Central Presbyterian Church

Massillon, Ohio

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Text:  Numbers 22:21-31

           Proverbs 3:3-8

One Sunday morning, a twelve year-old boy was still adjusting to being too old to attend children’s

church anymore. He was now forced to endure the entire big people’s service.  On the way home

following worship, junior had a question:  “Mom, is it okay to laugh in church?” to which his father

answered with a snicker, “Just as long as Mrs. Gillie and the McCabe sisters don’t see you.” “But dad,

what if God sees me?”  His mother replied reassuringly:  “That’s okay.  God will probably be laughing

right along with you.”

"Jesus Feeds, We Remember"

Matthew 14: 13-21

2 Kings 4: 42-44

      One of the most powerful catalysts for our memory is food.  In other words, certain foods

bring back certain memories.  The sight, smell and taste of particular foods often trigger happy

thoughts and good vibes about people we’ve known; places we’ve been; stories and characters

from the chapters of our life stories.  Anytime, for instance, I have a mountain of mashed potatoes with

rivulets of butter streaming down the sides, I can’t help but think of my grandmother

Ogilvie.  I can picture her in my mind’s eye standing over that old-fashioned GE electric mixer

that turned the bowl all by itself; I with my nose just above the counter top trying to catch a

whiff, and maybe a sample.  Or anytime I enjoy a cup of vanilla pudding, I have loving thoughts of

my mom; she ironing in the living room on Tuesday evening, while I sat on the floor watching the

Red Skelton Show, eating the pudding she had made even before it had fully cooled.  What are

those special foods for you which trigger happy thoughts of chapters written and people passed?

"What Does God Want/"

Hosea 2:14-32

Matthew 18:12-14

      This morning, we’ll be reading from the 8th century prophet named Hosea.  Something new in

the writing of Hosea, and in the writings of the other so-called latter prophets -- which sets him and

them apart from previous Old Testament prophecy -- is their heightened and refined sense of ethical

responsibility.  They seemed to see more clearly than their predecessors that how we relate to God,

and how we relate to each other, are virtually inseparable.  This laid the groundwork for the revolu-

tionary teachings of Jesus – such as we find in His great discourse recorded in Matthew 25 -- that it is

every bit as important to love our neighbor as ourselves as it is to love God.  

"Good Morning, Lord!"

Ephesians 1: 3-10

Psalm 103: 19-104:4

      Here’s a quick and easy reference on the difference between an optimist and a pessimist:  the

optimist wakes up and declares, “Good morning, Lord!”  The pessimist wakes up and grouses,

“Good Lord, morning!”  A little bit of humor, and a whole lot of wisdom which says that we can

either welcome and bless the day, or we can dread and effectively curse it.  We have a choice. 

What was yours this morning? 


Text:  Acts 17:16-21

         Proverbs 4:10-13

    May I begin this morning by saying “congratulations” to this year’s high school graduates?  If you

were the graduating class of 1919 rather than of 2019, and if I was a stodgy academic preacher

typical of early 20th century Presbyterianism, I would probably say something like this:  “Young

gentlemen, I remind you of the words of Samuel Johnston when he stated: ‘To talk in public, to think

in solitude, to read and to hear, to inquire and to answer inquiries is the business of a scholar.’ 

Emerson added, ‘A scholar is the favorite of heaven and earth, the excellency of his country, and

happiest of men.’  As you set off for the academy, remember that a university should be a place of

light, of liberty, of learning.”

"Long Reach Theology"

1 Peter 3: 13-22

Psalm 139: 7-12

      The 1st Letter of Peter can be a very difficult read because it challenges the reader on so many

different levels.  It calls us, for example, to clean house; to deep and uncomfortable self-examination;

to “rid” ourselves “of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander.”  Such spiritual

house cleaning is something most of us are apt to avoid.  In the same chapter, Peter advises that slaves

should accept the authority of their masters, even giving their masters homage and honor.  During pre-Civil

War times,and even after, many preachers in the south used this passage as a justification for owning slaves. 

Later in the letter, Peter urges wives to accept their husband’s authority; a teaching which has not set well

with some of today’s Christian feminists.  Then he seems to discourage women from dressing up, wearing jewelry;

even fixing their hair.

  In what sounds like a rehash of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (which Peter heard with his own ears), he teaches

that when we’re abused or evil is perpetrated against us, our response should be to repay our abuser with a blessing. 

Then we come to the last part of the third chapter, and it doesn’t get any less challenging. 


Text: John 11:1-45

June 2019 


     Eighty-six year old Mr. Carpenter, who rarely spoke a word to his minister, once approached her

after service.  “Preacher, why don’t you pray and ask God to start wearing a watch?”  The pastor

was puzzled by his question.  Assuming it to be indicative of the onset of dementia, or possibly a

criticism of the length of her sermon, she asked in a rather condescending way:  “Why should God

wear a watch Mr. Carpenter?”  The elderly man replied, “Because He’s hardly ever on time!”

"No Reward for Slackers"

Luke 19: 11-26

Proverbs 6: 6-11

      It was near the end of August, some forty-five years ago, that I couldn’t wait for school to start.

My first year at Geneva College had been abysmal.  My pre-med dreams had vanished like a mist

that day in my second semester, when my faculty adviser and chemistry professor, Dr. Roy Adams,

called me to his office and – with both tact and grace – suggested I consider another major, and

without delay.  That same freshman year, I returned to my dormitory suite one day after class to

find my bed and dresser on the balcony.  I had made the mistake of “ratting” on one of my roommates who

was regularly hosting nightly gambling and drinking parties in our suite with his football buddies.  And on top

of it all, by the end of my first year, the Burger Chef, which was the only fast food outlet within walking distance

of the campus, had closed.  So why on earth could I not wait to get back to that?!

"One Father's Closure"

Genesis 49

Psalm 128

     Many of us have had the experience of gathering with family at the bedside of a loved one who

was soon to pass away.  It may have been in their home, or in a hospital room, or in a hospice suite.

While there are few things in life as painful as bidding someone we love a final goodbye, as they are in

that process of moving from the worldly realm to the heavenly, there is great value, and almost

always some degree of comfort - even relief - in expressing final thoughts, wishes, and blessings --- we

to them, and they to us.  We call this “closure.”  In those weeks, days, hours, last words are of huge

significance,  and carry a lot of weight for the family which will soon be forced to go on without mom,

or dad, or husband, or wife, or sibling, or child.       

"Earth, Wind, and Fire"

Acts 2: 1-21; 41-47

Genesis 11: 1-9

      I’d like to ask for a show of hands.  How many of you remember a musical group called “Earth,

Wind and Fire?”  For the younger of us who may not recognize that name, Earth, Wind and Fire

was a band which made the scene in the 1970’s.  Their music was a distinctive blend of rock, soul,

and rhythm and blues; great dance music of the pre-disco era.  Like so many other groups of that

decade, they soared to the heights of popularity, topping the charts with hits like “After the Love

Is Gone,” “Shining Star,” and “Sing a Song.”  Their songs were all over the radio, and you couldn’t

walk into a bar, restaurant, high school senior prom or wedding reception without hearing the

music of Earth, Wind and Fire blaring through the speakers.  But before long, their popularity

began to fade, and in a fairly short time, they all but disappeared from the charts; giving way to

the likes of The Village People, The Commodores, and The Average White Band.  While we can still

catch them on the classic rock stations, or in nightclubs catering to a more mature crowd, if we

were to ask our children or grandchildren, they’d probably look at us like we came from Mars,

and ask: “Earth, Wind and who?”

Central Presbyterian Church

47 Second Street NE
Massillon, Ohio 44646

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