Central Presbyterian Church

Massillon, Ohio

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"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.


John 21:1-17

1 Peter 4:7-11

Over the forty days following His resurrection - according to the gospels -- Jesus revealed Him-self to His disciples on a number of different occasions.  Sometimes they recognized Him.  At other times, they didn’t. The latter was the case one early morning by the Sea of Tiberias.  Let’s read about this post-resurrection appearance; His fourth in John’s account (including Mary Magdalene) (Read John 21:1-14)

      Gloria graduated a few years ago from theological seminary.  Her first call was to a large suburban church near Columbus.  Her specific position was Associate Pastor of Christian Education.  Part of her job description read: empowerment of the laity.  In a nutshell, it meant that she had the job of recruiting members of the congregation to serve as Sunday School teachers and youth group leaders.  Gloria didn’t foresee a problem as there were over nine hundred members in that congregation, and only about ten leadership positions to be filled in the area of Christian Ed.  Gloria remembered the C.I.F. [for those unfamiliar with the process of calling pastors in our denomination, C.I.F. is an acronym for Church Information Form; basically a dossier of the church] repeatedly emphasizing the vital importance of Christian Education to the congregation.  Money was no object.  In fact, the church budgeted almost $25,000 a year for youth and adult education alone!

"Can We Handle the Truth"

John 18:33-38a

John 20: 11-18

        One of the challenges we preachers face is coming up with an Easter morning message that is  true to the gospel story of Jesus’ resurrection, while at the same time offering some fresh perspectives and insights that might make the resurrection story real and alive for today’s listeners; for you.  Years ago, I was approached after an Easter service by a particular parishioner who I have the privilege of seeing only once a year.  He shook my hand, told me he enjoyed my “speech,” then added, “You know pastor, I think you’d do well to change up your messages occasionally.  Everytime I’m here, all I’ve ever heard you talk about is resurrection.” My temptation was to say something snarky like, “Maybe if you’d stop by on one of the other fifty-one Sundays, you’d get lucky and hear a sermon on a different subject.”  Instead, I simply smiled and said, “Thank you for that suggestion.  I’ll take it under advisement.”

      Well this morning, in deference to those who are wearying of the same old, same old every Easter Sunday, I’m going to try to change it up.  Of course, we’re going to talk about resurrection, but from a different angle.  And we’re going to begin by reading a story that chronologically precedes Jesus’ crucifixion, and resurrection from the grave on the third day.  According to John’s account of things, Jesus was in the headquarters of Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea.  At that point in Jesus’ trial, Pilate was trying to determine if what Jesus had been accused of by the Jewish leaders warranted having Him condemned and crucified.  By this time, Jesus had been roughed up; the worst yet to come.  Simon Peter had already denied knowing Jesus, not once, but three times. The other disciples had fled and were in hiding.  So Jesus stood alone before a leading political figure; Pilate himself; the only one standing between Jesus and the cross.  

"An Act of Resistance:

Luke 19:29-40

Philippians 2:5-11

      The ancient hymn text from Paul’s letter to the Philippian church, which, read for us a few minutes ago, describes a time when “every knee” will “bend,” and “every tongue confess” or bear witness that Jesus is Lord.  It reflects the unshakeable faith of a people who believe in the saving power and promise of God in Christ.  It was this Savior, this peasant carpenter from Galilee, whom the people called “Rabbi”, who came riding into Jerusalem on a lowly beast of burden.  The people turned out en masse to catch even a glimpse of this man, and greeted Him as the long-awaited Liberator.  (Read Luke 19:29-40)

"Farewell Discourse V: Unity"

John 147: 11, 17-25

Ephesians 4: 1-6

      This morning, we conclude our Lenten series on Jesus’ farewell discourse.  Over the span of the first four weeks, we’ve explored Jesus’ parting words chronicled in the 13th through 17th chapters of John.  We’ve brought out of those chapters Jesus’ teaching regarding four broad areas:  servant hood, fear, love, and persecution.  Today, we end the series on words of prayer Jesus offered just prior to He and His disciples moving from the upper room to the Mount of Olives, then to a garden called Gethsemane.  The specific portion of this lengthy prayer I’d like to bring into focus this morning is Jesus’ petition to God the Father for unity among His disciples.

"Farewell Discourse IV: Persecution"

1 Peter 4:12-16

John 15:18-16:4a

      Last week’s lesson from Jesus’ farewell discourse about love is immediately followed by a lesson on what we might call the very opposite of love.  What Jesus is about to say was not easy for His first band of disciples to hear, nor will it be easy for us to hear.  But it was a part of their preparation, and is a part of ours.  So let’s lean into the table and hear these parting words.

          (Read John 15:18-16:4a) 

"Farewell Discourse III: Love"

John 15:12-17

Luke 10:25-37

      Let’s continue this morning with our Lenten sermon series from Jesus’ farewell discourse preserved for us in John’s Gospel.  In week one of this series, we dealt with the issue of servant hood.  Last Sunday, we talked about fear.  This morning, we turn our attention to servant hood’s greatest motivation, and fear’s greatest antidote.  That is love.  In order to sharpen our focus on an otherwise very broad topic, I’d like us to consider one aspect or feature of love.  So this morning’s emphasis: costly love.

"Farewell Discourse I: Servanthood"

Mark 10:35-45

John 13:1-17

     It’s the start of the liturgical season of Lent, and time for a little sermon series.  Today, and over the next four Sundays, I’ll be presenting “A Farewell Discourse.”  Each week, we’ll consider a portion of Jesus’ teaching directed specifically toward His disciples on the last evening of His earthly life. While the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke offer only short accounts of what was said and done on that fateful night  [the centerpiece of each being the “Last Supper”], John offers a full five chapters, 155 verses, and says nothing of that supper, save what we’ll read this morning in verse 2 of chapter 13.  Instead, John chronicles in great detail Jesus’ parting words of spiritual instruction and encouragement.  I want to give you a heads-up that the teachings we’ll be sharing over the next five weeks aren’t necessarily intended to make us comfortable.  In fact, we may at times find ourselves fidgeting in our seats.  Some of us may even think to ourselves, “How dare the pastor…. At any rate, I will attempt to preach the word in its fullness.  You may want to join me in wearing comfortable socks, because “if” as they say, “the shoe fits……”

"Farewell Discourse II: Fear

Romans 8:35-39

John 14:1-6, 18-19, 25-27


      On this second Sunday of Lent, we continue our sermon series “A Farewell Discourse.”  Last Sunday, today, and over the next three Sundays, we’re listening in on Jesus’ final words of spiritual instruction to His disciples as recorded in the 13th through 17th chapters of John’s Gospel. But we’ll be doing far more than merely listening in.  As we bring an ear to the door of the upper room, we find the door swinging wide for us, and we become more than passively observant eavesdroppers.  We become actively-instructed disciples.  So the stairs have been ascended, the door has been opened, and we are now reclined around the table with eleven disciples and Jesus.  The flickering of lamps and the shadows they cast dance around the room.  Our attention is directed toward a face which glows with an unwavering, divine light.  And Jesus says…….

"Spiritual Spinach"

Psalm 99

Luke 9:28-43, 46-48

Politically-incorrect as they are now considered, how many of us enjoyed – or still enjoy in

syndication – the old Popeye cartoons?  When we were little, my sister and I would sit on the living

room floor every Saturday morning, eating our Frosty-O’s cereal, and watching the Captain Bob Hour

which featured a bunch of Popeye episodes.  While the story line was always predictable, every epi-

sode had a slightly different twist. 

Central Presbyterian Church

47 Second Street NE
Massillon, Ohio 44646

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