Sermon Journal

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January 2023

“Following the Light”

Jan. 22 | Matthew 4:12-23 | Jess Winderweedle

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“A Testament of Hope”

Jan. 15 | I Corinthians 1:1-9 | Samuel Yenn-Batah

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“I Have Called You”

Jan. 8 | Matthew 3:13-17 | Leslie Dobb-Allsopp

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Jan. 1 | Isaiah 40:1-5 | Andrew Scales

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December 2022

“Christmas Unadorned”

Dec. 18 | Matthew 1:18-25 | David A. Davis

The annual Nassau Presbyterian Church Christmas Pageant is this afternoon at 4:00 pm. If that Christmas pageant was based solely on the Gospel of Matthew, it would have few characters and not last very long. The director of a Matthean Christmas pageant seeking to have folks strike a lovely pose with the Christ Child would not have much to work with. The story of the birth of Jesus in Matthew is rather unadorned…

“What’s to See”

Dec. 11 | Matthew 11:2-11 | David A. Davis

When John the Baptist heard in prison what Jesus was doing, when he heard what the Messiah had been up to do, when word came to John in prison about the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus the Christ, John sends his own followers back out to find Jesus. He sends them with a question. John’s disciples ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another? Are you the one we are waiting for or should we still keep looking? Are you it, or are we still waiting? Are you the one?”…

“Sacramental Christmas”

Dec. 4 | Matthew 3:1-13 | David A. Davis

If Advent was a family reunion, John the Baptist would be something like that loud, rather quirky and eccentric relative whose voice comes bellowing down the hall announcing their own arrival. The volume alone cuts through the polite greetings and the ritualized catching up on the routines of life. Most years in Advent, the cry of the Baptist can be heard cutting through the ritualized preparations of our worship life. “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”  Preparations like lighting candles on the wreath and singing a familiar Advent hymn, interrupted by John’s shout. “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance.” John the fiery preacher disturbing the beauty of the season and leaving others longing for a night when “all is calm and all is bright”…

November 2022

“A Murmuration of Starlings”

Nov. 20 | Acts 2:41-47 | Lauren J. McFeaters

By the time we get to Acts 2:41, Peter has finished his Pentecost sermon and he gives us a snapshot of communal life in the early church. Community. The Community of early believers. Community. A word we toss around a lot. The idea of Christian community, attracts and repels most of us. We long for the life-affirming benefits of community, but we resist the demands that community makes. To be committed to Community, we realize just how much independence and autonomy we might have to lose…

“Putting God to the Test”

Nov. 13 | Acts 15:1-11 | David A. Davis

When I was an undergraduate, all final exams were given in a huge hall with long tables that stretched the width of the room lined up in row after row the entire length of the room. Chairs were spaced out at the tables not for health and safety but to discourage wandering eyes. An exam for one class was given on one side of the table and on the other side someone was taking an exam for another class. There must have been  half dozen or more classes taking exams at the same time…

“Shaking Dust”

Nov. 6 | Acts 13:42-52 | David A. Davis

With this story of Paul and Barnabas in the 13th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, we are continuing to encounter stories this fall of the preaching, teaching, and ministry of the leaders of the early Christian Church. We are also continuing to encounter a consistent theme. Peter, Paul, Barnabas, and the apostles move about tell the story of Jesus and proclaiming the gospel. They are met by receptive and ever-growing crowds yearning to hear more about the grace and power of God…

October 2022

“If It Is of God”

Oct. 30 | Acts 5:12-42 | David A. Davis

I am going to begin the reading from Acts 5 this morning at v. 27 but let me tell you what comes just before. Peter and the apostles were doing many signs and wonders among the people in and around Jerusalem. The crowds and the followers continued to grow in large numbers. People were carrying the sick out into the streets just hoping that loved ones would be healed if Peter’s shadow fell upon them. The high priest and the rest of the Sadducees were very jealous of the attention and the crowds so they had them arrested and thrown in a public prison…

“What about the Names?”

Oct. 23 | Acts 9:33-43 | David A. Davis

Just last Thursday night the Session of Nassau Presbyterian Church met for our monthly meeting. The new ruling elders ordained and installed last Sunday here in the sanctuary began their team. It was an evening for introductions. I asked each elder to share an experience around Nassau Church, recent or long ago, that they carry with them in their heart…

“Losing Heart”

Oct. 16 | Luke 18:1-8 | David A. Davis

Jesus told the disciples a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. A parable about how they “ought always to pray and not to faint”.  Jesus told them a parable to “show them that they should always pray and never give up. The parable comes here in Luke after a few tough parables that begin with “there was a rich man”…

“The God of Hidden Choices”

Oct. 9 | Exodus 2:1-10 | Andrew Scales

I grew up in a family that was obsessed with science fiction and fantasy literature. My brothers and I spent a lot of Saturdays with Return of the Jedi in the VCR during our childhood, smashing our Han Solo and Darth Vader action figures against each other. Dad read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to me before bed every night. Mom used to chase us around the house with her very own toy proton pack from Ghostbusters…

“Between Complaint and Praise”

Oct. 2 | Habakkuk 2:1-4 | David A. Davis and Lauren J. McFeaters

A few weeks ago, I was driving south on Interstate 71, between Columbus and Cincinnati. As I drove, I was looking for a very particular sign. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss it. Lauren Yeh had told me it was on the north bound side of the road, but facing the south bound traffic, and has to do with a soccer rivalry between two professional teams…

September 2022

“I Am Yours”

Sep. 25 | Romans 13:11-14 | Lauren J. McFeaters

My smartphone offers at least 80 alarm options. For my morning wake-up, I can choose Smooth Jazz, Ocean Flow, Chimes. For mornings that might need a lot of energy there’s Horn Honk, Bark, and Typewriters. For mornings where there are hard things ahead, like a burial, a difficult hospital visit, there’s the calming Sherwood Forest, Minuet, and Swoosh.

“Snooze” is the one function on my smartphone alarm, Paul wouldn’t approve of…

“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