: Sermon on John 11:38-12:11
Mary of Bethany’s anointing of Jesus is a prophetic act, both comforting Jesus and pointing to the offering of his life. With thanksgiving our lives can become a fragrant offering.
Mar 31, 2019
RSVP: Sermon on Luke 15:1-3, 11-32.
Jesus’parable is a cliffhanger. How will the older brother respond? Will he join his father at the celebration and claim the younger brother as family, or will he boycott? Will he accept the situation and act on his father’s terms, or will he stand alone outside? God’s party is underway. We who have long been in God’s house must also RSVP to the invitation. Will we practice hospitality, loving in Jesus’ open-armed, open-hearted way, claiming people as our people, even when they don’t do what we think they ought to do? Or will we stand aloof, protecting ourselves from disappointment and nursing self-righteousness?
Mar 26, 2019
A Call to Repentance: Sermon on Luke 13:1-9
Jesus invites his hearers to turn our attention to something we can do something about: our own lives. Instead of speculating about what wrongs others may or may not have done, we are called to examine our own lives.
Jan 20, 2019
Feeling Our Way Forward. Sermon on Luke 4:1-13 and Exodus 32:1-8.
For the people of God there are no shortcuts to the Promised Land. Even Jesus had to discern his way forward. He rejected the tempter’s be-successful-quickly schemes and chose the narrow way that took him to the cross on the way to the resurrection. He calls his disciples to follow him as we feel our way forward.
Dec 17, 2018
A Case Study in Repentance: Sermon on Luke 3:1-20
What is repentance? Consider the case of Ebenezer Scrooge. While no Christmas ghosts may confront us to call us to repent, the Holy Spirit certainly does through the voices of the prophets Malachi and John the Baptist. This is the way to prepare to welcome Christ more fully.
Dec 2, 2018
Now is the Time to Stand Up! Sermon on Luke 21:25-36.
When we see what is happening in the world around us, Jesus calls us to stand up. Now is the time to stand up for Jesus and with Jesus. Now is the time to stand up for what Jesus stands for, and for the people Jesus stands for.
Sep 2, 2018
True Religion: Sermon on Mark 7:1-23 and James 1:17-27.
True religion is not a matter of how pious we appear on the outside. It is what is in the heart. It is known in what comes out of the heart, and especially in compassion for the most vulnerable.
Aug 26, 2018
Come Away and Rest: Sermon on Mark 6:6b-13, 30-32.
Jesus invites all is disciples to come away and rest a while. We need to do it for our own sake, for Jesus’ sake, and for the sake of the needy crowds that await us.
Aug 26, 2018
Lord, Where Else Can We Go? Sermon on John 6:60-71.
Although crowds of people followed Jesus at first, almost everyone left him. They didn’t understand him, and they were disappointed that he did not do what they wanted him to do. When he asked the remaining twelve, “Do you want to go away, too?” Peter answered, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of everlasting life.” They chose to stay. In times of pain and uncertainty, when we are dismayed and disappointed with the way things are and even disappointed and angry with God, we can make the same choice: Lord, we don’t understand, but where else can we go but you? Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
Aug 12, 2018
Cold Anger: A Sermon on Ephesians 4:25-5:2.
The power of anger transformed becomes the power of compassion, the power to act creatively and constructively, and the power to persevere in seeking justice.
Aug 5, 2018
Rooted and Grounded in Love: Sermon on Ephesians 3:14-21.
The infinite love of God is the root of life itself, of our lives, of our life together, and of our faith and how we practice it. The message and manner of Mister Rogers proclaim this enormous love.
Jul 31, 2018
The True Bread: Sermon on John 6:24-35.
Jesus certainly does care about our need for daily Bread, but he offers us something we need even more: the bread of life, which is a connection to the living God who loves us beyond all telling.
Jul 20, 2018
A Haunting: Sermon on Mark 6:6b-34.
It wasn’t just he memory of John the Baptist’s head on a platter that haunted Herod. It was the recognition that God cannot be silenced. God cannot be stopped. God is plotting resurrection.
Jul 20, 2018
Front Porch Church: Sermon on Mark 1:29-39.
Jesus called his disciples to follow him and engage other neighbors. That means actually talking face to face with our neighbors, much as people used to do on their front porches.
May 22, 2018
The Life-giving Spirit: Sermon on Ezekiel 37:1-14 and John 20:19-22.
God’s Holy Spirit is the breath of life. The Spirit is the power behind hopes and dreams. By this power, dry bones and dead communities live. By this power devastated people in exile discover new hope. By this power, the tiny, traumatized community of Jesus’ disciples discovered new hope and a new call. By this power the church hopes, dreams, and lives now.
May 13, 2018
Hands and Feet and Heaven: Sermon on Luke 24:36-53.
At his ascension, Christ Jesus stood on wounded feet and raised his wounded hands to bless his people. All of his human experience, scars and all, was taken up into the life of God. He has taken our life into the heart of God, and calls us to take the life of God into our hearts and live it out here. We are his body, his hands and feet here.
May 9, 2018
A Society of Friends: Sermon on John 15:9-17
Jesus creates a society of friends who are connected to him and to one another through him, like a vine and branches. The society of Jesus’ friends embodies his self-giving love. Friends lay down their lives for one another. This divided, hurting world desperately needs the society of Jesus’ friends.
Apr 29, 2018
The Master Gardener: Sermon on John 15:1-11 and Isaiah 5:1-7.
God is a master gardener who shapes and prunes us to bear good fruit, a life lived with great love, manifest in justice and righteousness. We can cooperate with the gardener by actively clinging to Christ the Vine, and letting Christ’s word shape us.
Apr 22, 2018
The Lord is Our Shepherd...and Theirs: Sermon on John 10:11-18 and Psalm 23.
Jesus is our Good Shepherd, but we are not his only sheep. He has many more that he is seeking to bring into the fold, and they include sheep that have been turned out of other folds.
Apr 1, 2018
Because God Loved Us First: Sermon on 1 John 4:19 and Mark 10:13-16.
God loves us all long before we can know or do anything to respond. We are all much-loved children in God’s arms. We love because God loved us first. (Meditation at the baptism of a child.)
Mar 18, 2018
Unless a Grain Falls...Sermon on John 12:12-32.
Jesus’ hour was at hand. The showdown between Jesus and the authorities was imminent. To illumine the meaning of what was about to happen, Jesus told this parable: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” The way of the seed is Jesus’ way: letting go, being broken open, dying. A great harvest of new life is the result.
Feb 20, 2018
A Faithful Father: Sermon on Mark 9:14-29.
While others were caught up in arguing about the situation, the anguished father of a boy with uncontrollable seizures poured out his heart to Jesus. He showed more faith than all the arguers. He even trusted Jesus with his lack of trust. When evil spirits seem to rule the day, and answers to desperate situations aren’t forthcoming, we can follow the father’s lead in raw prayer. We may then be given the wisdom and will to do what we can do. Our inability to do anything in response to the epidemic of gun violence in the United States is a case in point. An evil spirit is driving the violence and paralyzing an effective response.
Feb 11, 2018
A Bigger Circle: Sermon on Mark 1:29-39.
Although there was still much to do in Capernaum, Jesus led his disciples to neighboring villages as well. He called them to broaden their circle of concern. He also returned to Capernaum and continued his ministry there. His ministry moved in both directions: outward towards the ends of the earth, while still caring for the home folks.
Feb 11, 2018
A Moment of Clarity: Sermon on Mark 9:2-9.
The experience on the mountain of Transfiguration was a moment of astounding clarity. What Jesus saw and heard gave him confirmation and assurance for the hard journey to the cross. It called his disciples to deeper listening. Moments of clarity like this one help sustain us in times when God’s big picture and our place in it is hard to see.
Jan 28, 2018
It’s Urgent! Sermon on Mark 1:14-20
Just when the kingdom of darkness had claimed yet another victim, John the Baptist, Jesus burst in the scene announcing the good news of the invasion of the Kingdom of God. His call was urgent: turn now, trust the good news, and live as citizens of the Kingdom. He quickly added, “Follow me.” The call was urgent then, and it is urgent now. When the shadows fall now, how can we sit on the good news and let the bad news go unanswered?
Jan 18, 2018
The Beginning of the Good News of Jesus: Sermon on Mark 1:1-11.
In the Gospel of Mark our first glimpse of Jesus is not as an infant in a manger, but as a grown man striding deliberately through the wilderness to the Jordan River to join sinners in the waters of baptism. Sinners and all people on the edge were his priority, and remain his priority. He is in solidarity with us.
Nov 2, 2017
Amazing Offending Grace: Sermon in Matthew 20:1-16.
What did Jesus mean: “the last shall be first, and the first shall be last”? The parable of the vineyard owner who paid the last hired just as much as he paid those who had worked all day can be tough to take. Like Jonah we still wish people would get what they deserve, or at least not get what they don’t deserve. Jesus models for us how to take our focus off where we stand in the line, how we rank compared to others, and to put the focus on God’s desire to lavish grace on everyone. As the line moves through the gate into God’s kingdom, we can actively help others get there, like holding a door open to let others enter first.
Nov 2, 2017
The Vineyard Revisited: Sermon on Matthew 21:28-46 and Isaiah 5:1-7.
In scripture God is often imaged as a great farmer of vines. God expects those who work in the vineyard to bring forth the fruits of justice and righteousness, namely wellbeing and what is right for everyone. Jesus revisits the image in parables. In this parable the tenants refuse to produce the fruit. This is a challenge to God’s vineyard workers in every age to listen, learn, repent, and act when God sends messengers to help us bring forth a good harvest of justice and righteousness.
Oct 18, 2017
The Lesson of a Little Child: Sermon on Matthew 18:1-14.
Jesus’ disciples wanted to know who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. He answered by placing a little child among them, and calling them to aspire to the way of humility instead of the way of greatness. The little ones like this child are the greatest in his eyes. Whoever welcomes one of the little ones welcomes him. It’s clear the the kingdom of heaven is not a bigger, greater version of the kingdoms of the earth. It is something else altogether.
Oct 8, 2017
Flame Rekindled: Sermon on Exodus 3 and 4
Middle-aged Moses was doing well at minding his own business when God grabbed his attention. God reignited an old flame, Moses’ passion for justice. What makes your heart burn with concern, compassion, mercy, and love?
Oct 3, 2017
The King’s Table: Sermon on 2 Samuel 9 and Luke 15:1-2.
King David welcomed Mephibosheth, the grandson of his archenemy Saul, to dine at his table always. He made Mephibosheth, whose name “Bosheth” means shame, a member of his own family. King Jesus welcomes all into his family to eat at his table always. As Jesus’ critics put it, “He welcomes sinners and even eats with them!”
Sep 21, 2017
The Midwives of Israel: Sermon on Exodus 1:1-2:10 and Matthew 16:21-26.
The followers of Jesus unleash the power of life by putting our own lives on the line. This is what it means to take up our cross. Like Shiprah and Puah, the midwives of Israel, we put our lives on the line to conspire against injustice and every destructive power, and for the abundant life God gives.
Sep 13, 2017
With Us Everywhere: Sermon on Matthew 14:22-33 and Isaiah 43:1-4
When Jesus' disciples are in trouble on the water, Jesus plunges into the middle of the chaos. He takes the direct route to them through the stormy sea. He fulfills the promise of Isaiah 43: "When you go through the waters, I will be with you; when you walk through the fire, I will be with you." He is with us everywhere. This sermon includes allusions to the story of the three men in the fiery furnace in Daniel 3.
Sep 3, 2017
YOU Give Them Something to Eat! Sermon on Matthew 14:13-21
Why do we persist in thinking that the little something we have to offer is nothing? Like the five pieces of bread and two fish that in Jesus's hands became enough to feed many hungry people, in Jesus's hands what we have to offer becomes enough to make a difference. He invites us to turn away from the myth of scarcity.
Aug 27, 2017
Walking Humbly: Sermon on Genesis 32:22-31, with allusions to Micah 6:8.
Up until the wrestling match with the mysterious being at the Jabbok River, Jacob strutted through life, grabbing what he wanted. In the darkness, however, this being grabbed Jacob, touched him in a vulnerable spot, and left him walking much more tentatively and humbly. Yet he was also profoundly blessed and bore a new name: Israel. It turned out that God was in the struggle. God's grace and power can turn the struggle of the darkness into a blessing: compassion that we can offer others. It can turn us into children of Israel. It can turn us into people who do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.
Aug 20, 2017
The Unwanted One: Sermon on Genesis 29:15-35
Jacob's family was a mess. Yet God chose to work out God's purposes in this very flawed family. God still chooses to work through flawed, sinful, weak, messy people, messy families, and messy churches. In this particular story, Leah, the wife that Jacob doesn't want, becomes the ancient mother of the priestly and royal lines of Israel and Judah, and of the Messiah himself. Listen for the allusion to 1 Corinthians 1:26-31: God chooses what is foolish and weak in human eyes.
Aug 13, 2017
In a Hard Place: Sermon on Genesis 28:10-19a and John 1:43-51.
A joyous mountaintop is not the only place where heaven and earth touch, and God makes God's presence known. Heaven and earth also touch in the rocky wilderness, where God comes in the dead of night, in a time of great struggle and uncertainty. This was what Jacob discovered in a dream as he slept on a bed of rocks in the wilderness. He saw an incline connecting heaven and earth in that place, and recognized the presence of God. The hard place became Bethel, which means "House if God."
Jul 30, 2017
It's Unstoppable! Sermon on Matthew 13:31-33 and Isaiah 55:6-13.
Like a weed that can't be eradicated, like yeast that won't stop fermenting until it has permeated the whole lump of dough, like the word of God that never returns empty, God's reign is unstoppable. We can be unstoppable citizens of that reign.
Jul 23, 2017
Weedeaters: Sermon on Matthew 13:24-30.
A weedy field is an apt way to describe the messy mix of life together. As in Jesus' parable, it is tempting to try to eliminate the weeds, but that can't be done without devastating collateral damage. Only God can sort out the mess, the good from the bad, the light from the dark. And God will do that, in God's own time and way. We had best keep our hoes, weedeaters, roundup sprayers and other weeding tools in the shed.
Jul 17, 2017
A Farmer's Perseverance: Sermon on Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23.
There will be a harvest. That is the promise of the parable of the seed and the soils. Though large amounts of seed seem wasted, some fall on fertile ground, germinate, take root, and bring forth an amazing harvest. The farmer's labor is not in vain. Failure is not the end of the parable, it's not the end of Jesus's story, and it's not the end of our story. The Lord of the harvest is none other than the God of the resurrection.
Jul 9, 2017
The Beloved Community: Sermon on Acts 2:42-47 and 4:33-37.
Through his loving Spirit, Jesus creates the beloved community of his friends, who love one another and the world as he does. Those in the beloved community have a profound regard for each other's wellbeing, and for the wellbeing of all people. All are welcome and cherished in the beloved community. This sermon also draws from Jesus' command to love in John 13:33-35 and 15:12-15. You can find the David Brooks column that is mentioned here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/06/opinion/giving-away-your-billion-warren-buffett.html
Jul 2, 2017
Agents of Healing: Sermon on Matthew 9:35-10:8 and Acts 3:1-10
Jesus sends his disciples out to be agents of healing. We really can make a difference for others. We have the call, the authority, and the power to help ease pain, to support and help people to cope, and even to prevent some forms of suffering. The church has the power to enfold people in the healing arms of Jesus, and to welcome all in his name.
Jul 2, 2017
Together at the Table: Sermon on 1 Corinthians 11:17-29
What does Paul mean by "discerning the body" in communion? He reminds the church at Corinth and us that holy communion unites us not only with Christ himself, but also with all the members of his body. To practice the sacrament in a worthy way, we must show consideration, honor, and love for others in the body, including children.
Jun 11, 2017
Come Join God's Circle: Trinity Sunday Sermon on John 14 and John 17, selected verses.
The very nature of God is living love, flowing from one person of the Trinity to the others and back again. This love is so great that it flows out to create a universe, and welcomes all creation into the circle of love. There is a place for each one of us in that circle. This sermon speaks of the Trinity icon by Andrew Rublev which you can view here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_(Andrei_Rublev). See also William Paul Young's representation of the Trinity in his book The Shack.
Jun 4, 2017
What Baptism Means: The Wind, The Fire, and The Water. Pentecost Sermon on Acts 2:1-21
Like the outpouring of wind and fire at Pentecost, the outpouring of water in baptism points to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. God's Spirit washes over us like waves of water engulfing us. God's Spirit moves like a powerful wind, blowing all around us, making it hard to hold on to our hats, pushing us along. God's Spirit touches us like a bright flame, setting our souls on fire.
May 28, 2017
What Baptism Means: Get the World Wet. Sermon on Matthew 28:16-20
The call to baptize in Matthew 28 is more than an instruction on how to perform a baptism ceremony. It is a call to the baptized to pour out the blessings of baptism on all people so they can experience how good God is. Jesus sends the church out to wet the world with soothing, healing, gospel water, to soak the world in the outrageous, unlimited, unending love of Jesus, to offer the cup of living water to a desperately thirsty world, and to be the channel through which God's justice can flow down like waters.
May 21, 2017
Homesickness. Sermon on John 14:1-20, 25-27
Jesus is our way, our truth, and our life, but he is also our home. We are safe at home with Jesus in life, and in death, and in the life to come.
May 14, 2017
What Baptism Means: Godparents and Godgrandparents. Sermon on 2 Timothy 1:1-8
Jesus' followers of all ages need spiritual parents and grandparents to nurture and support us on the journey of faith. In the service of baptism we promise to do this for one another.
May 7, 2017
What Baptism Means: Living Water. Sermon on John 4:1-30.
Rain may stop. Springs may fail, and wells and rivers may dry up. But the living water of Jesus flows on and on through our lives into eternity.
May 2, 2017
What Baptism Means: Healing Waters. Sermon on 2 Kings 5:1-15a
Just as God drew Naaman down to the healing waters, God draws us to the waters of baptism. Baptism points to the healing waters of God that flow into and through our lives, washing away guilt, soothing our wounds, comforting our aching hearts, and giving us fresh strength to go on.
Apr 24, 2017
What Baptism Means: Babes in Arms. Sermon on John 3:1-10 and Mark 10:13-16.
No matter what our age, no matter how much we know or understand, no matter how many good things we do, salvation is God's gracious gift to us. God loves us before we are able to love God back. To participate in God's kingdom, we must be as little children in God's arms. This is a major reason why Presbyterians and other Christians baptize infants and small children as well as older children and adults. Baptism is a sign of pure grace.
Apr 24, 2017
What Baptism Means: Dying and Rising with Christ. Sermon on Romans 6:1-12.
Baptism signifies dying with Christ and rising to new life with Christ. We die to sin and death. No longer are we slaves to sin and death. Now Christ Jesus is our Lord. If we die with Christ, we shall also live with Christ. We are in and with Christ, held safely in Christ's arms. We can hold tightly to the One who is holding tightly to us.
Apr 16, 2017
The Easter Earthquake: Sermon on Matthew 27:50-28:20
Easter shakes everything up. When the risen Christ is around, outsiders don't stay outsiders, the sick don't stay sick, and the dead don't stay dead. The earth quakes, and the powers of oppression tremble in fear. But the poor, and those who are hurt or grieving or dying tremble with joy.
Mar 26, 2017
What Baptism Means: You Belong. Sermon on Acts 8:26-39, Galatians 3:26-29, Genesis 17:1-12a
Baptism is a visible sign that you belong to Christ and to the body of Christ, where all are welcome, all are united in him, and all are equal in him. This is good news for everyone, but especially for those like the Ethiopian man, a eunuch, who have been told in one way or another, "You don't belong."
Mar 21, 2017
I Choose Love: Sermon on Matthew 5:38-48 and Ephesians 4:22-24, 31-5:2
Jesus said that it's not enough to love family and friends and others who are easy to love and who love us back. The real test of love is to love even an enemy, which is what God does all the time.
Mar 21, 2017
What Baptism Means: You Are My Beloved. Sermon on Mark 1:1-13.
The first thing to know about baptism is that it is a gift of God's love. Just as God did when Jesus was baptized, God announces, "You are my child, my beloved. I am pleased with you." We are baptized with Christ, and Christ is baptized with us.
Mar 21, 2017
What Baptism Means: Bathed in Forgiveness. Sermon on Psalm 51, Romans 7:14-20, Acts 22:3-16
The sign of baptism reassures us that God's forgiveness is real. As water washes away dirt, so God washes away sin. When the joy of salvation eludes us, we can remember our baptism and the loving God who baptized us. What baptism meant for Paul, former archenemy of the church, is a case in point.
Feb 19, 2017
Upside Down Kingdom: Sermon on Matthew 5:1-12
Who are the truly blessed? According to Jesus it's not the winners of this world, but the poor and poor in spirit, the gentle, those who mourn, who ache for justice, and who get in trouble for their witness. The wisdom and way of the kingdom of heaven truly is upside down. Or as Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 1, God's foolishness is greater than human wisdom.
Feb 19, 2017
Little Lights and Pinches of Salt
Can the little we are able to do really make a difference? According to Jesus it can. According to Jesus, we are salt and light. A little light can be seen from far away, and a pinch of salt goes a long way.
Feb 19, 2017
A Deeper Righteousness: Sermon on Matthew 5:17-37
Jesus declares that our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. Does that mean we must out-Pharisee the Pharisees? Does that mean we must police every thought as well as every action? Well, no. Jesus is aiming at something deeper.
Jan 31, 2017
Kingdom Arriving Now: Sermon on Matthew 4:12-23 and Isaiah 9:1-7
Not long after Jesus rejected the devil's offer of all the power and wealth of this world's kingdoms, Jesus heard that Herod Antipas had arrested John the Baptist. Jesus chose this dangerous time to begin preaching the arrival of the kingdom of heaven. Instead of marching into the halls of power, Jesus withdrew to a place on the edge of the empire and began preaching there, the erstwhile land of Zebulon and Naphtali. Matthew notes that indeed the light has dawned on those who sat in darkness.
Jan 22, 2017
Eyes on Jesus: Sermon on John 1:29-42
In the Gospel of John, Jesus' first disciples come to Jesus when John the Baptist points Jesus out to them. They turn their eyes to Jesus and start following. Jesus is on his way somewhere in this story, and the disciples have to follow along to see where he is going.
Jan 19, 2017
You Are Worth It: Sermon on John 1:1-18
One wondrous thing about the incarnation is that God truly wanted to come to us. In God's eyes this world is worth it, this life is worth it, and each person is worth it. You are worth it. The sermon includes a summary of a short story entitled "The Visited Planet," by J. B Phillips. You can find it through an online search. It also mentions an article in the Portland, Maine Press Herald that you can access here: http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/01/what-happens-when-youre-the-only-one-who-shows-up-to-church/?utm_content=buffer3db2b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer
Dec 27, 2016
Someone Else's Child: Sermon on Matthew 1:18-25
Those who would follow Jesus are called to make the same kind of persevering commitment that Joseph made when he was asked to take responsibility for the Christ Child. Sometimes that means we are literally called to care about and care for other people's children.
Dec 27, 2016
Little Bethlehem: Christmas Sermon on Luke 2 and Matthew 2
About three miles southeast of Bethlehem, King Herod built a fabulous palace in top of a human-made hill. He called it the Herodium after himself. King Jesus was born down below in Bethlehem.
Dec 11, 2016
The Desert Shall Blossom: Sermon on Isaiah 35 and Matthew 11:2-11
New life blossoms wherever Jesus goes.
Dec 4, 2016
Prepare for Arrival: Sermon on Matthew 3:1-12 and Isaiah 11:1-9
It's time for an Advent visit with the prophet John the Baptist. According to him, those who want to meet the king and participate in the kingdom so beautifully anticipated in Isaiah 11 must repent. Dickens' story of Ebenezer Scrooge is a parable of repentance in this sermon.
Nov 27, 2016
Studying Peace: Sermon on Isaiah 2:1-5
The prophet Isaiah points out that if people can study war, we can also study peace. We can learn from God, the supreme practitioner and teacher of peace. These lessons are urgently needed in our divided nation and world.
Nov 20, 2016
Jesus, Remember Me: Sermon on Luke 23:33-43
Sermon for Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday. It may seem odd to reflect on the crucifixion of Jesus as Advent and Christmas approach. However, the sign placed above his head does read "This is the king...".
Nov 13, 2016
Eye to Eye With Jesus: Sermon on Luke 19:1-10
Jesus saw Zacchaeus through gracious, loving, merciful eyes. Without exception, that is how Jesus sees everyone. The loving light in Jesus' eyes is at the heart of the gospel story, and it is at the heart of our life's story.
Nov 6, 2016
Just Don't Go There! Sermon on Luke 18:9-14
A sermon on Jesus' parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.