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Sermons

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  1. Sermons : The Power of Proclamation

    Isaiah 40:1-11
    Mark 1:1-8

    Sermon audio unavailable for this week. 

    Reading Isaiah last Sunday night in my office with the sounds of youth gathering to practice for tonight’s Lovefeast, I realized that I don’t think I have ever had to walk somewhere – been forced to walk somewhere, or been in a situation in which I didn’t know how I would get where I needed to go. I’ve gone on hikes, but almost always know where I am. My car broke down when I was in high school, but I was able to push it off the exit ramp in Black Mountain and walk less than a mile into town.

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  2. Sermons : Drawing the Line

    Psalm 100
    Matthew 25:31-46

    This week I finished Sally Quinn’s memoir of faith called, “Finding Magic.” Quinn has led a fascinating life – the child of an army general, journalist and socialite in New York and DC, founding a website for the Washington Post on issues of faith, caring for a child with multiple physical and developmental complications, taking care of a husband, the famous Post editor Ben Bradlee, dying of Alzheimer’s. She’s had ample opportunity for herself and in conversation with others to engage life’s biggest and most important questions.

    Sally and her mother stayed with family in Statesboro, Georgia, during World War II, and she remembers going to church, saying her prayers at night. Her father, a colonel in the army, had arrived in Dachau the day after liberation. He had a staff photographer with him and had begun to document the atrocities. Some he had put into scrapbooks he brought home with him, pictures of immense, unmentionable suffering in the concentration camps. Soon after, the family moved to Washington, and her father kept the scrapbooks in a small study off the living room. “I was four years old when I found them. They were in black cloth covers with strings holding them together. I don’t remember how many. No writing on them. No explanations. Just the pictures. That was enough.” The bodies. The death. She finally got up the courage to ask her mother, and later her father brought her in the study and they sat and looked at them together. After a bit, she writes, I asked him a last question. “Did God know about this?

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  3. Sermons : Encourage One Another

    Psalm 123
    I Thessalonians 5:1-11

    As the members of the bell choir – and Taylor who was up here with me – would attest, I was a little wobbly last Sunday morning. A friend roped me into running a half marathon in Charlotte last Saturday. I try and stay in decent enough shape, but this is not something I would normally do – my legs have been reminding me of this reality all week. But I will tell you, as a relative newbie to the culture of big races like this, the church has a lot to learn. We have a lot to learn about welcome. We have a lot to learn about community. We have a lot to learn – and here’s the language of today’s text – a lot to learn about encouragement.

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  4. Sermons : Stay Awake

    Psalm 78:1-7
    Matthew 25:1-13

    Do you remember that scene in Mary Poppins when she sings Jane and Michael to sleep? It had been a full day as any day with Poppins is – full of play and laughter, of magic and favorite things. She sits in a high-backed nursery chair, mending a toy, singing: Stay awake, don’t rest your head/Don’t lie down upon your bed/While the moon drifts in the skies/Stay awake, don’t close your eyes. Julie Andrews’ voice rang in my ears this week as I considered our text, dreamily wanting to enter sleep so innocently, surrounded by peace and gentleness.

    Instead – my entrance into sleep and I’m guessing yours, too, is fractured by the buzzing and beeping of phones, of the late night news reminding us that tragedy and terror hides in plain sight all around us. We’re so keyed up from the day that to fall asleep sometimes requires a cocktail or a cocktail of efforts – melatonin and Ambien and programmable mattresses. We’ve spent our days consuming information and are over-full come night. Want to see the score of the game next to every other score of every other game? There’s an app for that. Want your phone to buzz every time a news story breaks? Or how about when anyone responds to your Facebook feed or Snapchat story or Instagram post? Can do! Or if you want to watch the news at any hour? No problem – cable TV has you covered. The internet never goes to sleep and it seems that journalists don’t sleep now, either.

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  5. Sermons : Following the Saints

    Matthew 5:1-12
    Revelation 7:9-17

    Sermon audio unavailable for this week. 

    “For All the Saints, who from their labors rest…”

    I was 36 when my husband Steve died of cancer. Our daughter was just weeks shy of 7. Steve was a pastor (I was not at that time), and he had chosen the Scriptures and hymns for his memorial service. The last hymn was “For All the Saints,” and I was singing it with gusto, and perhaps a few tears, when the usher appeared beside my pew in the next to the last verse, to escort me out to the parlor to greet folks after the service. I did not know he was coming then, and I remember thinking, “No, not yet! I need to finish singing this hymn!”  But I did not say it. I dutifully took his arm and was led out.

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