Central Presbyterian Church

Massillon, Ohio

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"Why Mary"

Luke 1:26-38

Isaiah 7:10-14

A teenage girl sits on the edge of her straw-filled mattress.  Her room is simply furnished.  We notice a small oil lamp and water jug; a couple of blankets and a wrinkled rug.  She draws our attention as she sits near the center of the picture.  Yet we immediately notice that her attentionis directed elsewhere.  She cocks her head at a curious angle as she looks toward a numinous beam of light at the foot of her bed.  This is how 19th century painter Henry Ossawa Tanner envi- sioned what he simply titled “The Annunciation.”  It hangs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We see in Tanner’s work the vulnerable humanity of a peasant girl. This stands in stark contrast to the surrealness of the heavenly being, painted as that shaft of light.  This is precisely Mary’s situation recorded in the first chapter of Luke.

1 Samuel 16:1-13

Psalm 24:7-10

"Who Would Have Thought"

      On this final Sunday of the liturgical year – a Sunday which we call “Christ the King” – we ask

ourselves a question:  Who would have thought? 

      Who would have thought that a little shepherd boy could be king?  Certainly Samuel never

would have thought it.  One day, the Lord called Samuel and instructed him to pay a visit to a

cat named Jesse in the little town of Bethlehem.  There, he would find the one whom God had

ordained to be predecessor to Saul as the next king of Israel. 

Mark 12:38-44

1Kings 17:8-16

There’s a story of a life insurance salesman who visited a woman who had recently been widowed.  For forty-five years, her husband had sacrificed much in order to keep up on his substantial life insurance policy.  The agent said to the woman, “Your husband often told me how determined he was that you be well-provided for after he was gone.  So I’m glad to present to you, as sole beneficiary, this check in the amount of 1.8 million dollars.”  The widow tearfully accepted the check, wiped her eyes, and said, “But nothing can replace that wonderful husband of mine who left me this fortune.  But I can tell you this.  I’d give at least half a million to have him back again.” 

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.

Psalm 111

Luke 24:30-31a

"It's Dinner Time"

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.”

Genesis 9:20-28

Proverbs 23:29-35

"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

needed you?”

"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"

Mark10: 13-16

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"

John 14:18-27

Psalm 91:1-6

 

     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.” 

Central Presbyterian Church

47 Second Street NE
Massillon, Ohio 44646

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