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, May 31, 2009


May 31, 2009
Pentecost Sunday!

Educate the Next Generation
Romans 10:1-15 and Acts 8:26-40

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

My sermon outline:

• Pol Pot, Cambodian dictator, violent rise to power in 1975, responsible for the death of 2 million countrymen. In addition to killing politicians, he executed doctors and lawyers and businessmen, people who could see what he was doing and threatened his power. even folks who wore glasses… glasses, read, read, not welcome in new Cambodia. Reading is power.

• Reading is Power
. According to Rick Warren, half of world, (3 billion people) is functionally illiterate. RW rightly asks the question “How can people rise out of poverty and combat disease if they cannot read?” The statistics are sobering.

• 1 in 20 American adults are not literate in English. 11 million American adults lack the skills to handle everyday tasks. This translates nearly directly into poverty and welfare… Folks who have completed high school on average earn about double what non HS graduates earn. 90% of welfare recipients are HS dropouts. For every high-level reader who lives in poverty there are TEN low-level readers.

Literacy does not just affect income, welfare, and poverty. Illiteracy leads to crime. 50% of prison inmates cannot read. And if an inmate learns to read, he is four times less likely to end up in jail another time, compared to inmates who do not learn to read.

A third of inmates are HS dropouts. 85% of juvenile offenders are functionally illiterate.

Low-reading teen girls are 6 times more likely than their high-reading peers to get pregnant.

Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare.

The Dept. of Justice states that “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is WELDED to reading failure.” (emphasis mine)

Low-reading folks put a strain on the health care industry as well, being responsible for a disproportionate amount of ER visits and other medical calls, and not understanding dosages and hygiene.

Illiteracy is a social disease that affects everybody, that is passed on from parents to children, and it is something that is both treatable and preventable.

• The Church has historic connection to literacy, literally helping the world shift from oral tradition to written word, both with production of books and education of people. Church and family were primary educators for centuries. John Wesley essentially started schools both to teach the word, train laity to serve, and to educate the pastors’ kids as well as neighborhood kids.
The Church has historically been responsible for the establishment of schools. The Church builds schools now, and will continue to build schools.

• Two scripture passages today about the Christian’s place in educating others. Paul is speaking (Romans 10) on the eternal welfare of folks who do not know Jesus Christ, & his plea for people to share the Word spreads easily to a plea for Christians to be involved in educating the less-educated. How shall people learn to read unless there be teachers?
Same with Philip and the eunuch (Acts 8): How shall I understand unless there is someone to explain it to me? And with this response of education, the eunuch desires baptism.

• There is much to be gained from a literate population, and there is much work to be done.

• Work of Church is not merely evangelism and stewardship, hear the word, sing the hymns, give the offering, and pray (though those are all good elements) but the work of the Church is DO, is REACH OUT where people are, and teach about life eternal and life abundant as well. To steer people away from a life without God and to guide people away from poverty and crime.

• The PEACE plan (Promote reconciliation, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, Educate the next generation) … what I haven’t talked about is how Rick Warren’s people are spreading out across the globe, in cities, towns, and villages, empowering the local people (even as the Holy Spirit empowers us!!!) tackling the giants, and teaching. RW is networking congregations like ours with congregations in other countries, empowering, building schools, churches, hospitals.

• Our hope and our goal is to give glory to God by our service, and to lead other people into fullness of life on earth, that they may experience eternal life because of their relationship with their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

• Hymn 649 How Shall They Hear The Word Of God?

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 78 in worship.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


May 24th, 2009
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Ascension Sunday
Aldersgate Day
Memorial Day Sunday

Care for the Sick
James 1:19-27 and Luke 10:25-37

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:
to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)

My sermon outline:

• Today is Aldersgate Day. On this day in 1738, John Wesley, feeling a failure from his 3-year trip to America, spiritually empty, went to a Bible Study at a society at Aldersgate Church. That evening, while someone was reading the intro to Luther’s notes on Romans, Wesley “felt his heart strangely warmed.” He believed Jesus died for his sins, and trusted him for salvation.

• Also on this day in 1931, 21-yo Agnese Bojaxhiu took religious vows in the process of becoming a full-fledged nun. Agnese chose as her saint name the patron saint of missions, St. Teresa de Lisieux. We know this 21-yo nun as the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

I mention that for Mother Teresa’s lifelong focus of caring for the poor, the sick, and the dying.

• We’ve been touching on points from Rick Warren’s PEACE plan***, ordinary people... uniquely gifted to make difference globally and locally. Today we address the Global Giant of Disease, and, in honor of Aldersgate Day, I’ll be sharing from John Wesley’s sermon “On Visiting the Sick”***

*** The PEACE plan belongs to Rick Warren.
See for additional and inspirational information.

*** John Wesley's sermons are readable online.
Sermon 98, On Visiting the Sick .

Intro: 1. The means of grace (ways in which God is uniquely present in our lives, i.e. the Sacraments) can be commands from God, too.
2. It’s NECESSARY to perform acts of mercy
3. Sadly, it’s little done.
4. Visiting the Sick:
...A. What’s it mean?
...B. How to visit the sick?
...C. Who should visit the sick?

A. What’s it mean to visit the sick?
1. Visit anyone who is unwell in any way.
2. Visit in person. The word Visit comes from the same root as the word Vision... To visit includes seeing with your eyes.
Visitation is beneficial for the sick, and for you as well (grace).
3. Especially the rich should do this, as they have the means & time.
4. Even the French do it! (PK aside: 18th century Brit/French rivalry like ancient Jewish/Samaritan relations)
5. Instruct, encourage, and assist folks (send folks out!) who are visiting.

B. How to visit the sick?
1. Prayerfully.
2. Inquire @ their physical comfort and their needs.
3. Help out if it’s applicable.
4. Reflect on God’s care & providence.
..If they know God not, lead them toward repentance.
5. Give them some recommended reading, & talk about it next time.
5.5 Don’t forget to pray with them.
6. Repeat.

C. Who should visit?
1. The earnest Christian.
2. Everybody.
3. The rich.
4. The poor.
5. The old.
6. The young.
7. Ladies (not just men).
9. Everybody who is able.

“any time is no time.” So set a time now.

• Methodism insists that personal salvation always implies Christian mission and service to the world. Scriptural holiness entails more than personal piety; love of God is always linked with love of neighbors and a passion for justice and renewal in the life of the world.

• Rick Warren’s PEACE plan takes a different tack than JW’s sermon on visiting the sick – he talks about being part of training and relief efforts to medically address the sickness, and yet the two plans work together.

• MEDICAL care may be limited to those gifted & trained, but ALL can respond to sickness with compassion, mercy, tenderness, and caring.

And to show compassion, you have to show up.

• We must be prepared to
- relieve embarrassment
- give hope
- help get the right medicines
- teach healthy habits
- ask God to heal.

Be doers of the word, and not just hearers.

• Hymn 375 There Is A Balm in Gilead

To read John Wesley’s sermon “On Visiting the Sick” go to this webpage:
Sermon 98, On Visiting the Sick

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 54 in worship.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


May 10 , 2009
Fifth Sunday of Easter

Mother’s Day

Assist the Poor
John 19:25-27 and 1 John 4:7-21

Jesus said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” And he said to [the disciple whom he loved], “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. – from John 19

My sermon outline:

• Christian comedian: God must be especially fond of Chinese people, he made so many. When God looks down from heaven, he sees mostly Chinese folks. And if they’re not Chinese, they’re Indian. Nearly half of world.

Yet all the Chinese and Indians don’t equal the number of people in the world who exist on less than $2 per day.

• To illustrate the division of wealth in the world, let’s look at dividing $1,000 among the 75 people in this room.

Let’s start with most of you. three fifths of you. 60%. That’s 45 people out of 75.
Each of you has $5. ($4.89 to be a little more exact)

The poorest fifth (that’s 15) have $1 each.

That means the richest 20% (15 out of 75) have $51 each.
But since we know that even that wealth is not evenly distributed,
12 of you have $25 each, and 3 of you have $155.

• Now. Problem is NOT that we in the US have taken from others, or that we prevent others from producing (well, maybe a little).

There IS a bit of a problem that we can’t just say “C’mon up” to the other 80%... it would take six planet earths to raise the other 5 billion people to the standard of living enjoyed in America.

• Now we know that we’re called to Assist the poor, but who are we in Chester County / Montgomery? How can we possibly make a difference? what exactly does it look like, to assist the poor?

• First of all, recall the tagline of the PEACE plan: Ordinary people empowered by God making a difference wherever they are

And recall the unique characteristics of the church that make the defeat of this global giant possible:
Church includes between 1 and 2 billion people, motivated by sacrificial love.
Church is in every country, & just about every city.
Intimately present in the nitty-gritties of life.
Church is lay driven.
Church is old & lasting.

• What can we do? LOTS. Again, we are Ordinary people empowered by God making a difference wherever we are.

• Give $. Raise $. But charity by itself will fail, for it lacks relationship and accountability.

• Go, teach, build, work, give medical aid.

• Politick. Write congressman. (0.16% of US budget is in aid to global poverty. Compared to 21% defense, 21% SS, 23% medicare/aid; something like 2% education)
Ask to forgive debts owed by burdened countries.

• Shop kind – this may not mean buying cheap, but buying local, or buying fair trade, or things like 10,000 Villages...

• Adopt a child. Be involved in UMCOR or Habitat or some poverty-addressing NPO

• ...making a difference wherever you are... includes you making a difference here in Spring City or Royersford, where there are hungry people, poor people, people with limited resources. Add to your grocery habit the purchase of a couple cans of soup or cereal, or a grocery gift card (I get requests for help every week). Volunteer with a local agency. Give rides to people who can’t get to dr or appt or whatever... use your resources for God’s glory.

• How many have birthday or Christmas celebration you don’t need? Sponsor a family instead. Treat others as family.

• Gospel lesson is sentimental on the surface, but economic at its heart: Jesus commissions John to care for mother, an economically oppressed widow.

• 1 John 4 (love one another) show our thanksgiving to God in how we treat others....

And remember how Jesus, who had ALL, surrendered ALL for our sake...

A prayer of Mother Teresa:
Make us worthy, Lord, to serve those throughout the world who live and die in poverty or hunger. Give them, through our hands, this day their daily bread;
and by our understanding love, give peace and joy. Amen.

• Hymn 451 Be Thou My Vision

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 76 in worship.