|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|