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Sermon Journal

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“The Wisdom from Above”

Sep. 19 | James 3:13-18 | David A. Davis

The Epistle of James is known for “works”. When the church thinks of James, the church thinks of “works”. For those who celebrate the Letter of James and those, like Martin Luther, who critique it, it’s about “the works”. When it comes to James, you can’t get away from the works.  “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above…be doers of the word, not merely hearers…


“The Inclining Ear of God”

Sep. 12 | Psalm 116 | David A. Davis

“I love the Lord, who had heard my voice, and listened to my supplication, for the Lord has given ear to me whenever I called”.  The Lord has given ear to me. The Lord, the Lord who created the heavens and the earth. The One who called Abraham and promised to make of him a great nation. The Lord who spoke to Moses from a burning bush. The God who heard the people’s cry amid the bondage of Pharaoh. The Lord God Almighty has given ear to me. God hears…me?…


“Food For The Journey”

Sep. 5 | I Kings 19:4-8 | Len Scales

For some of us this story might sound surprisingly familiar, since Rev. Yedea Walker preached the same text only a few weeks ago. We are hearing it again so soon because UKirk Collegiate Ministries Association, the network of over 200 Presbyterian campus ministries, of which Princeton Presbyterians is a part, crafted liturgy around this passage to celebrate college students and young adults. I’m grateful for Jasmine & British, campus ministry colleagues from HBCU’s who wrote this morning’s liturgy and selected this morning’s Scripture readings for our connectional church to consider together. Yedea focused on the power of rest for Elijah, and this morning I want us to turn to God’s provision for Elijah…


“The Common Purpose”

Aug. 29 | I Corinthians 3:5-11 | David A. Davis

 Common purpose. “The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose.” Common purpose. A closer translation of the Greek would be a bit simpler. The one who plants and the one who waters are one. One plants. One waters. But only God gives the growth, the Apostle writes. So the common purpose isn’t from the planter or the waterer. The common purpose is God’s purpose. You will remember that Paul addresses the strife in the Corinthian church right up front in chapter 1 of First Corinthians. After the greeting, the salutation and the thanksgiving, Paul begins the body of the letter with this appeal:” I appeal to you by the name of Jesus Christ, that all of you, be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.”  The same mind in the language of Paul, is the “mind of Christ”. The same purpose in the language of Paul, is the very purpose, the common purpose of God. Furthering God’s field. Expanding God’s building. Or to use another of the Apostle’s terms, showing, living, witnessing, proclaiming, “a more excellent way.”


“Rescue in the Night”

Aug. 22 | Daniel 6:1-5 | Chancel Drama

(Text and Audio unavailable)


“Taking A Nap”

Aug. 15 | I Kings 19:4-8 | Yeada Walker

(Text and Audio coming soon)


“Teachable”

Aug. 8 | Galatians 3:23-29 | Lauren J. McFeaters

As we found out last week, in Paul’s opening words of this Letter, he’s quite enraged, infuriated. When we meet the Galatians today, they have been further trounced upon by Paul.

You will remember Paul is the founding pastor of the Galatian churches and word has reached him that opponents are guiding his churches away from an inclusive gospel; casting doubt upon Paul’s apostolic authority. Paul is accused of preaching an immature, underdeveloped type of faith…


“Obedience”

Aug. 1 | Galatians 1:1-12 | Lauren J. McFeaters

I don’t know how many of you were huddled in your basements, closets and hallways Thursday evening, as Tornadoes roared in to our surrounding counties, but the ferocity of Thursdays weather had nothing on Paul’s explosive temperament shown in this text. Did you hear the absolute contempt for anyone who tries to dilute the Gospel?…


July 2021


“Left Off The Dance Floor”

Jul. 25 | II Samuel 6:12-23 | David A. Davis

Some might remember that the conversation Jesus has with the Samaritan woman in the gospel of John is the longest conversation Jesus has with anyone in the four gospels. Longest in terms of number of verses, dialogue, and the narrator’s portrayal of the moment. But the Samaritan woman doesn’t get a name in John. A long lingering conversation with Jesus that upset the disciples who couldn’t believe Jesus was talking to her. And she doesn’t have name. Then, pretty much in complete contrast, there is in the Old Testament, a woman whose name is Michal. Who, as you can tell from the snippets of I and II Samuel I read to you, appears briefly on the scene and then disappears for awhile only to come back again…briefly. The reader knows her name but has to work a bit, take a few notes, connect the dots, to learn of her story…


“When You Catch…Holiness”

Jul. 18 | II Samuel 6:1-15 | David A. Davis

This summer we are tackling a few of “quite the bible stories”! Last week, poor old Saul. Well, how about Uzzah. Poor old Uzzah. A few Sundays ago, we read David’s ode to Saul and Jonathan after David had been told of their death on the battlefield. In the chapters that come after that in II Samuel, David becomes king of Judah and then king of Israel and Judah. With the desire to reestablish Jerusalem as the military stronghold and the political and religious center of the kingdom, David sets out to get the ark of God that been in the hands of the Philistines and return it to Jerusalem. With 30,000 of the chosen men of Israel, plus all the people, David went to get the ark. The ark was in the house of Abinidad up on a hill. As the bible tells it, David brought a new cart to carry the ark and Abinidad’s sons were driving the card; Ahio and Uzzah. Ahead of the ark bearing the ark of God, David and the people were dancing, singing, and praising the Lord with all their might. Quite the festive procession…


“A Theater of Silence”

Jul. 11 | I Samuel 28:3-25 | David A. Davis

I would like to invite you to find your seat, to take your place here in the theater about to be created by the reading of the biblical text from I Samuel. Think a ways back to a time you were in a theater, maybe the last time you saw a play here in Princeton at McCarter Theater. After a quick dinner in town and a rush to get to the theater, you find your seats minutes before the houselights dim and the curtain goes up. As you try to shift gears from “getting there to being there” you take a few deep breaths to try to clear the fog after a crazy busy day. Because you don’t even remember the name of the play, not to mention what it may be about, you leaf through the playbill looking for some notes, some snippets, something to help you prepare for what you are about to experience on stage…


“When God’s Wings Get Clipped”

Jul. 4 | Ruth 2:1-16 | David A. Davis

The bride was a member of the Philadelphia Opera Company. The groom was a Presbyterian minister who happened to have a trained tenor voice. I was standing where I always stood at weddings, which now would feel uncomfortably close to the couple. They had just exchanged their vows and the rings. Before I offered what the liturgy calls the nuptial prayer, they broke into song. I wasn’t surprised by that. I knew the plan. What surprised me was sheer volume coming from the both of them that pretty much seared my eyebrows. They sang a duet that was musical setting of a biblical text:

Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me


June 2021


“When Love Stands Out”

Jun. 27 | II Samuel 1:23-27 | David A. Davis

Last week in the sermon on David and Goliath, I referred to the “one who would be king, the unexpected leader of God’s people, the one for whom God would build a dynasty, the one who embodied strength and faithfulness, who danced pretty much naked before the Lord, who knew the love of a friend, whose faith was proclaimed in such grace-filled words, the one who knew a fall from grace late one afternoon on a rooftop, who tasted of God’s judgement, the father who wept and fasted for his dying child, the one who could sing God with such heartfelt joy. Here in the lesson for day it is that same one, David, singing in sorrow and lament…


“Unexpected Leadership”

Jun. 20 | I Samuel 17:41-47 | David A. Davis

He must have been about six foot nine. He wore a helmet made of bronze and a coat of armor that would have crushed anybody else who tried to wear it because it was so heavy. His legs were protected, and he had a javelin the size of a beam slung between his shoulders. An attendant carried his shield as this warrior, this champion would repeatedly come out and stand there and just shout: “Why have you come out to draw up a battle? Am I not a Philistine and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose someone for yourselves and let them come down to me.” The Israelites and the Philistines were in a battle with the Israelites on one mountain and the Philistines across the valley on another. For forty days this champion warrior would come out, stand, and shout. “Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together.” According to scripture, King Saul and all of Israel “were dismayed and greatly afraid.” They were scared to death of Goliath…


“Look At Us”

Jun. 13 | Acts 3:1-4 | Lukata Mjumbe

(Coming Soon)


“Accept This Our Sacrifice of Praise”

Jun. 6 | Psalm 138 | David A. Davis

As we have been preparing this week to welcome a congregation, albeit a small one, into the sanctuary for the first time in 15 months, I found myself thinking about a sermon I preached about 14 months ago from our living room. I didn’t go back and look for it but I remember describing a return to the sanctuary for worship that would have all the trappings of Easter morning whenever we returned. 600 people, shoulder to shoulder, singing rousing hymns, and shouting “Christ is Risen”. While I cannot adequately describe how grateful I am to preach with people here in the room, it’s not quite that festival worship I imagined some 60 weeks ago or so…


May 2021


“Spirit of Adoption”

May 30 | Romans 8:12-25 | Mark Edwards

Last week was Confirmation Sunday and if you tuned in, you saw the color and joy of five youth joining the church.  I preached on the question of “What is the church?” Working from Romans 8, as we are again this week, I suggested that the question of “What is the church?” is intimately tied up with the great theological question “Who is called, foreknown, predestined, and justified by God for glory?”  I suggested both of these questions “What is the church?” And “Who is predestined to be with God?” are for the apostle Paul, both questions concerning “Who is in Christ?”  And Paul’s radical and scandalous answer, throughout his letter to the Romans and his other texts—our affirmation of faith was the Christ hymn of Colossians 1— is that “all things” are in Christ. Indeed all things are loved, created, known, and called to be glorified with Christ because God as Christ takes on the sin, death, hostility, and alienation of the world at the cross.  As Paul says for instance in Romans 11:32 “For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.” The cross of Christ is the great exchange between an ungodly world that is antagonistic and hostile to God, and the Son of God who has a natural right to all the thrones and riches of the good and gracious king…


“All Things”

May 23 | Romans 8:1, 26-35 | Mark Edwards

Today is Confirmation Sunday, and we gather in-person with their families to welcome Tessa, Madelyn, Olivia, Philip, and Isabel, to hear their public confirmations of faith, and to unite them to our church congregation.

I’m especially grateful to these five ninth graders. They decided back in September that because of the difficult year we were in, they wanted to go ahead and do Confirmation. They did not want to wait until life got easier. They wanted to use this time to think, pray, and learn about their Christian faith. Thank you too, Lilly, Kelsey, and Tyler, for serving as mentors and leaders during a tough year at the Seminary…


“Down by the River to Pray”

May 16 | Acts 16:11-15 | Lauren J. McFeaters

Not too many women have ever prevailed upon Paul.
Not too many women carried the day when Paul was on the loose for the Lord.
Not too many women have ever faced Paul and upped the ante.
But somewhere between a riverside prayer meeting, a conversion, and a baptism, came the establishment of the first church in Europe.
Lydia prevailed. She prevailed upon Paul and the traveling Apostles to be her guest; to agree that her home would be the best place to set up a new missionary center; a refuge for traveling evangelists; a harbor for worship, a port in the storm…


“Even You”

May 9 | Acts 10:44-48 | David A. Davis

To Lily (and all the baptized),

I baptized you today Lily and it is, it is astounding in every way. You’re not the first baby I have held this week. That would be our granddaughter Franny. But you are the first baby I have held and baptized in a really long time. So, thank you, Lily. Your baptism has brought your family together again after a really long time. And as I baptized you, there were family members participating from Germany. And there were members of our church family participating from all around, here in the sanctuary, in their homes all through our community, miles and miles away in other cities and states, and others just like your aunt and uncle from other countries…


“Wilderness Roads”

May 2 | Acts 8:26-40 | David A. Davis

Can there be a better way to hold afresh the notion of the wonderful, merciful and mysterious act of God than to hold a newborn baby? To hold a child just days old is to cradle all the mighty things that God has done wrapped into the creation of one new life. To stare into the face of a sleeping newborn child is to find yourself staring as if for the first time into the very grace of God. In this life there are those moments, chairos moments, when God draws so near. In this life, there are those thin places where God’s presence gives the body a shutter. In this life, there are those unforgettable experiences of the blessings of God so far beyond what you ever would have expected. Moments, thin places, and experiences that, in this life, give shape to the otherwise unfathomable love of God…


April 2021


“Whatever”

Apr. 25 | Philippians 4:4-9 | Nassau Youth

(Audio Only)


“Love That Restores”

Apr. 18 | John 21:1-19 | Andrew Scales

This weekend, Len and I, like so many members of the University and the wider Princeton community, have been grieving the death of our friend and colleague Imam Sohaib Sultan. Imam Sohaib was the Office of Religious Life’s Chaplain with the Muslim Life Program, and he passed away from cancer on Friday evening at sundown, the first Friday of the holy season Ramadan…


“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…