Central Presbyterian Church

Massillon, Ohio

"Let Justice Roll Down"

Amos 5: 18-24;  9:13-15

Psalm 99: 1-5

On this Independence Day weekend, we celebrate our liberties as Americans, and remember the

battles fought to achieve and preserve those liberties we all hold dear.  We honor and give thanks

for the vision of our forebears who codified a form of government; a part of its role being to protect

our rights and allow us to live as free people in a free and sovereign nation.  And not to live only as

free people, but to live as equal people; pursuit of happiness and opportunity, fairness and justice

applied equally to all; whatever their skin color; whatever their ethnicity; whatever their religious  

faith, or not; whatever their gender or sexual identity; whatever their age or worldly condition. 

These we have believed and held dear for 244 years are not simply governing principles, but God-

inspired principles, their character no less than sacred and eternal.

"Freedom to Be Good"

Psalm 24

Romans 7: 15-25a

"Children of Light"

Ephesians 5: 1-2, 8-14



1 Samuel 13:5-15a

Psalm 27:1-4, 13-14

         This morning, we read a story about King Saul of Israel and his armies at a place called

“Gilgal.”  That’s an area between the city of Jericho and the Jordan River to its east.  Saul was

waiting for the arrival of the priest Samuel who was going to sacrifice a burnt offering before the

Lord.  In Old Testament times, it was a common practice to make such an offering as a way of

invoking the support of God in military campaigns.  Saul and his troops were about to engage yet

again the army of the Philistines, which outnumbered Israeli forces at least ten to one.  This is

where we pick up the action as recorded in the 13th chapter of 1 Samuel.  (Read 1 Samuel 13:5-15a)

"The Language of Food"

Psalm 104: 14-15, 27-28; 107: 8-9

John 6: 41-51

      How many remember this little commercial jingle from the past:  “Nothing says loving like

something from the oven?”  That jingle was the basis for a massive advertising campaign by the

Pillsbury Company;  a campaign which also introduced us to the soft and pudgy Pillsbury Dough

Boy.  The words of that memorable jingle were not only catchy, but very true.  A well-prepared

meal is a way of saying, “I love you, and I care.”  Similarly, night after night of take-out pizza or

McDonald’s fast food sends a message of its own.  The point is, food is a language of sorts, a

way of expressing ourselves.  Think about it. 

"Breaking Out and Breaking Open"

Acts 2: 1-13

Joel 2: 28-29

      Today is Christian Pentecost; the fiftieth day after Easter.  Doesn’t it seem somehow strange

this year; Easter already seven weeks past.  It’s certainly a seven weeks we’ll never forget; weeks of

quarantine; of physical distancing; of curtailed activity; of dashed dreams and ruined plans; of disagreements,

debates, and even fighting over every facet of this thing.   And now, civil unrest and

disorder.   Yet here, we – the church – have arrived at that day traditionally called the “birthday of

the church.”  That’s a fitting commemoration.  But in a broader sense, Pentecost is very much

connected with Easter, as both events were marked by the release of tremendous spiritual power

and renewed life. 

"The Seven Deadlies: Luxuria"

2 Samuel 11: 1-5

Proverbs 6: 23-35

Well, y’all have been waiting many weeks for this one, the seventh of Pope Gregory’s seven

deadlies; last in order of appearance; first in the poll which asked, “Of the seven deadly sins, which

one do I struggle with the most?”  35%. One in three respondents.  Statistically, that’s pretty significant,

and maybe even underreported.  It should come as no surprise that lust led the poll.  After all, which of

the deadlies garners more enticement from our society and popular culture?  Let’s be frank.  Lust sells,

and big time; bigger yet with each passing decade since that renowned 60’s era of so called “sexual liberation” and “free love.” 

I think there’s a high price being paid.  The Latin word translated lust is luxuria, and serves as the root of an English word:

luxury.  The meaning of this common word pretty well describes the sea change in our cultural worldview over the past

sixty or so years.  Webster’s definition: “indulgence in something which provides pleasure, satisfaction, or ease.

”  As Americans, we don’t like to admit this, but we’ve gone in a relatively short period from being one of the most

self-sacrificing societies on earth to one of the most self-indulgent.  And the overwhelming availability of temptation

to lust is symptomatic of something far deeper we’d rather not talk about over coffee at Panera’s.  I’ll return to my soapbox later.

     Let’s take a look at the effect lust and self-indulgence had upon one particular man; a great man;

in fact, the greatest and most powerful king Israel had ever known.  There’s not a lot of context to

be set.  David had done well for himself.  He was overcoming all his enemies.  He had wealth and

prestige, several sons, an intimate relationship with the Almighty. What more could he want?

          (Read 2 Samuel 11:1-5)

"The Seven Deadlies: Accidia"

Matthew 25: 14-30

Proverbs: 10:4; 12:24;13:4; 20:4; 21:25

      We return this morning to our exploration of the so-called seven deadly sins.  So far, we have

covered the sins – or as has been suggested, deadly attitudes which underlie sins – of pride, greed,

envy, gluttony and anger.  This morning, we come to what might be considered the featherweight

of the seven deadlies: accidia; the Latin word we translate sloth.  Every time I hear “sloth,” I think of

that odd critter Stephanie introduced us to in the Children’s Chat which appears to spend its life just

hanging out and snoozing in the trees of the tropical rainforest, seemingly without a care in the

world.  We might be tempted to breeze by this supposedly deadly sin.  After all, how often do we

seriously worry about slumbering ourselves to death.  But the implication of this deadly sin goes far

deeper than over-resting.

"What A Mother Has To Bear"

Luke 2: 25-35;41-51

John 19: 25b-27

      This question is for you moms who are with us this morning.  Have you ever had your heart  

broken by or over your child?  A follow-up question is: How have you recovered from that? 

      I know of at least one occasion my mother’s heart broke over me.  As I’ve shared with you before,

I was no angel when I attended Geneva College in the early 1970’s.  I did some things I’m

not  proud of, and some things I later regretted.  But it was what it was.  [And on the positive side

of the ledger, that is when and where I met my wife and mother of our children, although she was

never a part of those things.  In fact, at that time, she only tolerated me for a few months.  It was

some four years later before we dated again]  At any rate, my mother received a letter one day

from the Dean of Men at Geneva College informing her that I was about to be expelled for repeated

violation of college behavioral policy.  I’ll spare you the details, but Dean Cunningham did not. 

"It's Not About Being in the Same Room"

John 16: 25-33

Romans 8: 38-39

      This morning is our first ever live streamed celebration of Holy Communion.  And I’m not sure

how I feel about it.  On the one hand, I think it’s awesome – miraculous even - that prevented as

we are from being gathered in the same space, we can still be together via the internet, all in real

time.  It’s 10: right here, and it’s 10: where most of you are.  We can still hear the familiar words

of invitation and institution, in real time.  We can still see the elements of loaf and cup on the

table, in real time.  We can still eat the bread and drink the juice, in real time.  We can still bring

our voices to the prayer of thanksgiving at the end of communion, in real time.