Sermon Journal

Subscribe to the sermon podcast on iTunes.

January 2020


Jan. 5 | Matthew 2:1-12 | Lauren J. McFeaters

In some ways it’s not fair.

It’s not fair for the Wise Men to arrive early.

It’s not fair for them to arrive on Christmas Eve. The Wise Men travel farther than anyone, so when they finally arrive on the scene, scripture tells us they completely miss the angels and shepherds, the straw and manger…

December 2019

“Salvation Dawns”

Dec. 29 | Luke 2:22-32 | Lauren J. McFeaters

Salvation dawns at the darnest times.

Thirty-five years ago I was standing in the Laughlin Funeral Home on Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania. I was trying to look grown-up; trying to look, at 23 years old, that I was handling my grief; trying to be calm by talking in hushed tones with family and friends; trying not to faint at the considerable scent of roses…

“Sensing Holiness”

Dec. 15 | Luke 1:39-45 | David A. Davis

The tendency is to rush to the song. The song usually overwhelms the reading, dominates the scene, steals the show. Like the signature song of the Broadway play. Or the familiar hymn tune that finally comes in the Bach chorale in the cantata. Or when Billy Joel plays “Piano Man” at the concert. In the faith tradition, it’s the song that gets all the attention. Mary’s Song. The Magnificat. The tradition and the preaching and even more than a bit of the scholarship rush in Luke to the song. John leaps in Elizabeth’s womb as the tradition so easily leaps from “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word”  to “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

“Promise and Call”

Dec. 8 | Luke 1:26-38 | David A. Davis

Listen to what the angel Gabriel says to Mary. Listen as if you are hearing one side of a phone conversation. Gabriel to Mary without Mary’s responses; without the narrators comments. “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you… Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end….The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, you relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”


Dec. 1 | Luke 1:5-20 | David A. Davis

Zechariah. Zechariah. Zechariah. Poor old Zechariah. The angel Gabriel was pretty hard on Zechariah. “How will I know that this is so?” That’s all he asked. Just a little later in Luke, pretty much right after this Mary asks a similar question. “How will I know that this is so?”, Mary responded to Gabriel “How can this be? “How will I know that this is so?” Doesn’t sound all that different. Zechariah asks, “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” And Gabriel takes his voice away because Zechariah did not believe the angel’s words. “I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. But now, because you did not believe my words….” Because of that one question, Zechariah is speechless. Zechariah. Zechariah. Zechariah…

November 2019

“Tender Mercy”

Nov. 24 | Luke 1:67-79 | Len Scales

Zechariah, a priest, did not even believe God’s promise that his wife Elizabeth would bear a child in her old age. After a terrifying encounter with the angel Gabriel, Zechariah goes home unable to speak because of his disbelief. While Elizabeth’s belly grew, so did Zechariah’s trust in God.

The Priest came to see that even God’s promises that seem beyond reach are true.

When Zechariah’s son was born, Elizabeth declared his name to be John. Zechariah regains his speech and one of his first vocal acts is to break out in prophetic song. Like Mary, Jesus’ mother-to-be, Zechariah sings of God’s faithfulness that turns the world upside down, of righting wrongs. Zechariah too sings of peace…

“Guarding Good Treasure”

Nov. 17 | II Timothy 1:1-14 | David A. Davis

When a seminary graduate lands in parish ministry in a particular congregation somewhere, someplace, sometime, it can be like being dropped into a whole other world. A part of the country you’ve never lived. A congregation very different from the one that nurtured you. And theological landscape light years away from the context of a seminary campus. I grew up in a church of 2,500 members in Pittsburgh. I went to serve as a solo pastor for a congregation of 110 members in South Jersey. Down where they think Trenton is North Jersey. I was there before we were married. The whole congregation threw Cathy and me a surprise wedding shower after worship on Sunday. The women gifted Cathy with kitchen stuff. The men brought me tools; not all of them new. It was lovely. I started on July 1st. We were invited to a picnic on a rainy 4th of July. It didn’t stop the picnic. We just all circled up in the two-car garage separate from the house. I’ve never seen a garage as clean; before or since. You could have eaten off the concrete floor…

“Courage For Something New”

Nov. 10 | Haggai 2:1-9 | Andrew Scales

Seven years ago, I traveled to El Salvador as the Presbyterian campus minister with a group of students from Davidson College during spring break. We spent part of the week at a rural community near the Lempa River called Nueva Esperanza, “New Hope.” On our first day there, we gathered in the open-air pavilion at the center of town, near the local parish church. Sharing a meal of pupusas and slaw, we listened to a Catholic nun named Sister Noémi and some of the townspeople tell their story…

“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)