Sermon Journal

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November 2018

“Fearing Wholeness”

Nov.11 |Mark 5:1-20 |David A. Davis

The calm didn’t last long. The dead calm of the sea as Jesus and the disciples came ashore on the other side. Calm probably never lasts long enough. Nothing could be less calm than the scene described here in Mark as Jesus stepped out of the boat.Immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him.” No, the calming of the sea didn’t last long or long enough. The magnitude of the man’s suffering confronts Jesus right away as his feet hit the shore. A magnitude of suffering that the reader is not allowed to miss either. Here, even by chapter 5, Mark’s reader has learned to expect brevity, and an affinity for less words than the other gospels. But not here, not on the shore just after the calm. The reader has to linger for a while with Jesus and the tormented soul, linger there in the seaside burial ground, linger in the arena of unspeakable suffering and in the presence of evil and surrounded by death…

“Leaves But No Figs”

Nov. 4 |Mark 11:12-14 |David A. Davis

They say it is a miracle; that it is a miracle of Jesus. That the cursing of the fig tree is a miracle of Jesus. If you look it up, if you google “the miracles of Jesus”, you will find listed there the cursing of the fig tree. It doesn’t seem like a miracle; a traditional miracle. It wasn’t much of a miracle for the fig tree. In Matthew, Jesus curses the fig tree and it withers right away, right there on the spot. Here in Mark, a couple verses later it’s the next morning when Jesus and the disciples pass by the tree and Peter sees the withered, cursed, tree. “Rabbi, look!” Peter says. It’s kind of negative for a miracle; maybe more like a plague or something. Jesus and the fig tree….

October 2018

“Be Quiet!”

Oct. 28 |Mark 10:46-52 |David A. Davis

Every one of us has been “shushed” at some point in life. “Shushed” as in “Shhhh!” It happens to everyone no matter what age; very young to very old. It must be part of the universal language; “shushing”. We’ve all been on the receiving end and we’ve probably all, at some point, been on the delivery side as well. Shh! In the theater, at a concert, in a lecture hall, in the classroom, at church, in a museum, on the quiet car, at the movies, at the dinner table, in a restaurant. It happens pretty much everywhere. Sometimes polite, more often probably not. People try other things to attempt silence: holding up the hand with a peace sign, zipping the lips as a sign, a hand clap or two. But it all comes back to the “shush”…

“The Places We’ll Go”

Oct. 21 |Mark 2:1-12 |Lauren J. McFeaters

I don’t know if any of you read The New York Times?  Anyone?  I read the digital edition.  But I’m an old-fashioned girl. I had a hard time when the Times went from black and white to color. I’ve gotten over it.  My usual reading trek starts with the US section, then World, then New York. But my favorite columns are The Ethicist, anything in the Theater section, the Film section, and anything by Matthew Desmond. My guilty pleasure? The Modern Love column.  Yup, Modern Love is one of my favorites. It’s full of weekly essays that explore the joys and tribulations of love.

The one Modern Love column I’ll never forget is about Layng and Linda Martine, a married couple with a “love-at-first-site-kind” of marriage. They enjoyed years of what Layng calls “a charmed life,” that is until a horrendous car accident paralyzed Linda and changed the course of their lives forever…

“Straining Against the Oars”

Oct. 14 |Mark 6:45-52 | David A. Davis

I was with my peer group of Presbyterian pastors this week. We met at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church in Severna Park, MD just outside of Annapolis. One afternoon we all climbed a board a big old sail boat to head out into the Chesapeake. There was a boat show in town so the marina and the harbor were full of really big yachts. One of my colleagues pointed out a part of the marina in Annapolis harbor that the locals call “ego alley”. “You come in here just to show off your boat”, he said. Before sails went up, the captain had the motor on and we were maneuvering through the traffic toward more open water…

“5 + 2 = 5,000”

Oct. 7 |Mark 6:30-44 | David A. Davis

The math doesn’t add up. Five loaves. Two Fish. 5,000 men. You don’t have to be a math wiz to figure it out; that the math doesn’t work. Old math. New math. No math. Calculator. Computer. It doesn’t work. Math doesn’t work when it comes to the loaves and fishes. “The multiplication” is how the story is sometimes described by the tradition. Certainly not a “multiplication table” but a table story nonetheless.  The math doesn’t add up but the numbers stand out…

September 2018

“Our Help Was in the Lord”

Sep. 30 |James 5:1–11, 13 | Nassau Youth

Nassau Youth reflect on their summer spent in service and spiritual formation.

Audio only available.

“When Going it Alone Doesn’t Work”

Sep. 23 |Exodus 18:1-27 | David A. Davis

Jethro doesn’t hang around long in the bible. He first shows up when Moses comes about the burning bush and experiences the call of God. According to Exodus, that seen of divine revelation happened as “Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro” out beyond the wilderness near the mountain of Horeb. After God convinced Moses to go and confront Pharaoh on behalf of the people Moses went to his father-in-law Jethro to ask permission to leave the flock and head back to Egypt. Jethro said “go in peace”. And that was it for Jethro until he shows up to visit Moses and to bring along Moses’ wife and two kids who had been sent back to Midian in case things didn’t go so well…

“Quite Openly”

Sep. 16 | Mark 8:27-38 | David A. Davis

It is a familiar story in the gospels: Jesus and the disciples at Caesarea Philippi;  “Who do you say that I am?” Matthew’s telling of this familiar story includes Jesus Installing Peter as the rock of the church and giving him the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, promising that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church.  It is a familiar story in the life and teaching of Jesus.  So familiar that it is easy to miss Mark’s twist.

When Jesus and the disciples head toward Caesarea Philippi, they are moving on to foreign soil. Maybe not in the sense of boundaries and check points and passport control…

The Triumph of Mercy

Sep. 9 | James 2:1-17 | David A. Davis

When you read the Book of James, when you hear it from James, there’s really not that much more to say. “Do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ…Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that God has promised to those who love God?…You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to scripture, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself’…

My Beloved

Sep. 2 | James 1:17-27 | Len Scales

Yesterday, was move-in day for first year undergraduate students at the University. The sidewalks around the church were filled with excited, anxious energy, and I imagine a couple tense and/or teary family conversations. The Princeton-orange “do justice, love kindness, walk humbly” banner is up. The beginning of the academic year is upon our community.  What does this Scripture reading in James have to say to us …

August 2018

The Mystery of the Gospel

Aug. 26 | Ephesians 6:10-20 | Andrew Scales

In December 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a lecture about the power of nonviolence when he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The idea that nonviolence was powerful might have come as a surprise to anyone who watched the news footage of demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama, in the early nineteen sixties. Fire hoses let loose …

Chancel Drama: Once Upon a Parable

Aug. 19

Children and Youth presented an energetic re-telling of Jesus’ parables.

In Silence

Aug. 12 | Mark 6:1-13 | Len Scales

Earlier this summer, Andrew and I had the opportunity to travel with a group of graduate students as a part of Princeton Presbyterians to worship, work, and study with the Taizé Community in France. God brought our group together…

Tasting Still on the Other Side

Aug. 5 | Joshua 24:14-28 | David A. Davis

This morning I am finishing up our summertime encounter with the Book of Joshua. We started with that story of Rahab and the spies. Then it was the procession of the people of Israel across the Jordan River into the Promised Land after forty years in the wilderness. Last week, it was how just inside the Promised Land that…

July 2018

When the Manna Stops

Jul. 29 | Joshua 5:10-12 | David A. Davis

Just between us, between you and me, between us students of the Bible with all kinds of variable amounts of knowledge under our belts, between you and me and anyone who clicks on this sound on the website or listens to the podcast or listens when I tweet the sermon title and link next week, just between us, I had no idea when the manna stopped…

Life Becomes Liturgy

Jul. 22 | Joshua 3:1-17 | David A. Davis

Before I read the second scripture lesson, I want to share with you two biblical conundrums that I am very aware of this week. Well, there’s a whole more than two that plague me on a regular basis but two that are relevant to the Book of Joshua. I’m preaching four sermons this summer from the Book of Joshua. Those four selected passages may be the only four in the Book of Joshua that are not full of descriptions of battle, destruction, and lots of death. I just want to own up to it, my pastoral preacher’s choice…

Forgiveness and Redemption

Jul. 15 | Ephesians 1:3-14 | Andrew Scales

“Risen Christ, your miracle in us is your constant forgiveness.” That’s one of the prayers that Brother Roger of the Taizé Community in France used to offer during their daily worship services. Sometimes he prayed it in English, or German, or French, or Spanish, or Polish. The prayer was somehow always a request to God, as well as a reassurance to everyone gathered around him. The way Brother Roger said it…

Anything Too Wonderful

Jul. 8 | Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7 | Lauren J. McFeaters

Laughter is good medicine. There are areas of my life where laughter abounds: At home – we laugh. A lot. With friends – we laugh. A lot. At Nassau – we laugh. A lot. And especially when Noel Werner is in the building. Laughter is good medicine – in good times and in terrible times. There’s a passage in Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning

Ancestry. What?

Jul. 1 | Joshua 2: 1-21 | David A. Davis

The Gospel of Matthew 1:1 “An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab…

June 2018

But They Feared God

Jun. 24 | Exodus 1:6-22 and Luke 16:1-13 | Francisco Pelaez-Diaz

I would like to start by expressing my gratitude on behalf of my family for the opportunity to participate in the life and ministry of this church. We have been blessed not only by the wonderful sermons, music, Sunday school classes, retreats, small groups, and worship in general, but more importantly by the warm and welcoming treatment extended to us by the pastors and the congregation in general…

The Lord Provides

Jun. 17 | I Samuel 15:34-16:13 | David A. Davis

On the Family Retreat a few weeks ago we gathered for worship on Sunday morning along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay. We broke up into teams to plan for worship and one of those teams was in charge of the reading of scripture. The lesson chosen for the morning was Jesus calming of the storm that was just offered for your hearing. The team of kids and adults decided they were going to act out the story as it was being read… and it was fun…

Drawing Straws, Changing Hearts

Jun. 10 | I Samuel 1:1-20 | David A. Davis

Just Friday night Cathy and I were having dinner with a friend and colleague who came in from out of town for a meeting at the seminary. She is a  pastor and a graduate of Princeton Seminary. We had never met her husband. He was in Princeton for the very first time. So at dinner one of those questions came up that always comes up. One of the questions you never get tired of answering…

Speaking Out, Pouring Out

Jun. 3 | I Samuel 1:1-20 | David A. Davis

This morning and on most of the Sundays to come this summer, we are turning in our preaching life to the Old Testament. On these first three Sundays of June, the sermon text will come from the Book of I Samuel. The reign of King David is the central story line, the focus of I and II Samuel. But before David and all those stories of Jonathan and Goliath and Uzzah and Michal and Abigail and the ark and Jerusalem…

May 2018

No Room for Tea

May 27 | John 3:1-17 | Lauren J. McFeaters

Barbara Brown Taylor tells the story of a desperate woman whose life is full of anxiety. The woman senses no purpose to her life, so she decides she must search for life’s meaning. First, she first reads everything she can get her hands on—history, philosophy, psychology, religion. And while she becomes a very smart person, nothing she reads gives her the answers she is looking for…

The Breath of God

May 20 | Ezekiel 37:1-10 and Acts 2:1-18, 21 | Mark Edwards

Today is Confirmation Sunday- a day when we welcome eight new high-school-aged members into our church. Having gone through a series of retreats, having memorized a number passages of scripture, having reflected on the church’s role in their lives, having written a statement of faith, having met with Session, they will soon come before us…

But Sometimes

May 13 | Psalm 1 | David A. Davis

Blessed are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked. Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with evil doers. The one who doesn’t go down that road. The one who does not walk the trail now so well marked by sinners. The one who does not follow the crowd along the jam-packed highway of self-interest and hatred and greed…

Follow Me Still

May 6 | John 21:15-23 | David A. Davis

“Do you love me more than these?… Feed my lambs… Do you love me?… Tend my sheep… Do you love me?… Feed my sheep.” The after-breakfast interrogation of Peter. The three-fold reclamation of Peter intended to balance his denial. The well-worn conversation between Jesus and Peter that takes a favorite place on the shelf of the church’s collection of stories to tell…

April 2018

Easter Tide

Apr. 29 | 1 John 3:18-24 | Lauren J. McFeaters

Before coming to Nassau, I served the First Presbyterian Church of Ewing. There are at Ewing, a number of members who are deaf – couples, individuals, moms, dads, kids. When I led worship, an interpreter for the deaf was right there beside me. During Session meetings, Vacation Bible School, committees, church school, fellowship – an interpreter for the deaf was right there…

The Grind After Easter

Apr. 22 | John 21:1-14 | David A. Davis

That night they caught nothing. Nothing. Zilch. Squat. They caught nothing. All night long they were fishing. Nothing. They weren’t fly fishing. They were using those big old nets. These were fishermen. This was not grandparent and grandchild sitting on the dock in the lake in the middle of the day. This wasn’t those guys at the Jersey shore who try to look like they know what they’re doing…


Apr. 15 | John 20:19-29 | David A. Davis

Jesus’ breath, the breath of the Risen Christ in the 20th chapter of the gospel of John comes with just a bit of baggage. Bible baggage. In the creation narrative, the second one in Genesis, chapter two, you can’t miss the breath. “the Lord God formed man (Adam) from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and Adam became a living being” (v. 7). Breath. Breath of God. Breath of life…

License to Brag

Apr. 8 | 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 | Joyce MacKichan Walker

Maybe I’m your biggest fan. I brag about you all the time. Shamelessly. When I’m invited to Inquirers’ Classes to say something about the church, I brag about you. I start by telling them, “If I didn’t work here, I’d worship here. If we’d moved to Princeton for any other reason than my call here, my family would’ve found you. My children spent about six hours a week here…

When Jesus Asks

Apr. 1 | John 20:1-18 | David A. Davis

I was never very good at memorizing scripture. Actually, I was never very good at quoting chapter and verse either. At my age I figure I’m on the down side memorizing anything so I’ve come to terms with it. But I am here to tell you I know every word of every song of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. There is absolutely no reason to be proud of that…

March 2018

When Jesus Weeps

Mar. 25 | Luke 19:29-44 | David A. Davis

Throughout this season of Lent here in the sanctuary on the Lord’s Day we have been pondering Luke’s recording of some of the conversations Jesus had along the Way from Galilee to Jerusalem. There was that conversation Jesus had in Capernaum with the friends of the Centurion when Jesus was amazed. And when Jesus noticed that the woman who had been sick for so long touched his clothes. And that awkward conversation with Mary and Martha when Jesus stayed for dinner…

Trying to See Jesus

Mar. 18 | Luke 19:1-10 | Youth Sunday: Emily Yeh, Christian Martin,  Sarah Tel

Ten verses. That’s all we get. We learn a little about Zacchaeus — he was short, he was a tax collector — and we make assumptions based on previous rich men Jesus has encountered. But then Jesus recognizes him, and Zacchaeus shows the exact opposite behavior than what we’ve come to expect from the rich men of the time. A complete paradigm shift of character…

When Jesus Disappoints

Mar. 11 | Luke 18:18-30 | David A. Davis

I wonder if he heard it. The promise I mean. The ruler. The certain ruler who was very rich. I wonder if he heard the promise, if he heard from Jesus about God’s grace. I sort of don’t think so. I don’t think he heard it. Maybe he was gone by then. Maybe he walked away…

When Jesus Stays for Dinner

Mar. 4 | Luke 10:38-42 | David A. Davis

When Jesus stays for dinner in the gospel of Luke, chances are its going to get uncomfortable. You remember the Risen Christ walking with the two men along the Emmaus Road in the very last chapter of Luke. When they came near to the village the two urge Jesus to stay because it was getting late. And they still didn’t know, then, that it was Jesus. So he stays for dinner…

February 2018

When Jesus Notices

Feb. 25 | Luke 8:43-48 | David A. Davis

We are spending these Sundays in Lent together in the Gospel of Luke. We are looking at some conversations Jesus had along the Way. This morning’s conversation is actually a conversation within another conversation. In the 8th chapter of Luke, it is a story framed by another story. One healing tucked inside Luke’s telling of another healing.…

When Jesus Is Amazed

Feb. 18 | Luke 7:1-10 | David A. Davis

It is difficult to imagine Jesus being amazed by much anymore. This week the Jesus who fills my heart and nurtures my soul, that Jesus can’t have much to marvel at. Amazed, marveled, astonished. Those aren’t the adjectives that resonate when pondering the Risen Jesus, Son of God, Savior, Messiah, when pondering Christ cradling the world in his arms these days

You Are Not Alone

Feb. 11 | Mark 9:2-9 | Hminga Pachuau

Audio only available.

Hoarding Jesus

Feb. 4 | Mark 1:29-39 | David A. Davis

It was evening, just as the sun was setting. Earlier in the day Jesus had been teaching in the synagogue. After he left there, he went to with James and John to the house of Simon and Andrew. There at the house he healed Simon’s mother-in-law. It was after that, after the teaching, the healing, just as the sun was setting, that they brought to Jesus all who were sick

January 2018


Jan. 28 | Mark 1:21-28 | Lauren J. McFeaters

Audio only available.

Rock Climbing

Jan. 21 | Psalm 62 | Mark Edwards

Let’s talk epistemology for a little while. Epistemology is, as many of you know, that branch of philosophy that wonders about how we know the things we know. It is especially concerned with the goal of clarifying how what-we-think-we-know can be shown to be accurate, true, and trustworthy

Sharing Dreams

Jan. 14 | John 1:43-51 | David A. Davis

Our text from John’s gospel this morning comes from the very first chapter. Here in John, right after John the Baptist comes on the scene, he points to Jesus coming toward him so that his own disciples could see “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Two of John’s disciples then followed Jesus…

Los Tres Reyes: Did We Miss a Holiday?

Jan. 7 | Matthew 2:1-12 | Eric Barreto

Audio only available.

December 2017

The Story of the Birth and Early Life of Christ

Dec. 31 | Readings from Matthew 1-2 and Luke | Joyce MacKichan Walker and others

Audio only available.

Do This!

Dec. 24 (7:00) | Isaiah 9:2-7 | David A. Davis

Zeal. It’s such a Bible word. Zeal. Who uses that word? You come upon a refreshingly happy and enthusiastic sales person this time of year. The one who is fighting off exhaustion with being happy, responding to cranky customers with being kind. The person looks you right in eye, with a smile, and says…

For Unto You Is Born This Day

Dec. 24 (10:00) | Luke 2:8-20 | Lauren J. McFeaters

More majestic than “Let me tell you a story,” or “Once Upon a Time” or “Listen to this tale,” opening lines are at the heart of our Christmas memories. If I were to read the first line of a Christmas story, you’d most certainly be able to guess the book…

Revealed in Him

Dec. 17 | Isaiah 61:1-11 | David A. Davis

When preparing to preach on a particular biblical passage, preachers like me often go and find other sermons that have been given on the text. When you have been doing this for a while, that would include looking at your own past sermons. Finding other sermons is lot easier now than it used be. Back in the day the search would be limited to the books of sermons on the shelf in the study…

Revealed in Every Valley

Dec. 10 | Isaiah 40:1-11 | David A. Davis

There is not as much “comfort” in the Bible as one might think. Comfort, as in the word “comfort.” Comfort, as in “Comfort, O comfort my people.” You would sort of think that the word would pretty much be strewn all over the pages of scripture. The word “comfort” in Hebrew and Greek ought to roll off the pages, the scrolls, in abundance. But not really…

Revealed in Clay

Dec. 3 | Isaiah 64:1-9 | David A. Davis

You can imagine it. You may have experienced it. That moment when the two kids, just older than toddlers, not quite first graders, maybe siblings, maybe friends, they are off in the bedroom playing, keeping themselves occupied. The parent, just a few steps away, has that sudden realization that things have been too quiet for too long…

November 2017

Hope: All in All

Nov. 26 | Ephesians 1:11-23 | Lauren J. McFeaters

If the writer of the Letter to the Ephesians wanted to confound us, as to where to dive into this the scripture, then they’ve done a first-class job. Wisdom, revelation, enlightenment. Hope, glory, greatness. Authority, power, dominion. Mystery and will. Wisdom and insight. The fullness of him who fills all in all; all in all…

A Holy Kiss

Nov. 19 | I Thessalonians 5:12-28 | David A. Davis

It must have been something like “passing the peace.” The holy kiss Paul mentions here at the very end of I Thessalonians. It seems to have a bit of a liturgical connotation to it. “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” Paul concludes several letters, not all, with mention of the holy kiss…