Central Presbyterian Church

Massillon, Ohio

"The Bread of Life"

John 6: 35-37, 48-60,66

Isaiah 55: 1-5

In the Gospel according to John, we find what are commonly called the seven “I am” sayings;

in the Greek language, “ego emi.”  According to John’s witness, Jesus often used metaphors to

clarify His identity and the nature of His mission.  For example, Jesus once made this claim about

Himself:  “Ego emi (I am) ha poimen ha kalos (the good shepherd).”  Metaphorically, we are like

lost sheep.  One element of Jesus’ mission – as He understood it – was to find us and lead us back

into God’s fold.  Centuries earlier, a king named David recognized – and perhaps even had some

divine foresight -- that “The Lord is my shepherd….. he leads me in right paths for his name’s

sake.” Jesus said, “I am.” 

"The Joseph Blessing"

Genesis 39: 1-6a

Psalm 105: 16-22


There are two famous Joseph’s in the Bible.  The Joseph folks are most familiar with is the New

Testament Joseph; carpenter in Nazareth; husband of Mary and earthly father of Jesus.  The other

famous if less familiar Joseph is a character we meet in the very first book of the Old Testament.

Before we read our lead text from Genesis, let’s spend a few minutes getting to know this Joseph.

      He was born the eleventh son of Jacob, and the first born son to Jacob’s second wife Rachel,

whom Jacob deeply loved.  The boy Joseph was the apple of Jacob’s eye, and was surely raised as

such.  His ten older brothers were born to Jacob’s first wife Leah, to Leah’s maiden Zilpah, and to

Rachel’s maiden Bilhah.  Needless to say, men of that era were not monogamous.  In a manner of

speaking, they liked to spread their seed around.

"Of Dukie, Stillwagon, and Restoration"

Romans 12:14-21

Matthew 18:15-22


     The few verses we’re going to focus our attention on this morning are part of a larger body of Jesus’

teaching about the kingdom of God.  This discourse is prompted by a question from His disciples: 

“Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

"In the Details"

Titus 3:4-8a

Luke 3:15-22

     One day when Cory was just three, his grandma came over to babysit him.  Cory’s parents

were going to be gone a few hours, so his mom set out some of Cory’s favorite DVD’s. Grand-

ma was all for it as there was a limit as to how much time she could spend on the floor playing

with Cory’s trucks and dinosaurs.  There was only one problem.  Grandma was not very tech

savvy, and it required three different remote controls to watch a movie; one for the TV, one for

the surround sound receiver, and another for the DVD player.  She expressed her concern:  “I

don’t think I can remember which buttons to push.  Maybe you’d better write it down for me.” 

Mom just laughed and reassured her, “Don’t worry about it.  Cory knows which buttons to push.”

"Arise, Shine: For Your Light Has Come!"

Isaiah 60: 1-6

1 Peter 2: 9-10

      There was once a pastor of a small country church in South Carolina who was known as one

of the thriftiest persons in Aiken County.  In order to keep the air conditioning bills down in the

summer, every night, the good parson would walk around the sanctuary opening the windows to

the cooler evening air.  Then each morning, he would just as methodically close them before the

morning sun began to beat down on the building.  In fact, he was so thrifty that he didn’t want to

waste electricity switching on the lights for his nightly ritual.  He had become pretty good at navigating

in the dark from window to window.  But sometimes, he would manage to bump into a massive oak table

which sat at the rear of the sanctuary.  Have you ever known one of those high-energy people who

always move fast, almost like a bee buzzing from place to place?  That’s how

the good pastor walked, even in the pitch dark.  So after banging into that oak table at excess of

four miles an hour, he’d be left with a Charley-horse or a wicked stubbed toe.  As he limped or

walked stiffly around the town of Graniteville, South Carolina, everyone knew that the pastor was

trying to save the church money, again.

"Angels We Have Heard High and Low"

Isaiah 63:7-9

Hebrews 13:1-2, Matthew 1:20-21, 2:13-15, 19-23

"The Grinch Failed" ( A Christmas Meditation)

Luke 2: 1-14

For many of us – young and old alike – one of our favorite stories of the season is “How the

Grinch Stole Christmas.”  Many of us have read this book to our kids and grandkids; watched the

animated version on TV with them; even stomached the 2001 Universal production starring Jim

Carrey.  In this Christmas story, the old Grinch is annoyed by the merriment of the Who-ville

townspeople as they celebrate Christmas.  According to Dr. Seuss, the Grinch’s heart was “two

sizes too small.”  Grinch hated the joy, the decorations, and most of all, the noise of their Christ-

mas morning festivities. 


Text:  Romans 3:21-24; 5:1-2, 6-11 (C.E.V.)

          Psalm 100

     I remember years ago, when I was younger and more easily fooled, I received a six by nine inch

envelope in the mail.  On the envelope were these words:  “Official Prize Notification, U.S. Claims

Division, Open immediately: award information enclosed.”  “Official?”  “U.S. Claims Division?”

“Award……enclosed?” Trembling with anticipation, I opened the envelope to find a parchment-like

document with an engraving of an eagle holding a quiver of arrows in one talon, and an American

flag in the other.  Underneath in large and bold lettering:  “Congratulations Mr. Lawrence Lallamma! 

You have been selected to receive a free five day Caribbean cruise aboard the luxurious Crown

Princess Steamliner.” 

"The Best Blind Date"

Selections from John 1

1 John 1: 1-4

What comes to your mind when you hear those two words:  blind date?  For most of us, either

 delight or disaster…..more often than not, the latter.

      When I was in college, my roommate Fritz set me up on a blind date with a friend of his girlfriend

from back home.  It was just before Christmas break.  The Geneva College Player’s Guild  was performing

“A Christmas Carol” at the Bagpipe Theater.  So we bought our advanced tickets a week

ahead of time, and I began the process of grilling Fritz about this young lady named Kathy.  I must

confess, my first question wasn’t “Does she have a nice personality?”  Instead, I wanted to know

about her eye and hair color; her complexion; the lines and curves of her face….. and the lines and

curves elsewhere; you know, all the really important stuff.  By the time Friday rolled around, I had

formed in my mind what I thought was a very clear picture of this Kathy I was soon to meet vis-a-vis. 

I almost felt like I already knew her.  But alas, when we met the girls in the lobby of Memorial Hall,

boy was I surprised.  Kathy was nothing like I had pictured her!  And as it turned out, I was nothing

like she had pictured me.  That being said, I’ll leave it a mystery as to whether that blind date was a

delight or a disaster.

"The Cards of Christmas"

Isaiah 2:1-5

Luke 2:1-14

Introduction: a Christmas card is enclosed in each bulletin.  Ask congregation that as

they listen to the Scripture lesson, consider how their particular card reflects anything

within that story of the birth of Jesus…..or not.

(Read Luke 2:1-14)        

      I’d like to ask for a show of hands.  How many of us still send Christmas cards the old-fashioned way;

you know, using the sign, seal and stamp method?  These days, it seems more and more of us – espe-

ially of the younger set – send Christmas cards online.  Vale and I still mail out Christmas cards like the

dinosaurs we’re becoming.  But with the passing of so many older relatives and friends, our Christmas

card list is way shorter than it was in the early years of our marriage. Instead of a hundred or more, we

now send a couple dozen.  In turn, we receive far fewer Christmas cards these days. We do get a few