(Sermon Archive Continued)

Advent 3: Be Who We Are - Dec 15, 2013
It may be that one of our greatest challenges in life is to know who we aren’t. There’s a story about a woman who finds herself alone in an elevator with the famous and very handsome Robert Redford. As the elevator moved up the floors, the woman, like many of us might, found herself uncontrollably staring at the movie star. Finally in her excitement and nervousness, she blurted out, “Are you the real Robert Redford?” to which Redford responded, “Only when I’m alone.” That story reveals that Robert Redford is not simply another pretty face, but he has grown into a wisdom that must serve him well. For like John the Baptist, he obviously knows who he is not...

Advent 2: Chrismon Worship Service - Dec 8, 2013 
What follows is a copy of the full service from Sunday, December 8, 2013. It is a special service in which the congregation decorates the Christmas trees in the chapel and sanctuary with the Chrismons that were made by members of the congregation several years ago. This service explains and celebrates the meaning and story of salvation that is told through these symbols. The purpose of the CHRISMON SERVICE is to portray the drama of redemption through song and symbol. The journey to Bethlehem is also a journey to Calvary and ultimately to heaven. In this service we share the message of proclaiming Jesus Christ and his victory...

Advent 1: Just Imagine - Dec 1, 2013
I love watching science fiction shows. Not the horror kind, but the kind that depict possible futures, exploring space, time travel and the like. Science fiction functions as a vehicle for people to think about alternative ways of living or ways to address current social problems. Some of my favorites have been TV series such as Star Trek (all the various series), Star Wars, Firefly, The Time Tunnel, Lost in Space, Aeon Flux, Solaris, among others. What especially appeals to me is how these shows imagine and then depict a different world from that which I experience everyday. Occasionally the things imagined come true in “real” life. Think of the communicators from Star Trek. They look and act just like today’s cell phones. I’m still waiting for the convenience of transporters to be able to teleport to work...

Growing in Grace 4: Committing to God's Work - Nov 24, 2013
It is the day before Thanksgiving. An old man in Miami calls up his son in New York and says, “Listen, your mother and I are getting divorced. Forty-five years of misery is enough.” “Dad, what are you talking about?” the son screams. “We can’t stand the sight of each other any longer,” he says. “I’m sick of her face, and I’m sick of talking about this, so call your sister in Chicago and tell her,” and he hangs up Now, the son is worried. So he calls up his sister. She says “Like heck they’re getting divorced!” and calls her father immediately. “You’re not getting divorced! Don’t do another thing, the two of us are flying home tomorrow to talk about this. Until then, don’t call a lawyer, don’t file a paper, DO YOU HEAR ME?” and she hangs up. The old man turns to his wife and smiles. “Okay, they’re coming for Thanksgiving and their paying their own airfares...

Growing in Grace 3: Tithing Our Our Gifts and Service - Nov 17, 2013
One pastor recalls the following story told to him by a parishioner, “After a recent worship service the mother of a fidgety seven-year old boy told me how she finally got her son to sit still and be quiet. About halfway through the sermon, she leaned over and whispered, ‘If you don’t be quiet, the preacher is going to lose his place and will have to start his sermon all over again!’ It worked!” It was testimony time at the church stewardship committee meeting. 
“I’m very rich,” one man said. “I am very rich because God has blessed me. I am rich because when I was a young man, with only $1 in my pocket, I heard an address by a missionary. The Spirit told me to give everything I had to that missionary. So I gave that dollar.” A fellow committee member tapped him on the shoulder. “I dare you to do it again,” she said ...

Growing in Grace 2: Tithing Our Thoughts and Our Time - Nov 10, 2013
The following list came to my attention just yesterday. See if they sound like something you may have heard before. 12 Reasons a Pastor Stopped Attending Sporting Events: 1.The coach never came to visit me; 2.Every time I went, they asked for money; 3.The people sitting in my row didn’t seem very friendly;  4.The seats were very hard; 5.The referees made a decision I didn’t agree with; 6.I was sitting with hypocrites—they only came to see what others were wearing!; 7.Some games went into overtime ... 

Growing in Grace: Looking for a Rule of Life - Nov 3, 2013
The other day I was looking for a few rules that I could put up in my kitchen at home. I came across some of these. See if they apply to you: 
* I’m creative; you can’t expect me to be neat too!
Ring Bell for Maid Service ... If no answer, do it yourself!
* I clean house every other day ... Today is the other day!
If you write in the dust, please don’t date it!
I would cook dinner, but I can’t find the can opener! ...

The Prayer that Changes Us: "And Lead Us Not into Temptation, But Deliver Us from Evil" - Oct 13, 2013
I recently read a story about a little boy named Bobby who desperately wanted a new bicycle. His plan was to save his nickels, dimes and quarters until he finally had enough to buy a new 10-speed. Each night he asked God to help him save his money. Kneeling beside his bed, he prayed, "Dear Lord, please help me save my money for a new bike, and please, Lord, don't let the ice cream man come down the street again tomorrow." ...

The Prayer That Changes Us: "Forgive Us Our Debts, As We Also Have Forgiven Our Debtors" - Oct 6, 2013 
If you have ever gone to interfaith gatherings where you may have Catholics, United Methodists, Presbyterians and Episcopalians worshipping and praying together, you may have experienced that interesting moment when we all pray the Lord’s prayer together, and we do really well until we come to the line, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” or “forgive us our debts as we forgive out debtors,” or as in a new version, “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” It can be hard to keep track of who says what some times...

The Prayer that Changes Us: "Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread" - Sept 29, 2013
A sales representative from a major chicken producer is sent on a mission to the Vatican. He meets with the Pope: "Holy Father, my company would like to make a substantial donation to the Holy Mother Church - but there's only one condition...." "Yes, my son?" "We'd like you to authorize changing the Lord's Prayer from "Give us this day our daily bread to give us this day, our daily chicken." "I don't know my Son. Tradition and all, you know." "Well your Holiness, we are prepared to give you a Million dollars to do this." "I don't know my Son. Tradition and all, you know." So, the chicken man, hurries off for a quick phone call ...

The Prayer That Changes Us: "On Earth As It Is in Heaven" - Sept 15, 2013
We are now about halfway through this sermon series on The Prayer That Changes Us. When we began the series, I talked about how prayer affects us by operating at the level of conscious thought. Repeated prayers start to affect what it is we think about, and consequently, what we set our hearts on. The Prayer of Jesus focuses our consciousness and desires upon God, and bringing about God’s will in the world. In order to do this, we begin by cultivating a radical intimacy with God, by opening ourselves to God’s guidance and to the shaping of our lives and characters by the Holy Spirit. Praying “Abba, Father,” is rooted in this intimacy. We then talked about heaven...

The Prayer that Changes Us: "Thy Will Be Done" - Sept 15, 2013
We are now about halfway through this sermon series on The Prayer That Changes Us. When we began the series, I talked about how prayer affects us by operating at the level of conscious thought. Repeated prayers start to affect what it is we think about, and consequently, what we set our hearts on. The Prayer of Jesus focuses our consciousness and desires upon God, and bringing about God’s will in the world. In order to do this, we begin by cultivating a radical intimacy with God, by opening ourselves to God’s guidance and to the shaping...

The Prayer that Changes Us: "Thy Kingdom Come" - Sept 8, 2013
My wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to our six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?” I wouldn’t know what to say,” she replied. “Just say what you hear Mommy say.” So our daughter bowed her head and said, “Dear Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?” When you invite someone to visit or for dinner, what do you do to prepare? Don’t you fix things up a bit, sweep the floors, pick up the laundry, gather the magazines together? You make them feel comfortable and welcome, right? Now imagine what you would need to do if your dinner guest was someone like the president of the United States. Imagine all the preparations...

The Prayer that Changes Us: “Hallowed Be Thy Name” - Sept 1, 2013
Three questions: How is God Holy? How do we hallow God’s name or hold it to be holy? If we were to truly practice hallowing God’s name, what would that look like in our lives? In order to answer these three questions, let’s look to see what it says about God’s holiness in the Bible. There are two pre-eminent places in the Bible where God is proclaimed to be holy: Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8-11. I want you to open your Bibles to these two places and put your fingers to hold your place in addition to the reading from Matthew 6:9-13. How is God Holy? God is thrice Holy in these writings because ...

The Prayer that Changes Us: "Who Art in Heaven" - Aug 25, 2013
What is Heaven?  Heaven is often the source of a lot of good jokes, usually in regard to getting into it. Take the following: Three buddies die in a car crash, and they go to heaven to an orientation. They are all asked, "When you are in your casket and friends and family are mourning upon you, what would you like to hear them say about you? The first guy says, "I would like to hear them say that I was a great doctor of my time, and a great family man." The second guy says, "I would like to hear that I was a wonderful husband and school teacher which made a huge difference in our children of tomorrow." The last guy replies, "I would like to hear them say, "Look! He's moving!" ... 

Don't Be a Donkey - Aug 18, 2013
(Guest Speaker, Cherie Johnson)
All year long, I've been participating in a Bible verse memorization project.  It involves memorizing two verses of the Bible a month … theoretically.  I say theoretically because I am terrible at memorizing things.  I can barely remember my phone number, and then half the time, I transpose two of the numbers.  So instead, for my Bible verse, I write it on an index card and place it on my desk at home.  I meditate on it for a couple of weeks.  And believe me, the concepts sink in, even if I can’t recite it back.  However, back in July, I came across a verse that I don’t ever think I’ll forget, and I hope to have it firmly planted in your mind before you leave ...

The Prayer that Changes Us: "Abba, Father" - Aug 11, 2013
Thirty years ago when I was in Seminary, the Inclusive Language movement was at the height of its endeavor to move our language beyond a reliance on masculine descriptions of God, and the use of the restrictive “man” to represent all humankind. This compelled me to consider carefully how I relate to God. What words do I sue to address the eternal and everlasting source and absolute foundation of all things, the all encompassing matrix of reality in which all things, seen and unseen, live, move and have their being, the Supreme Being and Ground of all Being,the unlimited horizon for All Becoming? In that process of questioning, I encountered a Teenage boy who said, “If God is a father anything like mine, I won’t have anything to do with Him.” That was counterbalanced by a neighboring pastor, who had a similar father to the teen age boy, who said of his relationship with God “Now I have the loving father I never had growing up...

Have the Mind of Christ: A Visit from Paul - Aug 4, 2013
(Note: the following sermon was preached on a Sunday when the pastor, Craig Pesti-Strobel, appeared in church in the role of the Apostle Paul. The following sermon is derived almost entirely from Paul’s own writings. See if you can identify from which letters these comments are derived!) "Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now...

The Prayer That Changes Us Part I - July 28, 2013
(Start of a sermon series that looks at The Lord's Prayer)
When Robert Louis Stevenson was a boy he once remarked to his mother, "Momma, you can't be good without praying." "How do you know, Robert?" she asked. "Because I've tried!" he answered. This brings to mind a story about another little fellow -- one who had been sent to his room because he had been bad. A short time later he came out and said to his mother, "I've been thinking about what I did and I said a prayer." "That's fine," she said, "if you ask God to make you good, He will help you." "Oh, I didn't ask Him to help me be good," replied the boy. "I asked Him to help you...

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