Bible Note #19 — Palm Sunday, Mark 11:1-11

I am always torn by this story—by the inherent social tension in the story.  This passage and the accounts in the other Synoptic Gospels (Matthew/Mark/Luke) see this event as taking place on the first day of the same week in which Jesus would be crucified.  And I see no good reason to argue with that … Continue reading

Sermon #62 — “Our King: An Ash Wednesday Sermon”

All of the gospel writers note that Pontius Pilate, the military governor of the Roman province of Judea, posted a placard over Jesus’ head on his cross.  This practice was quite normal and usual for a Roman execution.  On that placard, called in Latin a titulus, the Romans would write out the crime for which … Continue reading

Quotes of Note #1 Healing and Redemption

“. . .  Jesus is working to restore the original vision of creation.  Jesus starts from the innermost part of us, the seat of our relationship with God, and works outward to include our physical being.  This process is like what [C. S.] Lewis called ‘death working backwards,’ as the ravaging effects of the Fall … Continue reading

Pastor Notes #62 — The Lordship of Jesus Christ and Your Church’s Reason for Being

The Lordship of Jesus Christ and Your Church’s Purpose for Being What is your church’s purpose at this period of our history? What is its reason for being at this particular moment in its life as a congregation? These are important questions that churches can easily get out of the habit of asking. In fact, … Continue reading

Sermon #58 — The Body of Jesus, Bodies for Jesus

The Body of Jesus, Bodies for Jesus A Sermon Preached on John 20:19-23 (see also Revelation 21:1-5) at Venice Presbyterian Church in Cecil Township, PA on April 12, 2014 Are we serious about serving an incarnate, an embodied God?  Do we really mean it?  And if we do, what does it mean for us that … Continue reading

Sermon #56 — “The Mighty Power of God,” an Easter Sermon

“The Mighty Power of God” Ephesians 1:15-23 & Ezekiel 37:1-14A Sermon preached at Venice Presbyterian Church (EPC), Cecil Township, PA Easter Sunday April 5, 2015 What are we to say in the face of the brokenness and evil and suffering of our lives?  What does God say?  No, actually, what does he do?  Look at … Continue reading

Sermon #53–The Fullness of God: Alive in Christ

The Core Idea Behind this Sermon:  Because Jesus Christ is “the fullness of God in bodily form,” and because we are “in Christ,” the transforming power of Christ’s presence and identity is applied to our lives, making us genuinely new beings, who are forgiven in Christ, made alive in Christ, and who triumph in Christ … Continue reading

Sermon #52–The People of the Presence of God

  “The People of the Presence of God: a Christmas Sermon” Human beings are made for God.  That isn’t a widely acknowledged truth.  It certainly isn’t the mainstream view in Western culture, but it’s the truth just the same.  We’re designed for relationship with God, and that truth is nowhere more clearly expressed than in … Continue reading

Prayer Note #47–A Prayer for Pure Pleasure

Lord, my Shepherd, shepherd my wayward will.  Keep prodding me back onto the right path.  You see my mind — how it wanders after pretty, poisonous pleasures.  I beg your help.  Keep me from pursuing those enticing, envenomed enchantments Capture my heart with visions of your true joy, the powerfully pure pleasures of your kingdom.  … Continue reading

Sermon #50 — Then, Now, and Forever: Refreshing Times — Acts 3:11-23

Astonishment is an emotion that modern Americans have very mixed feelings about. We’re mostly quite comfortable about other people’s astonishment.  We’re generally less comfortable  with feeling astonishment ourselves.  I don’t mean simple amazement at some entertaining stunt making the rounds of the internet. The kind of astonishment that I’m referring to here is the feeling … Continue reading