The Lighthouse Keeper

Greetings from Pastor Kerry, former pastor of Spring City UMC. This blog contains my sermon outlines and/or manuscripts from my pastorate among the people of Spring City PA, from 2006 to 2011. Pastor Dennis is now the lighthouse keeper. Come and worship on Sundays at 10:00 a.m.!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Gift of Easter

March 23, 2008

ReConnecting Week 4:
Acts 10:34-43 and Revelation 5:1-14

“By this gospel are you saved, if you believe...” – 1 Corinthians 15:1

My sermon outline:

• Josh McDowell story. Josh could not explain away the resurrection, the defining event in history.
Could not naturally explain dead man alive. Examined the other possibilities for an empty tomb and found them all lacking. Could not refute the testimony of hundreds of eyewitnesses.
Hundreds of OT verses that point to one man Jesus Christ being God’s supernatural means of salvation for a broken world.

• Transformation of disciples is greatest evidence for resurrection. It was the resurrection which transformed Peter’s fear into courage, Thomas’ doubt into faith. Sabbath into Sunday. Saul the Pharisee into Paul the apostle. Persecuting into preaching.

• People are changed even today, 2K years later...
God who makes all things new, who put all his fullness into one man Jesus Christ and through him to reconcile unto himself all things, by making peace through his blood, shed on a cross.

• ... because Christ rose from the grave and we take his living spirit into our own in communion... our eyes opened in the breaking of the bread.

• Hymn: In the Breaking of the Bread

- Pastor Kerry
This Sunday: xx in worship

Sunday, March 16, 2008

ReConnecting 3: Prayer

March 16, 2008
Palm Sunday

ReConnecting Week 3: Going Deep: Rediscovering the Roots of Authentic Spirituality
Isaiah 50:4-9

My sermon outline:

& so we come to the final week of Lent, the last week of Jesus’ life, the pinnacle. Time for Jesus the king to do what he came for. Spent his life in preparation for this week. It is the moment of truth, the journey to the cross.

• The cross has been the inspiration for countless works of art, throughout the centuries. In 1858 Frances Havergal visited a museum and reflected on one such painting, and went home and wrote this verse:

I gave My life for thee,
My precious blood I shed,
That thou might’st ransomed be,
And quickened from the dead.
I gave, I gave my life for thee;
What hast thou given for Me?

• I find an answer in Isaac Watt’s hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”:

Love so amazing, so divine
demands my soul, my life, my all.

• How are we to find the strength do give our all? How was Jesus able to give his all this famous week? Prayer is one major factor. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it is said. Start the day out right. And of course it’s not the only food you eat all day; you nourish your body several times during the day. Sometimes too much, lol.

As food nourishes the body, so prayer nourishes the soul. We would do well to have early and constant connection with God. Talk to the one who made you (Sheryl Crow)

• We watched in the ReConnecting DVD this morning about John Wesley’s prayer room, how he would begin each day with Word and prayer. I read of another Methodist minister, Edward Bounds, in the Midwest, late 1800s, who wrote about ten books on prayer. He would rise at 4am every day for 3 hours of prayer. He writes:
Those who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. Whoever fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, he will be in the last place the remainder of the day.

• Two times to pray: when you feel like it, and when you don’t.

• Philippians 2:5-11 tells us to have the mind of Jesus. Our reading from Isaiah today gives a glimpse of what Jesus was willing to go through for us. A reading through the gospels shows how often Jesus went off by himself to pray. First thing he did after Palm Sunday was to return the Temple to being a house of prayer. Last thing he did before he was arrested was to spend time in prayer.

• Rise early this week. Give an hour or half an hour or even 15 minutes to God in morning prayer, before you do anything else. Read a verse or a chapter. Reflect on the day’s ReConnecting lesson. Reflect on your day’s schedule. Pray for God to speak to you, and then listen. Take a few minutes during the day and stop what you’re doing to pray. And see if God doesn’t bless you.

• Hymn 301 Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross

- Pastor Kerry
This Sunday: 87 in worship

Sunday, March 09, 2008

ReConnecting 2: John Wesley

March 9, 2008
5th Sunday in Lent

ReConnecting Week 2: Coming Home: Rediscovering the Roots of the Wesleyan Movement
Matthew 25:31-46 and Ephesians 2:1-10

My sermon outline:

• The Parable of the Life-Saving Station (google it). Simple but powerful and painfully revealing.

• John Wesley came of age in a time when the Church was existing for itself, and few were to be found living Matthew 25, practicing scriptural holiness. What do you do? He started. “He pursued a rigidly methodical and abstemious life, studied the Scriptures, and performed his religious duties diligently, depriving himself so that he would have alms to give”. Gathered a few peers together to do the same. (rigidly methodical. yet I can keep to something rigidly methodical much better than flybynight. challenge may be to keep it alive). When JW saw how the life-saving station that was the church of England had become a Club he started to train as a lifeguard, doing the dirty work of the gospel. When the order of the Church was threatened by the number and kind of people responding to the gospel of salvation by faith that JW was preaching and he was blacklisted from the churches he began to speak to people whenever and wherever they would listen, even using his father’s tomb as a pulpit. People responded by thousands.

• The Parable of the LSS has been around for a long time. Interestingly, where perhaps a generation ago people wanted both to be in the LSClub and also do the work of the LSS, nowadays both club membership and lifesaving activity is dwindling. People are not only losing interest in the LSS, they’re actively turned off from it. Ask a non-churchgoer why they don’t go to church & what do they say? Hypocrites. Judges.

People who see the value and need for saving lives but who don’t connect that mission with the Church. They know not the power of Jesus Christ, they know not his grace, they don’t see the positive result of life in Christ.

• Trusting God – Demonstrating God’s Love… How and to whom?

• When he was a young adult JW put life of faith into practice, moved by passion to preach to those who know not the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8). Jesus Christ came into the world to seek and save and heal. JW moved to overcome obstacles…

• Oddly enough JW was not doing something new, he was doing something old. Allow me to share with you a few paragraphs from his sermon “On Laying The Foundation Of The New Chapel”, preached on Monday, April 21, 1777 (JW was 74 years old).

• People hunger for community, to connect with God, to serve. These are things people are looking for & are not only vital to our survival, they’re what God wants us to do.

• Hymn 183 Jesu, Thy Boundless Love to Me, words by Paul Gerhardt, translated by John Wesley. The hymnal gives no tune for it, and honoring our getting in touch with the roots of Methodism, let us sing it to the tune of “Faith of our Fathers”

- Pastor Kerry
This Sunday: 59 in worship

Sunday, March 02, 2008

ReConnecting 1/7: Getting Our Bearings

March 2, 2008
One Great Hour of Sharing

ReConnecting Week 1: Getting Our Bearings
Isaiah 45:18-25 and Acts 2:42-47 and Revelation 7:9-12

My sermon outline:

• A traveling pastor had just arrived in a small town to preach a sermon. Wanting to mail a letter, he asked a young boy where the post office was. When the boy had told him, the pastor thanked him and said, "If you'll come to the Church this evening, you can hear me telling everyone how to get to Heaven."

"I don't think I'll be there," the boy said. "You don't even know your way to the post office."

• Place I like to eat, 27 miles away from here. 21 mi from Reading. 16 mi from Lanc.
Using those three points of reference you might figure out it’s Shady Maple.

• We read from three books of the Bible today, one somewhat ancient history (Isaiah, 2700 years ago) one from after the birth of the Church (Acts, 2000 years ago) and one from the future (Revelation) just as a way of referencing where we are.

• Through the witness of Isaiah (and many others) There is no other God; there is salvation in God and God alone; only in God is there righteousness and strength, and to God alone shall every knee bow and tongue confess.

We stand on this foundation.

• From the records of the early church Acts, they were devoted to teaching and fellowship and communion and prayer, and God did wondrous things and “added to the number those who were being saved.”

We bear this witness.

• God gives us a glimpse of what shall be, uncountable folks from everywhere, praising God together.

This is where we’re going.

• ReConnecting is a tool we’ll use on the journey. To find Shady Maple, a map would be a useful tool. A compass would be a useful tool. The experience of someone who had been there would be a useful tool. ReConnecting is a tool we’ll use on our journey in Christ. It’s a tool that incorporates daily readings of scripture as well as the writings of John Wesley. Like the early church it includes teaching and prayer and fellowship.

We’ll examine the original vision of John Wesley as we seek to be faithful to God in a time of rapid societal change.

We’ll examine spiritual practices and how they can give us passion and motivation and strength.

We’ll see how we can move creatively into the future, without losing connection to our traditions and history.

How can you participate?

By the grace of God we’ll reaffirm our place in God’s church, where God does wondrous things and adds to the number of those who are being saved.

A man dies and goes to heaven. Of course, St. Peter meets him at the pearly gates.

St. Peter says, "Here's how it works. You need 100 points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you've done, and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on how good it was. When you reach 100 points, you get in."

"Okay," the man says, "I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart."

"That's wonderful," says St. Peter, "that's worth three points!"

"Three points?" he says. "Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and service."

"Terrific!" says St. Peter, "that's certainly worth a point."

"One point? Golly. How about this: I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for homeless veterans."

"Fantastic, that's good for two more points," he says.

"TWO POINTS!!" the man cries, "At this rate the only way I get into heaven is by the grace of God!"

"Come on in!"

• Hymn insert: In the Breaking of the Bread

- Pastor Kerry
This Sunday: 73 in worship