Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Re-Formation 500

Sermon Notes for October 29, 2017

Why are you here this morning?  Or more accurately, why did you come to worship here at the Presbyterian church in town?

For many of us in this congregation, we grew up in the Presbyterian church. Our parents were Presbyterian, and their parents before that. We were born into and raised in the Presbyterian church, and we never left.

Others of you might have married into the Presbyterian Church. You grew up in another tradition, maybe Baptist, Episcopal, or Catholic, and married someone who was a Presbyterian. Rather than worship at two different churches, you joined your spouse at the Presbyterian church.

Still others live in the community surrounding this church. You come here to worship because it is the closest church to your house, and you want to be a part of this community.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

"Seeing God"

Sermon Notes for October 22, 2017

Read Exodus 33:12-23, where Moses asks to see God.

So, we need a bit of background for our scripture here in Exodus. Last week we heard the scripture that comes before this, which was when Moses was up on the mountain with God, the people were upset because they couldn't see God. So they asked Aaron to help them out. Aaron took all of the gold and melted it down and made a cow, and said "Here. Worship this" And the people did! And they were happy.

Then Moses came down with the ten commandments and saw what they had done, and was so mad he smashed the tablets. Because the very first thing God had said was worship only me, and here they are, worshiping a golden cow. So he told them all what they had done wrong and melted down the cow again, convincing all of the people to repent for what they had done.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"Live in Joy"

Sermon Notes for October 15, 2017 

Read Philippians 4:1-13, where Paul gives a final greeting to the church at Philippi; and says, among other things:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (vs 4-7)

Dallas Willard once said, "We should, to begin with, think that God leads a very interesting life, and that God is full of joy. Undoubtedly God is the most joyous being in the universe. The abundance of God's love and generosity is inseparable from God's infinite joy. All of the good and beautiful things from which we occasionally drink tiny droplets of soul-exhilarating joy, God continuously experiences in all their breadth and depth and richness."

I love the image of God as being full of joy. In many ways it is the opposite of the stern, demanding God, full of judgment that is the first thing that comes to mind when some people think of God. I love this image so much, that I use part of this passage as a blessing in every wedding I do, reminding the couple to be joyful long after the honeymoon glow has faded.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"Tenants in the Vineyard"

Sermon Notes for October 8, 2017

Read Matthew 21:33-46, where a man deals with the tenants in his vineyard.

We find ourselves in the vineyard again today. Have you noticed that we spend a lot of time in vineyards in the Bible?

Vineyards are a hopeful metaphor a lot of the time.  When Noah gets to dry land the first thing he does after God makes a covenant with him is to plant a vineyard.  The text doesn't even tell us he built a house, but that vineyard was his first priority. Why is this a hopeful sign? Because it takes a long time to establish a vineyard. Most of them take at least three years before you even begin to get fruit.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

"Words and Deeds"

Sermon Notes for October 1, 2017

Read Matthew 21:23-32, where a father asks his two sons to work in the vineyard.

I wonder about these sons this morning. I wonder about who they were and what else was going on in their lives. The first son, who simply and baldly says "I won't" is defiant in a way sons simply weren't at that time. We may be used to teenagers who talk back, but a son in open defiance would be strange for them.

And the second son, who maybe meant well and just had no follow through. Did something come up? Did he get distracted? Did he say yes with the best of intentions and then his time simply got away from him?