“Are You Proud or Are You Humble?”
Text: Philippians 2:1-11 (R.S.V.)
Proverbs 11:2, 16:5, 18
Most of us have probably begun turning over in our minds the question posed by this morning’s sermon title: Are you proud, or are you humble? It’s a question I once put to a group of adults in a Bible study class. I asked them to be very honest with themselves and gave them a few moments to think it over. Then I asked, “How many of you are humble?” Almost every person in the room raised their hand. “How many of you are proud?” Again, almost every hand went up. I was impressed with their honesty. Are you proud, or are you humble? It’s something of a loaded question. We might define cold as the simple absence of heat, or darkness as the simple absence of light. Yet it’s not so simple a matter to define humility as merely the absence of pride, or pride merely the absence of humility. The fact is most of us are, by definition, a mixture of both pride and humility.
"No Trumpets Are Necessary"
Text: Matthew 6:1-4
We all know that in any band, the trumpet section is usually no place for musicians with introverted personalities. The trumpets are literally the brassiest instruments. They comprise the section of the marching band that most often carries the melody. In a jazz band, the trumpet players are those who most often stand – and stand out - during a performance. Trumpets were the “chops” of the big band era of Dorsey and Shaw. Trumpet stops and sections are among the most powerful and dominant on the great French and German pipe organs.
“If Only This Table Could Talk”
Text: Selections from John 14, 15, 17
1 Chronicles 16:7-13
Have you ever heard the saying: “If only these walls could talk, what a story they could tell.” In the 162 years of continuous ministry on this 100 by 105 foot parcel of land, in the 108 years of continuous worship in this very sanctuary, imagine the people these walls have seen come and go: the thousands of members, affiliates and visitors who have offered their worship and praise to God, the 28 pastors who have filled the pulpit of this hallowed place, the thousands of sermons which have been preached within the hearing of these four walls, the Easter morning services where women wore hats and gloves, the Christmas Eve standing room only candlelight services when the wall to your left had to be raised exposing a hidden balcony. Yes, if only these walls could talk, what a story they could tell.
“Of Faith and Dreaming The Impossible Dream”
Text: Luke 17:5-6
Some years ago, the lead story in the Communique, which is the news publication of the Synod of the Covenant [of which Central is a part], was entitled: “Out of the Ashes: Rosebush Church finds new life.” The building of the then 115 year-old Rosebush Presbyterian Church in Central Michigan was completely destroyed by fire. The article stated that in a mere ninety minutes, the small congregation lost almost all its worldly possessions. After the fire, workers recovered everything that was salvageable: the bulletin board which was in front of the building, twelve youth chairs, and the church bell which ended up in the basement.
“Gazing Into the Clouds”
Text: Acts 1:1-11
The Book of Acts, from which we’ll be reading in just a moment, is actually a continuation of the narrative of Luke’s Gospel; Luke part 2 if you will. It’s been said that the Gospel of Luke is the story of the words and works of Christ, while the Book of Acts is the story of the words and works of the first generation church. Just to help us establish a connection between Luke and Acts, I’d like to read the opening four verses of Luke’s Gospel. From there, we’ll move into this morning’s primary lesson beginning with the first verse of Acts.
(Read Luke 1:1-4, Acts 1:1-11)
“You Are That Man”
Text: 2 Samuel 11:112:7a (T.E.V.)
Matthew 18:2134 (T.E.V.)
Your pastor thinks it’s time for a little test of basic Old Testament Bible knowledge for this morning’s gathered congregation. Don’t’ freak out. This won’t be that hard. If I was to ask you which king of Israel is most well known for his excellent wisdom, even having attributed to him a 31 chapter book of Proverbs, who would you say?........ Solomon, of course. You did so well on that one, I’m confident you can tell me who the very first king of Israel was, a guy best remembered for his struggles with mental illness in his later years of rule?........ That would be Saul. Now, who would you say was the most beloved king of Israel, one who defeated a giant with a slingshot, and from whose throne it is said that Christ is descended?……. David. Very good.
“HANDS CAN TELL US A LOT”
Text: John 20:24-29
Isaiah 53:3-6, 11-12
I loved the opening scene of the film Forrest Gump. The “Life is like a box of chocolates” philosophy articulated by Forrest is a classic. But also tucked into that initial setting at a bus stop are Forrest’s reflections about shoes. After noticing the nurses’ shoes worn by the woman sitting next to him on the bench, he comments: “Momma always says there’s an awful lot you could tell about a person by their shoes. Where they’re going. Where they’ve been.” Might I suggest that it’s the same with hands as well. You can tell a lot about a person by their hands – where they’ve been, what they’ve done, and to some extent, where they’re going.
"What If God was One of Us"
Text: Philippians 2:5-11
How many of consider ourselves saints? I suspect if I asked for a show of hands, I wouldn’t see many raised.I certainly wouldn’t dare to raise my own.Are not saints, after all, those who have been martyred for their faith, or been canonized by the Roman Catholic Church as ultimate examples of piety and holiness, or at least achieved some status of righteousness to which ordinary folk cannot or do not rise? There was a St. Lawrence who was a deacon in the Catholic Church during the third century.Tradition has it that he was executed by the Emperor of Rome, roasted to death face down on a red-hot gridiron.His legacy is preserved in a few chapels in Europe, and in the name of a seaway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes.But really, who of us would dare label ourselves saints?