|Today’s worship is about experience and touch. We have been invited to have ashes placed on our heads or on our hands and experience what it means to truly be repentant of behavior which keeps us from seeing God’s call upon our lives.||
February 26, 2017
|Next we turn to another of the parables that Luke records Jesus saying. We have been reading several of Jesus’ parables over the past few weeks. Parables are stories that Jesus shared that used everyday images to communicate deeper meanings.||
February 19, 2017
|The passage we are about to read is commonly read at weddings and is called the “love chapter” by many. It is appropriate to read these words at a wedding but these words were not originally written to two people getting married. These words were originally written to a church which was not getting along with each other. A church in conflict.||
February 12, 2017
|Last week we learned that the gospel according to Matthew records Jesus preaching what we call the Sermon on the Mount. It is found in chapters 5, 6, and 7 of the gospel of Matthew. It is called the Sermon on the Mount because Jesus ascends a tall hill and preaches a sermon to the crowd that is gathered around him. Matthew records Jesus beginning with the Beatitudes where Jesus shares about who is blessed and he ends the sermon with our reading for today.||
February 5, 2017
|Last week we heard a wonderful children’s sermon from Lois Pederson about being the light of Christ to others. She shared a quote from a famous college football coach about letting the light inside of us shine brighter than the light that shines on us. We sang that favorite song of many of us about letting our light shine.||
January 29, 2017
|Our next reading will be from the gospels. We are in the midst of a series in worship where we are reading lots and lots of the parables that Jesus told. Parables are stories that Jesus told using everyday images to convey deeper messages.||
January 22, 2017
|We now turn to the gospel lesson found in Luke. A version of this story is found in all 4 of the gospels. However, the other 3 gospels include this story toward the end of their gospels. The other 3 gospels also include details which connect this story as a predictor of Jesus’ death. Luke doesn’t do that.||
January 15, 2017
|I invite you to think about a person in your life that had a great impact on your Christian faith? What one person does your mind drift to? Was it a parent? Was it a youth leader? Was it a camp counselor? Was it a coach? Was it some older adult that took you under their wing? Was it another person your age that influenced you by their life story? Maybe a celebrity? Was it a person that is much younger than you are?||
January 8, 2017
|We turn now to a reading from the gospel of Matthew. Whereas the gospel of Luke focuses on Mary’s version of events concerning the birth of the Christ child, the gospel of Matthew focuses on Joseph. It is clear that Matthew prepares his gospel for a Jewish audience to hear. Matthew begins with a genealogy of Jesus tracing his ancestry back to David and eventually to Abraham. This genealogy is traced through Joseph.||
December 18, 2016
|This morning we return to hearing words from John the Baptist as recorded by the gospel of Matthew. If you were here last week we read from the third chapter of Matthew where John the Baptist was baptizing people in the River Jordan. People were coming to be baptized by him but he was announcing that someone greater than he was coming. John was announcing that someone was coming whose baptism would be by the Holy Spirit.||
December 11, 2016
|Last week began the season of Advent, these 4 weeks leading up to the day of Christmas when we will celebrate the birth of Christ. Last week we read a Scripture about the future return of Christ which I shared is a sign of hope and not fear. This week we will be reading about the character of John the Baptist.||
December 4, 2016
|The next Scripture we are going to read is from the 24th chapter of Matthew. This is a Scripture which directs us to the future return of Christ. Today is the first Sunday of Advent and we usually read on the first Sunday of Advent a Scripture which directs us to the future return of Christ.||
November 27, 2016
|Our next reading is going to come from the letter that Paul and his companion Timothy write to the church in Colossae. We call this letter Colossians. Colossae is a town that is located in what is the modern day country of Turkey. In our reading we will see that the church in Colossae was started by a person named Epaphras. Paul and Timothy have heard that the church is being exposed to some teachings that may be harmful to them and so they write this letter to give them some guidance.||
November 20, 2016
|I will have to admit that I am both excited and also feeling a little intimidated by preaching a sermon today. This all relates to preaching a sermon on the Sunday after the US election this past Tuesday. I am excited because I love to preach on Sundays after critical events have occurred.||
November 13, 2016
|Today we are going to begin by looking at the assumptions that people make about us. What assumptions do people make about you and why? You were each given a slip of paper when you entered today. I invite you to write down your answers to this question on the paper. After you write your answer I am going to invite you to turn in your paper and I am going to read what people have written. You don’t need to write your name down unless you want to.||
October 30, 2016
|When I was about 8 years ago I would ride the school bus home from school. I was the last one to get off of the bus so my bus ride was rather long. My bus crisscrossed throughout the countryside of Hopkins, SC outside of Columbia. During that particular schoolyear one of guys on my bus, Darryl, said that his dog had just had puppies and he wanted to know if anyone wanted one. My bus driver, Tanya Clarkson, was very excited to get one of the puppies. Tanya was a high school student back when students drove school buses. So when we arrived at Darryl’s house we waited as he brought 3 puppies onto the bus. One was given to Tanya. One was given to Matt. And one was given to me. Yes, I arrived home that day from school with a brown mutt. I named that mutt Tanya after my bus driver that I had a crush on and Tanya was my one and only dog for the rest of my childhood.||
October 23, 2016
|Today I am going to make a case that we should do away with Sunday School. Today I am going to make the case that we should focus instead on ways to transform our worship experience into an experience where all ages are welcomed, engaged, educated, and lives of all ages are transformed. Hang with me on this one.||
October 16, 2016
|Today we are going to be turning to the Old Testament and reading one of my favorite passages of Scripture. This story that we are going to read describes the artwork of an artist. A potter actually. In this story we are being invited into a potter’s house to catch a glimpse of how this potter operates.||
October 2, 2016
|I have been following the lectionary passages pretty closely in my preaching over the past few weeks. These are the passages of Scripture which are assigned to each Sunday of the year. Last week we read from the beginning of chapter 16 of Luke.||
September 25, 2016
|I need to warn you. We are about to read a story from the Bible that may be the most confusing story that Jesus ever shares. This is one of those passages of scripture that after reading it you say, “Huh?” Did Jesus really mean to say what he said? Did Luke misunderstand him? Did Jesus really say that the hero in the story is someone who is being dishonest?||
September 18, 2016
|Today we are going to turn to the 15th chapter of Luke and read two parables that Jesus shares about something being lost. The images that are used in this parable may not seem to us to be that big of a deal. But to compare God to a shepherd who searches for a lost sheep and to a woman who searches for a lost coin was a very radical analogy.||
September 11, 2016
|The story we are about to read from Luke is very similar to the story we heard last week from Luke. Like the story from last week, we are going to be reading about Jesus carrying out a healing on the Sabbath. There are actually 3 Sabbath healings recorded by Luke. We are about to read the 3rd of these Sabbath healings.||
August 28, 2016
|Earlier we read from Exodus from the Old Testament. That text was part of the 10
Commandments about remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy. Jesus knew the
Jewish laws very well. In the text that we will be reading next, Jesus is teaching on the
Sabbath and he has a crowd listening to him. That is when an interruption to his
August 21, 2016
|Some of us have come into worship today feeling some excitement and anxiety. Earlier in worship we offered our blessings upon two young women who are heading off to college. I remember when I headed off to college. For me it was a mixture of excitement and anxiety. If they are both honest with themselves I would guess that they feel a mixture of excitement and anxiety as well.||
August 7, 2016
|Today we will be reading from the end of the 10th chapter of Luke. Before we read this story it is important to understand what comes before it. Because it is clear that the gospel writer Luke is very intentional in the way that he organizes the 10th chapter.||
July 17, 2016
|Once again we gather on a Sunday in worship with a sense of sadness by events in our nation and world. A couple of weeks ago we lifted up the people of Orlando. Last week we observed news reports of bombings in Turkey, Bangladesh, and Iraq. A few days ago we were exposed to two videos of police officers killing African-American males in Baton Rouge and Minnesota.||
July 10, 2016
|Over the past several weeks we have been reading through Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia. We have learned that Paul started these churches on one of his missionary journeys. Paul goes on to other places but then Paul finds out that some people have come in behind him and taught the Galatians some beliefs which Paul did not believe. So Paul writes this letter to try to straighten some things out with the Galatians.||
July 3, 2016
|Over the past few weeks we have been reading through the letter that Paul wrote to the churches in the region of Galatia. We call this letter Galatians. We discovered that Paul started these churches on one of his missionary journeys. The Christians that became part of these churches came from Gentile or non-Jewish backgrounds.||
June 26, 2016
|Over the past couple of weeks we have been reading from Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia. Today we are going to read part of the Scripture I read last week and continue further into chapter 4.||
June 19, 2016
|Last week we began to look into the New Testament letter written by Paul to the churches in Galatia. We learned last week that the people who were attending these churches in Galatia came from Gentile or non-Jewish backgrounds. After Paul founded these churches there were some evangelists who then came to these churches after Paul left and said that to become Christian one had to become Jewish first.||
June 12, 2016
|The question I throw out for us to think about today is this: What rules do you think are necessary if you want to be a follower of Jesus Christ? This question is central in what we will be reading from Galatians.||
June 5, 2016
|Nicholas Winton died last year at the age of 106. I will admit that I had never heard of Nicholas Winton before this week. Nicholas Winton was a stockbroker in England. In most every way he was just an ordinary stock broker. The people who met Nicholas Winton described him as a quiet and humble man.
But in 1988 his wife found a scrapbook with the names and documentation of 669 children. She never knew anything about these 669 children until finding this scrapbook. One of these children listed in this scrapbook was named John Fieldsend.
May 22, 2016
|Our two Scriptures which we read today are two Scriptures which are traditionally grouped together for Pentecost Sunday which is today. Pentecost originates in the Old Testament. Pentecost comes from a festival which celebrated the Spring Harvest and comes 50 days after the Passover celebration. According to Jewish tradition the law of God was given on this day to God’s people. We celebrate Pentecost today 50 days after Easter.||
May 15, 2016
|Today we are going to be reading from the New Testament book of Acts which documents Paul’s three missionary journeys. A couple of weeks ago we read about Paul’s conversion story and today we read about how Paul went about sharing the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ.||
May 8, 2016
|We are going to be reading from the 9th chapter of Acts. This is the story of the conversion of Saul. Two chapters later in Acts Saul’s name will be changed to Paul and that is how we know him today. Paul becomes the most important writer and evangelist in the New Testament of the Bible.||
April 24, 2016
|Bass’ story shows what it means to look at a situation or a challenge or a problem from a different perspective. When we look at a situation from a different perspective then we can see something that we never would have been able to see before.||
April 17, 2016
|I wonder if Kerry Patterson’s experience of learning to make cream puffs is similar to what Thomas was learning in the story that we read today. We may know this story as the story of Doubting Thomas. But to call this the story of Doubting Thomas is to misunderstand the relationship between Jesus, Thomas, and the disciples.||Easter
April 3, 2016
|An acquaintance of mine, Diana Butler Bass, writes about a visit to the Mt. Calvary monastery about 10 years ago. Mt. Calvary sits on 15 acres up high on the mountaintop overlooking Santa Barbara, CA and the Pacific Ocean. Mt. Calvary was an ideal and very peaceful place where folks would visit and have a sense that they were truly close to God. An acquaintance of mine, Diana Butler Bass, writes about a visit to the Mt. Calvary monastery about 10 years ago. Mt. Calvary sits on 15 acres up high on the mountaintop overlooking Santa Barbara, CA and the Pacific Ocean. Mt. Calvary was an ideal and very peaceful place where folks would visit and have a sense that they were truly close to God.||Easter
March 27, 2016
|Palm Sunday is a day that we are invited into the contradictions of this week of Holy Week. We have the celebration of the crowds waving palm branches or spreading their cloaks on the road to welcome a king but we also know that soon the crowd will turn on him and lead Jesus toward arrest and death. We wave palm branches as we also recognize the human sinfulness that will seek to bring death to the son of God.||Palm Sunday
March 20, 2016
|Smells. When I mention the word “smells” where does your mind take you? What smells? What do these smells remind you of?||March 13, 2016|
|We turn now to reading from the 15th chapter of Luke. The 15th chapter of Luke is a chapter of the Bible that could just as well be called the Lost and Found chapter. That is because Luke 15 contains 3 stories of items and people becoming lost and then becoming found.||March 6, 2016|
|Have you ever noticed that when people draw lines about what is right and what is wrong that we always draw the lines so that we are on the side that is right? It’s like when two siblings share a bedroom and then they have a fight and then one of them gets a role of tape and puts a line down the room about who can live on which side of the room.||February 21, 2016|
|Today marks the first Sunday of our 40 day journey through Lent. 40 days not including Sundays. For some of us, Lent is known as a time to give something up. Maybe chocolate, soft drinks, Facebook.||February 14, 2016|
|Our second text this morning offers a lot of hidden connections to events in the Old Testament. There are four observations that I invite you to pay attention to as we begin to read this text. First observation: pay attention to what happens to the face of Jesus.||February 7, 2016|
|We now turn to reading Psalm 71. Psalm 71 is a cry for help from someone in a personal crisis. The Psalmist or writer of this Psalm believes that they are under attack in some way by an outside force. The psalmist believes that the promises of God are under attack as well.||January 31, 2016|
|Today is our first attempt at an on-line interactive worship experience at Allison Creek. We are experimenting. What happens today may very well be the Orville and Wilbur Wright of worship services. Orville and Wilbur, as you may know, were the bike mechanics from Ohio who had an idea that they could build a contraption that would fly. They built their contraption in Ohio and then shipped it to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.||January 24, 2016|
|Many of us think that we 21st century Christians invented church conflict. That is not the case. The text we are about to read from the Bible was written to address conflict that was going on in this early Christian church.||January 17, 2016|
|“We are all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work.”
Be mindful of how looking at a situation from a slightly different angle can make a huge difference in how one lives their life. Our next Scripture lesson is coming from the gospel of Luke. The text we are reading comes after Luke has given us all of the stories that we are familiar with at Christmas.
|January 10, 2016|
|We are reading this story today because we are approaching the 12th and final day of Christmas. The 12th day will actually be on January 6th which is Wednesday and we call this day “Epiphany” which means “manifestation.” In many cultures Epiphany is more important than Christmas. In some places, children leave shoes filled with hay outside their homes. The hay is to feed the camels of the wise men who leave gifts for the children in the shoes as thanks for continuing their journey to Bethlehem.||January 3, 2016|
|Our second Scripture this morning is going to come from the gospel of Luke. We read this morning about the character of John the Baptist. Every Advent we read about John the Baptist. That strange character that comes from out of the wilderness to give witness to the coming of Christ. He doesn’t come from a place of power and prestige but from the wilderness. John the Baptist is the first prophet in the New Testament.||December 6, 2015|
|I was watching “Good Morning America” one day this week and George Stephanopoulos led into a story by saying something to the effect that , “Americans are approaching the thanksgiving holidays with fear.” After watching the intro I said to myself, “I’m not.” And I would hope that my faith in God has something to do with that. That fear is something that I am choosing not to embrace.||November 29, 2015|
|Last week we read from the book of Job. We read the Old Testament story of how Job was considered the most faithful and righteous man in the land. Job did everything right and he prospered. He was successful in business and he was successful in his family life. But then in an unusual exchange, God allows Job to have it all taken away. Job’s business is ruined and Job’s children are all killed.||November 15, 2015|
|This morning we are going to be reading from the Old Testament book of Job. Maybe you have said or heard the phrase “She has the patience of Job.” Well that phrase is actually a misinterpretation of a phrase in the Bible.||November 8, 2015|
|We turn now to reading from the New Testament book of Revelation. The book of Revelation is a book that scares a lot of people. In fact it was very controversial whether or not the book of Revelation should be included in our biblical canon. When the Bible was put together lots of people did not think that this book should have been included.||November 1, 2015|
|If you were assigned to be on a committee responsible for choosing which books to include in the Bible, you would probably have one very important rule. You would probably only choose books that talk about God or books where God plays a prominent role.||October 25, 2015|
|If I were to ask you to stand up and pray today you may feel like Ben Stiller in this clip from “Meet the Parents.” In the clip, Ben Stiller has come to the home of the parents of his new girlfriend. Let’s see how that goes.||October 18, 2015|
|We have been reading through the New Testament letter of James over the past few weeks and today we move into the 4th chapter. We have been learning that James was written to a group of Jewish Christians that were facing lots of persecution. They were living outside of Jerusalem and were trying to understand what it meant to be Christian but also to maintain their Jewish lifestyle.||October 11, 2015|
|We have been reading through the New Testament letter of James over the past few weeks and now we move into the third chapter. Tradition tells us that James was the brother of Jesus and a leader in the early church. James wrote these words to Jewish Christians living outside of Jerusalem who were facing persecution for their faith.||October 4, 2015|
|In case you haven’t heard, the Pope has been in the country. Did anyone hear about that? Yes, the Pope has been in the US. If you passed a black Fiat on the road on the way to church this morning you may have driven past the Pope. It would not surprise me if he is driving around York County this morning in his famous black Fiat.||September 27, 2015|
|Last week we began a sermon series on the New Testament letter called James. We learned last week that James was written to a group of Jewish Christians who were struggling with what it meant to remain Jewish and abide by the Jewish laws and also to follow Jesus.||September 20, 2015|
|Our second reading is going to be from the New Testament letter of James. Tradition has said that this letter was written by James the brother of Jesus. James became a leader in the church in Jerusalem after the death of Jesus. Some believe that part of this letter was written by James and then added onto by others after his death. Historians tell us that James was martyred for his beliefs about Jesus.||September 13, 2015|
|Today we conclude our sermon series on the early kings of Israel. We have read through lots of stories from the Old Testament books of Samuel and Kings. We have read through stories about Saul, David, and we conclude with Solomon.||September 6, 2015|
|This past week was the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina coming onto the shores of the Gulf Coast. We may have seen some of the news accounts of reporters going back to New Orleans and inviting us back into some of those harrowing stories of death and survival. We may be marveling at the amazing recovery that New Orleans is living out.||August 30, 2015|
|Today we continue reading about the early kings of Israel. We here at Allison Creek have been reading about King Saul and King David who were leaders in Israel about 1000 years before the birth of Christ. We read their stories from the Old Testament books of 1st and 2nd Samuel.||August 23, 2015|
|We may think that family conflict and dysfunctional families are something that is unique to each of our families. But if you want to read about dysfunctional families then the best place to read about them is to open up the Bible. The Bible, especially the Old Testament, is filled with God choosing dysfunctional families to carry out God’s plans. Today we hear about one of these dysfunctional families.||August 16, 2015|
|This morning I am going to be sharing two stories which are both very difficult stories to read. Both of these stories involve descriptions of rape, the physical abuse of a woman at the hands of a man. One of these stories is found in the Bible and I imagine that this biblical story is one which you never heard in Sunday School or Vacation Bible School. You may never have heard a sermon preached on this story either.
(Read Harriet Simril testimony from Federal Court records of being raped by 3 KKK members in 1870)
|August 9, 2015|
|Every Christmas you can’t help but catch a glimpse of the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I know for some people it is a required Christmas tradition to watch this movie. This black and white movie is set in the 1930s and 40s and follows the life of George Bailey.||August 2, 2015|
|We have been reading through the books of 1st and 2nd Samuel over the past few weeks and learning about the early kings of Israel. We have learned that the Israelites really wanted a king like the other countries around them and this led to the selection of Saul as their first king. Saul turned out to not be a very good king and he was eventually replaced by David. We are now reading some of the stories about David.||July 26, 2015|
|Thursday night I went to see my first Charlotte Knights game in their new uptown ball park. The Charlotte Knights are the Triple-A baseball affiliate of the Major League Tampa Bay Rays. I don’t follow professional baseball too closely but I did notice that the manager of the Durham Bulls, the team that the Knights were playing, was named Sandburg.||July 12, 2015|
|As many of you know, this past Monday was the funeral for my Dad who died last Saturday. Funerals are a time to recognize the loss on one’s life. Also, this has been the week when the national and statewide focus has been on the funerals of the 8 church members and their pastor who were killed in Charleston last week while participating in Bible study at Emanuel AME Church. A focus on loss.||June 28, 2015|
|I’m not going to pretend to be a fan of country music. The only time that I listen to country music is when I get in the car of one of my two daughters and music starts blaring out of their car radio that is obviously country music. I don’t know where they grew to appreciate country music because it did not come from me.||June 21, 2015|
|Do you ever hear the message that you are not as good as someone else? Maybe you are the youngest child and you are compared to older siblings. Maybe you are female and you are compared unfavorably to males. Maybe you are older and you are compared unfavorably to people who are younger. Or maybe you are younger and your are compared unfavorably to people who are older.||June 14, 2015|
|We will spend the next few weeks looking at some texts from 1st and 2nd Samuel. First and Second Samuel were originally one book and they tell us about the beginning of the monarchy in Israel. This Old Testament book was split into two books when it was translated from Hebrew, the language that the Old Testament was written in, into Greek, the language of the New Testament. This original Greek translation of the Old Testament is called the Septuagint.||June 7, 2015|
|We are going to now turn to the 5th chapter of the gospel according to Matthew. The gospel of Matthew is included in the Bible as the first book of the New Testament. The book begins with a genealogy of Jesus by tracing Jesus back to Abraham through his adopted father Joseph. Matthew then describes for us the birth of Jesus and John the Baptist announcing to the world who this Jesus is.||May 31, 2015|
|Imagine with me a room about this size and filled with about 120 people. That’s not hard to imagine. Now imagine that his room is filled with people who are facing some real challenges in their lives. Imagine that this room is filled with people and at least one or two of them are facing some major decision in their life and they are confused about what to do.||May 24, 2015|
|This week the Pew Research Center published their report about religious affiliation in the US over the past 7 years. Some of you have already seen their report and it has been reported in the news.||May 17, 2015|
|Ray Robinson was born in Albany, Georgia on September 23rd, 1930. He died in 2004. You may not recognize the name of Ray Robinson. That is because he is most commonly known by his first and middle name. Ray Robinson’s middle name is Charles. Ray Charles Robinson went by the name of Ray Charles.||May 10, 2015|
|I want to invite us to think about risks that we are scared to take. Start thinking because in a little while I am going to invite anyone willing to share about the kinds of risks that we are scared to take and why we are scared to take them. While we are thinking about our own personal risks I am going to invite us to watch a clip from the movie Unbroken.||May 3, 2015|
|How many of you ever had the electricity go out in part of the house only to find you needed to flip a breaker? In older homes the fix is changing a fuse. A fuse is an electrical safety device which usually has a thin piece of metal in it that will melt if too much electricity goes through it. When a fuse does what it is designed to do it burns out if the current gets too great and stops sending electricity thereby protecting whatever it is designed to. This fuse is from an older home. It protected the kitchen appliances from getting too much electricity. It kept the appliances from exploding or burning out, or catching fire, by shutting off the circuit when the electricity spiked.||April 26, 2015|
|Two weeks ago we celebrated Easter. You may have come to church dressed up more than usual. You may have come the week before and participated in the Easter Egg Hunt. You may have attended Easter Sunrise service with people here on the lake or maybe elsewhere. You may have traveled to visit family or friends. Holy Week and Easter is a day and time that we look forward to and celebrate. We celebrate the Resurrection and we celebrate the beginning of springtime.||April 19, 2015|
|I want to go back to the scripture Karl read. The passage from Mark which described what we know as the Easter story. In fact, I am going to encourage you to pick up one of the pew Bibles because I want us to look at this passage together.||April 5, 2015 – Easter|
|KC and the Sunshine Band is coming to Rock Hill in a couple of months. And I am trying to decide if it is worth the $65 for me to go and Shake, Shake, Shake, Shake, Shake, Shake, Shake my bootie. There are people here who don’t have a clue about what I am talking about. I am looking at you Megan keller and everyone here who is younger than 45. And I bet nowhere else is the word bootie being used in an Easter sermon.||Easter Sunrise Service April 5, 2015|
|We have read 2 scriptures from the gospel of Mark. The first Scripture tells the story that inspires us to wave palm branches in the air and process into the sanctuary. The story of Jesus coming into Jerusalem just days before his life would come to an end in a tragic way.||March 29, 2015|
|You may know that we have been in the news this week. And by we I mean the Presbyterian Church (USA). The Presbyterian Church (USA) or PCUSA has been in the news over same gender marriage. This morning I am going to reflect some over what has occurred but before we do that I want us to focus on something even more important. I want to direct us to the book of Acts in the Bible.||March 22, 2015|
|This week I found myself in a local store and ran into a friend that I had not talked to in a while. He asked me about my children and then I asked him about his children. I was aware that he has a high school daughter who is looking at career and college possibilities. In the course of our conversation the idea of pursuing a seminary education came up and he told me that he had raised that possibility with his daughter.||March 15, 2015|
|Over the past few weeks we have been reading through the book of Acts to catch a glimpse of what the early church was like so that we can learn about how we are to be the church today. One of the characters that we have been introduced to is a man named Saul. In the part of Acts which we will be reading today we will see that the man named Saul will not be called Paul.||March 8, 2015|
|My family uses the d365 online devotional. We try to sit down each morning for breakfast and read the selection for the day. This week’s devotional mentions a woman from our Christian history that I will have to admit that I had never heard of before. Her name was Perpetua. When I looked up her story I found the story of Perpetua to be quite an amazing story. Not often in our tradition do we hear stories of Christian women going through what Perpetua experienced.||March 1, 2015|
|Today we re invited into a time of remembering the transition of Jesus from life to death. Through participating in this act our life in Christ is renewed.We acknowledge our need today for repentance and are reminded of God’s mercy. We are created to experience joy in communion with God, to love one another, and to live in harmony with God’s creation. But in our sinfulness we rebel against God, our neighbors and God’s creation. Therefore we do not enjoy the life that our Creator intended for us.||February 22, 2015|
|Over the past few weeks we have been reading through the book of Acts. The Acts of the Apostles, as it is called, is the book in the Bible which tells us about adventures of the early church. And it was indeed an adventurous time.||February 15, 2015|
|Over the past few weeks we have been reading through the New Testament book called “Acts.” We have been reading through Acts because Acts gives witness to how to start afresh. How to build or rebuild.||February 8, 2015|
|We have been reading through the New Testament book of Acts over the past few weeks. Acts tells the stories of the church as it was just starting out. In the first few chapters we read about the reorganization of the 12 apostles, we read about the Holy Spirit coming down to guide the newly forming church, we read about the beginning ministry of Peter and John.||February 1, 2015|
|At our Session retreat a few weeks ago, the elders of this Church discussed four scenarios. Four types of people and their relationship with God and with organized religion. Tomorrow night the Session is meeting again to follow up on this conversation and we will continue our conversation about how to connect with each of these four types of people.||January 25, 2015|
|Last week we began a series on “New Beginnings” by opening up the New Testament book of Acts. The book of Acts is the first book in the New Testament after the four gospels which tells us stories about Jesus and his life on earth. Acts then picks up the story from what happens next.||January 18, 2015|
|Earlier in worship we read from the first 5 verses of the Old Testament book of Genesis. Genesis means “beginnings” and is the account of the creation of the world by God. We read from Genesis that in the beginning there was God. Everything that happens after that is because, in the beginning, there was God.||January 11, 2015|
|I imagine that pretty much all of us by now have put away any Christmas decorations that we may have displayed in our homes. If we had a tree we have either packed it back up in the box if it is artificial or taken our now dry and prickly tree to the road or recycling center or deep into the woods. Any decorations that adorned our homes have been put away and we are preparing ourselves, reluctantly, to return to full work schedules or back to school.||January 4, 2015|
|We just read the gospel of Luke’s version of an angel appearing to a young woman named Mary and announcing to her that she will give birth even though she is a virgin. And not only that, this child will be named Jesus and he will be called Son of the Most High. This is indeed a miracle to celebrate. But do we celebrate this miracle throughout the year? Or has this “miracle” become pretty ordinary in our everyday lives and in our everyday culture?||December 21, 2014|
|Megan Keller, I am going to need your assistance on this one. I want you to imagine that you have been tasked with finding great singers for some kind of production you are putting together. You are the producer. I come into the audition. And I sing an audition for you. So here it goes. (I sing part of a song “Prepare Ye the way of the Lord” in my glorious (NOT) voice. OK, Producer Keller. Give me your honest feedback. Would you want me in your professional choir that you are putting together?||December 14, 2014|
|Is it better to give or to receive at Christmas? You probably know what answer we are supposed to give sitting in a church service. But I am going to ask us to ponder another question this morning. Do we have the power to influence whether or not others want to give or to receive? Do we have the power to influence whether or not others want to give or to receive?||December 7, 2014|
|We have been reading through the Old Testament story of Joshua over the past several weeks. We have learned that Moses was called by God to lead God’s people out of slavery toward the Promised Land of Canaan. Moses led the people up to the Promised Land of Canaan but it was Joshua’s responsibility to lead the people into the Promised Land.||November 23, 2014|
|We have been reading through the story of Joshua over the past several weeks. Joshua as we have been learning was the person who was commissioned by God to lead God’s people into the Promised Land after Moses led the people to the Promised Land.||November 16, 2014|
|Over the past few weeks in worship we have been spending some time reading about Moses and the Israelite people as they ventured toward the Promised Land. Last week we heard about how Moses was allowed to see the Promised Land but that he was not allowed to lead the people into the Promised Land.||November 9, 2014|
|We will be reading from Deuteronomy 34 which is the end of the story of Moses. Moses as we heard last week was the person that God called to an important task since he was a little baby. God protected Moses as a baby and then God spoke to Moses through a burning bush that God wanted Moses to lead God’s people out of slavery into a new land. A land described as flowing with milk and honey.||October 26, 2014|
|Do you ever get to those points in your life where you feel as though it has all come crashing down? Do you ever get to those points where you feel desperate because you feel as though you have tried to follow what God wants you to do and you get to the place where your life is in somewhat of a crisis? Do you ever feel as though God has abandoned you? The story we are about to read is a story of people feeling abandoned by God and a story of God feeling abandoned by God’s people.||October 19, 2014|
|Over the past few weeks we have been learning about 7 spiritual practices to help us in becoming better followers of God. The practices which we have already focused on are worship, prayer, study, fellowship with other Christians, and healthy living. That sermon on healthy living has already cost me as my son caught me eating an Oreo and reminded me that my body is a temple.||October 5, 2014|
|We live in a state with lots of people who are overweight. According to recent statistics, South Carolina ranks 43rd in the nation in obesity. Meaning that we rank as the 43rd worst state for people being overweight. About 1.1 million residents of South Carolina report that they are obese.||September 28, 2014|
|Today we continue our series on seeking to become better followers of God. This is a 7 part series in which we are focusing on worship, study, fellowship, serving others, healthy living, and rest. Today we are focusing in on the spiritual practice of prayer. It is our hope that by focusing in on these 7 practices that we will learn how to hear what God is directing us to become in our lives and in our church.||September 21, 2014|
|I invite you to pull out your insert in your bulletin that looks like this. We are in the middle of a series on six spiritual practices that help us to follow God. You will see these practices listed on this page. But if you are good at math you may have picked up on something right away. There are not 6 items listed here. There are 7.||September 14, 2014|
|When we think of St. Patrick, most of us think about the month of March, clover leafs, the color green, Savannah, parties, and maybe drinking way too much beer. But before there was a St. Paddy’s Day, there was a man named St. Patrick. And the man named St. Patrick has a lot to teach us here today at Allison Creek.||September 7, 2014|
|I recently came across an article that describes an experiment that was carried out by a college professor and some of his graduate students. The professor asked a group of graduate students to cut into movie theater lines. The goal was to count how many people would typically say something to the line cutter.||August 31, 2014|
|Today I am beginning a new sermon series and it is based on six practices that I believe can help draw us closer in following God. Six practices that I believe can draw us closer in following God. If you have been here for the past few weeks you know that I have been preaching a series on 1st and 2nd Corinthians and that I committed to using this week and next week to conclude that series.||August 24, 2014|
|The death of Robin Williams has dominated much of the news this week. For many of us, his death has caused us to reflect over the many varied movies and television shows in which he starred. I am interested to hear anyone tell about a favorite scene or role or act that Robin Williams played.||August 17, 2014|
|The Apostle Paul is a major player in the New Testament of the Bible. In the book of the Bible called the Acts of the Apostle’s which describes the beginning of the Christian Church, it is Paul’s ministry and his travels that are covered in half of that book.||August 10,2014|
|Our NT reading this morning is a familiar passage. When something is familiar, you and I know what to expect. Just like you know what to expect (1) when we sing the words to the doxology “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” or (2) we know what to expect when we order chili from Wendys or (3) we know what a Big Mac or an Egg McMuffin is going to taste like, or (4) we know what to expect when we drive down the same familiar road each day. The problem with “familiar” is that we are on automatic pilot when we do familiar things or eat something familiar or hear something familiar. While familiarity makes things predictable, it reduces the chance of our encountering new things. And it leaves us separated from our God who is “making all things new.” We just heard in Isaiah 43: “Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old; for I am about to do a new thing…”||August 3, 2014 –
Rev. Randy McSpadden
|This afternoon at 3:00 will be the funeral for Gaither Bumgardner. As most of us know, Gaither has been our music director for the past several years. Last Sunday night Gaither had a stroke in the brain that progressed quickly. He never regained consciousness and his wife Lisa made the very difficult decision on Thursday to remove the life support that was keeping him alive. He died at about midnight on Thursday evening.||July 27, 2014|
|The first wedding ceremony I ever performed was quite an experience. The bride, Seguna Kathapali, was the daughter of the surgeon in town. And I mean THE surgeon in town. Siler City, NC is a town of about 8,000 people and there was one surgeon in town. Seguna was not a member of the Presbyterian Church in Siler City. Her family was Hindu.||July 13, 2014|
|Today I am going to set up some of the background to the music which we will be singing and hearing today in worship. I am going to spend some time talking about the history behind these two songs and then I am going to allow the music to continue our sermon today. Because, honestly, as I thought through the Scriptures and the music this week I began to realize that the music really has a lot to say to us and I want to be sure that I don’t get in the way.||July 6, 2014|
|Today I am beginning a series of sermons on 1st and 2ndCorinthians that will take us through the next two months. The texts that I have chosen correspond with the Uniform Lesson Series. The Uniform Lesson Series are the Scriptures which are found in the Present Word curriculum which is used in the Bigger Room Sunday School class which I am now teaching. So in other words, you will have an opportunity over the next two months to read the Scriptures in worship, hear me preach from these Scriptures, then gather with me and others to reflect on the sermon and on the Scriptures.||June 29, 2014|
|Today is Pentecost. Earlier in worship we read the first part of the Pentecost story. Before we read our Second Scripture today I want to remind you what happened prior to Pentecost and then what happened at Pentecost.||June 8, 2014|
|Over the past few weeks we have been reading out of First Peter. This letter was written to Christians in various churches who had made a decision to be different than the people around them. These people had made a decision to be followers of Jesus and that made the people around them feel uncomfortable. And so these Christians were being picked on by the people around them.||June 1, 2014|
|We are going to be reading from 1st Peter 3:8-22. We have been reading through this letter we call 1st Peter for the last few weeks. I am going to skip the first 7 verses from chapter 3 and return to them next week. These first 7 verses are Peter’s guidance on marriage and I did not want to focus on these verses this weekend during a holiday weekend.||May 25, 2014|
|I hold in my hands a gift I received from the fine folks at the Coca Cola Company. It was a free gift from the fine folks at the Coca Cola Company. And all that I had to do to receive this free gift was to buy a $16 ticket after buying a $6 MARTA ticket to ride the train and arrive at the entrance to the World of Coke.||May 18, 2014|
|Cameron Harder shares his research on the influence of the Christian church on people who were going through farm bankruptcy. “Many times I heard Christian farmers speak of having been “abandoned by God” when they lost their farms. One woman sitting beside me on a plane told of watching per parents attempt suicide when their farm failed. She cried, “what did we do to deserve this?” I also heard others whose operations were in the black say modestly when I asked about their success, “We’ve been blessed by God.”||May 11, 2014|
|Today we continue in our reading of the letter in the Bible we know as 1st Peter. This is the 2nd week in our 6 part series. Last week we learned that 1st Peter is written to a group of Christians who are spread throughout several churches in Asia Minor. These Christians are experiencing some intimidation from people who knew them before they became Christians.||May 4, 2014|
|Today we are going to begin a 6 week sermon series on the First Letter of Peter. I think we may find that we connect pretty well to this letter because it is written to a group of Christians in various churches in Asia Minor who are feeling some pressure about being Christians and members of their various small churches.||April 27, 2014|
|“Do not be afraid,” Jesus tells them, “Do not be afraid.”But in this story that we have just heard there are several characters that are afraid. And in this story we have characters that are not afraid. Pay attention to who is afraid and pay attention to who is not afraid. Who is scared? Who is not scared?||April 20, 2014|
|It is great to be able to preach a sermon again. If has been two months for all of us to be able to listen to some great sermons as we celebrated 160 years of ministry here at ACPC. I bet many of us would say that the best sermons preached in this sanctuary over the past year were preached over these past 2 months.||April 6, 2014|
|The Church’s One Foundation 1 Cor. 3:10-23It is an honor for me to be invited to share in your 160th anniversary. I was here as your third interim pastor for five short months back in 2000 and I have many fond memories of that time.||February 23, 2014 –
Rev. Hutch Hutchison
|Our second reading will be coming from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is the 5th book of the Bible and is, therefore, the 5th of the five books of Moses. These five books are commonly called the Pentateuch or sometimes the Torah.||February 16, 2014|
|ACPC Zech. 6:9-13; John 14:15-21; (20:22)
Ten years ago I was privileged to be here for the 150th anniversary celebration. And in God’s awesome providence we are all here again for yet another commemoration of the dedication of this congregation.
|February 9, 2014 –
Rev. Dr. Alan Arnold
|We will be turning to the 5th chapter of Matthew today for our gospel lesson. This chapter begins the three chapters of Matthew which are called the Sermon on the Mount. When I visited Israel several years ago I was able to visit the location of this event. Imagine a large slopping hill that heads down to a lake below. That is the location for this moment of teaching from Jesus to those who have chosen to listen.||February 2, 2014|
|Some of our young people went to Worship-4-Youth at Bethelwoods last Sunday and heard John O’Kain sing a song about Howard Gray. Howard Grey is not a fictional character although his name was changed for the song. This song was written by a man named Lee Domann about a bullying experience he took part in as a young teenager.||January 26, 2014|
|Pam Driesell is a pastor in Atlanta and she tells about her experience going into a University of Georgia football game. She says it was a beautiful fall day in Athens, GA when she was with the throng of people pouring into Sanford Stadium for the game. That is when they came upon the “Evangelist.”||January 19, 2014|
|My friend Rodger Nishioka tells the story of Kyle. Rodger says that Kyle was nowhere to be found and he was missed. In the weeks following his baptism and confirmation on Pentecost Sunday, Kyle was noticeably missing from the church. Several other members of the confirmation class asked about Kyle as did his covenant partner.||January 12, 2014|
|Tomorrow is January 6th which is the 12th and final day of Christmas. Our culture and our lives, however, have now moved past Christmas and we are focused on other things. My hunch is that most of us have taken down the Christmas decorations. The toys you or your children received may have already lost their Christmas morning luster.||January 5, 2014 –
|During the Season of Advent, these 4 weeks when we prepare for the celebration of the birth of the Christ child, we are always invited to hear from John the Baptist. John the Baptist is that strange character who appears from out of nowhere wearing the strange clothes and eating the strange diet||December 8, 2013|
|Figuring out the future has always fascinated us human beings ever since we were young children. Our play includes time machines which can take us into the future. Then we get a little older and we play with our first Ouija board. For those of you who have never heard of a Ouija board, two players sit beside this wooden game board with letters on it and the words “yes” and “no.”||December 1, 2013|
|I was able to attend a great football game Thursday night. I was able to go to the Clemson / Georgia Tech football game which was a great game from my perspective as a Clemson graduate since Clemson won the game. I was able to attend the game with my brother-in-law Gary and his son Mac and my friend Douglass.||November 17, 2013|
|Today we are going to stay in the Old Testament and read from the prophet Haggai. My hunch is that very few people here have ever heard of Haggai and if you have you probably don’t know much about him. That is because Haggai is a very small book of the Bible and it is considered one of the Old Testament Minor Prophets.||November 10, 2013|
|We are going to be reading the conclusion to Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy. We have been reading through the letter over the past few weeks and have discovered that it is a very personal letter.||October 27, 2013|
|The Scripture we are about to read is one which is debated a lot as to its meaning. It is used whenever people debate whether or not the Bible is to be taken literally.||October 20, 2013|
|The Scripture we are about to read is from a letter which is entitled 2nd Timothy. We will read in the first verse that the writer is Paul but there are many who believe that Paul did not actually write the letter but a close associate writing in Paul’s name. I will assume for clarity today that the writer is Paul.||October 6, 2013|
|Last week we read the first part of chapter 16 from Luke about the parable that Jesus told about the dishonest manager. That was a very difficult parable to understand because Jesus seems to lift up the dishonest manager as the hero in the story. I shared one possible interpretation that the parable could be about how we are called to be good stewards of the resources that we are given. To not waste our money and resources when they can be used in a way that is pleasing to God.||September 29, 2013|
|We are about to read another of the parables that Jesus told. Last week we read two of the parables of Jesus found in the 15th chapter of the gospel of Luke. We heard last week that Jesus told lots of parables. Those stories that Jesus told that used common images to convey an important message. We heard that sharing parables is like peeling an onion where there are multiple levels of meaning.||September 22, 2013|
|The two parables we are about to read are 2 of three parables that have been placed together by the gospel writer Luke. Each of these three parables has to do with something being lost. We will be reading about the lost sheep and the lost coin. After these two parables comes the parable of the prodigal son about a son who wanders away but then is welcomed home by his father.||September 15, 2013|
|Seagrove, NC is an area of North Carolina known for its pottery. You drive down the road and you see lots and lots of little stores along the side of the road where you can go in and view pottery and purchase different pieces. It’s a fascinating place because each potter has a different style and coloring. Each potter shapes his or her pottery somewhat differently than the other potters even though they are using the same type of clay.||September 8, 2013|
|I don’t know how it is at other colleges these days but let me tell you about my first day at college and compare it to our experience at Wofford College on Wednesday. As many of you know, my wife Kathryn and I took our oldest daughter, Rebecca, to Wofford on Wednesday to begin her first year of college. Before I tell you about that day, let me contrast our experience with Rebecca and Wofford with my experience with Clemson and my parents.||September 1, 2013|
|We are going to be reading from the end of the 12th chapter of Luke. The verses we are about to read are ignored by lots of church people. This is a passage which is ignored because it seems to contradict other stories which the gospel writer Luke tells about Jesus.||August 25, 2013|
|We will be reading from the book of the Bible called the Letter to the Hebrews. One way to understand this letter is that it is a sermon written to a group of Christians to stay strong in the midst of hardship. We don’t know who wrote Hebrews. There are lots of guesses about who wrote it but we don’t know.||August 18, 2013|
|Thursday of this week I attended a workshop at Winthrop hosted by some social service agencies. The workshop was on understanding hope in the midst of the disease of Alzheimer’s. At my table I heard the stories of one man who was a pastor who is the sole care giver for his wife who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about 4 years ago. Also at my table was a social worker whose mother was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and who was now in a care facility in Charlotte.||July 28, 2013|
|Today we are going to turn to the beginning of another one of Paul’s letters. This is a letter which the first verse tells us was written by both Paul and his companion Timothy. We will be reading this letter written to the church in the town of Colossae, which we call Colossians. The church that Paul is writing to was founded by Paul’s associate named Epaphras whom we will hear mentioned in our reading today.||July 21, 2013|
|The story we are about to read is probably the most well known parable in the Bible. It is one of those stories which has made its way into our common language in our society. Any time that one does a good deed they are usually called a Good Samaritan. There is an RV club called the Good Sam club. So let us listen once again to this story and how it can challenge us and our actions.||July 14, 2013|
|Today is the conclusion of our 6 weeks of reading through Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia, a letter which we call Galatians. We have learned that Paul writes this letter to a group of churches made up of non-Jewish people called Gentiles to give them instructions about the Christian life. The main question before them is whether or not they have to abide by Jewish laws and customs in order to become Christian.||July 7, 2013|
|Over the past few weeks we have been reading through the letter that Paul wrote to a group of Christians that made up the churches in the region of Galatia. We call this letter Galatians. Today we are going to be reading from the 5th chapter.||June 30, 2013|
|This morning we continue our reading of Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia, a letter which we call Galatians. This is the 4th week of our 6 weeks reading through the majority of this letter. We have learned over the previous few weeks that Paul writes this letter to a group of non-Jewish Christians, or Gentiles, who are wondering if they have to become Jewish in order to become Christian. They are wondering if they have to abide by Jewish laws and customs to be welcomed into a relationship with Christ.||June 23, 2013|
|Today we continue reading from Paul’s letter to the churches in the region called Galatia, a letter which we call Galatians. The area of Galatia is found in the modern day country of Turkey. If you follow international news you know that Turkey has been in the news a lot over the past several weeks with anti-government protests.||June 16, 2013|
|Today we are going to continue reading Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia, what we call Galatians. Last week we read from the first 10 verses and today we are going to read through the end of chapter 1. This letter is written by Paul to churches in the region of Galatia. The area of Galatia would be found in what is the modern day country of Turkey.||June 9, 2013|
|Today we are going to begin a 6 week series on Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia. We call this letter Galatians. This letter was written probably in the late 40s or 50s and about 20 or so years after the death of Christ. By this time the early Christian movement was still connected to the Jewish faith but through the work of Paul and others there was an increasing number of Gentile Christians. Gentile meaning non-Jewish.||June 2, 2013|
|Our next Scripture is going to be from the 8th chapter of the book of Proverbs. This chapter contains a description of something which Christians have struggled to understand. This chapter gives a description of what the Bible calls wisdom.||May 26, 2013|
|I keep my old paper calendars in my closet in my office. I keep them in there because occasionally I will have a question about something that happened in the past and I can go to my calendar and retrace the history of an event.||May 19, 2013|
|If you have a red letter Bible like this one, and you open up your Bible to the 13th chapter of the gospel of John, you will find a lot of red in chapters 13, 14, 15, and 16. Red letter Bibles use red ink to mark the words that are attributed to Jesus. This section of the gospel of John in chapters 13-16 is called the Farewell discourse.||May 12, 2013|
|I don’t know about you but I find myself a little bit jealous when people tell me that they know exactly what God wants them to do with their life. I find myself a bit jealous when I hear someone tell me that they know exactly what God’s plan is for them.||May 5, 2013|
|This morning we will be reading from Acts 11. Before we read this text, we need to understand that there are some things which are very clear according to the Scriptures. There are some rules laid out in Scripture which God’s people are told that they cannot break.||April 28, 2013|
|We have certainly been exposed to some horrific images this week. First we were exposed to the horrific images of the finish line of the Boston Marathon when two bombs exploded killing three innocent victims and wounding hundreds of others. We have heard the stories of the victims and have felt pain in our hearts for their families.||April 21, 2013|
|Today we will be reading a story about some very hard working people. A story of some very hard working people who find failure in what they do. We will be reading from chapter 21 of John but if you read chapter 20 you would think that the story would end there.||April 14, 2013|
|If one wanted to prove the resurrection of Jesus Christ in a court of law, then the testimony of the four gospel writers in the Bible would not be good witnesses. They would not be good witnesses to proving the resurrection because their facts are not the same. They offer differing accounts that any good lawyer could pick apart.||March 31, 2013 –
|Imagine with me that you have arrived in a big city by foot. It is 2000 years ago and you have come to celebrate. You have come to celebrate the Passover. That ritual held every year to remember and celebrate that historical event from your faith tradition when God led your ancestors out of slavery and into the Promised Land.||March 24, 2013 -Palm Sunday|
|Today’s reading takes place in the town called Bethany which is located outside of Jerusalem. We need to look back into chapter 11 to better understand what happens in our reading this morning. Previously, the gospel writer John tells us one of Bethany’s residents, Lazarus, became ill. Lazarus has two sisters named Mary and Martha.||March 17, 2013|
|We are going to be reading from Luke 15. But before reading this story, my question for us to ponder is, “what is the title for this story?” Because the title we give this story tells us a lot about the way we read this story. Some people call this the “Prodigal Son” story. If we call this the “prodigal son” story then we emphasize the first half of this story to the neglect of the second half of this story. If we call this “A Man with Two Sons” we recognize that this is actually two stories within one story.||March 10, 2013|
|Throughout Lent, these 40 days excluding Sundays leading up to Easter, we are exploring different gifts. We have explored the gifts of opportunity and the gift of family. Today we explore the gift of intimacy. Intimacy, according to the dictionary, is “a close, familiar, and affectionate or loving relationship with another.” But for us to really understand intimacy with others, we also must seek to understand how we are to become intimate with God. To be close, familiar, and loving to God.||March 3, 2013|
|During this season of Lent, we are exploring in worship different gifts that the Scriptures bring to our attention. Last week, a few of us gathered here on a day the snow and ice covered our roads to explore the gift of opportunity. Today the text leads us into exploring the gift of family.||February 24, 2013|
|Celebration of gifts will be our focus in worship for the next few weeks. In looking over the lectionary readings assigned to the Sundays of Lent, it appears to me that various gifts are emphasized. Today we are going to lift up the gift of opportunity. Over the next few weeks we will explore together the gifts of family, intimacy, forgiveness and welcome, the gift of Christ, the gift of celebration and party, and the gift of Christian community.||February 17, 2013|
|Our first reading was from Moses receiving tablets again after he broke the first tablets. In the story that Bryan read from earlier, God had earlier called Moses up a mountain and the Scripture from the book of Exodus says that God wrote on the tablets what we commonly call the Ten Commandments. So Moses then descends the mountain and he cannot wait to show the people the rules they are to live by. However, the people became concerned because Moses had been away from them for so long. So while Moses is up the mountain receiving rules to live by, the people become scared. So they influence Aaron, Moses’ brother, to do something about it.||February 10, 2013|
|The gospel lesson we are about to read will be coming from John 2:1-12. This is a passage which we commonly recognize as the first miracle of Jesus. The gospel of John is the only one to record this event which occurs at a wedding in the town of Cana. None of the other 3 gospels say anything about this event. The other three gospels begin their stories of the life of Jesus with different events. As we begin to read this event note that nowhere does the gospel writer actually call this a miracle. Instead, he describes this event as a sign.||January 20, 2013|
|The gospel lesson today is the story of the baptism of Jesus as recorded by the gospel writer Luke. I am going to be reading from the first verse of chapter 3 which is different than what I had listed in the bulletin. I want us to begin reading at the first verse so that we can hear everything that Luke says about the baptism of Jesus and what baptism leads into.||January 13, 2013|
|Today is Epiphany, the 12th and final day of Christmas. Now my guess is that most of us have moved on from Christmas. My guess is that the McGregor family is probably one of the few families that are taking down our Christmas decorations today. We are now well beyond hearing any Christmas music on the radio or on whatever device you use to listen to music.||January 6, 2013|
|Our reading will now continue with words attributed to Mary. Although some commentators raise the possibility that these words were spoken later by the writer Luke and placed on Mary’s lips. These words are what we commonly call the Magnificat. It is called the Magnificat because “magnificat” is the first word in the Latin translation of this passage.These words from Mary also compare very closely with the words of Hannah in the Old Testament. Hannah, like Elizabeth, was also barren for many years before she became pregnant with Samuel. So in this passage we are introduced to three women who are celebrating their pregnancies.||December 23, 2012|
|Our gospel reading this morning is going to come from Luke 3:1-6. In this Scripture which we are about to read, we will see that Luke sets it in historical context. Of the four gospels, Luke in the one with the greatest focus on placing events in historical context. This is the third event of Luke’s gospel when he places an event during a specific historical moment. The first time he does this is with the birth of John and the second time was the birth of Jesus.||December 9, 2012|
|Today we will be reading from Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica. Thessalonica was in ancient Macedonia which would be considered modern day Greece. Paul writes this letter about 20 years after the death of Christ and this letter is considered to be the oldest document in the New Testament of the Bible. It is older than the gospels because it is assumed that the gospels were told orally for about 40 years or so before they were recorded.||December 2, 2012|
|Edgar Moore tells the story of his maternal grandmother, Ella Cook, who took her mincemeat recipe to the grave with her. She was a tee totaling conservative Christian of the old school who believed that drinking any alcohol was a serious breach of the Ten Commandments.She had no problem, though, each November. Every November she requested a fifth of brandy to be added to the mysterious blend of ingredients that went into her mincemeat. The brandy made it all “work,” she said, and her mincemeat pies where “the baking got rid of all the alcohol” were the stuff of legend in their family. These mincemeat pies were absolutely essential to Thanksgiving; turkey was optional.||November 25, 2012|
|Last week James and I went to catch a basketball game at Clemson. Bear with me on this if any conversation about Clemson makes you uncomfortable. Hang in there with me for a couple of minutes. It just so happened that the Monday night that James and I were there was the beginning of homecoming activities on Clemson’s campus.||November 18, 2012|
|When I read this Scripture a few weeks ago and was told that we would be using this text during our stewardship season, I thought to myself, what a great text to use for stewardship season. This is a text which if we read in the way we have traditionally read this text, is a great text to encourage folks to give money to the church.||November 11, 2012|
|This is the second of three weeks where we at Allison Creek are focusing on stewardship. In a little while we will hear a minute for mission on stewardship and how we are to be good stewards of what we have. I think the Scriptures we are reading this morning focus on one aspect of stewardship.||November 4, 2012|
|The Scripture we are about to read concludes the ministry of Jesus outside of Jerusalem. After this Scripture, Jesus arrives in Jerusalem. It is in Jerusalem where Jesus will face persecution, conviction, and death. But the gospel of Mark records Jesus healing the sight of blind Bartimaeus as the last thing he does prior to entering Jerusalem.||October 28, 2012|
|This passage which we are about to read from the 10th chapter of Mark describes a journey that some people are having with Jesus. This crowd is walking with Jesus and they are on the way to Jerusalem. The crowd has witnessed many things that Jesus has done. And now I invite us to read Mark 10:32-45 to catch a glimpse of how they are reacting to what they are seeing.||October 21, 2012|
|Over the last several weeks we have been reading through the letter written by James. James is considered to be the brother of Jesus and a leader in the early church. James writes this letter to several churches and the people that made up these churches were having conflicts with one another. So James writes to them to give them guidance in the way they are to treat one another. Today we are going to read the last words that James writes to them.||October 14, 2012|
|Let me first of all say that preaching the week after Peter Breeze preached last week here has me feeling a little intimidated. If you were not here last week you missed a real blessing to our congregation. Rev. Peter Breeze from Liberia in Africa preached here.||October 7, 2012|
|We are going to continue reading from James 4. We have been reading through this letter through the month of September. James is a letter written by a person who is believed to be the brother of Jesus and a leader in the early church. In the previous weeks we have discovered James writing words to a collection of churches about how they are to be doers of the word and not just talk about it. We have heard that there are conflicts in the churches and James gives advice about how to deal with that. We have heard him talk about how words can build up and how words can tear down Christian communities.||September 23, 2012|
|“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” How many times have parents said that to children after their child came home from school or some event with tears in their eyes? Tears in their eyes after the child had heard something mean and hurtful said about them. Parents share those words with children with the hope that their words of encouragement can overcome whatever hurt their child feels.||September 16, 2012|
|Today we continue to read through the letter written by James. The letter writer James is believed to be the brother of Jesus and a leader in the early church. He writes this letter to some churches who were struggling. These churches are dealing with issues that are threatening to tear their faith communities apart. James is writing to them toward the end of the first century to guide them to live a life differently than the culture around them.||September 9, 2012|
|The lectionary today begins a 5 week series on the letter of James so that is what we are going to be reading in worship during that time period. So each week over the next 5 weeks we are going to be reading from each of the 5 chapters of the book of James. I like preaching series on books of the Bible. I don’t care much for a lot of modern day preaching in which pastors pick and choose random texts of Scripture and throw them into a blender to fit an already decided upon message. I think that style of preaching makes the Bible a weapon to make a pre-determined point rather than allowing the Scriptures to agitate our established worldview. The Scriptures should agitate us. They should disturb us. Unnerve us.||September 2, 2012|
One thing I realized from the class that I took a couple of weeks ago on the books of Luke and Acts was how little time we spend on the end of Acts. The end of Acts does not occur in the lectionary and not very many people that I know preach sermons on the end of Acts. But the end of Acts is an amazing adventure story in which the reader can’t predict what is going to happen next.
|July 15, 2012|
Many of us know that in the book of Genesis creation is described as a 7 day process. The first six days portray God as Creator working to create night and day, then the waters and land, then the plants and birds. On the 6thday God creates the animals and God creates the people. Many of us know that the 7th day is reserved for something quite different than all of this creating. On the 7th day, God rests. There are 6 days to work and the 7thday is to be a day of rest.
|June 24, 2012|
Have you ever been asked or have you ever asked someone if they are “born again?” Or if you are born again? I know that there are some here who are very comfortable answering that question while there are others here who get a little squirmy and don’t quite know how to respond. My experience is that this question is asked of me by people who don’t really know me.
|June 3, 2012|
|What To Do With My Life
A survey was recently done and folks who attend church were asked to state the most common question they have. The question which is the most common question for folks who come to church is this: “What does God want me to do with my life?” (Not Sam McGregor per se but each of us) This is the question that is the most burning question on our hearts and minds. “What does God want me to do with my life?”
|May 20, 2012|
|Child of GodThis is not a hypothetical question. But I solicit your responses. When you think about what it means to be a child, what does that mean?||May 13, 2012|
|Hunger/PATH AppreciationToday we recognize people like Joe Martindale. Joe is not a PATH volunteer but he very well could be. Joe grew up in Brooklyn, NY, one of nine children in a Catholic working class family. His father was a longshoreman and although they weren’t poor, they didn’t have anything extra. Joe benefitted from a good education, attended college, and then got a law degree. Joe was a lawyer on Wall Street, an executive with JC Penny, and ended up spending most of his life as a health care consultant.||April 29, 2012|
|Truth and Reconciliation
Today we are going to begin a series on First, Second, and Third John. Now I have been told but I do not know if it is true but in one of our Presbyterian seminaries there is a bathroom with three toilets. On the door to the first toilet is written First John, on the door to the second is written 2nd John, and on the door of the third is written, you guessed it, 3rd John. Again, I was told this so I do not know if this is true. Such is the humor of Presbyterian seminary students.
|April 15, 2012|
Before there was the Chick Fil A Football Bowl game in the Georgia Dome, there was the Peach Bowl in Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium. The Chick Fil A Bowl has become this fairly nice bowl game played in the modern and comfortable Georgia Dome. The Peach Bowl at Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium? Not so much. But when I was 13 my family decided to attend the Peach Bowl as our Clemson Tigers played the Baylor Bears. On a cold and wet December day, we sat in the end zone seats and had a good view of the mascots of the two universities. Clemson’s mascot then is the same as it is now. A Clemson student dressed in a Tiger costume. But the Baylor mascot at the time was a real bear on a leash.
|Simon of Cyrene
This past week I had the opportunity to meet Jonathan Reckford. Jonathan Reckford is the CEO of Habitat for Humanity. When Jonathan Reckford came on board at Habitat about 6 years ago, the ministry was in crisis. And this crisis was followed by another crisis.
|April 1, 2012|
|Jesus Before Pilate
Through Lent we have been reading through the passion narrative, the events leading up to and including the death of Christ. Today is when we move into the real tragedy of the story. The pain and torment. I will be honest and say that I want to avoid this part of the story. Who wants to read about a group of people wanting to crucify someone. But because it is Jesus’ story it is our story. This story is a real tragedy. But tragedies serve a purpose in our lives. Tragedies lead us into self-reflection.
|March 25, 2012|
Today we continue our study during Lent to read through the passion narrative from the gospel of Mark. These are the stories leading up to and including the death of Jesus. We had encountered Judas who would betray Jesus and how Jesus served him communion even though he knew he was a betrayer. We read of the woman who dumped expensive perfume on the head of Jesus and how Jesus affirmed her faith in him. Last week we read of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and his prayer to ask God to not lead him down the difficult road that God was leading him down.
|March 18, 2012|
|Garden of GethsemaneJesus is stressed and prays for God to not make him do what God is calling him to do. Jesus is stressed and prays for God to make things easier for him. This Jesus asking for an easier route to obedience is not the image which we share very often to ourselves and the wider world. But maybe we Christians need to start telling the messier stories of our faith that challenge our perfectly created world of what Jesus is like, what God is like, and what we Christians are supposed to be like.||March 11, 2012|
|Judas and CommunionBefore reading our Scripture this morning, I want to tell a story. This story comes from the famous storyteller Leo Tolstoy.Leo Tolstoy tells the story of how there lived in olden times a good and kindly man. He had this world’s goods in abundance, and many slaves to serve him. And the slaves prided themselves on their master, saying:“There is no better lord than ours under the sun. He feeds and clothes us well, and gives us work suited to our strength. He bears no malice, and never speaks a harsh word to anyone. He is not like other masters, who treat their slaves worse than cattle: punishing them whether they deserve it or not, and never giving them a friendly word. He wishes us well, does good, and speaks kindly to us. We do not wish for a better life.”||March 4, 2012|
|Anointing at Bethany
Professor Richard Ward tells the story of when he was a teenager. It was late one evening. Since he was the oldest of five children, his parents would often ask him to take care of his younger siblings while they attended some meeting at the church. His father was the pastor of the church. On this night, he had made his own deal. Yes, he would keep the others if, his girlfriend Janet could come over to, uh, help him.
|February 26, 2012|
|Valentine’s DayThis past week was Valentine’s Day. But I want to share one Valentine’s Day story that should make all of us feel much better about ourselves if we were disappointed in Valentine’s Day in any way this year. Cause hey, I am the first to admit that romance for me means a 50 cent card from Dollar Tree and a $1 rose added to it. Oh wait, I mean a very expensive card from an upscale store and a freshly cut and expensive rose that was ordered weeks ago. That, of course, is what I did for Valentine’s Day.||February 19, 2012|
Some of us may know that people who had leprosy in the Bible were people that were considered unclean. We may know that people who had leprosy were forbidden from taking part in ritual services because they were considered sinful because they had leprosy. It was assumed that they had leprosy because of something which they had done.
|February 12, 2012|
Jan Koczera is a retired Army chaplain who writes about an experience he encountered in the so-called Green zone in Baghdad, Iraq. The Green Zone, of course, was the area inside Iraq where the US military set up as their central command. It was heavily fortified but they were under constant threat.
|February 5, 2012|
|Exorcism of Unclean Spirits
I was recently in a conversation with someone and this person told me about the comments of a pastor in our local area. The conversation concerned some local efforts in our area to reach out and offer assistance to people who are financially poor. This local pastor, whom I have been told by some others is a great pastor, was overheard to say, “Well, you know you have to be careful around poor people. In fact, I would rather not have them in my presence.”
|February 5, 2012|
|Calling from God
Delmer Chilton tells the story about when he was a child living next door to his grandparents. He said that he would eat breakfast with them about 3 or 4 times a week. His story is one I can relate to because I, too, lived next door to my grandparents and I looked forward to the times when I could eat a meal with them.
|January 15, 2012|
|Baseball Game Blessings
Today we are about to read a story about a blessing. But as I read this story, my question for you to ponder is this: “Who is being blessed in this story? Who is being blessed in this story?”
|January 8, 2012|
|Birth of Jesus
This morning I want to invite you into a story. It is a story about a little Jewish girl. But this little Jewish girl needed a Christian name to survive. She could not be Natalie Leya Weinstein, not in Warsaw, Poland under Nazi control in the 1940s. So her father gave her a new name. Natalie Yazinska.
|December 18, 2011|
|John and Repentance
Fred Craddock is a well known preacher who tells the following story about his Dad. Craddock says that when he was a boy, his mom would take him to church but that his Dad would never go with them. His Dad would complain about Sunday dinner being late because they were at church. Sometimes the minister would call and Craddock?s father would say, ?I know what he wants. The church doesn?t care about me. Church wants another name. Another pledge. That?s right. Another name. Another pledge. Isn?t that the name of it?? Craddock says that is what his father always said.
|December 4, 2011|
|Time is Now
Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the four Sundays when we prepare for the celebration of Christmas. And I hate to burst some bubbles but Black Friday is not the first day of Christmas. The first day of Christmas is December 25th. This is Advent. The time of preparation.
|November 27, 2011|
|End of Exodus
A pastor friend of mine told me about what happened at his church a couple of weeks ago on Commitment Sunday. Commitment Sunday is what we celebrate today when you have the opportunity to share your financial pledge to Allison Creek Church for 2012. We will be doing this as we collect the morning offering. My friend told me that a few months earlier the second biggest financial giver to their church had stopped attending services at their church. He was mad at someone on the church staff so he and his wife no longer attended services or made any financial offerings. That was a couple of months ago.
|November 20, 2011|
|Penn State Idolatry
I originally planned for this to be the last Sunday in our series on the Exodus but we are going to spend one more week on this Old Testament event next week. That’s because the reading today is not the end of the story and as I looked at the remaining chapters I realized that we should not leave them off.
|November 13, 2011|
Over the past few weeks we have been reading through the journey that God’s people encountered in Egypt. We have read in the book of Exodus about how they were slaves under the king of Egypt. We read the stories of how God called a reluctant Moses to lead these people out of slavery and toward a new land. We read how Pharaoh resisted letting the Israelites go and how God sent 10 plagues to convince Pharaoh. Pharaoh finally allowed the Israelites to leave but then sent his army after them. Last week we read of how the Israelites crossed safely through the sea while the Egyptian army met their destruction. We also heard how the people grumbled out in the desert and how God provided for them ingredients that they could make into food to eat and sustain them. This week we come to a part of the story which is very familiar. We come to the story of Moses receiving some commandments for the people to live by.
|October 23, 2011|
|Manna and Quail
My family went to Atlanta, GA and Nashville, Tennessee last weekend to start the process of checking out colleges. The trip back to York County from Nashville is not a short trip. 7 long hours in the car not including stops. When you are a family of 5 and you have to stop, you want to make the most of your stops. That’s why I love those 3 in one travel centers that you find along most interstates today.
|October 16, 2011|
In Winston-Salem, NC, the deacons at Highland Presbyterian Church are responsible for putting out traffic cones every Sunday morning before worship. They put out these cones on the street between their church parking lot and the sanctuary. To attend worship at Highland, you have to park in the parking lot and cross the street to enter the sanctuary.
|October 2, 2011|
|Plagues and Questions
Today we continue our series on Exodus and we come to a long series of passages which raise lots of questions that I am not sure we have very good and satisfying answers for. I started this series on Exodus because Exodus is included in the common lectionary. The common lectionary includes passages of Scripture which are chosen and assigned to each Sunday of the year. The hope for pastors and congregations is that the lectionary challenges us to explore a wide range of passages and not always settle on favorites.
|September 18, 2011|
|9-11 HeroesIn the Oscar-winning movie Crash, Sandra Bulluck plays the character Jean, the wife of the Los Angeles District Attorney. If anyone should be safe from attack, she should. And yet, when she and her husband are carjacked, she is startled to discover that her wealth and privilege do not protect her from even the most basic assault.||September 11, 2011|
Ten years ago, she was just Monica Iken, newlywed. On Sept. 11, 2001, she and Michael Patrick Iken had been married less than 11 months. That particular Tuesday morning began as had dozens of others: a good morning kiss for Michael in that half-awake state in which many a spouse sends off their other half to work.
|September 4, 2011|
|GenerosityHave you ever said to someone, “well who made you judge over me?” Ever had that said to you? Do you know where that phrase comes from? This phrase comes from a part of the story which we are about to read. Today we continue to read from the book of Exodus. The book of Exodus is the second book of the Bible and is the story of God’s people in transition. Last week we read about how a group of diverse women came together to protect the life of Moses. Today we read stories about Moses that I think give us a clue as to why God felt that Moses was the one to lead the Israelite people through this time of tremendous transition.||August 28, 2011|
|My Own Prejudices
Today we are going to read from the first couple of chapters from the book of Exodus. Over the next few weeks we are going to read through this Old Testament book. Exodus is a story of a people in transition. And our culture and many of our families are in times of transition. I don’t have to tell you that.
|August 21, 2011|
|Family Secrets and WaterDoes your family have any little secrets? Secrets that are in your family that your family has chosen to try to hide from the world around you? The reality is that all of our families have secrets. And especially here in the South we who are native Southerners have been trained how to keep family secrets, family secrets.||July 24, 2011|
|Parable of Sower
We are about to read one of the parables that Jesus told. Parables are stories told by Jesus in order to make a point. But parables do not have just one point. They are told in such a way that they are like an onion. There is a surface level meaning but just like you can peel away the outer layers of an onion to discover what is beneath, parables should be read in such a way that one can constantly peel away the outer meaning to discover hidden meanings underneath.
|July 10, 2011|
|Prayers for July 4th
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel shares a story of what happened to a young man in a concentration camp. When Wiesel arrived there, he was about to give up. He then saw an older man run toward the fence but before he reached the fence he was shot dead by a Nazi guard. Wiesel thought to himself that he would do the same thing. If he tried to run away and got shot then his misery would end at that moment. But as Wiesel pondered this action, another man grabbed him by the shoulders and said to him, “Wait a minute! Don’t do that.”
|July 3, 2011|
|Humility on Father’s Day
Today is the last Sunday of our series reading through 1st Peter. We have learned that First Peter was a letter written to a group of people who had become Christians and who struggled with what that meant within the larger culture around them. Today we are going to read the last chapter of 1st Peter which are words written to the church leaders.
|June 19, 2011|
Of the major Christian days, Pentecost is the one that always gets shortchanged. There’s no bunny dropping candy for the kids or Santa sharing presents. I challenge you to find a Pentecost sale anywhere today other than maybe a Christian book store. People will show up for church on Easter and Christmas but Pentecost will not be a day that people will show up for church that don’t come any other time during the year. It’s 90 degrees outside so most folks are more focused on how to stay cool rather than being overcome by the flames of the Spirit from Pentecost.
|June 12, 2011|
|Submissive Wives and HusbandsToday continues our reading through 1st Peter. 1st Peter is a letter written to a group of Christians who felt like they were on the outside of their community. Since becoming Christian, they were treated differently by their non-Christian friends and neighbors. So this letter of 1st Peter is written to them to give them instruction concerning what it means for them to be a Christian.||June 5, 2011|
|Memorial Day 2011
Ever wondered how people of faith can read the same Bible but come to different conclusions? Well today we have placed 2 scriptures beside one another that appear to contradict one another.
|May 29, 2011|
|First Peter 1
Many of us may know that a man named Harold Camping predicted that the rapture would occur yesterday. If he was right, guess what, bad news. We’ve been left behind. The Baptists were all taken and the Presbyterians have all been left. According to Camping, we have about 6 months of really bad tribulation before the world comes to an end.
|May 22, 2011|
|Divorce and Sticking Together
A colleague of mine tells of the time that Ann came into his office. Ann was visibly upset. She had tears in her eyes and said, “There’s something I have to tell you, pastor.” Ann and her husband were members of the church. She began attending a mid-morning Bible study at the church.
|May 15, 2011|
Last Sunday was Easter Sunday. Easter is a time when worship focuses on the Resurrection of Jesus and lots of folks make their way to church services to hear that message reaffirmed for them. In the midst of the world around us, we heard the message that Jesus was crucified and on the third day he rose again. Good news prevails. And lots of people who don’t show up at any other time during the year find themselves in a worship service on Easter Sunday.
|May 1, 2011|
I recently was told of a conversation that happened last year between a mother and her four year old child Elena. The conversation went something like this:”Mommy, will the Easter bunny bring me purple jelly beans?”I am sure he will bring you jelly beans, Elena. But, remember, Easter isn’t about the bunny. It’s about Jesus.“Mommy, Will they be purple?”Yes, honey, I am sure there will be some purple ones in there. Honey, the important thing about Easter isn’t the bunny. Easter is about how much Jesus loves you and me and the whole world.“Mommy, HOW MANY purple jelly beans will the Easter Bunny bring me?”Elena, I think he will probably bring plenty of purple jellybeans. Do you know how much Jesus loves you?“Mommy…”Yes Elena?“Will he bring me tootsie rolls too?”
|April 24, 2011|
We are going to be reading I Corinthians 11:17-34. This text is familiar to folks in Allison Creek Church because every time we serve communion we quote a portion of these words. These words are written by Paul because he is disgusted with the way that the Christians in the town of Corinth were observing the Lord’s Supper.
|April 21, 2011|
Over the last few months, the world stage has been dominated by news from the Middle East. We have seen everyday people using social media to band together in places like Egypt and demand changes in leadership. “Perhaps the most disturbing of these uprisings has been in Libya where an armed, but untrained, group of protesters has been attacked by the highly trained and equipped army of Muammar Gaddafi, Libyan dictator for 40 years.” The United States has joined forces with other countries to seek to thwart Gaddafi’s advances.
|April 17, 2011|
Over the past four weeks of Lent we have been looking at various scriptures where we have been invited to Follow Jesus. As we have “Followed” Jesus we have encountered different symbols to remind us of the journey that we have been on. Throughout our sanctuary we have placed reminders of these scriptural symbols.
|April 10, 2011|
I’ve told some of you this story before. So stick with me if you’ve heard it. But I went on this date one time in college with this woman that I met. She had a car and I didn’t so I would get an occasional ride to my parent’s home with her. Somehow she trusted me enough to do that. Well anyway, we lived in the same town and I invited her out over Christmas of our freshman year. This may shock many of you but I wasn’t real experienced when it came to the dating scene. But I invited her out and she agreed. We planned to go out to eat and then to a movie,Beverly Hills Cop, I believe. I picked her up and we went to a Chinese buffet in Columbia next to the old Richland Mall. I come to find out later that while I was at the buffet, she ran into her old boyfriend. While I was innocently filling my plate with hot and spicy chicken and egg rolls, she was setting up a future date with the former boyfriend. We ate our meal together and had some pleasant conversation. We finished up and had some extra time to kill before the movie. We ended up in Belk’s Department Store. Back before it was modern, southern, style. Well anyway, I thought it would be fun to try to make her laugh. That’s what you do on a date right? It backfired. My antics of trying to juggle plates in the fine china area backfired when she ran into a friend from school. Instead of impressing her, I mortified her. After the movie, I took her back to her home hoping that she would invite me in to watch some TV or just hang out and talk. Instead, she quickly closed the screen door in front of me, thanked me for the date, and the door was closed. She then found her younger sister and told her that she would never go out with that guy again. He was too weird. Man, nothing hurts as much as rejection.
|April 3, 2011|
|Woman at the Well
This morning I want to invite you into reading this passage of Scripture in a way that, I hope, helps all of us better understand how to interpret Scripture. For this is a passage of Scripture which, in my opinion, has been misinterpreted by lots of preachers. This misinterpretation has led to a myth that has been passed down from generation to generation. I hope that you leave worship this morning having been challenged to read this text with some new eyes.
|March 27, 2011|
|Nicodemus at Night
I have an embarrassing confession to make this morning. Not something a guy should ever admit. Certainly not a manly man like myself. But I have been reading a book written by the same author who wrote the bestseller “Eat, Pray, Love.” If you don’t know, “Eat, Pray, Love” was a chick flick starring Julia Roberts of a woman who gets divorced and travels around the world to discover herself. It was based on a book written by Elizabeth Gilbert.
|March 20, 2011 – Nicodemus at Night|
The water is still wet on his body from his baptism when Jesus is led out into the wilderness by God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus has just come up from the waters of his baptism and heard the voice of God pronounce that “this is my Son, the Beloved, in him I am well pleased.” Jesus has just experienced this life affirming event when he is led out into the wilderness. Let us read what happens when Jesus is led out into the wilderness.
|March 13, 2011 – Temptation|
|MarriageI want to read to you some snippets of articles that I found. These articles report that nearly half of unmarried young American women are engaged in sex outside of marriage. This rate is twice as much as the generation before. Young people are engaged in drug experimentation with cocaine becoming a real problem. One article I read complains of how the young people are going wild which is the fault of their parents.Young women have lost a sense of modest dress, they are using profanity, they are overcome by the disease of materialism and they are disregarding their marriage vows. Modern parents are criminally negligent with the excess of freedom that they permit.These articles that I read were from Good Housekeeping and Ladies Home Journal and were written in …… 1917.||March 6, 2011 – Marriage|
|Marriage and SinglenessOver the past 7 weeks we have been studying Paul’s letters to the Christian church in Corinth. We have learned that this was a church in conflict over several issues and they wrote to Paul asking for his advice to the issues that they were facing. Paul had founded the church but had moved on to other places. The Corinthian Christians trusted his advice to the issues before them so that is why they wrote to him. First and Second Corinthians in the Bible are Paul’s letters in response to specific questions they ask.||February 27, 2011 – Marriage and Singleness|
Loneliness and Sexual ImmoralityWhen Christians get to these types of passages in the Bible that deal with inappropriate behavior, it is easy to get all preachy. It is easy for Christians to stand within the safe confines of the church walls and shout out judgment against the world. It is easy for pastors to stand in tall pulpits and shout out judgments against those who sit in the pews and beyond.
|February 13, 2011 – Lonliness and Sexual Immorality|
Lectio DivinaWe are in the middle of an 8 week series exploring Paul’s letter to the Christian church in the town called Corinth. We have learned that this church is struggling due to lots of conflict among these early Christians. We have learned that Paul started this church and left and that a letter had been sent to him detailing the problems within the church. First and Second Corinthians are Paul’s letters to the church trying to give them guidance in ways to be church.
|February 6, 2011 – Lectio Divina|
In my office now sits this. Some of you know exactly what this is and some of you may have never seen a real one of these. This is a real milk can. I found this can in my Dad’s shop a few weeks ago as I was helping to clean it out while they moved from their home of almost 60 years to a retirement community.
|January 30, 2011 – Dumping Milk|
|Church ConflictThe first two McGregor’s to come from Scotland to the United States were Archibald and Effy McGregor. They migrated from Scotland and settled near the Southern Pines/Pinehurst area of NC in the early 1800s. Archie and Effy adhered to the old Scottish custom of having a big party at about the time of the New Year. Married children all returned home for the event and many neighbors were invited in to participate in the fun of singing and dancing.||January 23, 2011 –
|Why Have a Church?
Why does Allison Creek Presbyterian Church exist? Is it important to be a part of a church? Why gather on a Sunday morning and offer up a worship service? Is this important? Is it?
|January 16, 2011 –
Why Have a Church?
Do you have times in your life when you feel really connected to God and other times when you feel like God is over here and you are over here? Times when you sense you are very close to God and other times when you feel that God is so far off that you don’t have a clue where God can be found? I know about both of those feelings.
|January 9, 2011 –
After hearing Mike this morning, it’s easy to focus in on what we don’t have. It’s easy to become anxious about today and about tomorrow. To look at our empty cupboard and wonder where the food is going to come from. But I want to invite you into a story of a family that had very little and what they did about it.
|January 2, 2011 –
|Loretto ChapelI believe it was last year but a couple of folks from this congregation travelled on vacation to New Mexico and visited the Loretto Chapel. Now I have to admit that I did not know anything about the Loretto Chapel when Foster told me about his trip to visit this place.||December 19, 2010 –
There was a monk who was very impatient. You may wonder, why would a monk be impatient? Don’t they become monks so that they don’t have to deal with the world? Yes, that’s true. So imagine how impatient this monk was…
|December 12, 2010 –
|Delancey Street“They are nasty, racist, violent, and greedy. They are thieves, prostitutes, robbers, and murderers. They are all gang members.” Doesn’t sound like a group that many of us would want to hang around? Doesn’t sound like a group you would want to do business with? Certainly doesn’t sound like anyone you would want working for you if you operated a business. But in Mimi Silbert’s business model, these are exactly the people that she hires.||December 5, 2010 –
In the church today we have begun the season of Advent. This is the season when we set aside 4 weeks to prepare for the birth of the Christ child. We decorate the sanctuary. We set up and light candles on the Advent wreath. We try our best to remind ourselves what this season is really all about. The acts we do in the sanctuary are pretty counter cultural to what is out there beyond us.
|November 28, 2010 –
Who here has ever heard the name Maurice Clarett? Maurice Clarett was a freshman at The Ohio State University in 2001 through 2002. But the reason that Maurice Clarett became known to so many was because he was the star running back on the Ohio State team that won the National Championship. Clarett scored the winning touchdown in the 2nd overtime to beat the University of Miami.
|November 21, 2010 –
|Radical Defeat from Jeremiah
The story of the Bible is the story of God choosing a certain group of people to be in a committed relationship with God. There is nothing that this group of people did that was special or deserving. It was a group of people that God chose to be in a special relationship to.
|November 7, 2010 -Radical Defeat from Jeremiah|
|I Give Up
Do you ever have times when you just feel like quitting? Do you ever have days when you awake at 3 am in the morning and you lie in the bed and you ponder something in your life that you want to give up on? Have you ever had days when you did say, “I give up” and you really meant it this time?
|October 31, 2010 –
I Give Up
Our second text of Scripture comes from Jeremiah. We have been studying Jeremiah the last couple of weeks. We have learned that he was a prophet who lived during a time when God’s people were about to be conquered by an outside force. Jeremiah saw it coming and he pleaded with God’s people that their sinful behavior was the reason that God was allowing the Babylonians to conquer the residents of Jerusalem. We learned last week that one of the sins they were committing was not conducting faithful worship. Today we hear something else that concerned Jeremiah. He did not like the way that people were becoming rich on the backs of the poor. He did not like the way the ones with money were giving poor wages to those who did not have wealth. Let us hear these challenging words from the prophet Jeremiah.
|October 24, 2010 –
|God the PotterToday I have to make a confession to you. I need to confess to you that when I arrive to the church on Fridays there is one thing on my mind. Today is the day I have to write a sermon. And the task of writing a sermon has guided much of what I have written on Fridays, re-worked on Saturdays, and delivered on Sundays. But just focusing on the task of writing a sermon on Fridays was the wrong way to approach this responsibility. Focused on the task of sermon writing meant I was not always focused on listening to what God was saying through the Scriptures.||October 17, 2010 –
God the Potter
Today we are beginning a series on the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah. It was not easy to be Jeremiah. Jeremiah lived and spoke out during a time when the people of God were going through some serious judgment against them. In 721 bc, Israel, the people chosen by Yahweh God to be God’s faithful people, was conquered by the Assyrian Empire. Not all of Israel was conquered, the Southern kingdom, called Judah survived this conquest.
|October 10, 2010|
Today concludes our series on the Old Testament character of Joseph. We have learned over the course of these 6 weeks that Joseph was one of 12 sons. We know that he was the favorite of his Dad and that his Dad gave him a special coat. Joseph’s brothers became very jealous of him especially after he told them about a dream he had in which they would bow down to him.
|October 3, 2010 –
|DUST BOWLLast Sunday we entered into the story of Joseph and how he ended up in Egypt. He was in jail when he was summoned by Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to interpret a dream for him. Joseph interpreted this dream to say that there would be 7 prosperous years followed by 7 lean years and that the Egyptians needed to store up grains during good years in order to survive the drought||September 26,2010 –
I have this problem and I was wondering if you could help me out. I went into my closet here in my study and found some things. As you can see, I have never used any of this stuff but I keep it under the assumption that one day it will come in handy.
|September 19, 2010 –
Today is the second week in our series exploring the life of Joseph. And this is another one of those texts of Scripture which is difficult to explore. This is one of those stories that prove once again that the Bible tells all of the parts of people’s lives, not just the part that they want us to hear.
|September 5, 2010|
|Dreamers“Some would describe this as the most anxious of times. The structures that shape the society are starting to break apart or radically be changed. Institutions that we took for granted are disappearing or reforming themselves. Even basic social relationships like marriage that we have depended upon as the foundation of society are being redefined.||August 29, 2010 –
The leader of the synagogue is upset that Jesus is healing someone on the Sabbath. Is he really all that concerned with protecting a day set aside to worship God? Or is there a hidden agenda in why he acts the way he acts?
|August 22, 2010 –
|The Rabbi’s Gift
Close your Bibles. Do not look up the page number in the bulletin. Now pick up a Bible. I have a piece of candy here for the first person who can find Philemon in the Bible. Ready, set, go.
Philemon is hard to find because it is one of the smallest books in the New Testament. It is actually a letter. It is letter written from Paul to three people including Philemon, the slave master of a slave named Onesimus. In this letter, Paul is writing from prison and informs that Onesimus has been with him in prison but he is now being released. We are not sure why Onesimus is in prison or why he is now being released. But in this letter to Philemon at the release of Onesimus, Paul gives advice to the Christian community about how they should now treat Onesimus on his return to the community. I am reading this letter this morning because it mentions Epaphras who will also be mentioned in our second reading from Colossians this morning. But I think both letters give us clues that can help us in how we are to live our lives today.
|August 8, 2010 –
The Rabbi’s Gift
|Is Facebook a help or is it a hindrance? Is Twitter a good thing or does it dumb us down? Do computers help to connect us or separate us? How can technology be an avenue to advance the will of God?||August 1, 2010|
|Some of you may have been surprised to read in the Rock Hill Herald or the Charlotte Observer or through online news on Friday that the Presbyterian Church (USA), our denomination, has sent to the presbyteries a new policy concerning sexual orientation and ordination standards for clergy and elders. This morning I want to make sure everyone understands our polity or our form of church government and what exactly was done and the discussions that will follow. I will then lead us into our morning’s second Scripture and how I think it can guide our conversations.||July 11, 2010|
I want to share with you a quote to get us thinking about the text we are about to read. This quote is from Eugene Peterson. Peterson translated the version of the Bible called The Message. Peterson writes: “When men and women get their hands on religion, one of the first things they often do is turn it into an instrument for controlling others, either putting them or keeping them in their place. The history of such religious manipulation and coercion is long and tedious. It is little wonder that people who have only known religion on such terms experience release or escape from it as freedom. The problem is that the freedom turns out to be short lived.”
|June 13, 2010|
You may find this hard to believe but when I was in college I had a phone interview to be a river guide. One of those summer guides that sits on the back of the raft and yells at the thrill seeking teenagers or out of shape adults to paddle left or paddle right or paddle harder, harder, harder. The guide that makes sure everyone is safe and that the raft stays out of the dangerous water pools or jagged rocks.
|June 6, 2010|
|Memorial Day 2010One of the blessings of working at this site during the week is that I allow myself a break every now and then to walk the trail that exists here on the church property. It starts over here beside the playground and winds itself through the woods and ends up at the African-American slave cemetery over here where it circles around the cemetery. This trail exists due to the work of a couple of scouts completing their Eagle projects and the tireless work of George Meyer who has made it his mission to restore the cemetery.||May 30, 2010|
What is Pentecost? Some may answer that question by citing historical data that it was an agricultural festival during the time of the Bible in which the first fruits of the harvest were brought to the Temple 50 days after the Passover. Some may answer that question by saying that it is the birthday of the church. Some may answer that question by saying it is the day that we celebrate the Holy Spirit descending upon the earth. Some may answer that question by saying, “I don’t know” but I am told that I am to wear red to church.
|Pentecost – 2010|
Kate Huey says that even though we call this book “The Acts of the Apostles” we really should name it ‘”The Adventures of the Apostles.” Of all the books in the Bible, it has more close calls, prison escapes, shipwrecks, executions, and stonings than any action-adventure movie, and then it throws in a few circumcisions, a lot of healings, and a church fight or two, just for good measure…stuff you don’t usually find in action-adventure movies, actually.
|May 9, 2010|
|Simon PeterSimon Peter is an interesting character in the Bible. As I tried to get to know him though the stories we are told about him in the Bible, I began to realize how much Simon Peter is like many of us. Simon Peter is someone who was an ordinary hard working guy; he was a business owner who had his own fishing business. He was either married or he may have been widowed.||May 2, 2010|
When my family was in Charleston a couple of weeks ago, we spent the first few hours in town walking along the battery. The battery is the walkway that hugs the shoreline of the historic city. You walk alongside the 200 year old houses and military cannons. In our walk, we were approached by a woman who handed my family a pamphlet. The pamphlet announced that on October 21, 2011, the world would come to an end.
|April 25, 2010|
|Different Points of View
I once heard the definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and achieving the same result. I thought about that quote after reading this morning’s gospel lesson. Because here we have a story of what happens when followers of God look at a problem in a different way.
|April 18, 2010|
|In each of the four gospels that tell of this event of women entering into the tomb of Jesus, there are some differences concerning some of the details of the event. For instance, the gospels differ in terms of which women enter and who they encounter inside the tomb.||Easter 2010|
This story is a parable which is a story that is told which has several layers of meaning. As we read this story this morning, I invite you to be thinking about who you most relate to in this story. After we read you are free to share who you can relate to and it would be great if you could tell us why.Read Luke 15: 11-32
|March 14, 2010|
I want to read a selection from the book, “Shame of the Nation.” This book takes a look inside many of the worst public schools in America and why they are that way. But as I read this excerpt, I invite you to think about your own life and to ask if this story is similar to what you feel as though you are being conditioned to be in our society. After reading from the book and reflecting on how I think this morning’s two Scriptures challenge us to be different than this, I am going to ask for your reflections to what this author says and how I interpret his words through the Scriptures.
|March 7, 2010|
|Confession of My Sins
I recently heard someone talking about attending their 50th high school reunion in which someone asked the former classmates an unusual question. They were asked “What fears have you conquered over the years and what new ones have you acquired?” Not eager to make their private fears public, each person present waited for someone else to open up the discourse. One person finally listed some familiar fears, including “mice,” “being left out or abandoned” and “the dark.” Two confessed to being lifelong phobics, one claustrophobic (afraid of enclosed spaces) and one arachnophobic (afraid of spiders). Their newer fears were more age-specific–“being doped and sitting aimlessly in a stupor in a nursing home,” “dying,” and “a recurrence of cancer.”
|February 28, 2010|
|Galileo and Temptation
Galileo has been called the father of astronomy, the father of modern physics, and even the father of science. Much of what we learn today in our basic science classes comes from his observations. He advanced the use of telescopes and was able to confirm the phases of Venus and the four largest moons around Jupiter.
|February 21, 2010|
|Wearing MasksI recently heard a man tell about the time he was driving in the car with his daughter when they passed by the house where they lived until she was eight years old. He asked her, “Do you remember living in that house?” She said she did. So naturally her father asked, “What do you remember?” Her reply struck him as odd, yet somehow profound. She said, “I remember my third birthday party in the backyard and you had a clown come and we all cried, because the clown scared us.” As they talked further the father realized that what scared his 3 year old daughter was that the kids could not tell who was behind the mask.||February 14, 2010|
|Listen Once Again
I want to tell a story before I read this morning’s first lesson. Gwen Richards remembers how her mother, Helen Ruth Huggins was the glue for their family. She was very popular among their relatives. But when she was in her early 60s, Huggins was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
|January 24, 2010|
|Abundance Jesus, we do not have enough. These are really the anxious words spoken by Mary when she tells Jesus that the wine has run out. Jesus, we do not have enough. How many times have we also spoken those same words to Jesus? How many times have we said to Jesus, “I do not have enough.”||January 17, 2010|
|Words of Affirmation
As a kid growing up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Larry Hoover, now 62, found himself in the middle of gang territory. He had the Lucianitos on one side and the West Siders on the other. On Friday nights he would fight with the Lucianitos and on Saturday with the West Siders. “It was part of growing up.”
|January 10, 2010|
A friend of mine tells the story of a young graduate with a master’s degree who dreamed of opening a retreat center, a place of prayer for a community of faith. He yearned to do graduate study in Europe in preparation for this dream. He was a young man with a promise, a vision. But then he unexpectedly stumbled over a homeless man on the street.
|December 20, 2009|
|Circle the Wagons
There is a Far Side cartoon in which the cowboys are fearful of the Indians living around them. So they literally circle the wagons. They put all of their wagons in a circle so that they are on the inside and they can protect themselves from the forces of danger outside of themselves. These cowboys feel safe inside the circle of wagons. However, in this cartoon, several of the cowboys inside the wagons have Indian headdresses sticking out from under their cowboy hats. The danger for these cowboys is not outside the circled wagons where they think the danger lies. Their danger lies within.
|December 13, 2009|
|Birth of John
In the text that Dale read from Malachi, the community that Malachi addressed was an insignificant outpost of the Persian Empire. God’s people in Judah had been promised elsewhere in Scripture that God would restore their community to greatness. And it had not happened when the prophet Malachi came onto the scene. They were a defeated and marginal group of exiles who were under the authority of a foreign ruler. Because these promises from God had not come true, the people of God were wondering if God had abandoned them and if God would ever restore them and their community.
|December 6, 2009|
This past Thursday was Thanksgiving and for many of us it was a time to gather with family and friends and eat a meal together. It is a day to gather and to give thanks for the bounty which we believe God has blessed us with over the past 12 months. For most of us, this was a year when the bounty was not as great as in other years. This is a time when many of us are facing job losses, salary cuts, maybe some very unfortunate circumstances due to other factors. Many of us may have found this to be a tough Thanksgiving.
|December 6, 2009|
|Hospitality to Strangers
Before I read this morning’s text, I want to share a story which is told by author Michael Lindvall. Michael Lindvall tells about the time a pastor walked down the street past Alvina Johnson’s house one fall evening. Alvina’s house has always been immaculately kept, both inside and out. Her small lawn is weed free. She somehow makes each blade of grass stand up straight. On each side of the front steps, standing at attention in front of the foundation, Alvina plants a row of marigolds, fourteen on each side.
|November 22, 2009|
A mom tells about her family’s recent trip to our nation’s capital. Standing in the grass in the national mall, her son looked one direction at the nation’s capital and then the other direction at the Washington monument and commented, “Will this always be here?” If you were the parent at that moment and your child asked you that question, I am sure your first instinct would be to say, “of course they will always be here. They are very impressive structures.”
|November 15, 2009|
I apologize to some of you for sharing this information but the Clemson football coach, Dabo Sweeney has a motto. He asks his players and he asks the fans if they are “all in.” Are you “all in?” Meaning, is everyone giving their all to help the team achieve its goals?
|November 8, 2009|
In the Scripture which we are about to read, a certain man, named Lazarus has been ill. Lazarus is the brother of Mary and Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair. She devoted her life to following Jesus and did all the right things. The two sisters did what they thought they were supposed to do as followers of Jesus.
|November 1, 2009|
|This Land is Your Land
I am going to start by singing a song…
This land is your land
this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the Gulf Stream waters,
This land was made for you and me.
|October 18, 2009|
|Breaking the Rules
When is it right to follow the rules and when is it right to break the rules? When is it right to strictly interpret the rules and when is it OK to overlook the rules? I ask this question after hearing a man this week tell about an incident that happened to him when he was in high school. Olly Neal grew up in Arkansas during the 1950s. He didn’t care much for high school. One day during his senior year, he cut class — and wandered into the school library. In the library that day he stumbled onto a book written by African-American author Frank Yerby. And the discovery changed the life of a teenage boy who was, in Neal’s memory, “a rather troubled high school senior.”
|October 4, 2009|
|How do you define success?
What are you trying to achieve in life that when you reach that pinnacle you will say to yourself, “I have succeeded.” For some of us, that sign of success is a home or a certain size home. I will achieve success when I am able to buy my own home. Maybe you have never owned your own home and you are striving for that day when one day you will be able to purchase your own home and you will be successful. Or maybe you own your own home and you have in mind a certain dream home in a certain location and you are driven by the goal of one day building your dream home wherever that dream home is to be built.
|September 27, 2009|
|Children Come to Me
In this story, Jesus is a teacher and he is surrounded by his male students. In the culture, it was here that males were to be focused on the wisdom of the teacher and not be distracted by the sounds of young children. Children were considered non-persons and were to spend their time with their mothers. There was a hierarchy in the society with men on top, women second in line, and children way down at the bottom.
|September 20, 2009|
|I recently heard fellow Presbyterian pastor and counselor Randy McSpadden tell about a recent experience in his congregation over in Lancaster County. Randy’s name is located on several plaques in our hallway due to his years of service in getting the Dimes for Hunger ministry off the ground. Several folks here know Randy through other pastoral work he has done. Several weeks ago Randy was awakened by the phone; it was about 2:30 early on a Saturday morning. It was a phone call from a detective in Charlotte. The detective told Randy that a member of his church had taken her life and that her mother needed to be told. When Randy got to the home, the mother had learned about the death but knew very little of what had happened. There was a lot of confusion with police reports, making arrangements, and calling family members.||September 13, 2009|