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  1. Sermons : Can God Be Trusted?

    Genesis 18:1-15
    Genesis 21:1-7

    Twenty-four years. That’s how long Abraham and Sarah had been waiting.

    After the grand stories in chapters 1-11, from creation to Noah and the flood, the camera focuses in. In chapter 12, God speaks to Abram and offers a promise, a promise that grounds almost everything to come after. The promise was undeserved – in the stories to come Abram proves himself every bit as conniving and unsure as we are. Genesis 12:1-4 is the first articulation of this promise. GO, God says, from your country and your neighbor and your father’s house to a land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation and bless you – and here’s a line that is key, “so that you will be a blessing.” In you ALL the families of the earth shall be blessed.

  2. Sermons : The Mystery of the Trinity

    Genesis 1:1-5
    John 20:21-23
    Matthew 28:16-20

    Sermon audio unavailable for this week. 

    The process towards being ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) is, like any profession, a series of jumping through hoops. When I had reached the final stages, and was being examined on the floor of Presbytery, the committee asked me two questions to answer before the whole body, 300 pastors and elders. Like other candidates, I had been given over 30 questions to prepare, in the areas of theology, worship, sacraments, polity. But I only had to answer two on the floor of Presbytery. After those questions, the body of pastors and elders could ask me anything they wanted to. A pastor from the Outer Banks, who liked to ask questions of all entering candidates, asked me how a pastor could explain the mystery of the Trinity to someone who did not understand it. I used the idea of the apple from the book that I shared with the children to answer, and then I rambled on a bit more after that. I’m not sure my answer was great, but the pastor nodded and sat down. And I breathed a sigh of relief.

  3. Sermons : Against Respectability

    Acts 2:1-21

    It starts with the waiting. We don’t know what the disciples were doing but, Luke writes, they were sticking together. After Acts begins with the Ascension – that Taylor spent time on last week – the rest of chapter 1 is a meeting of the early church’s nominating committee. Then, they wait.

  4. Sermons : Not What We Expected

    Psalm 47
    Acts 1:6-11

    We’re taught as children that there are proper ways to go about life. If you clean up your Legos, then they don’t get taken away. If you ask nicely, you get extra Goldfish. This extends to adulthood, conditioning our daily patterns. If we turn in a project on time, we don’t get chastised by our boss. If we put money in savings, we achieve financial security. If we do x well, then y is achieved. We become accustom to a way of doing things, a way of ordering our world. If a new way of doing things comes along, it is natural for us to stiffen our backs, brushing off the notion that there might be another way. The more set in our ways we get, the harder it is to break free, especially when something comes to us new and startling and without warning.

  5. Sermons : All That Jesus Did and Taught from the Beginning

    Psalm 66:8-20
    Acts 1:1-5

    Today begins Book Two. The sequel, if you will.

    But before we start today we have to go back to the beginning of Luke’s gospel. So, if you will, take out your bibles and flip back to page 56. Luke, chapter 1, verses 1-4:

    Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.

    There is a decent amount of scholarly debate about who Luke is – the bottom line is we don’t know for sure and can’t know.[1] But one thing almost everybody agrees on is that whoever wrote Luke also wrote Acts, around the year 80. Both books are addressed to the same name, Theophilus. Some think this name, which means “lover of God,” is more symbolic, others assume – in a way that was consistent with the time, that Theophilus, most excellent, was a person of some social standing in the Roman Empire. Books like this were often addressed to powerful people, hoping they would promote them. It seems like by this time the church was making some headway into the middle and higher ranks of society, seeking broader support.[2]