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April 2021

“So Jesus Sends You”

Apr. 11 | John 20:19-31 | Len Scales

We’ve spent the last seven weeks in dialogue with Jesus during his farewell discourse in the second half of John, and as we live into the post-resurrection Easter season, we are sticking with the disciples a little longer.

In today’s Gospel reading, we find the disciples locked behind closed doors. Mary Magdalene has seen the risen Jesus and heard him speak her name, she’s told the rest of the disciples, and still they are hidden away. Their fear and grief remain. I imagine the disciples are bewildered and exhausted. It is there in the rawest memories of trauma that Jesus shows up and says “Peace be with you.”…

“Hangers On”

Apr. 4 | John 20:1-18 | David A. Davis

Mary, you, and I, we all have something in common, now. There is part of this resurrection scene in the Gospel of John that we now relate to more than ever. Mary didn’t expect to see a Risen Jesus that morning. She didn’t even think about seeing him in the flesh, seeing him from head to toe. When the one she thought to be the gardener called her by name and she recognized Jesus, Mary must have started to reach out. Maybe with just a hand. Maybe she was going in for an embrace. She certainly wasn’t just going for an elbow bump. The gospel doesn’t describe the attempted touch only the Lord’s response. But clearly Mary was so surprised to see him, so grateful to see him right there before her, so pleased to be in his physical presence that her first move was to touch. How many times has that happened to you the last year?…

March 2021

“The Absent Disruptor”

Mar. 28 | John 12:9-26 | David A. Davis

To say that Palm Sunday in John is an understatement is, well, an understatement. In our collective study of the Gospel of John these last weeks of Lent, it has been noted more than once that unlike Matthew, Mark, and Luke, John tends to linger in scenes and long conversations: the Wedding at Cana, Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman at the well, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, the Last Table Discourse, and Jesus’ High Priestly prayer that itself spans an entire chapter. The traditional Triumphal scene comes in John in four verses. And that might be generous. The brevity must explain why in twenty years of preaching on Palm Sunday from this pulpit I have tackled John exactly once…

“In The World”

Mar. 21 | John 17: 6-19 | David A. Davis

The 17th chapter of John, the last chapter of the Last Supper Discourse, is labeled by the tradition as Jesus “high priestly prayer.” Priestly, as in Jesus is petitioning God on behalf of the disciples. Lifting them up to the Lord in prayer. Priestly, as in Jesus is commissioning them, ordaining, sending them into the world on his behalf. If the setting of the prayer was transposed through time and place to the chancel of a sanctuary somewhere, someplace, it is as if the disciples would be kneeling before Jesus as he prayed. And as prayed, Jesus would be laying hands on each one…

“Complete Peace”

Mar. 14 | John 16:16-24 | David A. Davis

It’s not just preachers who are searching for the right word or words this week. Journalists, writers, influencers, sports figures, business leaders, teachers, students, neighbors, family members, young, old, every one of us; looking for the right words to describe the last year. The last Sunday we were together in the sanctuary was March 8th, 2020. Professor Eric Barreto led adult education in the Assembly Room. I preached on Luke 4, Jesus standing up to read from the scroll of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”. The Lenten series was called “The Shape of Salvation”.  It feels like that Lord’s Day was forever ago. Or does it feel like that day was just yesterday? I can’t really decide…


Mar. 7 | John 15:26-16:15 | David A. Davis

This morning I would like to invite you to join me in pondering the 7th verse in the 16th chapter of the Gospel of John. “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go. I will send the Advocate to you.”(v.7) “Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away.” Jesus said, “it is to your advantage that I go away.” This departure, this absence, to see him no longer, it is to your advantage. And the disciples, somewhere inside must have been thinking, “advantage…really?” After I go, Jesus said, “They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God.” Nevertheless, it is to your advantage that I go away. Really?…

February 2021

“Comfort and Calling”

Feb. 28 | John 14:1-7, 11-17 | Aisha Brooks-Lytle

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“Following Afterward”

Feb. 21 | John 13:31-38 | David A. Davis

In the Gospel of Matthew, when the Pharisees and Sadducees were gathered together with Jesus, one of them who was a lawyer put a question to Jesus as a test.  “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Mt. 22:36-40)

“When the Mantle Drops”

Feb. 14 | II Kings 2:1-16 | David A. Davis

Elijah, Elisha, and the mantle drop. It is a classic old Testament story ripe for telling. A narrative full of imagery, all kinds of symbolism, and a list of places whose names should ring a bell. It is also an account that includes actions and things that are said that bring to mind other notable texts of the Hebrew bible. The mantle itself; Elijah’s cloak, remember how it appeared up on Mt Horeb after the wind and the earthquake and the fire. When Elijah heard the sound of sheer silence he came out of the cave, wrapped his face in this mantle as the voice of the Lord came to him. When Elijah first called Elisha, Elisha was working the plow. Elijah passed by and threw that mantle over to him. No words of call, no “follow me”, just the tossed mantle…

“Heard What?”

Feb. 7 | Isaiah 40:21-31 | David A. Davis

“Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted.” Weary. Weary. The psalmist writes “I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood by bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.” Weary. The biblical writer of II Samuel tells how when Israel was yet again at war with the Philistines, how David, even David, the mighty warrior, how David “grew weary.” Jeremiah the prophet, in one of his personal laments, tells of how he cannot stop proclaiming the Word of the Lord. “within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in.” Way back in Genesis, as Rebekah and Isaac were realizing that the challenge of parenting was just as hard once the twins grew up (Esau and Jacob), Rebekah was in angst that her favorite child would marry the wrong girl. She said to Isaac, “I am weary of my life because of all these Hittite women.” Weary. Even in the bible it can mean so many things

January 2021

“Practice What You Preach”

Jan. 31 | Mark 1:21-28 | Kevin O’Neil Vandiver

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“The Sorrow and The Healing”

Jan. 24 | James 5:13-16 | Lauren J. McFeaters

We are a people of prayer. We pray for every kind of reason and in every kind of circumstance. We pray when we’re in distress and when we give thanks. We sing our prayers when we have something to celebrate or lament. We pray at birth and at death. We pray alone and together. We pray while crying and while laughing…

“God’s Esperanza Work”

Jan. 17 | Job 6:24 | Joanne Rodriguez

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“The Giver of Life”

Jan. 10 | Genesis 1:1–5 | Andrew Scales

The most exciting thing about being a second grader at Tabernacle Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, is that you receive a Bible at the start of the school year. During the Time for Children at the 11am service, my fellow eight-year-olds and I lined up in front of the entire congregation. Fourth graders took turns handing us Bibles while they read a verse chosen especially for each one of us. Our pastor prayed with us, and then we went downstairs for Sunday School…

“Another Road”

Jan. 3 | Matthew 2:1–12 | David A. Davis

I learned something about “homage” just recently. It came from a surprising source. I didn’t learn it by reading and studying Matthew 2:1-12 yet again this week. It didn’t come in a particular study of the Greek word in Matthew. Most of us have little to no experience with “homage”; neither the word nor the practice. But my surprising source is sort of all about “homage.” At the very end of the final episode of this season’s Netflix series “The Crown”, Prince Phillip, husband of the queen, is making a rather weak effort to comfort and encourage Princess Diana who is distraught about her marriage to Prince Charles and the realization that she will always be considered nothing but an outsider in the royal family. After acknowledging that he too has been nothing but an outsider in his marriage to the queen, he then says this: Everyone in this system is a lost, lonely, irrelevant outsider, apart from the one person, the only person, that matters. She is the oxygen we all breathe. The essence of all our duty. Your problem, if I may say is you seem to be confused about who that person is.” And the screen shows the Queen standing alone at the altar of the church on Christmas Day

December 2020

“Creator Child”

Dec. 27 | Psalm 8 & John 1 | Mark Edwards

It is the last Sunday of 2020.  What a year. At least for many of us.  I won’t insult the many who have experienced far worse, far more frequently, by calling this, as Time magazine did, “the worst year ever.”  But it has thrown many challenges at many people, many of whom have lived otherwise quite protected lives.  More sadly it has thrown many challenges to many people who already face far too many challenges. 2020…

“How Can This Be?”

Dec. 20 | Luke 1:26-38 | Lauren J. McFeaters

In the last two weeks, we’ve had the extraordinary blessing to watch Jason Oosting bring us into the Annunciation through the history of Christian Art, and Roz Anderson Flood to carry us into the Annunciation, through works of Advent poetry. Roz shared this poem, “Annunciation,” by Denise Levertov…

“Enough Light”

Dec. 13 | John 1:6-9, 19-28 | David A. Davis

If you are keeping score at home, if you are remembering last week’s text and sermon, if you are saying to yourself, “John the Baptist again?”, you would be right and the answer is yes. Last week it was John the Baptist in Mark. This week it is the Baptist in John. Like Mark, John’s gospel  doesn’t give an account of the birth of the Child Jesus. John begins with the beautiful poetry of what the tradition labels “The Prologue to John”. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

“When the Manger is Not the Beginning”

Dec. 6 | Mark 1:1-8 | David A. Davis

My first Christmas Eve as an ordained pastor leading worship with children was sort of a disaster. I brought a rocking chair from our house and placed it there in front of the church. I had visions of all the children sitting around my feet while I read the story from the gospel of Luke. I just knew I would have them in the palm of my hand and the congregation would all be saying, “Oh, how cute! Isn’t our new pastor wonderful?” I didn’t get much past “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host” before total chaos broke out around my feet. Kids crawling everywhere. Shouting things out. Not paying attention to a word I had to say, Probably a wrestling match or two as well. In hindsight, the only positive was that I didn’t rock on a child’s fingers. So in the years that followed I tried to step up my Christmas Eve “time with children” game…

November 2020

“You’ve Got This”

Nov. 29 | I Corinthians 1:3–9 | David A. Davis

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by God you were called into the fellowship of God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

It’s how the Apostle Paul begins the letter to the church at Corinth. Just after the formality of the greeting in the first two verses…

“God Speaks Justice”

Nov. 22 | Psalm 82 | Len Scales

As we conclude our series in the Psalms this week, Psalm 82 does so with imagery that can be surprising alongside the laments and songs of praise from the community that are familiar in the Psalter.
In this Psalm, we encounter a courtroom scene where God is bearing judgment on a mythical realm of gods. The weak, the orphan, the lowly, the destitute, and the needy have not been cared for, and so God delivers them. The mythical realm is cast down as mere mortals, and the Living God reigns to bring justice…

“Anger and the Promises of God”

Nov. 15 | Psalm 69 | Andrew Scales

This week, we’re looking at a genre of psalms that are often described as “imprecatory” or “cursing” psalms. To put it briefly, these psalms include verses that call upon God to harm or destroy the singer’s enemies. It’s not an easy category of Scripture to wrestle with, but my hope is that we can explore together how entrusting our anger to God opens us up to the possibilities of transformation through God’s love…

“Feeling Small”

Nov. 8 | Psalm 147 | David A. Davis

It’s like the grand finale in a symphony of praise.”  That’s how the members of my Wednesday small group described the last five psalms in the psalter. Along with several other Nassau virtual small groups we have been meeting each week to study and pray with the psalm that is the text for Sunday’s sermon. Psalm 145 to Psalm 150 is the psalter’s exclamation point that reverberates with so much adoration to the Lord that it creates an echo of never-ending praise. Or to use the title of a Richard Smallwood anthem/gospel classic: “Total Praise.” The psalm for this morning is tucked right in the middle of total, cosmic, divine praise…

“An Undivided Heart”

Nov. 1 | Psalm 86 | David A. Davis

 If there is a refrain to take with you from our fall immersion in the Book of Psalms, a phrase of the psalmist to save to your heart file, a description of God to add your prayer language, it ought to be “steadfast love and faithfulness”. As here in Psalm 86, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” “The steadfast love and faithfulness” of God. The words, the formula, seem to rest at the very core of the psalmist’s experience of God. Not just the psalmist for that matter, but for the people of Israel and their relationship of God as witnessed in the pages of the Old Testament…

October 2020