|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 –