July 13, 2017 @ 7:31 pm

God Rested. (And so should you.)


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Read Genesis 2:1-3


Due to my clumsy audio editing, I cut off the end of the sermon! (Sorry!) Included below is the "sock-o finish" (which is what my grandather used to call his conclusion!). 


Talking about Sabbath, author Dallas Willard notes, that command is “Do no work. Just make space. Attend to what is around you. Learn that you don’t have to DO to BE. (Isn’t that lovely?) You don't have to DO to BE. Accept the grace of doing nothing. Stay with it until you stop jerking and squirming.”[i]

Work is good but rest is holy. Unplugging, stepping back, and making time to be with God. If something in this box helps you do that, then go for it. If it’s something else, do that instead.

Abide in Christ, stay connected to the vine so that you will bear much fruit in your life and in the life of this community of faith. And remember the last lines of the passage from John: 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.  

[i] https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/94278-the-great-omission-reclaiming-jesus-s-essential-teachings-on-disciplesh


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June 14, 2017 @ 5:17 pm

It Was Good. (A sermon about work)


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Read Genesis 1:1-31


Sermon excerpt: 

Faithfully representing God at our jobs is hard work, but it is good work; it’s what we were created to do. And I suspect the writer of Genesis deliberately chose the word “dominion” rather than “domination” for our job description because it teaches us to serve rather than to dominate.

We are designed to act as if we ourselves have the same relationship of love with his creatures that God does.[1] And that means acting in the best interests of creation and all its inhabitants, in particular those whose lives touch ours: our customers, our colleagues or fellow workers, our patients, those for whom we work and those who work for us, and even those we meet casually in the course of our work.[2]

[1] https://www.theologyofwork.org/old-testament/genesis-1-11-and-work

[2] Ibid 

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June 5, 2017 @ 4:20 pm

Unmistakable Ways (A Pentecost sermon)


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Read along with the dramatic reading here.

(Actually ... this isn't included in the reading [oops] but its contents are referenced in the sermon so I thought you might like to read it anyway.) 


Sermon excerpt: 

The transformation that happens to the disciples is the very SAME kind of transformation that happens every time the Spirit gets ahold of someone. I’ve seen it happen myself in this church and in your life; I’ve seen the unmistakable ways the Spirit has been poured out in you. You have been transformed, just like those first disciples.

And today, on Pentecost, the day that started it all, is our chance to celebrate those “unmistakable ways” together. 

PS My brain must have been a jumble because I missed the first two paragraphs of my sermon in the recording too! I'll do better next week, I promise! 

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June 5, 2017 @ 4:09 pm

What’s Next? (An Ascension sermon)


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Read along with Acts 1:1-14

**Note of caution: I was under the weather preaching this sermon. As you listen, you'll probably want to get me a glass of water in the middle; the cough drop I was sucking on wasn't cutting it. Rest assured, someone finally took pity on my and got me some water, for which I am grateful! (See Matthew 10:42.)


Sermon excerpt: 

And then, wouldn’t you know, coincidentally, or rather providentially, the same day I read this article, I started to study this passage from the book of Acts.[1] And then it hit me! THIS is the disciples’ biggest problem: their thinking is constantly too small!

Jesus always thinks abundantly: feeding five thousand with a few loaves and fish; casting out a legion of demons with a few words; creating barrels of wine out of simple water. When he speaks and acts, it’s never out of fear or scarcity; it’s always out of a mindset of abundance and trust.


[1] https://careynieuwhof.com/12-often-overlooked-practices-great-leaders-develop-that-poor-leaders-dont/


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May 22, 2017 @ 5:44 pm

A Long, Loving Goodbye


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Read along with John 14:1-14


Sermon excerpt 

And Rolling Stone, the entertainment magazine, says The Sopranos series finale is one of the best of all time. With the main character dramatically hovering between life and death, Steve Perry from Journey singing, “Don’t Stop Believing” in the background … the TV show suddenly cuts to black. And the viewers are left hanging, wondering how the story ended.[1]

I’m telling you—television series writers have got it DOWN when it comes to saying a memorable goodbye.

[1] http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/lists/end-game-tvs-best-and-worst-series-finales-20150512/worst-lost-20150512

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May 9, 2017 @ 4:38 pm

Jesus Shows Up


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Read along with Luke 24:13-35


Sermon excerpt: 

On April 20th, 2017 a man was executed after living on death row for 22 years. In the long and detailed article I read about him, one thing stood out: for his last meal, he asked for communion.[1]

I have no idea why he chose that or what it meant to him in his last hours of life on earth. He made no final statement, and the article offered no clues.

I can only surmise that somehow he knew, even when it seems most impossible or completely unexpected, Jesus shows up when the bread is broken – at a simple table in Jerusalem as well as in an Arkansas prison.


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April 25, 2017 @ 8:34 pm

Redeeming “Doubting” Thomas

thomas_2.jpg   thomas_1.jpg


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Read along with John 20:19-31


Redeeming "Doubting" Thomas 


Sermon excerpt: 

Frankly, he’s not the only doubter, if you want to call it that. Mary Magdalene saw the empty tomb herself and she didn’t believe he had risen until Jesus came and spoke to her directly.[1] Then, when she told the other disciples about talking to him, they dismissed it because they hadn’t seen it for themselves. It wasn’t until Jesus appeared to them personally that the disciples believed.

So why do we give Thomas such a hard time? He was just asking for what everyone else got. He needed more than a secondhand story of someone else’s interaction with Jesus. He wanted it for himself.

Who doesn’t, really?


[1] FotW, Copenhaver, pp. 395-396.

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April 24, 2017 @ 8:14 pm

Afraid Yet Filled with Joy


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Read along with Matthew 28:1-10


Easter Sunday: "Afraid Yet Filled with Joy" 


Sermon excerpt: 

Between you and me (and don’t tell my mother!), “Afraid yet … (filled with joy”) is totally something I would consider getting a tattoo of.

I can’t think of better way to describe what the women and the other disciples were feeling on the morning of the third day.

And I can’t think of a better line to describe what it feels like to be a follower of Christ—to know him as your Lord and Savior. It is both terrifying and exciting as God draws you closer to him. Your first instinct may be to run away, but the joy of the Lord will turn your fear into awe.

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April 24, 2017 @ 5:03 pm

“Let Your Alleluias Rise”

Our graduating SSU choir students: Sydney Metz, Jonnie Carpathios, Natalee Swallows --we're going to miss them!! 

Sunday worship @ Second Presbyterian Church (Portsmouth, OH)
"Let Your Alleluias Rise" (K. Lee Scott) 
Tenor soloist, Jonnie Carpathios 

Lift your voices rejoicing, Mary, Christ has risen from the tomb; 
On the cross a suffering victim, now as victor He is come. 
Whom your years in death were mourning, welcome with your smiles returning. 
Let your alleluias rise! 

Raise your weary eyelids, Mary, see Him living ever more; 
See His countenance how gracious, see the woulds for you He bore. 
All the glory of the morning pales before those wounds redeeming.
Let your alleluias rise! 

Life is yours forever, Mary, for your light is come once more; 
And the strength of death is broken; now your songs of joy outpour. 
Ended now the night of sorrow, love has brought the blessed morrow. 
Let your alleluias rise! 

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April 3, 2017 @ 8:38 pm

Lent 5: Broken Hearts - Raising Lazarus


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Read along with John 11 here. (I summarize the first 38 verses then read from verse 39 to 45, then 45-53 at the end.) 


Special note: for those of you listening at home: we borrowed a thurible from our friends at All Saints' Episcopal Church and they burned some frankinsence and myrrh in it for this sermon that particularly appeals to our sense of smell. These Lenten sermons about engaging all the senses are great "live" but I know they lose a little something when you listen to them later on. So maybe as you listen to this, light some sort of scented candle to get a simiarl effect! 


Sermon excerpt: 

The Bible frequently talks about the pleasing aroma of properly motivated sacrifices and of Jesus as the supreme fragrant offering.[1] And Revelation tells us that, in God’s presence, each of the 24 elders are holding “golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.”

That has to be one of the loveliest images I’ve ever read. “Golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.” I love the idea that God collects our prayers, that he honors them so much that he keeps them in golden bowls, an infinite number of prayers eternally burning as an act of praise and worship.


In our next hymn, we will sing the words, “When friend was lost, when love deceived, dear Jesus wept, God was bereaved.” The death of Lazarus broke Jesus' heart. 

What other things break Jesus’ heart, do you think?

How many times a day is God bereaved?

Who are the people and where are the places that make Jesus weep today, in our world?


[1] Ibibd. 

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