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  1. Sermons : It Takes People

    Acts 1:15-17, 21-26
    Psalm 1

    In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred and twenty persons) and said, “Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus – for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”

    So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us – one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.”  So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, and Matthias.  Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart.  Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”

    And they cast lots for them; and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

    The Word of God for the People of God.

                Thanks be to God.

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  2. Sermons : Commanded to Love Each Other

    John 15:9-17
    Psalm 98

    “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”  One of my favorite things about Youth Sundays is how often someone says to me, “They’re gunning for your job,” or, “you’d better step it up next week, preacher.”  Those are ways of saying to me what many of you did directly to the youth – their (your) leadership last Sunday was extraordinary.  The ways you worked through the text, wove the pieces together, framed your experiences in light of your faith.  That is a credit to you all, and the many adults who work in partnership with you, under Taylor‘s wonderful leadership.  Thank you.

    This thing only works together.  That’s what Jesus is talking about in today’s text.  When anything works around here it is because, with God’s help, it is because a bunch of people are willing to give of themselves.  These wonderful musicians know better than I do the best choirs work on blending and pace and each section coming in at the right time, the expert way Monica shapes and nudges and brings the best out of everyone.  For God’s glory.  Like they do each Sunday and like they will tonight – you should come, it’s always amazing.  The same with confirmation mentors and youth advisors and church school teachers who prepare lessons.  It only works – these things or anything else – because we are in it, with God’s help, together.

    But being community – living up close – is hard.  Being upset with people we don’t know well, coworkers at a distance, celebrities behaving ridiculously, political figures who make us so angry.  That’s not as hard.  As frustrated as they might make us we can keep them at arm’s length, we can think whatever we like, and if they are public people we are sure to find a chorus of places on television or the internet to reinforce what we already think.

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  3. Sermons : Prayers of the People

    Prayers of the People (written by Daniel Falkovic, Sarah Falkovic, and Betsy Kelly)

    Friends, let us pray.

    We pray for the world, for those in distress, for those in authority- that peace and justice might prevail.
    We pray for the nation, the state, local communities, and those who govern them- that they may know and have the strength to do what is right.
    We pray for the world- that we may use our resources responsibly and sustainably.
    We pray for those that struggle with their faith- that they may know God’s love and boldly share that love with others,
    We pray for those in the midst of transitions in life- that they may be guided by God’s word.
    We pray for those who are sick, grieving, lonely, and anxious- that they may be comforted and healed.
    We pray for those in our midst…
    Above all, we pray that everyone in this congregation, in our communities, and in the world know and share God’s perfect love.
    We pray these things together in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ who taught us to pray saying…Our Father…

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  4. Sermons : We Belong

    John 10:14-16, 27-30

    When I was in college, my dad began to re-explore the faith of his upbringing. One night over the phone, he told me that he thought he was a Christian. I responded, “But you don’t go to church. You don’t have a community of faith.” He said, “I don’t need one to be a Christian.” This was foreign to me – me, a child of the church, who only knew the sweetness of a community of faith. I retorted in full on theological sass, “Yes you do. You can’t be a Christian alone. You need people with you.”

    Thank God I was talking to my dad, who knows that the fullness of my vigor comes from the fullness of my heart even if it translates poorly. It wasn’t that I thought my dad wasn’t a follower of Jesus but I wanted my dad to know what I knew deeply: we belong to the Good Shepherd and we know this most intimately when we belong to the whole of Christ’s flock – when we have a place and a people to whom we belong. In the chaos of my youth, the good shepherds of Harvey Browne Memorial Presbyterian Church showed me what belonging looked like – it looked like teaching me in Sunday School and giving space for my plentiful questions; it looked like inviting me into the lectern because they saw me come alive when I led worship; it looked like chaperoning mission trips and doing energizers with me at Montreat. It looked like Jesus: tending to me, gathering me back up when I strayed, knowing me personally out of our entire flock.

    I am the first to say that this sheep-keeping business – this belonging business – is hard and messy work. Being part of the Good Shepherd’s flock bears a responsibility to live out our claim, our belonging-ness to all those within God’s generous fold. And it is deeper than a feeling of welcome or inclusion. Scottish theologian John Swinton helps me to understand it. He studies and teaches on how the church can respond to dementia and disability but his work casts a broad vision for what belonging looks like.

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  5. Sermons : We Are Witnesses of These Things

    Psalm 4
    Luke 24: 36-49

    Chris Tuttle

    While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost.  He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?  Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself.  Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

    And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.  While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.”

    Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you – that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”  Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

    The Word of God for the People of God.

    Thanks be to God.

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