Up-Coming and Past Sermon Topics
From Rev. Diane R. Ford
Audio versions of past sermons are available here.
Summer, beginning June 18: Sunday Worship – 9:30 AM
July 2, 2017 – “On Being w/Krista Tippet – Entering Into What Is There” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Thoughts on the interview with Eugene Peterson from On Being with Krista Trippet
“Prayers are tools not for doing or getting, but for being and becoming.” These are words of the legendary biblical interpreter, teacher, and pastor Eugene Peterson, who served as a pastor for 29 years. He is the author of over 30 books, including Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer, The Pastor: A Memoir, and The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language.
June 25, 2017 – “On Being w/Krista Tippet – The Power of Words to Save Us” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Scripture: Psalm 23, John 1:1-4, Job 28:1-14, 20, 23-28
Thoughts on the interview with Marie Howe from On Being with Krista Tippett
The moral life, Marie Howe says, is lived out in what we say as much as what we do.
Marie Howe is the former Poet Laureate of New York and teaches writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She’s published four collections of poetry: What the Living Do, The Good Thief, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, and Magdalene.
June 18, 2017 – “She Laughed” – The Reverend Dr. Merideth Mueller
Scripture: Galatians 4:22-28; Genesis 18:1-5
The Reverend Dr. Merideth Mueller is a teaching elder residing in Pennington, NJ, trying to live into her call as a “Servant of Christ and Steward of God’s Mysteries” in the model of 1 Corinthians 4:1. Merideth served as the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Tuckerton from 2005 to 2014 and as Monmouth Presbytery’s Director of Advocacy for Long Term Recovery from 2014 thru May 2016. She is presently the Vice Moderator of Monmouth Presbytery, chairs the Committee on Preparation for Ministry and serves on Bills and Overtures, having attended General Assembly in June 2016. She serves on the boards of Camp Johnsonburg, Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group and New Jersey Audubon.
June 11, 2017 – Sermon – “Holy Spirit For Who?” – Rev. Lisa Lancaster
Scripture: Numbers 11:24-30, John 7:37-39
Rev Lisa Lancaster was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1987. After pastoring, she then became the first chaplain at CentraState Medical Center, where she served for 22 years. She is now a spiritual director, with a ministry called Beggars Helping Beggars (see Facebook page). She and her husband Richard, a climate scientist, have two four-legged children.
June 4, 2017 – “Holy Spirit 101 (Part 3)” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
The act of breathing reminds us of the Spirit’s indwelling and sustaining presence. The Spirit of God resides within people rather than in the ancient temple of Solomon. This is something we take for granted, and yet we may not realize the significance of it. The significance is we are more “able” than we usually trust or understand. How might this inspire what LPC’s next year will look like?
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6:19, 1 Corinthians 12:27, Genesis 1:1-2, Mark 1:9-11, Acts 2:1-7, 11b-13
May 28, 2017 – “Holy Spirit 101 (Part 2)” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Scripture: I Cor. 6:19; I Cor. 12:27; John 14:7-17 selected; Gen. 1:1-2; Mark 1:9-11
May 21, 2017 – Sermon – “Holy Spirit 101 (Part 1)” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
May 14, 2017 – Sermon – “Overbooked” – Rev. Fred Whitehurst
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:20-10; John 14:1-14
May 7, 2017 – “Inclusiveness” – Rev. Rosemarie Newberry
— Inclusiveness for all
Scripture: Galatians 3:28; 1 Samuel 16:7
April 30, 2017 – Sermon – “Nearer Than We Realize” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
— The road to Emmaus.
Scripture: Luke 24:13-35
April 23, 2017 – “The Whole Creation Has Been Groaning” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
There is no conflict between science and the reformed faith. In fact, the more scientists learn about the earth and cosmos, the more awe and wonder I feel about the Triune God. This weekend we celebrate Earth Day by cleaning the beach, watching a film with a climate scientist, and on Sunday morning, giving thanks for God’s creation. We commit ourselves anew to respect and tend to our home, Earth. Bring a house plant to church to add to the “green” sanctuary!
Scripture Genesis 1; Romans 8:16-27
April 16, 2017 – “Companionship Has Been The Path All Along” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Scripture: Luke 24:1-12
April 9, 2017 – Palm Sunday – “A Path Through the Wilderness 6” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
What comes more naturally for you – to serve, or to be served? What is your experience of serving when someone refuses your service? What is your experience of being served when the server is someone you know? or someone you don’t know? There is an interesting dynamic that we experience when servanthood is the “norm” of the community. It transforms our understanding of power, as does Holy Week which begins Sunday. The biblical character Zacchaeus visits us Sunday as we greet and walk with Jesus to Jerusalem. Remember the last supper and Jesus’ moving display of servanthood as he washed his disciples’ feet and hurried Judas along on his errand.
Scripture: Matthew 21:1-11 (Jesus washes feet at last supper.)
April 2, 2017 – “A Path Through the Wilderness 5” – Rev. Robin Bacon Hoffman
Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead
Scripture: John 11
March 26, 2017 – “A Path Through the Wilderness 4” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
A man born blind receives his sight.
Scripture: John 9
March 19, 2017 – “A Path Through the Wilderness 3” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
We are on the third Sunday during the season of Lent. Walking the path of life (the “wilderness”) occurs for each of us in a different way. Yes, we appreciate some order to things, and some of us like a healthy amount of disorder. But Christian path is more about “re-ordering.” In the powerful story of “the woman at the well,” Jesus once again gets beyond the ordinary, pop-culture view of life. In a fun ritual with water before the sermon, we will be “sipping” from the extraordinary Living Waters of God.
Scripture: John 4:5-42 (Samaritan Woman at the Well with Jesus)
March 12, 2017 – “A Path Through the Wilderness 2” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Stressed at work or school? Trying to meet expectations of family and co-workers? Feeling sad, mad or weary of the news cycle? Break yourself away from all of these powerful parts of your life, and spend time with the God who loves you. Bring your questions; prepare to be surprised and perplexed by a new word God has for you. Nicodemus came to Jesus and walked away scratching his head. The wilderness is a place to process God’s word to us.
Scripture: John 3:1-17 (Jesus and Nicodemus at Night)
March 5, 2017 – “A Path Through the Wilderness” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
First Sunday of Lent
Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11
February 26, 2017 – “How Great Is Our God?” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
The “transfiguration” is one moment, among many, when Jesus’ disciples recognized him as more than a “good teacher.” The spiritual dimension of what God was doing in Jesus was witnessed and experienced in healings, exorcisms, demonstrations of radical love and inclusion, turning power structures up-side-down, and in his obedience to God’s will, even though it led to his arrest and death. But just in case someone might still believe he was nothing more than a good rabbi and gifted healer, Jesus’ transfiguration, like his resurrection, reminds us that this down-to-earth teacher and lover of God was the human vessel of the eternal Christ. And how does faith in this Christ help you sleep at night? Let’s look at the question: how great is our God?
Scripture: Exodus 24:12-18; Matthew 17:1-9
February 19, 2017 – “Love Your Enemies” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
I know – most fun-loving, well-intentioned people do not have “enemies.” Unless you are speaking of war-time enemies of our country, we may not refer to anyone as an enemy. So, what might this teaching of Jesus be about? Who is hard to love? Who is difficult to listen to? Who would you rather avoid? Who have you not forgiven? Who has hurt you or someone you care about? Who do you disagree with? As you make a list of these names … consider that Jesus is instructing us to LOVE such people. Perhaps we need to define “love.” Jesus described and demonstrated love. In times of uncertainty and divisiveness, how are you and I bringing love to the table?
Scripture: Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18 ; Matthew 5:38-48
February 12, 2017 “Reconciliation Nation” – Rev. Alonzo Johnson
PCUSA Coordinator of the Self Development of People
Community Anti-Racism Workshop – this weekend at LPC
Scripture: Ps. 145:13-21, 2 Corinthians 5:10-14
February 5, 2017 – “There Is No One Uninvited” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Scripture: Isaiah 58:1-12, Matthew 5:13-20
January 29, 2017 – “Shine Like Stars”
Sometimes we find ourselves where the news that we read and hear seems bleak and dreary. It may seem at times that our world is dark and that we are helpless to influence change or to share hope. Paul writes to the church in Philippi from prison offering a word of encouragement to the church. He reminds the church that even when the challenges seem so daunting, that Christ is at work in the church and in each of us. The gift of the church is to encourage us to support each other and to find joy even in times of discouragement. Paul tells us to shine like stars to the world of darkness. Together the church can be the light and guide people to the love of God. The closer we get to God in our own hearts, the more the light will shine for others to see God at work through us. We keep the faith, we carry on, and we lift of the light for others to see. The introduction of the Gospel of John says that the light will shine in the darkness and the darkness shall not overcome it. We shine like stars for one another and for the world.
Scripture: Matthew 5:13-16; Pauline Letter: Philippians 2:1-15
January 22, 2017 – “Walking Humbly and Stand for Hope and Act” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Learn all you can and, Trust the hope God provides, and ACT. Eight centuries before Jesus the Hebrew Scriptures spoke: “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.” Jesus embodied and died for that message, and twenty one centuries later, we are still preaching his message: LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR. LPC invites you to take action at a community anti-racism workshop Feb. 10-12, and a benefit Jazz evening for the homeless in our community on Feb.16. Learn all you can, trust the hope God provides, and Act.
Scripture: Micah 6:6-8 and Matthew 5:1-12
January 15, 2017 – “Shielded By God and Messengers of Hope” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
When challenged to deal with something or take action, know that you are shielded by God. This may require you to have a constant reminder – perhaps a string tied around your finger? Or an alert on your smart phone that says, “God is here!” Whatever calls you to connect consciously with God, go for it. That is step one.
Scripture: Ps. 27:1,4,13-14 and I Peter 1:3-7
January 8, 2017 – Generosity and Hope – Rev. Diane R. Ford
A tradition of Puerto Rico to celebrate Christmas and Epiphany breathes fresh life into our understanding of how Christ is working in the world. Embrace hope by taking generous action in our world – now is a good time to practice this for our relationships, our communities and nation.
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Jaunary 1, 2017 – “Rogue 2017: I am one with the Christ, the Christ is With Me” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Taking themes from the current Star Wars movie, Rogue One, Pastor Diane will weave the story of Mary, Joseph and Jesus escaping the terror of their home to become refugees in Egypt.
Scripture: Matthew 2:13-23
December 18, 2016 – Part 4 in the Advent series – “Names & Titles of Jesus the Messiah: Morning Star” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
After the morning star rises, a.k.a., the planet Venus, the sun is sure to follow. This brightest light in the night sky was seen as a reminder of HOPE. Christ is our hope – even amidst challenges of health, finances, social unrest and war. Come hear how we too can trust the Morning Star, the living Christ among us.
Scripture: Isaiah 9:2-7, Isaiah 52:7-10, Luke 2:1-6
December 11, 2016 – Part 3 in the Advent series – “Names and Titles of Jesus the Messiah: Son of Man” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Scripture: Isaiah 35:1-10; Matthew 11:2-11, 10:45; Mark 14:62; Matthew 26:64, 25:31-32
December 4, 2016 – Part 2 in the Advent series – “Names & Titles of Jesus the Messiah: Son of Man” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Advent is a time to come to terms with the gap between humanity and God. The gap I refer to is clear; the “coming to terms” is a bit more complicated. The two titles of Jesus, “Son of Man” and “Son of God” help us see clearly how to navigate the complication. To come to terms is to embrace and respond to the world as Christ does.
Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-10., Matthew 3:1-6-11, Mark 10:35-45, Mark 14:62 Matthew 26:64, Matthew 25:31-32
November 27, 2016 – “Names and Titles of the Messiah: Emmanuel” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Being God’s light in the world causes us to be excellent stewards of God’s gifts – our time, talents, treasure, and the relationships we have. We pour God’s light into wounds that exist in the world, not salt.
Scripture: Jeremiah 33:14-16, Isaiah 12:2-6, Micah 5:2-5A
November 13, 2016 – Lay Sermon – “Getting From There to Here” – Rob Ziegler
What does it take to move from the difficulty and fear of Luke 21 to the hope and promise of Isaiah 65?
Scripture; Isaiah 65:17-25; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13; Luke 21:5-19
November 6, 2016 – “A Shift in Paradigm” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
What is the biggest paradigm shift you have personally gone through? When did you realize that your world was not flat, but round? When did you realize the sun doesn’t rise and set on your world, but that you rotate around that yellow ball of life-giving fire? Yes, we can answer these questions in terms of geology and astronomy. We can also answer them in terms of our identity, relationships and spiritual reality in God’s created universe. Come share your “Ah-ha” moments with us on Sunday morning. Consider some new possibilities that may be God’s message knocking at your door – a paradigm shift may be God’s gift to you at LPC.
Scripture: Luke 20:27-38 (Sadducees ask Jesus, “which man will be her husband in heaven?”)
October 30, 2016 – “A Beacon of Light – Yes, You!” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Another tax collector story – it is told to awaken us to the way God works. Jesus invites himself right into the home of this despised individual. And he makes it known, publicly. Yes, he got bad reviews for doing so; his polls were dropping. “Look, he goes to eat with a sinner!” Who do you hang out with? Whoever it is, the light within you is being seen there. Don’t hide it; in fact, tend the light so it is bright. The world needs your brightness; our country needs it. Go outside your comfort zone, remembering that God’s light is not yours to hoard. Oh, and you can expect bad reviews from some. That’s okay. Come to LPC for a place that will support you in your Jesus-like openness to all sorts of people.
Scripture: Isaiah 1:10-18; Luke 19:1-10
October 23, 2016 – “Being Judgmental About Judgmental People” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Judgmental people – aren’t they horrible? Rather than caring at all about the real story in someone’s life, they label the person “bad.” Can you believe it? How immature, how annoying they are! If you are judgmental, you should come to church this Sunday. Bad people need to hear preaching from a good person, so you will stop being so bad! And for those of you who are never judgmental, I expect you will show up for worship as usual. Together we will complain to God about those who are “judgy,” prejudiced and unloving. And after our perfect worship service we will serve impeccable coffee and beyond-reproach refreshments.
Scripture: Joel 2:23-32; Luke 18:9-14
October 16, 2016 – Sermon – “Limping and New” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Some say that if we are struggling, then we are not enlightened or spiritual enough: “If you trust God everything will be fine – no worries!” What do you think? Is there any merit in this idea? Jacob struggled, even in the womb with his twin brother. Years later he struggled in a spiritual encounter with a “man” or “angel” or perhaps God. Whoever it was, Jacob wrestled all night with the being and ended up a new man with a new name – and a limp. Bring your own struggles to LPC Sunday for some productive wrestling – choose a new name and don’t be ashamed of your own limp or scar.
Scripture: Genesis 32:22-31; Luke 18:1-8
October 9, 2016 – “Steps to New Life: Trust the Process & Experience Gratitude” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Naaman, although considered “powerful” by worldly standards, had no access to what God wanted to do for him. Until something changed. Pealing back the layers of blinding expectations and false pride, the change came: humbleness, vulnerability and trust. The rarest of those three is trust. Naaman tried on “obedience”, which led to trust. When we are humble, vulnerable and obey God’s Word, we too gain “trust.” And trusting God’s process for our lives, a deep gratitude emerges. Come to LPC Sunday to renew your sense of gratitude.
Scripture: 2 Kings 5:1-5a, 6-15c; Luke 17:11-19
October 2, 2016 – “Grounded in Good Soil and Centered at Christ’s Table” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
The truth is that although we are faced with a difficult world, Christ has already faced and overcome it. Apostle Paul said this message of Christ sounded foolish and was a stumbling block. But for those who are on the faith journey, we discover the power and reality of a completely free and inspiring life. Even if you are a church-goer, or if you consider yourself “spiritual,” and are feeling a lack of freedom and inspiration, it’s time to look: What is your foundation? What is the center of your life? Really. It is from there that we transform “swords into plowshares” and mourning into dancing. World Communion Sunday is a time to claim again the unity and power Christ has provided.
Scripture: Isaiah 2:3-5, Psalm 133 and Luke 4:18-19
September 25, 2016 – “Adam and Eve” – Sue Smith
Did you grow up learning that Eve was a temptress? Did you then hear that women in general tend to be temptresses? How we interpret our Bible stories can have big impacts. Are other interpretations of the Adam and Eve story possible? Maybe…come Sunday and find out.
Scripture: Genesis 2 and 3, selected verses
September 18, 2016 – Sermon “The Election Cycle and the Spirit of God” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Studies are showing that this election cycle is contributing greatly to stress and depression in the American public. This stresser is second only to the level of gun violence in our country. Today’s OT readings express grief over the corruption of those in power. Jeremiah asks, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” Today’s NT reading is a parable – one of the few times when “stewardship” is referring to material wealth and possessions. The parable addresses the Christian’s need to be shrewd with our financial resources – for the purpose of God’s will on earth. The Balm in Gilead, Jesus, strengthens us during difficult social/political times. As we continue in the ways of peace and justice – with a shrewd focus for the Kingdom of God, we become the resilient balm for all who see us.
Scripture: Jeremiah 8:18-9:1, Amos 8:4-7; Luke 16:1-13
September 11, 2016 – “Reconnection With God and the 4-Part Diet” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Worship on the lawn
REJOICE in the Lord’s presence
RECONNECT with our family and friends
REMEMBER our brothers and sisters of 9/11
September 4, 2016 – “Labor” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Happy Labor Day! Wouldn’t it be great if every task, no matter how simple or complex, would bring us a sense of purpose and joy? If we dove into new challenges with a sense of adventure rather than dread? If we felt appreciated as a contributor to some larger picture, even when our part seems small and routine? The Scriptures speak about human labor in Genesis, Ecclesiastes, the prophets, and in Jesus’ parables. Our work — volunteered, paid for, and even forced (yes, slaves are addressed in the New Testament) — can be redefined as our faithful offering to God. You can see the controversy of speaking about slavery this way. Can you also hear resistance regarding your own work? Do you feel enslaved or stuck? Is there a way for you to offer all that you are and do more fully to God’s service? Come celebrate Labor Day Sunday at LPC. Prepare yourself by praying for whatever your labors are, and whatever you’d like them to be.
Scripture: Matthew 9:35-38 “The Workers Are Few”
Song: “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton
August 21, 2016 – “Champions” – Rev. Alice Batcher
Between the Olympics, the usual professional sports rivalries, and this year’s political campaigns we have been hearing a lot of talk about winners, and losers. One of my first memories of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” was seeing my eleventh grade homeroom teacher, who was also the junior varsity boy’s basketball coach, come into homeroom one morning, vault over a desk, singing this song. Looking at Queen’s popular song, and our scripture readings, who are the champions of life? Are their losers?
Scripture: Psalm 121; Galatians 5:1-15
Song: “We are the Champions” by Queen
August 14, 2016 – “Rocky Ground” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
When you hear the words, “rocky ground” what do you think of? Rocky road may refer to experiencing a difficult time. “it’s been a difficult month, we’ve been walking on rocky ground.” It’s easy to turn an ankle on a rocky path. And if you fall, you’re more likely to get scraped up and draw blood. We have to stay focused when on such a path, keeping our eyes on the obstacles before us. Jesus used another image of “rocky ground” in a parable, referring to a type of soil that, although it received the “seed” of God’s Word, the soil was too shallow to sustain its growth. Come this Sunday to have your world ROCKED at LPC’s 9:30 AM worship.
Scripture: Matthew 13:1-23, especially vs. 5, 20-21; Psalm 13
Song: “Rocky Ground” by Bruce Springsteen
August 7, 2016 – “Endurance” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Endurance. Olympic swimmers have it. Dory has it. Are we playing the martyr, “enduring” something because we are too afraid to do otherwise? Drop that baggage and get into the type of endurance that is joy-making and empowering. With our eyes on the prize, we endure in the real game of life. Come sit in the splash zone seats Sunday!
Scripture: Romans 5:1-5
Song: “Swim” by Andrew McMahon
July 31, 2016 – “A Time For Everything” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
The song and scripture for this week remind us that no matter what “season” you are in these days, the ridiculous truth of Christ is that Grace and Love and Thanksgiving still reign.
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Song: “Up Down” – The Ambassador
July 24, 2016 – “Love as Jesus Commands” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
What frame of mind do you have to be in to love as Jesus commands?
Scripture: Matthew 5:43-48
Song: “He Didn’t Have To” by Brad Paisley
July 17, 2016 – Worship Preparation – Rev. Diane R. Ford
This song continues to speak to all ages over the past 20 years. The song goes, “I could hold you for a million years to make you feel my love.” God has repeatedly revealed such love. “I’d go crawling down the avenue,” draws our imagination to Jesus carrying the wood of his cross through the streets of Jerusalem. “Nothing that I wouldn’t do… to make you feel my love.” Vigilant love has teeth. You and I have that within us — and we are empowered to work it!
Scripture: 1 John – chapter 4
Song: “Make You Feel My Love” written by Bob Dylon, performed by Adele
July 10, 2016 – Worship Preparation – “Creating Good Out of Chaos” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
God did it in Genesis (see Genesis 1). A despised foreigner did it in Luke 10 (see the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37). You and I do it every time we intentionally bring good to chaos (read the news and do something good about it).
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” – John 1:5
Song: “The Beauty of Gray,” by the band Live in 1992
July 3, 2016 – Worship Preparation – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Come to church to buy your tickets while they still last — tickets to heaven! Led Zeppelin’s song opens the sermon: “There’s a lady… that’s buying a stairway to heaven.” We’ll look at scripture regarding our everyday encounters with the material and spiritual. Come to be refreshed.
Song: “Stairway to Heaven” by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin
For further reading: Matthew 6:19-20; Ezekial 34:2-4
June 26, 2016 – Preparation for Worship – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Empowerment – If we don’t stand for something, we fall for anything. Vigor and commitment to spiritual growth is the foundation of being a relevant Christian Community. Stop underestimating yourself, God and the world.
Song: “Roar” by Katy Perry
For further reading: Ephesians 4:1-16
June 19, 2016 – “Pulse” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
All who have a pulse are beloved of God. If you still have a pulse, you are still being led and sent by God to love and serve the world. There is a time for Sabbath (rest), but only to be fueled for creative action. This is the Good News: we are freed to love because God first loved us. We are blessed to bless.
Song: “Pulse” by Melissa Etheridge
For further reading: Romans 8
June 12, 2016 – “Receive and Speak God’s Blessing” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Today we conclude a sermon series of Genesis. Our ancestors of faith were full of promise and full of messes. There is a freedom and new life that God continues to provide for us. The grandsons of Abraham sought their father’s spoken blessing. What blessing, what proclamation from our heavenly Father or Mother do we need?
For further reading: Genesis 25:19-34; Genesis 27:1-40
June 5, 2016 – “Bring Your Five Loaves and Two Fish” – Rev. Nam Joong Kim
In today’s scripture, Jesus asked his disciples to bring to Him what they had–five loaves and two fish. While taking them, giving thanks, breaking the bread, and sharing them with each other, they were multiplied to feed five thousand men plus women and children, including twelve buckets full of leftovers. It was enough to prepare a joyful banquet in the wilderness. Let us hear the voice of Jesus in our wilderness as well. Let us bring our five loaves and two fish to the Lord today. Let us trust in the divine power and share our loaves and fish to have Jesus work a miracle again in our broken world.
For further reading: Mark 4:30-32; 6:34-44
May 29, 2016 – “Sharper Than a Two-Edged Sword” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Today’s two stories from Genesis, we are told, are meant to convey broad messages of faithfulness and God’s plan for even the child of a slave. As we are encouraged by these truths, let us also embrace the ugly aspects of the stories. We are not alone in our far from perfect lives. As we uncover the darker aspects of the Bible we can find ourselves in its pages. Holy Spirit, speak to us this morning.
For further reading: Genesis 21:8-21; 22:1-19
May 22, 2016 – Sermon – “Human and Divine” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
We do a disservice to one another when we create categories of sacred and secular. Holy and ordinary. The ancient household of Abraham was full of family strife and yet three world faiths have emerged from what God did in their lives. Bring on your own messy life – God works wonders through us all.
For further reading: Genesis chapters 11, 12, 16, 17 & 21
May 15, 2016 – Preparing for Worship – “Ears to Hear” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
When was the last time you misheard something? Or couldn’t figure out the lyrics being sung? When was the last time you heard an accent in someone’s speech, and tried to guess where they were from? Language is powerful and almost mystifying. The words that I say to you actually affect the chemical and electrical levels in your brain – without me even touching you! The story of Pentecost brings to life the power of understanding. There is a unity provided by the Spirit of God which defies human culture.
For further reading: Acts 2:1-19
May 8, 2016 – Sermon: “Scattering” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
For further reading: Genesis 11: 1-9
May 1, 2016 – “All Good Things” – Rev. Robin Bacon Hoffman
For further reading: Revelation 21:1-5a, 22:1-5; John 14:23-29
April 24, 2016 – Preparing For Worship – Rev. Diane R. Ford
There are times when we all get fed up. Fed up with what is happening in our own lives, in our communities or institutions. Fed up with the violence, fed up with cancer, drunk drivers, politics, or perhaps the noisy neighbors. Often when we are fed up, we make a decision and act. For good or ill, we act to change the situation. Today we have a surprising story – Noah and the flood. It’s surprising because of what Christ has demonstrated about patience, mercy and forgiveness. Let’s listen deeply for God’s word to us regarding being fed up, holy anger and new beginnings.
April 3, 2016 – Preparing for Worship – Rev. Diane R. Ford
A disciple who had heard Jesus had risen from the dead wondered if it could possibly be true. Then this disciple encountered the Risen Christ, and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” The doubts of Thomas were gently handled by Jesus, as are the doubts we all have about the presence of Christ in our lives. The prayer, “My Lord and my God,” can be whispered as a way of opening our awareness to both our doubts and our faith.
March 27, 2016 – PREPARING FOR WORSHIP – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Easter is not simply the miracle of a dead person raised from the grave, but a celebration of power that can shatter death in order that people can freely serve the God of life. In the resurrection of Christ, God’s awesome purposes were on display, revealing a radically new world of peace and harmony and equality and mutuality, about which we can only dream.
— Companion to the Book of Common Worship
March 20, 2016 – Preparing for Worship – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Today we greet one another in the fresh outdoors, waving beautiful palms, joining in the celebration of this unusual king – the one who rides not on a war horse, but on a donkey. It was a brilliant (and very political) demonstration against the order of Rome. Our king is humble and loving, filled with the power of God! Hosanna means “help us,” though many assume it means “hooray!” It’s the call to the king who will not fail the people. “Hooray, you can help us!” The same crowds, later that week, call for this king’s crucifixion. How does that happen? Either the king failed, or the people failed to understand the king’s methods and mission.
March 13, 2016 – PREPARING FOR WORSHIP – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Lent is the season when we take time for a spiritual “tune-up.” We are entering the fifth week of our journey of thinking, feeling, and doing. We continue to remember and forgive, embrace and let go. Some of us took on new spiritual disciplines or gave up something – for the purpose of realigning our lives with God’s will. Our worship has been different too – more contemplative and as we approach the end of Lent, it gets quite solemn as we remember Jesus’ death. This morning we worship with the knowledge that the Risen Christ is among us now, leading us to face the power of sin and death in order that we might know and demonstrate more fully the power of resurrection.
– Walk the Talk Sunday as we prepared for Family Promise guests –
February 28, 2016 – PREPARING FOR WORSHIP – Rev. Fred Whitehurst
Seeing and listening to the news from around the world or in your own community, you may find yourself asking, “Why do bad things happen to good people? “ We may react: ‘It’s just not right!’ How could God punish such a good person? What did they ever do to deserve to die such a horrible death? Or if it is close to home, our response may be: ‘”What did I do to cause God to punish me this way?” Is God in ‘the judge and condemn’ business? And when confronted with such inexplicable tragedies, how do we ‘repent’ and conform our life to Jesus? After reading today’s parable in Luke, we may ask ourselves, “After 3 years, do we cut down the fig tree that does not grow or do we give it another chance to live?” What would Jesus do…?
For further reading: Isaiah 55:6-13; Luke 13:1-9
February 21, 2016 – PREPARING FOR WORSHIP – Rev. Diane R. Ford
We have come to our second week of Lent, the journey through a desert. I think of it as the season of Spiritual Tune-Ups. Last week we began with temptation and inner influences: what might be lurking just below the surface that we need to stop ignoring or being in denial about? Today we look at our need to bring our weaknesses and pain to God, who desires to heal, bind and send us on our way as free and whole people. There is no weakness too great or small for God to care about and tend to. Hiding and ignoring weakness is counterproductive for the child of God, who is called to love and lead in the world.
For further reading: Psalm 27:1-14; Luke 13:31-35
February 14, 2016 – PREPARING FOR WORSHIP – Rev. Diane R. Ford Lent is the season when we take time for a spiritual “tune-up.” It is a six week journey in a desert of thinking, feeling, and doing. A time to remember and forgive. A time to embrace and let go. People take on new spiritual disciplines or give up something – for the purpose of realigning our lives with God’s will. Worship tends to be different too – more contemplative and as we approach the end of Lent, it gets quite solemn as we remember Jesus’ death. Let us enter Lent with the knowledge that the Risen Christ is among us now, leading us to face the power of sin and death in order that we might know more fully the power of resurrection.
For further reading: Psalm 91:1-2, 9-12; Luke 4:1-13
January 31, 2016 – Preparation for Worship – Rev. Fred Whitehurst
Sometimes, politically appointed Supreme Court justices surprise everyone when they make decisions counter to the expectations of the ruling party. The justices may follow the path of justice rather than the popular opinions of those that appointed them. A justice may pursue a truth greater than expediency or political power. Today we witness Jesus’ response to the congregants in the synagogue in Capernaum. They were shocked and angry when his responses became a threat to their limited understanding of scripture …sometimes the truth hurts. How does that make you feel when a truth is pointed out that diminishes and threatens your opinion? Are you gracious and learn from a new perception and understanding or do you react and shrink into old patterns of thinking and behaving?
For further reading: Jeremiah 1:4-10; Luke 4:24-30
January 24, 1016 – Preparation for Worship – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Can you remember a time when you had a reunion with someone you haven’t seen in months or years? What did that feel like? Did they look different? How long did it take to catch up on what was going on in their life? Did anything surprise you? Today we retell the story of Jesus returning to his home town after having become known as a teacher and healer. The town’s people were proud of him, and happy to have him read and preach in their synagogue. Their attitude changed as he got further into his sermon – but today we will focus on the first part of their reunion, when they are amazed at the way God’s good news radiated out from Jesus.
January 17, 1016 – Preparation for worship – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Do you see the glass half empty, or half full? When we consider the progression of justice and race-relations in our country, do we see that glass as half empty or half full?
This coming Sunday we look at the story of Jesus who attends a wedding celebration and turns their water into wine. When we are engaging the work for peace, reconciliation and justice, our faith assures us that we are not dealing with mere “water” in a glass. Christ’s presence transforms our work into wine. Fermenting wine bursts the seams of our old ways of thinking about race and other challenges of our time. Let us come to this Living Christ in worship.
For further reading: Isaiah 62:1-5; John 2:1-11
January 10, 2016 – Preparation for Worship – Rev. Diane R. Ford
There are opportunities that come around once in a life time, and there are opportunities that come every day. In our journey of faith we have seasons and moments that stand out as learning moments, key decisions, shifts in our approach and intentions. And we can “mark” them with a symbolic act. Today we focus on the story of Jesus himself coming to be baptized. A key moment in his life. No, there was nothing magic in the water before, during or after his dunking and rising. Yet the moment was loaded with power. It expressed an indescribable truth: that somehow God has named and drawn all of us to a place of renewal, and refreshment. How might you mark your key moments this week?
For further reading: Isaiah 42:5-9; 1 Peter 2:5-9
January 3, 2016 – “Signs and Wonders” – Rev. Diane R. Ford
Let your mind be curious… let your heart be open… just open enough to catch what God is revealing to you. Perhaps God will reach you with a song playing in a store. Weird. Perhaps God will speak to you in a dream. A little unusual. Perhaps God is best noticed in the beauty of a sunset or the kindness of a stranger. This Sunday is Epiphany, and for the next several weeks leading to Lent, we hear of the unexpected ways God has made Christ known. Ancient scientists observed and took copious notes about the stars and planets. Today we hear the story of such observers — how strange that Christ was revealed to Magi from the East who were doing their daily routine of being alert to the heavens. Let us worship God.
For further reading: Isaiah 60:1-6; Matthew 2:1-12
Sept. 13 – Taming the Tongue
Psalm 19:7-14; Isaiah 50:4-5; James 3:1-12
Sept. 20 – Protecting Relationships & Peace
James 3:13-4:3, 7:8a; Mark 9:38-40
Sept. 27 – Maturing Kids & Adults: Prayer & Accountability
James 5:13-20; Mark 9:38-40
Oct. 4 – Christian Unity (World Communion Sunday)
Isaiah 25:6-8; Colossians 3:1-11; Mark 8:1-10
Oct. 11 – Money, Stuff and the Realm of God
Hebrews 4:12-16; Mark 10:17-31
Oct. 18 (Walk the Talk Sunday – no sermon for this week)
October 25 – Stewardship 101: Be the Best we Can Be – for Christ and the World
Nov. 1 – Stewardship 102: Using Time – for Christ & the World (All Saints Day)
Psalm 146; Deuteronomy 6:1-9; Isaiah 28:6-9; Revelation 21:1-6a
Nov. 8 – Jesus models and points out others who “give everything” to God and God’s Realm, including the widow giving out of her poverty.
I Kings 17:8-16; Mark 21:38-44
Nov. 15 – “Christ’s Love Compels Us”
2 Corinthians 9:6-15; 2 Corinthians 5: 14, 17-21; Matthew 10:8
Nov. 22 – Why we call Christ “Lord,” “Savior,” “King.” (Roman history influence, and the way we respond to God’s love.)
Ps. 93; Rev. 1:4b-8; John 18:33-37
Nov. 29 – Prepare hearts to receive Christ
Malachi 3:1-4; Luke 3:1-6
Dec. 6 – Christ’s second coming
Jeremiah 33:14-16; Luke 21:25-36
Dec. 13 – Joy and John the Baptist’s tough preaching
Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18
Dec. 20 – Mary and Elizabeth
Micah 5:2-5a; Luke 1:39-45, (46-55)
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