Sermon Journal

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May 2022

“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.”…


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.”…

March 2022

“Blessed Are…”

Mar. 27 | Luke 6:20-26 | Youth

(Audio Only)

“Filling the House”

Mar. 20 | Luke 14:15-24 | David A. Davis

Hasn’t everyone been to an awkward dinner party? In the early years of ministry, I did a lot of weddings and funeral for people who were not members of the church. Frankly, in those days the honoraria helped put groceries on the table. As I was having pre-marital conversations with one couple, I made a rookie mistake. As we were scheduling the last of the four meetings prior to the wedding day, the bride to be said with some enthusiasm, “Instead of meeting here in your office, why don’t you and your wife come to our house for dinner?” Cathy still hasn’t forgiven me for my answer. Awkward may not be a strong enough description. Of the many things I could tell you that I distinctly remember from more the 30 years ago, one rises to the top. The entire evening our hosts called me “Bob”.  Not Rev. Davis. Not Pastor Dave. Not Dave. But Bob…

“The Gospel That Threatens”

Mar. 13 | Luke 20:19-26 | David A. Davis

“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are God’s.”  Who hasn’t heard that before? Who hasn’t found themselves repeating that once or twice? Just last Ash Wednesday as I ushered for the noon service and stayed in the narthex, someone left out the front door and came back a few minutes later. “Had to render to Caesar”, he said, referencing the parking meter. We’ve all heard it. We all know Jesus said it. “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” It’s a memory verse of sorts. Maybe without the Luke 20:25 citation; or Mark 12:17. Maybe we can’t quote with chapter and verse, at least the Presbyterians probably can’t. But you know Jesus said it. You remember Jesus said it…

“An Unjust Death”

Mar. 6 | Luke 23:26-49 | David A. Davis

Spectacle. “…all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle…”  All the crowds gathered outside the city gates at the placed called “The Skull”. Maybe it was called “the skull” because it was a barren, craggy, rocky, bald head-like notable hill always in view from the city. Maybe it was called “the skull” because the ground was littered with skulls and bones from all the public executions held there. A place where everyone knew, everyone came, everyone gathered for the spectacle of death. “The place that is called the skull”. Everyone knew where it was just like everyone in town knew where the lynching tree was. Spectacle…

February 2022

“Face Coverings”

Feb. 27 | Exodus 34:29-35 | David A. Davis

It probably would have been much easier if the shine, the shine described as coming from the face of Moses; it would probably be a lot clearer if the shine was coming from the tablets. If that glow described in Exodus 34 was not coming from the face of Moses but from the stone tablets themselves. A stone tabled version of the burning bush. When the bush was burning yet not consumed, when the voice came from the burning bush calling to Moses, it all came with a kind of clarity with regard to the holiness, the glory of God. “Take your shows off this is holy ground… I am who I am.” A relationship to God would be easier, I guess, if one could be certain, if one could see and point to the holiness and glory of God…

“We believe and So We Speak”

Feb. 20 | II Corinthians 4:13-16 | Lauren J. McFeaters

I love short stories. Lynna Williams has authored a short story called “Personal Testimony,” about a twelve-year-old girl, adopted by a fiery Southern Baptist preacher in West Texas. She grows up listening to energizing, pulpit-pounding sermons, and each summer she attends a Bible camp in Oklahoma…

“Yearning for Face to Face”

Feb. 13 | I Corinthians 13 | Andrew Scales

“With a Whole Heart”

Feb. 6 | Psalm 138 | David A. Davis

We give you thanks, O Lord with a whole heart. A heart full of your love. A heart made fresh by your grace. A heart that knows what it means to be broken and hurt. Yes. A heart that has known the comfort of your Holy Spirit. A heart that has been renewed over and over again by the forgiveness of your Son, our Savior. We lift a whole heart before you in gratitude. A gratitude that spills from the heart and shapes the work of our hands in service to you. Thanksgiving that inspires the movement of our feet in the life of discipleship. Thanks that leaps from our lips not only in adoration but in the proclamation of your righteousness and justice in and to the broken world…

January 2022

“Begin Again”

Jan. 30 | Genesis 11:1-9 | Eustacia Moffett Marshall

(audio only)

“Fire and Whispers”

Jan. 23 | I Kings 19:9b-12 | Rachel Rhodes

I’ll be the first to admit that I like when God is predictable…when God can be found in the places I expect God to be.  I prefer when God hasn’t gone all rogue on me, and instead can still be found at the summit of a 7 mile hike, or on the edge of an ocean looking out over the horizon, or in morning devotions, or in the stunning descants of a church choir, or in a chapel or sanctuary where I have always experienced the presence of God and always known God to dwell.  I give thanks when God can still be found in the liturgy on a Sunday morning or a hymn we sing during communion or in the wonderful gift of in-person worship, which we certainly don’t take for granted anymore.  I love it when God can be found in the very places and people and experiences where I expect God to be…where I need God to be.  After all, there are times when all of us need to hear a Word from the Lord…times when we need to feel the comfort and presence of the Divine…times when we need to know that God will be there when we call.  And so, it’s a gift to know that there are places and spaces where we can always count on God to be…

“Waiting and Hoping”

Jan. 16 | Psalm 130 | Michele Minter

(Audio Only)

“Dealing with an Irrational Jesus”

Jan. 9 | John 11:38-40 | David Latimore

(Audio Only)

“The Gift”

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

During the week, Nancy Prince works as one of our front desk volunteers and just before Christmas she asked me a wonderful question: “Lauren, what do you see in yourself that is a gift from your father?” Oh my. What an amazing question. My father died almost 40 years ago, and Nancy gave me a gift…

“Courageous Obedience”

Dec. 19 | Luke 1:26-38 | David A. Davis

Henry Ossawa Tanner was an African American artist if the late 19th century. He was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in Philadelphia where his father was bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Tanner trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Known for his realistic style, some identify Tanner as the first African American artist to achieve international acclaim. He spent most of his life and career in Paris. While not uncommon for artists of that time period, Tanner wrote that in France he was known as “an American artist” but in America he was forever labeled a “Negro artist”. “I was extremely timid” Tanner wrote in his autobiography. “and to be made to feel that I was not wanted, although in a place where I had every right to be, even months afterwards caused me sometimes weeks of pain. Every time any one of these disagreeable incidents came into my mind, my heart sank, and I was anew tortured by the thought of what I had endured, almost as much as the incident itself.”…

“Life Disrupted”

Dec. 12 | Matthew 1:18-25 | David A. Davis

We have been creche building this Advent in our shared preaching life. As Sarah Finbow’s artwork on bulletin and banner portrays, creche building not just with nativity characters but with faithful response to the promise of the Christ Child. The simple act of hospitality of an innkeeper. The awe and wonder of the shepherds and “all who heard” what the shepherds had made known regarding what the angel had told them. This morning, we turn to Joseph. Together, we ponder Joseph. As I read to you the well-known, often heard biblical text from the first chapter of the Gospel Matthew, observe this painting from the 17th century French painter de la Tour. The painting is entitled “The Dream of Joseph.”…

“Rediscovering Wonder”

Dec. 5 | Luke 2:8-20 | David A. Davis

It is easy to forget that the shepherds were terrified. “When the angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, they were terrified.” It is so easy to quickly move on from the shepherds and their fear. Luke’s narrative itself doesn’t linger. So the reader, the listener, all who know the story by heart, speed right on to the multitude of the heavenly host singing, the shepherds going with haste, and Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger. Skipping over the fear is understandable, of course, because who doesn’t want to get to babe lying in the manger. Everyone wants to get to the “aaah” part. But there is not just “aaah” when it comes to creche building, there has to be some awe, as in awe and wonder. With the shepherds, comes the awe and wonder of the nativity of the Christ Child. But before there is awe and wonder, it was just out right fear. They were terrified. The King James says it better. Do you remember it? Yes, they were “sore afraid.” So afraid that their heart hurt…