November sermons                                                                                                                                               January Sermons

December Sermons

 recognize  christmas eve advent


December 31, 2017 - Pastor Lindsey shared a reflection on recognizing the Lord and how elders Simeon and Anna recognized the Messiah and salvation of the world when presented before them and we too have the opprotunity to recognize the Lord as well.


ABC's of Christmas

December 24, 2017 - Pastor Lindsey along with the assistance of the children, presented the ABC's of Christmas retelling the joyous birth of our Lord.

 Luke 2:22-40  Luke 2:8-16


In Joy

December 17, 2017 - Pastor Lindsey shared a reflection on the Word and the Third Sunday of Advent and the theme of Joy.  Suggesting that our Joy comes from a balance of Faith, Hope and Love and these come from our Lord Jesus.

The Path Before Us

December 10, 2017 - Pastor Lindsey shared a reflection on the Second Sunday in Advent about preparing a pathway before us as we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  We were encouraged to take the path that is set before us, even though we do not always know what it holds.

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 Mark 1:1-8

And the Whole Earth Quaked

December 3, 2017 - Pastor Lindsey shared a reflection on the First Sunday of Advent about the very Hope we find in the proclamation of our coming King.  


Christmas 1 - Recognition


Luke 2:22-40


22When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord23(as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”


25Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,29“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; 30for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” 36There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. 39When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.


Interpretation of the Word                     


Isn’t it amazing how quickly Christmas passes?  After all the weeks of preparation, after searching for the perfect gifts, after hiding them away, wrapping them up and sweetly setting them under the tree.  After all of the food that was prepared, cookies that were baked, the holiday parties have been held and celebrated and now there are just bits and pieces of left overs tucked away on the fridge.  After four weeks of counting down to Christmas Eve in the church, after caroling in the community, after special music and a Christmas Eve service… After all this preparation, it’s suddenly done.  The presents are opened, the wrapping paper stuffed into the trash bag, or if you’re a bit more eco-conscious, it’s been recycled, the needles are falling off the tree, and it’s 364 more days until next year’s celebration.


But of course, Christmas isn’t really done. While we have started packing and taking down.  The church knows that there was no way that we could really celebrate, let alone comprehend, the Incarnation, Emmanuel, in one day, so it recognized twelve days of Christmas.  Of late, our larger culture has forgotten that the twelve days of Christmas start not on the 13th of December, but begin on the 26th and end on January 5th, and then Epiphany is celebrated on January 6th.   If you’ve been to a retail store since Christmas, you’d see that Christmas is 70-80% off and New Year’s Eve celebration has two shelves, soon to also be tossed out, and Valentine’s Day is now taking up the majority shelf space.  The culture at large is looking to the events that will make the winter season pass quickly, making resolutions, looking ahead to football playoffs, and Valentine’s Day, and any other thing that will help to pass these frigid winter days with a little variety.  We have difficulty waiting, let alone giving us the time to recognize the magnitude of the gift.


I say all of this not to scold us for skipping over a lengthened Christmas celebration, though it does seem a little bit like that, but rather I say this because I think most of us NEED to keep Christmas out a little longer, and to face the New Year in light of the birth of Christ.  We need the recognition that comes with celebrating Christmas for the full twelve days, maybe even longer.  We might recognize and celebrate one maybe two days of the year that Christ comes into the world as a tiny baby and grows to be a man who gives his life for the sin of the world, but right now, during these twelve days, we need recognize that God comes in the most vulnerable form possible to bring us new life, which is no easy task.  Especially, when the world around us wants to move on to the next money making holiday. 


So if we are going to recognize who Christ is and what that means for us, then we NEED to hear the story of meeting the aged Simeon and Anna in the temple.  We need to hear that these two, who have waited a LONG time to see the Messiah and Salvation come and now on that fateful day in the temple, their eyes fail them not.  If we were wonder why these two are included in the story at all, then we fail to recognize what God is doing here. 


We might be apt to wonder and say “What could God possibly be doing here, with a baby?!”   Jesus as a baby – this is God’s shrewdest device.  As Luther put it, “God became small for us in Christ; he showed us his heart, so our hearts might be won.” Infants wield a kind of power, don’t they?  Muscular men with calloused hands become gentle as pillows when handed a baby; potent people with gruff voices adopt a sweet coo to speak to the infant.  God came down, not to thrash evildoers or crush the Romans, but as an infant, to elicit love to nurture tenderness.


God came, in Jesus, to be with us and for us through all of it: the ups and downs, hopes and fears, successes and disappointments, accomplishments to savor and mistakes to regret; all of it.  God is with us and for us… not just some of the time, but all of the time, even when we don’t act as though we want it, or live into the identify God has given us.  God knows that sometimes we need a little tenderness to pull back the veil so that we might recognize what is before us.   


Simeon recognizes this and has waited his WHOLE life for this child.  Now he can die in peace.  ‘Those who wait of the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isa.40:31).  For God alone my soul waits in silence (Ps. 62:1).  Simeon has waiting, his entire life to see God keep God’s promises.  Simeon waited and now he has seen these promises fulfilled.  He has waited and seen God’s love, in the flesh, in the face of this baby boy. 


But, if we’re really honest with ourselves, we do not like to wait.  We want to move, to fill time, to stay in control, rush to the next exciting thing – and it is in our inability to be still and know that God is God, that we miss God.  We are too busy trying to get to the next thing, that we miss God with us, Emmanuel. 


Since Simone was patient and waited, and because he did not give up, he has seen this child, and now Simeon can die calmly, confidently knowing that God not only makes promises but keeps them.   Anna, like Simone, has waited and focused on only one thing, God’s salvation.  God’s blessing was not a continual feast of monumental proportions for Anna; she was an aged widow of the temple after all, surviving solely on the requirement of the law that the widows and orphans be cared for.  She has waited 80 years for this one thing, to be near Jesus, to see salvation dawn.  When she saw Jesus though, she recognized the redemption of Jerusalem had arrived in this your child, brought to be dedicated to God.


Just a child – but hardly safe and harmless.  “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many.”  This child is going to provoke a crisis, a decision, for Simeon, for Anna, for all people for every generation.  How we respond when we recognize this one person will decide everything.  And let’s be clear, the stakes are not some trivial trophy at the end of the game.  They are life and death stakes.  It is all or nothing stakes.  You fall.  Or you rise. 


We would be apt to notice the order here.  In the world, it’s rise and fall.  The rise and fall of empires.  The rise and fall of the business tycoon, the rise and fall of the movie star.  But with Jesus, it’s fall and rise.  “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” (john 12:24).  Jesus did not go directly UP into heaven.  Instead he suffered and died, and descended even further, and THEN he was raised to glory.  

Christmas Eve & Fourth Sunday in Advent

 The ABC's of Christmas

A is for an angel, Gabriel, who began the story with a greeting:

“Good evening! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you!” Luke 1.28, The Message

is for Bethlehem, where our story takes place. People traveled from far and wide to arrive in the city; it was a very busy place.

C is for a census (that’s a counting of all the people) the reason so many people filled the city of Bethlehem.

D is for the donkey that carried a family on their long journey to Bethlehem to be counted.

E is for exhausted, that’s how everyone felt when they arrived – tired from all the travelling.

F is for family: Mary and Joseph and their new baby Jesus, who was born that night in Bethlehem.

G is for the Good News about to be shared with all the earth. This is what was said:


Scripture Reading: Luke 2.8-16


H is for herds, all the animals that were present in the stable, and the flocks of sheep in the field with the shepherds when they heard the good news.

I is for our imaginations, stirred by this story!

J is for joy the excitement and happiness that a new baby, and now, this special night brings.

K is for kindness, shown by the innkeeper that night, allowing a tired family to stay in the stable when there was no room in the inn.

L is for the love we share with one another all through the year and especially at Christmas.

M is for the manger, it is usually used to hold food for animals, but this time it held the baby because he had no crib.

N is for Noel, another word for Christmas. It means new birth, that’s what happened in our story, and it happens every year.

O is for offering, there were many gifts for the baby; we even have some to share now!

P is for prayer and praise and pondering, all different ways people reacted the amazing thing that happened. We pray and praise and ponder together:

Q is for quiet, the deep peace that Christmas brings – knowing that God is with us.

is for revelation, God showing us who God is (in a little baby born one night)

S is for one special star that shone bright in the night showing wise ones the way to Jesus.

T is for trust, the confidence we have in God.

is for unity, all different people brought together tonight to celebrate God’s love!

V is for vulnerable, a little child needs to be cared for, protected–that’s our job.

W is for wonder– our amazement at the beauty of how much God loves us.

X is for Xmas, the x is actually the symbol for Christ – it is the first letter of the Greek word.

Y is for You! here to celebrate and worship.

is for zeal, the passion with which we share the Good News and God’s love, tonight.


Third Sunday in Advent - In Joy

Isaiah 61:1-4; 8-11

 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; 2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.

4They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

8For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.9Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.

10I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.


Interpretation of the Word   

This third week of advent is themed around Joy.  Just a few moments ago, the Choir shared a host of songs that celebrate the Joy of our Savior’s birth.  As we listened to the passage from 1 Thessalonians 5, what did you think of?  Did the “faith, hope and love” stand out to you, three of the advent themes? So where is joy? 

Well, I would like to take up the suggestion of Rev. Lee Bowman, from First Presbyterian Lexington, Kentucky, and suggest that the Christian life is a balanced life, a life of faith, hope and love, as Paul writes, is like a three-legged stool, and that it is JOY that sits upon the stool. 

Faith that God is faithful through all things; faith that God loves us, then now, and even in our future to come.  Faith that leads and gives strength to our hope. 

Hope for something more, hope for a life that is united with God, on heaven and earth.  Hope for restored relationships with one another and with our creator.  Hope that our creator loves us enough to continually reach for us, renew us and lifts us out of our despair that threatens at the gates.

Love that reaches beyond our brokenness and pulls us close to our God, the lover of our souls.

Our joy is found when these three, faith, hope and love, are in balance.  Our joy is then an outpouring of thanksgiving to God and all that God has created.  Seeking in the joy, to find balance in our lives over all.  If we can express thankfulness in all things, even in the worst moments of our lives, then we are open and able to find joy and say yes to whatever IS, and then we have the ability to embrace the reality of our lives, rather than live in conflict with reality. 

Let’s be honest with one another, we have all experienced some pretty devastating things in our lives, whether it be: war, death, trauma of a whole variety of forms, loss of loved ones, loss of dreams, failure abuse, pain and so much more.  We all have hurts, wounds, broken places; cracks that we would rather superglue back together, paint over and be new once again.  This season of celebration often times tends to bring these difficult things that we hide away to the surface, and rip open wounds we thought had healed.  These pains do not lead us to think of hope, faith, love or joy.

However, Paul writes here that, “The One who calls [you] is faithful.”  God uses everything.  This is not to say that God is the CAUSE of these terrible things, or even that God is indifferent to them, but that God uses it!  God uses these things to grow us, to show us new things about ourselves, new things about God.  When we let go of our human desire to control, we can enter in this moment and be open to seeing HOW God is using it. 

We then discover in this process that it is God, and only God, who makes all things new.  What do I mean by this?  Well my Aunt Sara and my mom, 15 years ago went to an adult education program offered at the high school on stained glass making.  They learned how to take sheets of glass, cut it to fit their patterns, foil it, and then saughter it together to make a beautiful piece of stained glass.  Both have made beautiful windows, window hangings since the class.  My Aunt Sara though, realized that there was scrap that while some of it could be reused in other pieces, some pieces were just scrap, broken glass that had would be wasted.  So she said, this is NOT trash, this is can be something else!  She started mosaicking, using the left over, broken pieces of glass to create elaborate, beautiful pieces of artwork.  She took something broken, something that originally was just dangerous and turned it into something new, and something beautiful.  This is what God does.  God takes our broken, chipped, cracked and mismatched pieces and makes us new.  God balances us out.  God is our faith, our hope and our love and from that we have the most wonderful joy and we give thanks!

Second Sunday in Advent - The Path Before Us

Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

2As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,

"See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,

who will prepare your way;

3the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:

'Prepare the way of the Lord,

make his paths straight,'"

4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.6Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."


Interpretation of the Word


How many of you have hiked any of the paths over at the State Park? Or any trail in the one of the many state parks here in Virginia, or even National Parks? During the summer, this is a favorite activity for us. We get the dogs out of the yard, and busy sniffing out all the smells of the woods. We will pack up the dogs and take them out on the trails, tails wagging with the path before us. Lake Anna State Park is beautiful and the many trails allow you to enjoy the beauty of creation that is just around the corner from us.


One thing about the trails that go through the woods is that while you might be able to see 50 to 100 feet of the path in front of you, more often than not, the path bends and turns and where it leads to is out of sight. We never know what awaits us ahead on the trail, a tree in the middle of the path, a little bridge that goes over a stream in the woods, a tree that has fallen because of a lightening strike. There is just no way of knowing, when we step onto the trail, of what lies ahead, even if we've traveled it before. The path is always changing.


Life is not always straight forward. The same is also true of faith. When we step on that path and begin to follow where it leads, we have some amount of trust and faith that the path we're on is not going to end up with us lost in the wilderness. Taking a leap of faith is similar in that we don't always know what it will produce in the end. We might fall on our faces OR we might soar to great heights, learning about ourselves and about just who God is in our lives.


Taking an afternoon hike on the state park pathway may not be all that daring for some, but for others, it is a step out of their comfort zone. A life of faith is not always as clear as pathway through the scenic woods at a state park, it comes with uncertainty, it comes with the necessity for prayer, and it comes with the requirement to step off of the pathway we were on, and take a new path.


As faithful believers, we stepped onto the pathway of faith a long time ago. Many of us, saying yes to a life of faith, when we were but young children, raised up by faithful parents. Others came to faith, during early adulthood, as you looked for something deeper than an average life bound to the daily grind of the world. No matter when you stepped onto the path of faith, whether the journey has been a lifetime or a blink of an eye, it doesn't mean that we are finished.


Just because we are on the "right" path doesn't mean that the journey has ended. We continue on in faith. We continue to hear the call of John the Baptist on the river banks to, 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.' We continue to be called to make his pathways straight.


I'm sure that you've noticed after a storm how pathways must be cleared, of snow, of debris, of downed branches. These pathways do not just become clear all on their own, but there is usually human action that is needed. A shovel, a set of strong arms to collect and move the things blocking the path. Often times, the State Park, will post on their Facebook page a call for help in clearing the trails after big storms.


Each year, during December, during Advent, we hear John the Baptist's call to us, gathered here, to continue to make the paths straight, to actively work towards the anticipation of the Kingdom of God, the return of the King. A King that is born humbly in a barn and yet a King that has more power than any earthly king would and could ever wield.


So what are we doing to prepare the way for Jesus to come? If we are called to prepare the way, what are we doing? Are we living lives that make straight the pathways of the Lord? Leading lives of holiness and godliness, not only waiting for but hastening the coming of the day of God? Are we preparing a place where righteousness if at home, as 2nd Peter suggests? Do we strive for peace, seek it out, above all else, helping to usher in the Kingdom of God.


We are called to do the same thing in the world around us, clearing the trails so that we might all continue to journey on the pathway of faith. We are called to 'prepare a way' in our own hearts, but we are also called to prepare a way in the whole wide world, so that Jesus might find a home not just in us, but all around us as well. 'Preparing a way' in the world might be done by ensuring that that those who are cold are given the means to be warm through affordable housing and access to affordable heat; by making a way for that which causes disease and suffering to be removed by providing access to affordable healthcare that covers all manner of health needs, by ensuring that nothing standing in the way of safety for all people by reducing incidents of crime and threat of violence; by providing safe roads to drive on; by providing schools that help students access education that fits their developmental needs; and by providing a church that welcomes all people, just as they are without threat of judgement, instead a place to call home where they are loved, as the broken creation that we are. These are just a few ways in which we can work towards making the pathway straight, preparing a way for our King to enter into our lives and into our world.


These actions, and many more, might lead us to contemplation and our contemplation may lead to even more action, deeper action.


Action that might just lead to even further preparation of on earth as it is in heaven, a home for our King, throughout the whole wide world and within ourselves.


As we wait for the celebration of the birth of our savior, let us know that even though we might not see where the path comes out at the end, we are faithfully following; we are actively traveling down the path, making sure the pathway is clear for the coming of our Lord.  Amen.


First Sunday in Advent - And the Whole Earth Quaked

Isaiah 64:1-9

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence— 2as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence! 3When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. 4From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. 5You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed.

6We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 7There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity. 8Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. 9Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people.


Mark 13:24-37


24“But in those days, after that suffering,

the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
25and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.


26Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

28“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

32“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”



Interpretation of the Word 

The passages, both the Isaiah and Mark passages, and really even the 1st Corinthians passage, this morning are not really the typical kind of ‘hopeful’ passages we expect for the kick-off of the Advent season. 

Seriously, Isaiah talks about, the heavens being torn open and God coming down, “so that the mountains will quake at God’s presence.”  Mark’s passage is known as the “little apocalypse,” telling us that “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light.”  These are NOT images that lead us to think about celebrating the birth of Jesus and while calling for change, they are not all that full of hope.  But what if this quaking of the Earth is something to hope for?

While we might be able to back ourselves, in a round-about way, into a message of hope, these passages most definitely do not describe ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ as one commentator suggests. 

Of course, for a lot of people it isn’t the most wonderful time of the year. We sit here today dealing with a wide variety of struggles: the loss of a loved one, the sudden loss of a job, impending surgery, drug and alcohol abuse, and divorce, and many more things that leave us struggling, even a planned retirement can leave us struggling with our future holds.  All of these things have a tendency to make us feel like the world as we know it is ending.  So I ask again, what if this shaking of our foundations, this quaking of the world as we know it IS in fact full of hope?

What do I mean by that?  Well, the season of Advent is about expectation, about waiting for Christ.   Yes, most often it seems like we are waiting only for the Jesus in the manger.   Yes, it is important for us to see that the birth of the king of Israel is a humble one, BUT Advent isn’t just about waiting for the baby in the manger.  Advent, the start of a new liturgical year, is about expecting Christ here, in our own messed-up lives, right now.

The Mark passage may be about Jesus’ second coming, but it also speaks to us in the here and now. We are called to be on the lookout for the big return, but we are also to be aware of the many ways Christ appears in the present.  Even in the midst of our very imperfect, struggle-filled lives, Mark and Isaiah are calling us to be shaped by our anticipation, our hope in the Messiah, in Christ.  They are calling for our foundations to quake because we need to see Messiah in the midst of the every day. 

Want to see Jesus?  Just look around you?  It’s the text message or letter or email from a friend you haven’t heard from in a while, encouraging you.  It’s the gathering of friends you didn’t anticipate joining.  It’s the student that offers to help on a project that isn’t even their own.  It’s the friend that calls you up and says, “let’s do lunch, or coffee, or whatever to see one another.”   It’s the child that has been driving you crazy, doing their work without any prompting. It’s someone giving encouragement when everything else is falling down around you. It is reaching out when we see someone else struggling and standing with them as the waves crash over, being an anchor.  We see Jesus in the acts of love offered by family and friends. 

These are glimpses of Jesus. THIS is the hope of being shaped not by the junk of this world, but instead being molded by the Potter.  These are pretty “everyday” things, and that means that we have to be alert to them or we will miss them.  They are happening we just have to pay attention. 

When I was a camp counselor working for the Presbytery of Western New York, we would get the kids going in the morning with an energizer.  No, this is not a shock from a battery administered to each child, but a song that is upbeat, active and generally a little silly.  One such song was called “Alive, Awake, Alert, Enthusiastic.” Let me tell you, the first time through this song, during breakfast, it was a struggle,  the kids were anything BUT alive, definitely not awake, alert, that’s a joke and enthusiastic wasn’t on the radar.  Most still had sleep in their eyes, and almost all would rather head back to their beds and sleep another hour or three.  But midway through the second round, they were ALIVE, AWAKE, ALERT and ENTHUSIASTIC, fully ready to go for the day, energy pumping through their bodies.

We too are called to be alive, awake, alert and enthusiastic.  Which let’s be honest, is difficult when the days are short, when the nights are long, and we can fully identify with the bear bedding down for a LONG winter’s nap.  There are days when it is 6:30, dinner has been cleaned up and I ask my husband if I may go to bed, because it’s as dark out as the middle of the night.  Alas, there is still housework to be done, and life to be lived.  No bed for me. 

If I may not nap or head to bed in the early evening, then neither may the church.  Ok, that is probably not the best reason, so maybe here is a better one, the church may not nap during this time either, because we have been given work to do, and we need to be alive, awake, alert and enthusiastic.  In Mark 6, Jesus gives his apostles authority to preach repentance, cast our demons, and heal the sick.  The church today has been called to preach to people to change their hearts and lives, we’re called to speak out against injustice, instead of accepting that “boys will be boys” or “it has always been like that, so why rock the boat;” we are called to help the sick, the lonely, and the forgotten.  We have been called to participate in the earth quaking events, to be a part of the shaking up of the order of things, so that a God’s order may be set into place. 

These passages are calling for a change; no they DEMAND a change, as we wait in anticipation of the end: the end of the exile, the end of the Roman Empire and occupation, the end of all the awful, the end of the struggle.  These passages are not just about the future, they are about right NOW!  They call for us to be shaped not by the world, but instead to be renewed, shaped and molded by God.  We are to be enthusiastic as God’s people, working towards shaking up the earth, breaking into the darkness that is all around and shining a light of hope, a light of promise, a light that is NOT overcome by the struggle, by the darkness, by the very real and evident pain that we live in. 

We, in this room, know and see and likely are concerned about the growing divide between us as nation; even as individuals, we know our neighbors less and less.  Jesus calls us to reach out beyond the boundaries we have established and be Christ to one another; to be with one another JUST as we are; not once we have got it all together, not once we are perfect, but right in THIS moment.  Not as the people we are attempting to be or have promised to be or so very badly WANT to be but just as we are, as the people we are in THIS moment.   Is there room for growth, room for improvement?  Sure, of course.  But if we wait to start until we’re perfect, we’ll never start.  Let’s start seeing Jesus in THESE moments, and draw on that energy to renew us.  And then maybe the whole earth will quake.

March 20, 2018


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SERMON ON SUNDAY: March 4, 2018 - "Beyond Honor"




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