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Showing posts from June, 2009

Sermon for Third Sunday After Pentecost, "Open Wide Your Hearts"

Sermon 6/21/09 2 Corinthians 6:1-13, Mark 4:35-41 Open Wide Your Hearts I feel like I should have been able to connect in with the gospel lesson from Mark this week, set in the midst of a windstorm and waves on the sea with the disciples’ boat being swamped, what with the nearly nonstop rain we’ve had this week, this month really. But I’ve been caught, as I mentioned in my newsletter article this month, by this final phrase in our passage from 2 Corinthians: “Open wide your hearts.” What a beautiful verse, and what a perfect focus for my last Sunday here. As I began looking at this passage more closely, I realized that it was even more appropriate for my last Sunday with you than I thought. Paul was really the first itinerant pastor, serving in different faith communities for periods of time and then moving on to establish new ministries elsewhere. His time in Corinth ? 18 months. If my time here seems brief to you, remember, I’ve got Paul by nearly half

Sermon for Second Sunday after Pentecost

(Sermon 6/14/09, 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13, 2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 14-17, Mark 4:26-34) The Eye of God Point of view. I think it’s somewhere during late elementary school where you first start learning about different points of view in writing. There’s first-person narrative, where the story is told by a narrator, using the “I” pronoun – “I want to tell you about what happened to me last summer.” There’s a much rarer second-person narrative, maybe used in something like a choose-your-own-adventure book. “You find yourself in a big room with three doors and you wonder which one you should take.” And there’s third-person narrative, using pronouns of he/she or they. “He had something really important happen to him last summer.” There are some other aspects to narrative modes, as the chart shows, but these are the main ones we encounter in literature, and it’s what we usually call “point of view” – whose eyes, whose mind, whose perspective are we viewing a series o

Farewell Party: "We're Really Gonna Miss You"

Today was my 2nd to last Sunday at Franklin Lakes UMC , and also my farewell party after worship. The congregation got me this gorgeous print of a work by He Qi , who has become one of my favorite artists with his beautiful pictures of scenes from the Old and New Testament. The choir also sang me a song, "We're Really Gonna Miss You," written by member Roy Meyer, and sung, naturally, to the tune of "I Don't Know How to Love Him," from Jesus Christ Superstar: We're really gonna miss you, Rev. Beth, you should know this: We've been blessed, you are the best! Yet it seems like only yesterday Since you have joined our nest. We're really gonna miss you, For you not only preached here, But you sang in Chancel Choir. Plus you sang those gorgeous 'Mary' parts From J.C. Superstar, the besty by far. We were so concerned when at first we learned That Rev. Dave would leave us after twelve long years But then you entered all of our lives, Easing all o

Festival of Homiletics: Fred Craddock

Next up in my slowly-but-surely-coming Festival of Homiletics notes: Fred Craddock . Craddock is certainly a favorite at the Festival, with good reason. He has a sweetness and joy in his preaching and lecturing that is just so endearing that it is also quite persuasive. Notes: Judges 13:1-7, Acts 14:8-18, What Shall I Do with the Gift? What shall I do with the gift? 1) Deny it. “Gift, hell! I worked hard on that sermon!” 2) Give it back. “No thanks!” 3) Take the gift and divide it up among the members of the congregation. “Ministers: The Congregation.” 4) Take the ribbon off, unwrap it, and tell it what it is: necessity. Paul: Destiny, compulsion, summons, divine pressure. Trying to lay hold of the one who already laid hold of us. Paul: I can’t brag about it – it’s God. I won’t charge – I can boast about that Little ribbon of freedom. J How do you work it? 5) By just complaining. Jeremiah. “You enticed me and I was enticed.” God gave me too many gifts. Poor souls. “What a blo

Festival of Homiletics: M. Craig Barnes

Finally getting back to Festival of Homiletics notes. Another standout was Craig Barnes , Presbyterian pastor and faculty at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. I heard Barnes lecture and preach, and he was funny, pastoral (and grounded in pastoring, rather than some speakers that have been faculty only and out of the congregational ministry for long enough that they don't connect as strongly with everyday life), and inspiring. Notes below: Lecture: “Finding Your Congregation in the Text” Trying to give “application points” at end of sermon to reach each person’s needs actually not helpful. Sermon begins long before you step into the pulpit. *You* are the one who has the authority to preach to your congregation – no one else! Because you are the one who knows them, who carries them, etc. The holy spirit works on applications in people’s lives. “Bad, bad dog” sermons. Only “golden retriever” congregations like that! We’re trying to present conversations so tha

Sermon for Trinity Sunday/First Sunday after Pentecost

Sermon 6/7/09 John 3:1-17 Prayers, Presence, Gifts, Service, Witness Today, shortly, we’ll receive four new members into our congregation – Amanda, Sami, Lexi, and Steven. They will join a long list of those who have been members here at Franklin Lakes. They, like hundreds before them, through the years, have stood before you and said that they want to be part of this community of faith. These four young people took part in a confirmation program this year using a curriculum called “Making Disciples” – this program pairs confirmands and mentors together, and instead of meeting together as a class as the primary component, they met on their own with their mentors for the most part, supplementing that core piece with group sessions, assignments, and service projects. I especially want to thank Rose, Michele, Rachel, Meg, and Brian who have served as mentors – this program required much more of our mentors than programs we’ve done before, and they were willing to give it a try, and give o

Sermon for Pentecost Sunday B

(Sermon 5/31/09, Acts 2:1-21, John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15) Pentecost As you may know, I recently had a bit of a significant birthday: I turned 30. Of course, turning 30 is probably not actually any more significant than 29 or 31 or any other age, but there’s something about a mile-marker age like that that causes one to stop and think about life – where’ve I been so far, what have I accomplished, and what’s been left undone that I’ve been meaning to do? What do I want to do in the year ahead? What do I want to accomplish? What are my hopes and dreams for the year ahead? This year, I decided to actually write some of my thoughts out, and posted some of them on my blog. I’ve been working on a list of 30 things I want to do in the year that I’m thirty. I’m only about ½ way through even making up the list, but I’m taking my time with it because I want to carefully think about what I want to accomplish, what’s within reason, and what I really have been putting off doing.