Central Presbyterian Church

Massillon, Ohio

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"An Example of Spiritual Fatherhood"

Joshua 24: 14-18

1 Thessalonians 2: 9-12

      One time, a little boy was asked to define Father’s Day.  His response:  “It’s just like Mother’s

Day, only you don’t have to spend as much on a present.”  Here are dad’s top five sayings in

ascending order -- Number 5: “I’m too busy right now.”  Number 4: “I used to walk five miles to

school, in the snow, with holes in my shoes.”  Number 3:  “When I was your age….”  Number 2:

 “Just wait ‘til I get home.”  And Number 1:  “Go ask your mother.”  My last opener before we

read our Old Testament lesson is a poetic prayer I  once came across: 

     “Mender of toys, leader of boys; Changer of fuses, kisser of bruises.  Bless him, O Lord.

      Mover of couches, soother of ouches; Pounder of nails, teller of tales.  Bless him, O Lord.

      Hanger of screens, counselor of teens; Fixer of bikes, chastiser of tykes.  Bless him, O Lord.

      Raker of leaves, cleaner of eaves; Dryer of dishes, fulfiller of wishes.  Bless him, O Lord.”

"Where Must We Worship"

John 4:19b-24

Psalm 29

I recently came across an article which listed some of the newer words which have become a

part of our lexicon, along with older words which have changed meaning.  An example of the lat-

ter is the word “guy.”  I remember when guy meant, well, guy; a person of the male gender.  The

New Oxford Dictionary of the English Language has now revised that to mean any person, male or

female.  So our waitress – oops, I mean server – asks my wife and I, “What can I get you guys?” 

Tablet, once upon a time, was defined as a bunch of lined pages of blank paper bound at the top

that people would write on, then tear off.  Now, tablet is more often defined as a hand-held device

one can use for reading, viewing, and researching; a mini-computer of sorts.  Remember when the

word bad used to mean, well, bad?  When Michael Jackson sang “I’m bad, I’m bad,” it meant and

now means “good,” or “hip,” or “cool.”  For that matter, cool used to mean “chilly.”  Now it means

“bad,” or is that “good?”  I’m confused.

"The Latter Shall Be Greater Than the Former"

Haggai 2: 1-9

Psalm 84: 1-4, 10-12

      This morning, we’re going to delve into a short book by one whom we call a “minor prophet.”

His name is Haggai.  Unlike some other prophetic books of the Bible -- wherein the authorship

and time of composition are matters of scholarly debate -- there is no question about the whom

and when of this book.  Haggai was clearly the source, although it appears he had a scribe or editor

do the actual writing for him.  While we don’t know anything about Haggai’s personal background,

we do know that he was called by God to help lead the Jewish people in the restoration of the

temple in Jerusalem, which had been destroyed by the Babylonians.  The entirety of Haggai’s

prophecy was written in the year 520 B.C. during the reign of King Darius of Persia, under the

regional governorship of Zerubbabel, and at the time of the priesthood of Joshua, son of Jehozadak. 

At the point of Haggai’s prophecy, there was no progress evident in the restoration of the temple. 

Yet within five years, by 515 B.C, the new temple had been completed.  In some ways,

this morning’s passage parallels our own situation here at Central as we await the restoration of

this sanctuary; of this temple of God.  As of today, there is no physical progress in our restoration. 

Yet within a few months, we trust that restoration will have been completed.  Let’s now turn to

the prophecy of Haggai.

John 14:8-17, 25-26

Matthew 28:16-20

2 Corinthians 13:11-14

      This morning, we observe on our liturgical calendar what is called “Trinity Sunday.”  As church

folk, we often hear and sometimes use that word trinity, and consider it one of the foundational

and essential doctrines of our Christian faith.  But what does it mean?  Semantically, the word is

a contraction of the prefix tri, referring to three, and the word unity which means togetherness.

Hence, triunity or trinity, suggesting a togetherness of three.

"The Other Pentecost Story"

John 20: 19-23

Acts 2: 1-13

 

        Today, we mark the beginning of the liturgical season we call “Pentecost.”  This morning, we

remember specifically the Pentecost episode recorded in Acts chapter 2; that fiftieth day after Passover when

the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples with great power, and sent them into the

streets of Jerusalem to boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in a language which everyone

could understand.  But did you know that there is another Pentecost story; another narrative of the

disciples receiving the Holy Spirit?  It’s tucked in the 20th chapter of John’s Gospel, and is often

overlooked.  John’s Pentecost story doesn’t shout out to us the way the Acts story does.  In John,

there are no rushing winds; no tongues of fire; no speaking in other languages.  Instead, the other

Pentecost story softly and gently beckons us onward - to watch, and listen, and wait with the first

disciples.  Let’s read it now.

          (Read John 20:19-23)

"A Story of Two Real Mothers"

Exodus 1:22,  2:10

Psalm 139:13-18

      Before we read this morning’s primary text, I need to provide some background.  The Book of

Exodus opens with the introduction of a new Egyptian king – Seti --commonly called “Pharaoh.” 

Unlike the previous king, this one was not sympathetic to the Hebrews living In Egypt since the time

of Joseph..  In fact, under this new regime, Exodus tells us that “The Egyptians became ruthless in

imposing tasks on the Israelites, and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick

and in every kind of field labor.”  In spite of these oppressive conditions, the Hebrews continued to

increase in number.  Threatened by this trend, the king issued a decree that all male children born

to the Hebrews should be killed.  We begin the story there. 

"You Are What You Eat"

John 6: 51-59

Psalm 34: 4-10

      Back in the 19th century, there was a German philosopher by the name of Ludwig Feuerbach

who coined a phrase most of us have heard before:  “We are what we eat.”  Now there’s a scary

image.  In my youth growing up in an Italian household, we had pasta three days a week. As I

grew into adulthood, I still craved my spaghetti, and continued to eat a diet very high in carbs –

bread, pasta, potatoes….. you know, all the good stuff.  Decades later, a blood test revealed that

my triglycerides were very elevated.  Guess what my doctor wanted me to cut out of my diet?

Bread, pasta, potatoes….. you know, all the good stuff.  And I remember like it was yesterday

Doc Lutzke saying to me, “You are what you eat you know.”

"Heart Trouble"

Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Psalm 18: 1-6, 16-19

      The Pharisees had come up into the region of Galilee from Jerusalem, to the coastal village

named Gennesaret; probably on special assignment from the temple authorities to scope out

Jesus and His disciples.  There they found Jesus ministering to the sick, and they were offended;

not so much by the fact that Jesus was healing the people.  What they were all bent out of shape

over – of all things – was soiled hands.  Jesus had a different matter in mind.  Jesus was most

concerned about soiled hearts.  Let’s step in for a closer listen to this exchange.

"THE JOY OF THE LORD IS OUR STRENGTH"

Nehemiah 8:9-10

Matthew 11:28-30

This morning, we continue an unintended sermon series on books of the Bible we don’t pay

a whole lot of attention to.  Last week, we delved into the Old Testament book of wisdom

literature called “Song of Solomon.”  This morning, we open to another frequently overlooked

Old Testament book – this one not poetic, but historical – entitled “Nehemiah.”  The book is

named after and probably written by a Jew who lived during the 5th century B.C.  He was one of

many Jews living in exile in Babylonia after the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar around 585. 

Following Babylonia’s subsequent overthrow by  the Persians in 539, the Jewish exiles were

given much better treatment.  In fact, Nehemiah himself was appointed to a position of honor

and trust as royal cup bearer to a certain King Artaxerxes.  And don’t worry.  That won’t be on

the final exam.

"True Love Waits"

Song of Solomon 3: 1-5

Proverbs 5: 18-23

     There is a short book tucked in the middle of the Bible which gets little attention from the church.

Ironically, the subject matter of this little book gets more attention in our modern culture than any

other.  It’s content is something we Christians are a little squeamish even talking about.  And we sure

don’t cry out in protest when the message of its content is perverted and cheapened within virtually

every nook and cranny of our culture.  It’s been said that what this book of the Bible speaks of “sells.” 

But what has been sold is a debauched and corrupted understanding of one of God’s greatest gifts to

humankind.  So turn with me now to a book variously called “The Song of Songs,” “The Most Excellent

of Songs;” best known to us as “Song of Solomon,” although there’s not a shred of evidence that Solomon wrote it,

or had anything to do with its writing.  We’re going to read from chapter 3, verses 1

through 5.

Central Presbyterian Church

47 Second Street NE
Massillon, Ohio 44646

Telephone: 330-832-7455
Fax: 330-832-7102