Sermon Journal

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September 2022

“Really? Snap! Ouch!”

Sep. 18 | Luke 16:1-13 | David A. Davis

Yes, you heard right. I changed the word to “mammon”.  I changed the word “wealth” in the New Revised Standard Version to “mammon”.  “Dishonest mammon (v.9)…..dishonest mammon (v.11)…..You cannot serve God and mammon (v. 13).  It is the term used in the King James and several other more modern versions of the bible. It is actually pretty much the Greek word, mammon, It’s a word with its roots in Arabic. The word “mammon” occurs 4 times in scripture. Two of them are in the quote from Jesus in Matthew and Luke, “You can’t serve God and mammon.” The other two are here in chapter 16. The oh so familiar term, “mammon” is not all that common the pages of scripture…


Joy Found in the Midst of All the Grumbling

Sep. 11 | Luke 15:1-10 | David A. Davis

The Sullivan County Fair in north central Pennsylvania has become something of a Labor Day tradition in our family. Last weekend we were there with our granddaughter Franny. Together with her parents we were looking forward to 16 mos. old Franny seeing the animals in the 4-H barn. There were some wee little pigs about her size. Some bigger pigs. And a few really big pigs. There was a goat or two and of course several lambs. There were a lot of cows. Cows are always bigger than you think…


“Tabitha’s Neighborhood”

Sep. 4 | Acts 9:32-43 | Andrew Scales

On a Wednesday morning in November 1550 in Geneva, the pastor and theologian John Calvin delivered a sermon on the prophet Micah. Civic life in Geneva was tearing itself apart. Refugees from all over Europe fled religious persecution and found safety in Geneva. But their struggles were just beginning…


August 2022

“Entertaining Angels”

Aug. 28 | Hebrews 13:1-3, 20-21 | David A. Davis

“Let mutual love continue”.  If one likes to drop in a Greek word, then it reads “Let philadelphia continue”. Mutual love. Hospitality to strangers. Remembering those in prison and those who are being tortured. And then a benediction. “May the God of peace who brought back from the dead the Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do God’s will, working among us, that which is pleasing in God’s sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.” From mutual love, welcoming strangers, and remembering those in prison to a soaring, theologically jam-packed benediction that concludes the entire letter….


“Practicing Faith”

Aug. 21 | Isaiah 58:9b-14 | Len Scales

Yesterday was the 30th annual Loaves & Fishes for Nassau! This beloved summer event, serving meals at Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Trenton, is one way Nassau offers “food to the hungry.” It is led by expert congregation members! They know the best way to assemble a peanut butter sandwich and can exactly calculate how many meatloaves, brownies, butter pats, and water bottles are needed to serve our neighbors…


“When the Lord Reckons”

Aug. 7 | Genesis 15:1-6 | David A. Davis

“And Abram believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.” God reckoned it to him as righteousness. The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians quotes the verse from Genesis. “Just as Abraham ‘believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ so those who believe are the descendants of Abraham.” Paul also quotes the same verse in Romans. “We say, ‘faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.’ How then was it reckoned to him?”  The Apostle Paul drops in both citations in his argument regarding the fundamental affirmation of salvation by grace through faith. “Now the words, ‘it was reckoned to him’, were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification’. Romans 4:24-25.  Reckoned to Abraham. Reckoned to us…


July 2022


Truly. Madly. Curious.

Jul. 31 | Luke 7:36-50 | Lauren J. McFeaters

In her book, An Altar in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor tells a story about visiting a beautiful old church in Alabama. Having arrived for the service too early, she stands in front of the chancel, taking in a mural of Jesus emerging from his tomb. Though the painting was impressive, Taylor felt that something was off; Jesus looked strange; too waiflike. So after gazing at the mural a bit longer, she realized what was missing: Jesus the man, had no body hair. He was portrayed with the head of a man, but with the body of a boy.

It was curious…


“O Martha!”

Jul. 24 | Luke 10:38-42 | Lauren J. McFeaters

As we travel this summer with Jesus, we meet two sisters at odds: Martha being upset she’s left alone in the kitchen; Mary freely spending her time at Jesus feet. Martha is entirely focused on hospitality. Mary is entirely focused on welcome…


“Freedom in the Spirit”

Jul. 17 | Colossians 5:13-25 | Lauren J. McFeaters

Freedom in Christ comes in many shapes and sizes.

There’s a legend about how freedom first comes with great heartache and then is found in grace. The legend is about Judas Iscariot. After his death, Judas found himself at the bottom of a deep and slimy pit.

For thousands of years, he wept his remorse, and when the tears were finally over, he looked up, and saw, far into the distance, a tiny glimmer of light…


“Pleasing, Bearing, Growing”

Jul. 10 | Colossians 1:1-14 | David A. Davis

This morning at 4:00 a.m. the vans pulled out of the driveway for the youth mission trip’s return to the Appalachian Service Project. 25 youth and adult advisors will spend their days splitting into teams and fanning out to various house repair and rebuild projects in the region. They will spend their nights sleeping in a school gymnasium. Thus, they are on the road and I am here. For several years Cathy and I were advisors on the trip to the youth conference in Montreat, North Carolina. The week includes worship, keynote speakers, small groups, and lots of young people. One summer at the conference they would show a video each day of a project somewhere in the world launched by young people…


“Too High Up. Too Far Away.”

Jul. 3 | Matthew 13:44-53 | Lauren J. McFeaters

When it feels like the world is falling apart and I to find goodness, I dive into the Theater – specifically in the reading of plays.

So far this year I’ve read:

  • Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun.
  • Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes.
  • Athol Fugard’s “Master Harold”…and the boys.
  • August Wilson’s The Pittsburgh Cycle, including Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, and Fences.
  • The latest play I’ve read, sucker punched me with its ferocity – it’s Lawrence and Lee’s Inherit the Wind


June 2022


“Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life”

Jun. 26 | Romans 6:1-11 | Andrew Scales

It was 2012, the end of my first year in ministry at Davidson College Presbyterian Church in North Carolina, and I was about to celebrate my very first baptism with Anna and her parents. Anna must have been about eight, nine months old, and I did everything that Princeton Theological Seminary and Michael Brothers trained me to do in preparation. I met with the parents and the baby at my office a week in advance and practiced holding her. On Sunday morning, the family and friends came early, and Anna was cool as a cucumber. I said all the right prayers that had been written out in a little black binder. As I moved smoothly through the liturgy, Baby Anna was resting peacefully in front of that whole congregation in her mother’s arms…


“Free Gift!”

Jun. 19 | Romans 5:12-21 | David A. Davis

A few weeks ago, I sat in McCarter Theater listening to the jazz singer Gregory Porter and the incredible musicians that surround him. We were sitting in the balcony to the left of the stage and it felt like we had a better view to watch how the musicians communicate with each other. There are those moments in a jazz concert when a singer walks away from the microphone and just lets the instrumentalists take over. Then one by one they take turns with the improvisation as the others keep the piece moving. It is intriguing to watch how they communicate with one another in those moments of handing off the solo baton…


“Boasting in God”

Jun. 12 | Romans 5:6-11 | David A. Davis

The date on the deed is 1798. It is a deed to the pew numbered 16. Pew number 16 was one of the pews in the first sanctuary built on this site in what was legally referred to then, as the Congregation of Princeton in the Counties of Somerset and Middlesex. The cornerstone for the church was laid in 1762. Though worship began on this site in 1764, worship in the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church most likely began in 1766. Pew number 16 was one of 57. Twenty-three of them were squares that followed the outline of the wall all around. There were three aisles running in one direction, two in another. The pulpit stood on the side of the room and in 1792 John Witherspoon had a canopy built over it and draped it in dark colored festoons


“Sharing Time”

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

“Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”  The gift of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost Sunday. Giving thanks to God for the gift of the Holy Spirit, hearts filled with God’s love and our hope of sharing God’s glory.  “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.” Sharing not just goods and possessions but sharing the glory of God…


May 2022


“Songs in the Night”

May 29 | Acts 16:16-34| Lauren J. McFeaters

It’s been a week to weep.

It’s been a week to wail.

It’s been a week to cry hot tears and sob with rage and fury.

Beside my bed is a copy of our Hymnal. When Noel Werner joined our staff 15 years ago, he taught the church to use the hymnal as a Devotional Book. I encourage you to do the same. And so this week, at home, in private, while shaken from the events of the last weeks and undone by another mass murder, I turned to my hymnal for guidance. I found hymns for my soul…


“No Mistakes”

May 22 | John 14:23-31| Mark Edwards

Thursday night at Session, seventeen Confirmands were voted into the Church. Their “Histories with the Church” and “Statements of Faith” went thirty-three pages. And so today we are witness to three baptisms, their youth and hopefulness, and in a few moments, to their professions of faith…


“The Sermon Illustration That Never Gets Old”

May 15 | Acts 11:1-18| David A. Davis

It couldn’t have been the last time Peter told that story. The story of the vision: a large sheet coming down from heaven full of four footed animals, the voice tell Peter to get up, and kill and eat, another denial from Peter, “by no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth”, the voice repeating three times “what God has made clean, you must not call profane.”  But its not just a story about the vision. Peter goes on to tell the circumcised believers in Jerusalem about the Spirit telling him to go with the men from Caesarea and to “not make a distinction between them and us” and the visit to a man’s house and the Holy Spirit falling upon the Gentiles in  the house, Peter concludes the story of what happened to him by saying “If then God gave them the same gift that God gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God.”…


“Surely”

May 8 | Psalm 23 | David A. Davis

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake…


“Longing for a Better Country”

May 1 | Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-16 | Elisabeth Kennedy

(Audio Only)


April 2022


“…so that you may come to believe…”

Apr. 24 | John 20:19-31 | Lauren J. McFeaters

Let’s start with the grief.

We meet the disciples. It is Easter night, but for them it’s still Good Friday. They know Jesus’ body is no longer in the tomb; there’s  murmurings that Jesus has been seen; and rumors the Romans are coming for them. They huddle in a secret room traumatized and shattered…


“Living Resurrection Now”

Apr. 17 | Luke 24:1-12 | David A. Davis

A long time ago I was sitting in a coffee shop in Princeton talking to a visiting scholar who was in town for the year on sabbatical. The professor was joining our congregation for worship each Sunday so I was looking to offer a pastoral welcome of sorts. What I didn’t expect was a conversation that changed how I thought about preaching resurrection hope. Our casual get-acquainted conversation turned challenging and intriguing for me as I listened to the scholar’s stinging critique of the church’s proclamation on Easter and at most funerals. The gist of the argument was that preaching resurrection should not sound like the content of a greeting card…


“Shouts or Tears?”

Apr. 10 | Luke 1:39-56 | David A. Davis

Mary, the mother of Jesus, she had to have been there too. Mary must have been there along the winding, jagged pathway that went from the Mt of Olives, through the Garden of Gethsemane, down into the Kidron Valley, and then up the road paved with stones that went up toward one of the massive gates into the city of Jerusalem. She would have been in that crowd. The crowd Luke describes as “the whole multitude of disciples.” Mary would been there somewhere among the people, some of whom threw “their cloaks on the colt” Jesus was about to sit on. Others “kept spreading their cloaks on the road.” Mary, the mother of Jesus had to have been nearby walking with the crowd


“Can It Ever All be Yours?”

Apr. 3 | Luke 4:1-13 | David A. Davis

I think I have been reading it wrong all these years. This story of Jesus in the wilderness for forty days being tempted by the devil. In my own biblical imagination, I have always assumed that the devil and these gospel-identified temptations came on the last day. The fortieth day. The three temptations and the dialogue between the devil and Jesus represent the devil’s last gasp of an effort.  Luke writes, “he ate nothing at all during those forty days, and when they were over, he was famished.”  “When they were over, he was famished” and the devil waited until then to tempt him to turn a stone into a loaf of bread. But one doesn’t necessarily have to read with such linear assumptions. How about, “when they were over, he was famished.” Hard stop. When the forty days were over, yes, he was famished. Jesus was likely famished at day ten and day twenty and day thirty as well,  Yes, Luke reports that when the forty days were over Jesus was famished. But Luke sets the scene with “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.”…