Central Presbyterian Church

Massillon, Ohio

"Bridges Over The River Kwai"

John 20: 19-23

Psalm 32: 1-5

      One of the greatest post-World War II sagas was written by French novelist Pierre Boulle in 1952. 

Its title: The Bridge Over the River Kwai.  Five years later, Sam Spiegel produced a film version of the

novel which featured actors Alec Guinness and William Holden.  This masterpiece chronicled the

work of a group of soldiers forced by their Japanese captors to build a railway bridge across a very

difficult mountain range between Burma and Siam.  Eric Lomax, a British soldier who was captured

while stationed in Singapore, was a real-life survivor of that group of prisoners. 

"Tableside Sermons and Passing It On"

   2 Timothy 1:3-7

   Proverbs 4:1-9

     In our age of mass mobility, it seems few adults settle in the town of their upbringing.  In the

near twenty years I’ve served this church, hardly any of the children of this church family whom

I’ve been privileged to baptize, confirm, and/or marry still remain in this area. It would probably

be safe to say that many of the grandparents listening to this morning’s message are separated

from their grandchildren by many miles.  In my own case, six of my eight grandkids live some

distance away.  I thank the Lord every day that two of them live just minutes from me.

"When You Wish Upon A Star"

Colossians 1: 1-14

Psalm 46: 1-7

This morning, I’d like us to begin by focusing our attention on two particular little words; words

which are often used interchangeably in our present generation’s looseness with the English

language.  Those words are hope and wish.

      What comes to mind when we think of the word wishWish list?  Wishing well?  “When you

wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are?  Some of us may wish we knew then what we

know now.  Some might wish that I preach a short sermon today. Two of my favorite little scenes in

the film “It’s a Wonderful Life” are when George Bailey – in both his youth and early adulthood –

walks up to that cigar lighter in Mr. Gower’s Drug Store and flicks it while making this wish:  “I wish I

had a million dollars.”  Both times, it lights.  And do you remember George’s reaction?  “Hot dog!”

"Of The Vance Avenue Gang And God's Outstretched Arms"

Luke 14: 16-24

Isaiah 56: 3-8

      I don’t remember exactly the year.  It may have been 1964 or 1965.  But I do remember the

names of the members of the Vance Avenue Gang.  There was me, Kristine Dinell, Gino Lalama

[who, believe it or not, was not a blood relation], Martha Whitney, Karol Waite, David Colarossi,

and Arlene Gault.  We ruled the ten hundred block of Vance Avenue….. at least as well as a gang

of eight and nine year-olds could, or until Arlene’s older sister Gail or Karol’s older brother Karey

would chase us away].  Otherwise, we established and held fast our borders and boundaries.  If

another kid wanted to ride their bike, or sled ride, or play catch, or flip baseball cards in the ten

hundred block of Vance, they had to get the okay of our Vance Avenue Gang.  Actually, if they got

the approval of Kristine Dinell, they were fine, because Kristine could easily beat the tar out of any

of the rest of us in a wrestling match.  And how well one wrestled determined one’s authority in

the gang’s pecking order.

"Mirror, Mirror On The Wall"

Luke 18: 9-14

Psalm 25: 6-12

      “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”  How could we forget these words

refrained over and again by the queen of vanity in the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves?

On one level, these words remind us of this parable of Jesus about a righteous Pharisee and an unrighteous tax collector………

or is it perhaps the other way around?


Acts 20:7-12

 Matthew 25:31-40

    Every so often, we come upon a passage or story in the Bible which causes us to ask: What in

the world is this all about?  Why is this here?  I’ve asked these very questions for years with regard

to the text I’m about to read for you.  The historical context is the apostle Paul’s farewell sermon

before he leaves the coastal Mediterranean city of “Troas,” where he’d been for a week after

escaping a plot against his life by the Jews.  Here’s how Luke describes the events of that evening.

          (Acts 20:7-12)


John 6:51

Psalm 104:24-31

One of what are called the “prime principles” of biological science is that all life derives from life.

Another way to put it is that all living things draw their life from other living things. This is a principle

we learn pretty early in life.  While I was too young to remember the details, somewhere along the

line of my first three and a half years before my sister Lore was born, I was convinced by someone,

or maybe some cartoon, that babies were delivered by the proverbial stork.  So my mother would

tell the story of that day when she returned home from the hospital with my sister, and my crying

and asking why the stork couldn’t bring me a baby brother instead.  Only some years later did my

teenage cousin Joanie explain to me in graphic terms where babies really come from.  That I do

remember.  And I remember liking the stork idea a whole lot better.   

"Worshiping Anywhere in Spirit and Truth"

1 Kings 8:26-30

John 4:20-21, 23-24

      I’m going to do something this morning I have rarely done over thirty plus years of preaching.

I’m going to double back and return to a passage I just preached on: the story of Jesus and the

Samaritan woman by the well we talked about last Sunday.  This week, however, I want to specifi-

cally lift four verses from that lengthy passage and focus on those as we prepare to reopen our

sanctuary next Sunday for public worship. 

      (Read John 4:20-21, 23-24)

"A Most Unlikely Evangelist"

John 4: 1-30, 39-42

Psalm 36: 7-9

Some years ago, Mercedes Benz aired a commercial which featured one of their cars running

into a concrete wall during a safety test with minimal impact to the crash dummy inside.  A voice

over asked a Mercedes engineer why their company didn’t enforce their patent rights on their

car’s cutting-edge, energy-absorbing body.  In fact, this aspect of Mercedes’ design has since

been copied by almost every other auto manufacturer in the world in spite of their exclusive

patent.  In a German accent the engineer replied: “Because in life, some things are just too important not to share.”



   Luke 18:1-8

  1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

     A girl by the name of Carly decided, at the age of eight, that what she needed more than any-

thing else in the world was her very own lap top computer.  Now she wasn’t interested in some

entry level, modestly-priced computer from Wal-Mart.  Like her friend Nicole, she wanted a super

nice, top-of-the-line laptop; the kind they bring on a truck.  Well, Carly’s single mother couldn’t

afford a laptop right then. Moreover, she thought that at eight, Carly was still a little young to

have her own computer anyway.  Plus, she had a set of files with games and the like on her mom’s

computer.  But Carly was a very persistent and determined little girl.  She decided that in addition

to nagging her mother, she needed to call in some reinforcement.  She would also nag God.