Sermon Journal

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November 2019

“Each and Every Stage”

Nov. 3 | Exodus 40:34-38 | David A. Davis

“For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and the fire was in the cloud by night, before the eyes of all the house of Israel at each stage of their journey.” Each stage of their journey. As we conclude our reading, study, and preaching on the Book of Exodus this morning, I would like to invite you to ponder with me the promise and presence of God at each stage of the journey. Each and every stage…

October 2019

“Not Without You”

Oct. 27 | Exodus 33:12-23 | David A. Davis

Last week we left Moses and the whole congregation of the people if Israel at Mt Sinai. God had spoken the Ten Commandments. The people stood at a distance as they had been told. Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was. Moses went further up the mountain. What follows in Exodus is more laws, more instruction about the Covenant…

“Do Not Let God Speak To Us”

Oct. 20 | Exodus 20:1-21| David A. Davis

“Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of God upon you so that you do not sin.’” Do not be afraid: God has come to test you so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning. Do not be afraid; God has come to test you so that the fear of God, always in your mind may keep you from sinning. Do not be afraid God just wants to put the fear of God into you. Do not be afraid just fear God. Do not fear but fear. “You speak to us, and we will listen, but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” It was more than the thunder and the lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking that scared the people of Israel…

“Wilderness Formation”

Oct. 13| Exodus 16:1-3| David A. Davis

Wilderness. A desert place. Wilderness. Desert. In that ancient part of the world, not lush but arid. Windswept. A desert place. A deserted desert place. An isolated, isolating, lonely place. Wilderness. Not inhabited. Not easily inhabited. A desert place then. A desert place now. Desert. Wilderness…

“The Plague of Pharoah”

Oct. 6| Exodus 5:1-22| David A. Davis

This Sunday, and for the next month of Sundays or so, we will be turning together to the Book of Exodus. The Book of Exodus will be our focus here in our shared preaching life, and in the Adult Education hour with Drs. Lapsley and Stewart, and in a portion of our fall small groups as well. “Wilderness Formation” is our theme: the formation of God, God’s people, and the relationship of God to God’s people in the wilderness as told in the Book of Exodus.

The Book of Exodus begins after the death of Joseph and with a new king coming to power in Egypt. Joseph, the “dreamer son” of Jacob had risen to a position of power and authority in Egypt sharing wisdom and advice with Pharaoh when a season of drought was tormenting the land. But Joseph had died and a new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph.

September 2019

“The Life That Really Is Life”

Sep. 29 | I Timothy 6:6-19 | Mark Edwards with Adults & Youth Summer Trip Participants

(Audio Only)

“The Shrewdness of Servanthood”

Sep. 22 | Luke 16 : 1–13 | David A. Davis

“His master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.” That’s where the parable ends. Jesus keeps talking to the disciples. He keeps on going. Luke’s Jesus keeps teaching but the parable proper, the story ends with “His master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.”

“Salvation Arrogance”

Sep. 15 | I Timothy 1:12-17 | David A. Davis

Biblical scholars categorize I Timothy as one of the “pastoral epistles”. I and II Timothy and Titus. The label points to the content of the letters which focuses on authority, leadership, worship, and life together in the community of faith. Biblical scholars, not all but probably most, also argue convincingly that these pastoral letters were most likely not written by the Apostle Paul himself but by a devoted follower of Paul invoking his authority, his honor, his name while continuing to shape the earliest practices and traditions of the early church. It was a common practice in antiquity in the church and beyond…

“When The Crowd Shrinks”

Sep. 8 | Luke 14:25–33 | David A. Davis

I never realized until this week how often the gospels talk about the crowd. I never stopped to think how often the gospels refer to those gathered around to hear and to see Jesus as a “crowd”. Click on some bible software and do a word search on “crowd” and a really long list of references pops up on the screen. I didn’t check but probably about as many as if you typed in “Jesus”. Our reading today is from the gospel of Luke. Luke is full of “the crowd”…

“Dear Rev. Manners”

Sep. 1 | Luke 14:1–6 | Lauren J. McFeaters

(Audio Only)

August 2019

“Those Tears”

Aug. 25 | Luke 7:36–50 | Lauren J. McFeaters

(Audio Only)

“Disorienting Grace”

Aug. 18 | Exodus 16 | Nathan Stucky

(Audio Only)

“It’s Cool in the Furnace”

Aug. 11 |Chancel Drama

“The Death of Sin

Aug. 4 | Colossians 3:1-12 | David A. Davis

It never really dies, does it? Sin, I mean. It never really dies: my sin, your sin. That part of us which is so human, so distant from God. “Put it to death. Put to death…sin”, the Apostle Paul exhorts the Colossians, the church, you and me. Paul calls for the death of sin. But it never dies. We all know that. Preachers know that. Theologians know that. Paul knew that too. “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.” (Romans 7:15-16).  If it were only that easy; the death of sin. You know it. I know it. Jesus knows it. God knows it. What it means human. What it must mean to be God. It’s the power, the mystery, the grace, the wonder of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ died for my sin and yet tomorrow, there I go. And Jesus still loves me. And Paul still exhorts me: “put sin to death.” Paul still calls for the death of sin.

July 2019

“Bait-and-Switch Christianity

Jul. 28 | Luke 11:1-13 | Theresa Thames

(Audio Only)

The Living God”

Jul. 21 | Psalm 84 | Kelly Roman

(Audio Only)

Working For Hope”

Jul. 14 | Colossians 1:1-14 | Len Scales

I heard there was a soccer game a week ago. A few faithful folks, who are also devoted soccer fans, came to worship last Sunday and discretely slipped out a little early to catch the full game. Sounds like it was worth it.

Megan Rapinoe, one of the co-captains of the US Women’s National Soccer Team closed out their World Champion ticker-tape parade in New York last Wednesday with a charge to everyone. She said, “We have to be better. We have to love more, hate less. We gotta listen more and talk less. We gotta know that this is everybody’s responsibility. Every single person here, every single person who’s not here, every single person who doesn’t want to be here. Every single person who agrees and doesn’t agree. It’s our responsibility to make this world a better place.”…

A Prayer From the Soul”

Jul. 7 | Psalm 30 | David A. Davis

I will extol you, O Lord. I will celebrate, I will rise up, I will rejoice, I will be glad, in you.  In you I seek comfort and assurance and encouragement and rest. I yearn for my restless heart to find rest in Thee, O God. You lift me up when I feel down. You help me dust off and keep going when I have fallen, made a mistake, or disappointed myself and others. Your fresh forgiveness meets me every time I, like everybody else, has fallen short of your glory. Your Spirit tells me over and over again to not focus on the negative, or the naysayers, or those forces and movements so against your Kingdom, so contrary to the gospel, so inconsistent with the teaching of Jesus. You squelch the celebrations that seem to taunt my life in you and you never stop telling me, convincing me that love wins…

June 2019

Just a Closer Walk

Jun. 30 | Luke 7:11-17 | Lauren J. McFeaters

Have you been to New Orleans? There’s the French Quarter, the Garden District, Jackson Square, and Preservation Hall. There’s City Park and the National WWII Museum. There’s Lake Pontchartrain and the Mahalia Jackson Theater. There’s the food – the Po-Boys and Gumbo, Crawfish Etouffee and Jambalaya. There’s crazy cocktails and the world’s best café au lait…

What Are You Doing…Here?”

Jun. 23 | I Kings 19:1-18 | David A. Davis

Before the wind, before the earthquake, before the fire, Elijah the prophet was fed by ravens who brought him bread and meat in the morning and the evening. Elijah had declared to King Ahab that the Lord God of Israel would bring neither dew nor rain to the land and the Word of the Lord told Elijah to go east of the Jordan to be fed by ravens…


Jun. 16 | Romans 5:1-5 | David A. Davis

Always? “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hopes does not disappoint us” Always? “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hopes does not disappoint us” Never? “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hopes does not disappoint us” 100? 100%? 100% of the time? Hope does not disappoint? “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hopes does not disappoint us???” Ever?

Lower Your Expectations”

Jun. 8 | Acts 2:1-21 | David A. Davis

A sound like the rush of a violent wind…..and they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them…..and they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem, a crowd gathered and bewildered at the sound…..and they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Amazed and astonished, Parthians, Medes, Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt, and the visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs…..  and they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…

“The Hospitality of Faith”

Jun. 2 | Acts 16:9-15 | David A. Davis

Early on in the Gospel of Luke, a synagogue leader named Jairus comes to Jesus, falls at his feet and begs him to come to his house and heal his twelve year old daughter who is dying. When Jesus and Jairus get to the house, they are told that the daughter had died. Jesus says, “Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.” Jesus goes into the house with only Peter, John, and James. He takes her by the hand and he calls out to the girl, “Child, get up!” As Luke tells it, her spirit returns and she gets up. Jesus tells them all to give her something to eat…

May 2019

“The Word We’re Waiting For”

May 26 | Acts 16:9-15 | Andrew Scales

Audio Only.

“First Things”

May 19 | Revelation 21:1-7 | Mark Edwards

We don’t talk much about monsters here at Nassau Presbyterian Church.

The Book of Revelation, which we’ve been selectively reading and preaching from this past month, and from which I have just read, has some fantastic monsters in it.  It tells of a “great beast rising out of the sea with ten horns and seven heads” (13:1). It tells of a “great red dragon” with a tail that “swept down a third of the stars in the heavens” (12:3-4).   It tells of “another beast that rose out of the earth” with “horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon” (13:11).  This latter beast is the infamous beast numbered “six hundred sixty six” (12:18).  Interestingly, given that the original languages that John, the author of Revelation, had access to and likely employed- Greek, Latin, Aramaic, and Hebrew—given that these languages did not use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc), each letter in the alphabet also has a numerical value. Thus “666” could be another way of referencing the Caesar Nero whose numerical total in Hebrew is “666.” We don’t talk much about Nero…

“No One Could Count”

May 12 | Revelation 7:9-17 | David A. Davis

I wonder what the elder there in John’s vision from the 7th chapter of the Book of Revelation, I wonder what the elder didn’t tell John. I wonder what more he could have told John about that heavenly crowds no one could count. John tells of “a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes, and peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb”. He sees the great multitude dressed in while and waving branches, shouting and singing praise, shouting and singing the faith, shouting and singing in a way even you and I would recognize. There are angels, elders, and four living creatures. Then John describes for the reader how one of the elders asked him about this great multitude and where they came from. But John replies he doesn’t know; how could he know? The elder would be the one who knows…

“Praise and Persecution”

May 5 | Acts 9:1-6  | David A. Davis

“I am Jesus”, the voice said. A light from heaven flashed around Saul, he fell to the ground, and a voice said “I am Jesus”. Saul, who was soon to be the Apostle Paul, Saul who would soon go from “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” to an instrument chosen by God to bring the name of Jesus before the Gentiles, Saul heard the voice say “I am Jesus.” “‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ Saul asked, ‘Who are you. Lord?’ ‘I am Jesus, who you are persecuting.’” I am Jesus…

April 2019

“New Season”

Apr. 28 | John 20:19-31  | Lauren J. McFeaters

Forgive me if I’m repeating myself, but some of you may have heard me say, I grew up in a Presbyterian Church that didn’t go to hell. That is, we didn’t go to hell in the Apostles’ Creed. Every week we affirmed our faith with the words of the Apostles’ Creed. We said: 

He was crucified, dead and buried.
The third day he rose again from the dead,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

So it was a great shock when I first attended a church that used the word hell

“After the Trumpet Blast”

Apr. 21 | Luke 24:13-35 | David A. Davis

“Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that have taken place there in these days?” One more question for Jesus. “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who doesn’t know what’s happened there the last few days? That’s what the two asked Jesus. They didn’t know it was Jesus. They couldn’t see that that it was Jesus. They were walking and talking, talking and walking. Talking about what had happened; how Jesus had been handed over, mocked, insulted, spat upon, flogged and killed. A man they didn’t, they couldn’t recognize, what to know what they were talking about. “They stood still, looking sad”  They had a gloomy look on their face. They had a stunned, gloomy, downcast, sad look on their face. And they said to the man, “Seriously?” They said to Jesus, “Really?” They said to the Risen Jesus, “You have no idea?” “How can you not know what they did to him?” How could this stranger not know anything about what Luke names in the 23rd chapter as “this spectacle”? Yes, they were looking sad…

“Just as I Have Loved You”

Apr. 18 | John 13:1-17, 31b-35 | Jesse Barkalow

Lord Jesus, you are the one who has been from the beginning, who is with God, who is God, through you we are. Without you we are not. You are the life of our bodies, the light of our intellects, and the breath of our spirits. Though we did not know you, you became flesh and dwelt among us, though we did not receive you, you became light to our dark world, grace and truth, the glory of the Father. Lord Jesus you have made known to us the unseen God. We praise you for giving us the right to become the children of God.

In this prayer I borrow from the prologue of John’s gospel because it so beautifully captures the gospel as a whole. The gospel has been described by some as a swinging pendulum. starting in heaven…

“It’s A Question, Not A Shout”

Apr. 14 | Luke 18 : 18–30 | David A. Davis

Jesus tried to tell them. He tried to explain it just to them, just for them. He pulled them aside and tried to help them understand, tried to get them to see. He wanted them to “get it.” But they didn’t. They couldn’t. They didn’t get it. That conversation. That encounter. His response to yet another question along the way. His answer to the certain ruler about inheriting eternal life. The one thing lacking. The sell what you have and give to the poor part. The comment about how hard it is for those who have wealth, those who have means, those who have property, those who have….to enter the kingdom of God. The camel and the eye of the needle thing…

“Not Wait and See”

Apr. 7 | Luke 17:20-37 | David A. Davis

My extended family has a group text thread. My wife Cathy and our kids, my brother, my sister-in-law, my sister, nephews and their spouses. Even our future son-in-law, Henry, is subjected to this Davis family thread. If each of us were to be honest with you, there are times when it can be annoying. Those moments when you say out loud but never in a text to your whole family, “Just stop, please!” But the benefits of the family thread far outweigh the phone constantly buzzing on my desk when I’m trying to write a sermon. Thursday a family member texted this: “10 days to GOT. We’ve re-watched all the seasons with eight episodes to go.” Someone replied “ I’ve got 15 or so left. Started re-watching about two weeks ago so it’s been a valiant effort.” I texted “GOT?” My children were mortified but I always enjoy mortifying my children…

March 2019

“Only a Few?”

Mar. 31 | Luke 13:22-30 | David A. Davis

A few weeks ago I sat in Miller Chapel over at Princeton Seminary and listened to James Forbes give a lecture. James Forbes was the pastor at the Riverside Church in New York City. He taught preaching at Union Seminary, New York. He has written several books, including a few on preaching.  He has been an important preacher, speaker, leader for a generation both in the church and the academy. During that time he has been one of the most revered and respected and listened to African American preachers…

“Blocking Out Distractions”

Mar. 24 | Luke 10:38-42 | David A. Davis

Jesus does not often call people by name. When you stop and think about, it is actually very rare in the four gospels, a rare occasion when Jesus calls someone by name. You will remember that when Andrew brought Simon Peter to Jesus, Jesus said “You are Simon, son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). That is in John’s Gospel. It’s also in John’s gospel when Jesus calls the dead man out of the tomb. “Lazarus, come out!” And then there is that unforgettable resurrection morning scene inside the tomb when the Risen Jesus calls her by name. “Mary”. That’s also in John…

“Questioning Jesus”

Mar. 17 | Luke 10:25-37 | Youth

Audio Only.

“Revenge and Rebuke”

Mar. 10 | Luke 9:51-56 | David A. Davis

“He set his face to go to Jerusalem”. Jesus set his face. Set his face. Like the look of a four year old child who sets her face on not eating her peas? Maybe. Like a lover of art who stands before a painting centuries old mesmerized for what seems like hours in the museum? Maybe. Like a grandmother and a grandchild sitting at the card table pouring over piece after piece because the visit ends tomorrow and the puzzle has to be finished? Like the icy stare across the table as one member of the couple listens to the feeble list of excuses from the other who was late yet again to the dinner out. Maybe…

“But First…”

Mar. 3 | Luke 9:28-36 | Lauren J. McFeaters

People of faith, do a lot of holding each other up. It’s intuitive.  It’s instinctive.

  • A friend is sick – we make soup.
  • Someone needs a ride to a medical test – we drive.
  • A school needs extra supplies – we collect.
  • Our neighbor’s husband has surgery – we sit with her in the surgical waiting room.
  • There’s devastating news from a colleague – we weep beside them.
  • Our grandchild is exhausted from everything required at school – we provide a calm, secure space.

Throughout a life of faith, we learn to hold each other up the mountains and steady each other on the way down.

Today, Jesus takes us to the mountain. The Transfiguration. It’s an odd and confounding climb….

February 2019

“No Fretting”

Feb. 24 | Psalm 37:1-9 | David A. Davis

*The psalmist: Do not fret. *Everyone else: Yeah, like it’s ever that easy.
*The psalmist: Do not fret because of the wicked. *Everyone else: But the bad guys always seem to win.
*The psalmist: Do not fret when the bad guys always seem to win. *Everyone else: Seriously?
*The psalmist: Do not fret—it leads only to evil. *Everyone else: what does “fret” even mean.
*The psalmist: Do not fret. *Everyone else: No response.
*The psalmist: Do not fret. *Everyone else: I’m done with this conversation.
*The psalmist: (Now in Caps). DO NOT FRET. *Everyone else: (Now in caps) STOP….

“Like Trees”

Feb. 17 | Psalm 1 | David A. Davis

Almost every Sunday, after each service of worship, I spend a few moments out front, at the top of the steps, talking to the trees. Some will remember that I have told you that before. It happens in the very minutes right after the benediction, while you are listening to or joining in on the benediction response; just before the first notes of the postlude, just before the greeting line at the door begins. In that time all by myself, I stand out there and talk to the two trees that stand watch like the gatekeepers of Palmer Square. Sometimes I look at the other trees up and down the street but it’s those two over there with the bench in the middle; they’re my best tree friends. It’s not that I talk out loud or anything, you don’t have to start worrying about me. But every Sunday I look at how those trees mark the steady march of time with their beauty and their changing color and their now barren branches. I notice how the trees age too. After all, I’ve been talking to them for 18 years or so now.  I see how they have weathered the storms and how they offer sure and certain signs of the coming of spring and how they absolutely shine on a stunning October Lord’s Day morning…

“Second Thoughts”

Feb. 10 | Psalm 139 | Anne Stewart

Guest Preacher – Audio Only.

“Cradle to Grave”

Feb. 3 | Psalm 71 | David A. Davis

It just sounds like such a psalm, Psalm 71. “In you, O Lord, I take refuge…Incline your ear to me and save me. Be to me rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save, for you are my rock and my fortress.” So…..psalm-like. “O God, do not be far from me; O my God, make haste to help me! . . . I will hope continually and praise you yet more and more….I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praise to you with lyre.”  Yeah, that sounds like a psalmist. Sort of like if you were listening to piece of music you didn’t’ quite recognize, you could guess it was Bach, or Brahms, or Beethoven, or Basie, Bacharach, or Beyonce. The notes, the lyrics, the tune, the tone. It’s a psalm…

January 2019

“A Full-Time Interpreter”

Jan. 27 | Luke 4:14-21 | Marcus Lambright

One of my hobbies is learning foreign languages. Although, it may be more accurate to say I’m interested in people in general; language happens to be the tool that helps me better understand those people. I’m a jack of a few trades yet a master of none. I’ve spent time picking up various languages: Spanish, American Sign Language, Japanese, etc. My wife continues to try to teach me French and I pretend to understand like, “Mmm oui, oui; le petit croissant est non-chalant”. I find joy in learning other people’s culture and picking up a new skill. In college I was a German minor, one year I lived in the German house, and coincidentally, my roommate’s name was also Marcus…

“I Will Not Keep Silent”

Jan. 20 | Isaiah 62:1-5 | Amos Caley

Guest Preacher – No Audio or Text currently available.

“Praying Amid the Crowd”

Jan. 13 | Luke 3:15-22 | David A. Davis

When it comes to the baptism of Jesus, Luke does a great job at burying the lead. This is the same gospel that gives us all the detail about Elizabeth and Zechariah and Mary and the Angel Gabriel. Luke is the one who writes of “the decree that went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered”. And ‘that this was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.” Manger and bands of cloth and shepherds and the heavenly host and “Glory to God in the highest” and Mary treasuring and ponder all these words. You know that’s Luke. Jesus circumcision and his presentation and that old man Simeon and Anna the prophet. When the boy Jesus gets lost and his parents find him in the temple sitting among the teachers. Luke! All of that, all of that detail it is in Luke. When it comes to Jesus baptism, the baptism of Jesus, Luke writes, “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying….when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying.” A passing nod? A casual mention?  No Jordan River. No ‘behold the Lamb of God. No disclaimer from John the Baptist “I need to be baptized by you. No….when Jesus also had been baptized. Meh..

“The Gifting”

Jan. 6 | Matthew 2:1-12 | Lauren J. McFeaters

In some ways it’s not fair for them, to arrive early, on Christmas Eve. The Wise Men travel farther than anyone, so that as they arrive on the scene, like every pageant that ever was, they float down the aisle, walking like brides with that step and a half, step and a half, swathed in vividly embossed robes and carrying in outstretched hands, gifts for the baby Jesus; gifts in glass bottles that had once contained aftershave and perfume…

December 2018

“The Lord of Time”

Dec. 30 | Ephesians 1:3-10 | Mark Edwards

Congratulations! You have made it through the Christmas season and  tomorrow is New Year’s Eve.  As we turn from celebrating the birth of Christ, with all the “presents! The ribbons! The wrappings! The tags! And the tinsel! The trimmings! The trappings!”we turn to reflecting on what this past year has brought us and what we hope for in the coming months. Tomorrow night we’ll gather to clink in the new year with well wishes and confetti…

“Despair to Hope”

Dec. 23 | Luke 2:25-38 | Lauren J. McFeaters

Simeon knows that. Anna knows that. But truth be told, in our world of clamor and noise and incessant talk, we forget. We forget we can sing.

It’s now 40 days after Jesus’ birth. After 8 days, Jesus had been circumcised and named in accordance with Jewish law. Now, 32 days later, as faithful Jews, his parents are again, carrying out their duty by returning to the Temple. This time to offer a sacrifice and to consecrate their child to the Lord.

They must have been in a reverent mood that day, the way many parents are, in our congregation, as they bring their child forward to be baptized. And so for this very reason, Mary and Joseph are perhaps startled, even frightened, when Simeon, old beyond years, and beaming ear to ear with ecstatic revelation, comes up to them to touch the child and begins to sing…

“Darkness to Light”

Dec. 16 | John 1:1–18 | David A. Davis

 Jesus said,“I am the bread of life” and “the light of the world” and “the door” and “the good shepherd” and “the resurrection and the life” and “the way, the truth and the life” and “the vine”. Jesus said “I am” all of that and he said it in the Gospel of John. Bread. Light. Door. Shepherd. Vine. Resurrection. Life. Way. Truth. Jesus is……But before all of that, before all those “I am’s” in John, Jesus is “Word”. All through the gospels and the New Testament, Jesus is Teacher and Rabbi and Master and Son of Man and King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Savior, Messiah, Christ the Lord. But before all of that in John, Jesus is “Word”. All of the symbols, the metaphors, the imagery that shape our understanding of Jesus, our relationship to Jesus, our prayer life, our spirituality: Jesus is the rock of our salvation, the Balm of Gilead, the Rose of Sharon, the Suffering Servant. Jesus is brother and friend. He is our Jubilee and our peace and our Comforter. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. But before everything else in John, Jesus is “Word” …

“Dread to Joy”

Dec. 9 | Luke 4:14-30 | David A. Davis

“Do not be afraid.” We hear it a lot from scripture this time of year, during Advent. “Do not be afraid.” We here it at Easter too. But its all through Advent. In the Advent narratives of the gospels. It’s like a gospel refrain almost. And it comes from the angels. “Do not be afraid.”  In Matthew’s gospel, just as Joseph had resolved to dismiss the now pregnant Mary “quietly”, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in dream and told him, “Do not be afraid.”  Here in Luke, just a bit before this morning’s reading, it’s Zechariah, husband of Elizabeth, father to be of John the Baptist. The angel appeared to him at the side of the altar as he was performing his priestly duties and said, “Do not be afraid.” When the angel appeared to Mary, after “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you,” the assurance came quickly, “Do not be afraid. Mary, for you have found favor with God.” And to the shepherds out keeping watch over their flock by night, when the glory of the Lord shone around them, the angel said, “Do not be afraid.”  …

“Disorder to Peace”

Dec. 2 | Luke 4:14-30 | David A. Davis

Jesus is in Nazareth standing in the synagogue on the sabbath day. Reports about him had spread not just around Galilee but to surrounding parts of the region as well. He was teaching in synagogue after synagogue. As those reports spread and as more and more people heard his teaching, the praise of Jesus was coming from all directions. So when he shows up in Nazareth, his hometown, when he comes to Nazareth and stands up in the synagogue to read, there would have had to have been quite the crowd. The expectation, the anticipation, the energy in the synagogue, it must have been palpable…

November 2018

“A Kingdom Not From Here”

Nov. 25 | John 18:33-38 | David A. Davis

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world.” This king, his kingdom, it is not from this world. It is not of this world. His kingdom, it is in the world, but not of the world, not from this world. A kingdom not from here. He is not a royal commander leading the troops to a hard-fought victory. He is no political hero winning the hearts and minds of all who hear him stump from one rally to the next. He is not the offspring of a beloved king or queen, one who waited patiently in the wings for someone’s death to bring about his own coronation. He doesn’t plan to defend himself with might. He has no intention to rule by force or to silence enemies, or to crush opponents, or to ridicule any who disagree, or to occupy or takeover or destroy other lands…

“Deaf to Hear. Mute to Speak.”

Nov. 18 | Mark 7:31-37 | Lauren J. McFeaters

An unusual story from beginning to end. Jesus returns to the Sea of Galilee by way of Sidon, ending up in the area of the Decapolis or the Ten Towns. That would be a little like going from Princeton to Richmond by way of Boston and ending up in Atlanta. And the Gentile crowds in this vast area, are again and again, bringing to Jesus people in need of significant healing from substantial illnesses. On today’s stop, the people bring Jesus a deaf man who could hardly speak; and they beg him for a laying on of hands.”  Who is this man? He has a name. We don’t know it. What we do know is his deafness is profound and his speech twisted, and tongue tied.