Luke 10: 1-11, 16-20
Psalm 85: 8-13
"We Don't Need Another Hero"
Perhaps the most unforgettable photograph in the annals of American history – which also
stands as a powerful image honoring our veterans -- is the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. For those
who weren’t paying attention in American History class, Iwo Jima is a mere dot in the Pacific Ocean
where the United States needed a landing strip for bombers striking Japan during WWII. Some
estimated 60,000 marines were sent to take it from a dug-in enemy. “The thing I’ll remember for-
ever,” recounted the late Major General Fred Haynes of the 28th marine regiment, “was the
courage and the guts of the kids…. and these were young kids.” They may have been kids, but they
were also heroes.
A Dreaded Confrontation
Genesis 27:1-41 (CEV) Genesis 33:1-11 (CEV)
Talk about pulling a fast one! And, on a twin brother, no less. But that’s what the story’s about: a well-orchestrated conspiracy in which Jacob stole his brother, Esau’s full share of the family inheritance. You see, mother Rebekah always loved Jacob best. He was delivered just seconds after Esau. But Jacob was the weaker; the more vulnerable; the fair-haired child who, in his weakness and vulnerability, captured his mother’s heart. Today, we’d pejoratively call Jacob a “mama’s boy.”
"A Story of Substance Abuse"
Inspirational author Fredrick Buechner has written of how, when he was ten years old, his
alcoholic father took his own life. His dad looked in on his two boys, went to the garage, made
sure all the doors were tightly closed, and started the family car. For years following, Buechner
carried on an inner dialogue with his father. During the course of that exchange, the son asked
the father, “Could I have stopped you daddy? If I told you I loved you? If I told you how I
"Joys R Us"
Psalm 100; Isaiah 35:8-10
How many of us grew up in church? To those of you who raised your hands, the cynical side of me is tempted to say, “You have my sympathy.” When I was a little guy, I was dragged (some-times literally) to church; Sunday after Sunday; month after month; year after year. My dad was the Junior Department Superintendant while my mother was a Sunday School teacher; I don’t remember what grade. So not only did I have to go to big church, I had to go to Sunday School for thirty-nine straight weeks. If I had a choice between sleeping in, or sitting between Marsha Neely who always had gum in her braces and Rex Weber who was always threatening to beat me up after church, guess which I would have picked?
"Let Them Come"
1 John 3: 1-3
A few years ago at a conference of Presbyterian youth at Purdue University, a group of youth
delegates were asked to generate a list of the top ten things they would change about their congregation’s worship services. Here are the results in no particular order: sermons fifteen minutes, tops, that talk about real people and deal with real life questions; laptops in the pews to give the preacher instant feedback; sincerity; question and answer session after the sermon; allow youth to help plan, write and participate in the service; intermission with a snack break; coloring books and crayons in the pews for younger kids; more interaction with the congregation, including music that makes them get up and dance, or at least clap; larger portions at communion; and last but not least, rumble pews that move when the pastor makes a powerful point.
"Peace with God, Peace of God"
Two oil paint artists were commissioned to put to canvas their best impressions of what
perfect peace might look like. Water was to serve as the prominent image.
The first artist painted what would be called a “pastoral scene.”
Mark 5: 24b-34
Psalm 34: 4-10
I knew her only as “Bunny.” Every Saturday morning during my seminary years, I was a deli
clerk at the Coraopolis Cash Market. And every Saturday morning, Bunny would come in for her
Virginia baked ham and hot pepper cheese. She was, I supposed, in her ‘30’s, but looked much
older. She once told me the story of her love affair with alcohol. She had been drinking since
she started sneaking her dad’s brandy out of the liquor cabinet when she was just fifteen. “I’ve
tried everything,” she stammered. “I’ve been in jail. I’ve been to a dry-out farm. I’ve been in
and out of at least a half dozen different AA groups. I’ve seen two shrinks. I know I have a
drinking problem. But no matter how hard I try, that damned bottle keeps calling me back.”
"A Spiritual; Repeal and Replace"
This morning, we’ll be sharing a story from the Book of Acts, sometimes called “the 5th gospel,”
as it is actually part two of Luke’s “good news” account. Most agree, Acts chapter 9 offers the
best-known “conversion story” in the New Testament. Months had passed since Jesus’ crucifixion,
resurrection, and ascension; maybe years. The followers of Jesus Christ, who called themselves “the Way,” were multiplying at an exponential rate. The movement was spreading from its epicenter in
Jerusalem to other cities and regions throughout Judea, Samaria, and Galilee.
"Stop! Stop! Stop!"
Luke 10: 38-42
How many of you know the name Jesse Duplantis? At the age of 68, Jesse Duplantis remains one of
the most popular evangelical preachers in America. This Louisiana-based revivalist is blessed with a
rubber face, much along the lines of comedian Jim Carrey. Duplantis’ smile is radiant. His style is all
the way down home. With just a facial expression, he can double an audience of thousands over in laughter. I guess a good word to describe Jesse Duplantis is charming.