Ordinary Love Part 2

Sermon Text:  Matthew 5:43-48

When I was a kid there was a show on the BBC called Dad’s Army. It was a comedy about the Home Guard. The Home Guard were those who could not serve in World War 2 because they were too old or had health issues or because of their profession. Their job was to patrol the streets of Glasgow or Edinburgh or Manchester in case the Germans made it that far...Read full sermon here 

What Will the Future be Like

Sermon Text:  1 John 3:2  

What is the life of the resurrection going to be like? There’s a popular contemporary Christian song entitled I Can Only Imagine that wonders what it’ll be like in Christ’s presence beyond death. I love music in church: instrumental music, chorale music – all of it. But Mark Twain didn’t, which made him think the hereafter would be boring: “In heaven everybody sings! The person who did not sing on earth sings there, the person who could not sing on earth sings there. This universal singing is not casual, not occasional, not relieved by intervals of quiet; it goes on all day long…every day, during a stretch of twelve hours. And everybody stays, whereas on earth the place would be empty in about two hours.”... Read full sermon here 

 

Ordinary Love

Sermon Text:  Matthew 22:34-40

This week I had the opportunity to go to the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts’ Fall Vocal Concert and see two of our Lakewood Presbyterian Church young people perform. Courtney DePotter was part of one of the choirs and Annika Lundberg accompanied another choir on the piano. It was obvious, while watching these two young ladies and all the other high school students perform, that there was a lot of talent on the stage, but also there had been a lot of practice and rehearsals to get them to that level...Read full sermon here (PDF)

Deriving Moral Guidance from the Bible

Sermon text:  Romans 13:8-14 & Matthew 5:17-20

How do we use the Bible to tell right from wrong in the modern world? Christians have locked horns over abortion, sexual morality, and capital punishment. Since the human genome has been mapped, opening the door to genetic engineering and the possibility of cloning humans, how do we address those new developments as Christians? The writers of the Bible knew nothing about DNA or nuclear power or Greenhouse gasses. How do we draw guidance from the Bible today? 
    Biblical ethics can be summarized – and a summary is all we have time for this morning – by describing three kinds of moral reasoning. Two of them are false. Only the third is reliable...
Read full sermon here (PDF)

 

Stewardship as Joyous Gratitude

Sermon Text: 1 Timothy 6:17-19 & Luke 19:1-10

         The first week of this sermon series I talked about ownership as stewardship in the Christian tradition – our management of God’s property - and the sharing of all things with those in need. Last week I talked about the dangers of wealth and the impossibility of escaping those dangers and therefore the impossibility of entering God’s kingdom. It’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s realm, in other words. His disciples then said, “Who then can be saved?” “With human beings it is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” said Jesus. ...Read full sermon here (PDF)

 

The Dangers of Wealth

Sermon Text:  1 Timothy 6:6-10 & Mark 10:17-31

Last week in my sermon I talked about ownership as stewardship in the Christian tradition, as using everything we have for God’s purposes, including sharing all things with the needy. Today we come to the problem of the danger of wealth that manifests itself in various forms.

            The story before us begins with a rich young man’s question to Jesus. Mark doesn’t tell us he’s young; we get that from Matthew’s version of this story, and Luke tells us in his version that the young man is a “ruler,” maybe the ruler of a synagogue. At any rate the young man asks, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”...Read full sermon here (PDF)

Ownership as Stewardship

Sermon Text:  Acts 4:32-37 & Luke 16:1-9

This is the time of year when lots of organizations, including churches, are raising money. So you might expect this sermon to be an effort at fund-raising for Lakewood Presbyterian, you know, the “Sermon on the Amount.” 

Ben Franklin went to hear the famous Methodist evangelist George Whitefield preach a sermon about the need for funds for an orphanage in Georgia. Franklin thought the plan for the orphanage impractical and refused to contribute. Here’s what happened next in Franklin’s own words: “I happened soon after to attend one of his sermons, in which I perceived he intended to finish with a collection, and I silently resolved he should get nothing from me. I had in my pocket a handful of copper money, three or four silver dollars and five pistoles in gold. As he proceeded I began to soften, and concluded to give the coppers. Another stroke of his oratory made me ashamed of that, and determined me to give the silver; and he finished so admirably that I emptied my pocket wholly into the collector’s dish, gold and all.”

I wish I had Rev. Whitefield’s ability to get people to pony up, but that’s not what this sermon series is about. What I want to do instead is look at the spiritual side of stewardship, that is, its truly Christian basis and source and quality. What is genuine stewardship and why is it important for those who want to follow Jesus?...Read full sermon here (PDF)

Let It Rain Down

Sermon text: Isaiah 55:1 & 6-12 and John 7:37-39

As most of you know I grew up in a country that is no stranger to rain. And Scottish rain is not like Florida rain. We get that afternoon downpour every day in the summer, and no one bothers. It’ll be gone shortly, and we will get on with the sunshine. Scottish rain tends to go all day and be a bit more drizzly and a lot colder. I remember being asked if I enjoyed my summer one year and replying that, yes, we had a nice picnic that afternoon. I exaggerate, of course, but it is rainy a lot.
We’ve all seen lots of rain in our lives; sometimes it makes us feel good, sometimes not so much. I lived in a farming community in Ohio for a while, and it seemed to me the farmers were always complaining about not enough rain or too much rain... 
Read full sermon here (PDF)
 

Taste and See

Sermon Text: Psalm 34:1-10

I often tell people, there was only one thing that stopped me from becoming a professional soccer player, one thing. I knew enough about the game, played through elementary and high school, played at college, played on church, community, work teams, even coached high school in Ohio for 15 years. One thing stopped me going professional. I wasn’t very good.
I have spoken to friends who grew up in the USA who have similar stories. I have grown to love baseball in my time here. Having spent such a long time in southern Ohio, I became a big Cincinnati Reds fan, not much to cheer about there I know, but I love talking about baseball with folks who know the game. I have heard numerous times statements like, “I could have made it, but,” or “That kid would have been a star, but he couldn’t hit the curve ball.” The curve ball is the pitch that comes at you off speed, with an unexpected trajectory. Designed to disrupt a batter’s timing, it is not the norm...
Read full sermon here. (PDF)
 

Born to Serve

Sermon text:  Jeremiah 1:4-10 & Matthew 16:21-28

Each of us was born for a purpose. “Before you were born I consecrated you and appointed you a prophet to the nations,” God tells Jeremiah in our lesson today. Thomas Merton writes, “Each one of us has some kind of vocation…Each one of us is called to a special place in (God’s) Kingdom. If we can find that place we will be happy. If we do not find it we can never be completely happy…You and I can’t individually save the whole world, but God calls us to make a difference where we can. That’s our vocation. We’re not all called to be prophets like Jeremiah, though we all share in the prophetic mission of the church to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. But each of us was born to do something very important for God. In fact, most of us have multiple vocations in the world and in the church. Retirement, for example, brings new vocations, such as grand-parenting, which Sally and I are enjoying greatly... Read full sermon here (PDF)