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, August 30, 2009

James 1/5 Being DOers

August 30, 2009
Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

First of five weeks in James

Being DOers
James 1

“ doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” - James 1:22

My sermon outline:

• What makes a person a biker? Combination of stuff, study, and action.

• What makes a murderer guilty? The act... not the thought.

• Says James, be doers of God’s word and not only hearers. Your actions should show you’re a disciple, a follower, a lover of God…

• About the letter of James? A “general epistle” (no specific audience or problem identified), first or second century, written by a brother or peer of Jesus’. It is like a letter of Paul in its excellent Greek, also strong 1st century Messianic Jewish perspective, but it is also clearly not Paul’s.

• Not a history, yet indicative of theology and relationship with God…
Along the lines of John Wesley’s “Advice to a People Called Methodist”
if you can trust God with your all, then go on in the power of his might.
Go on, I would earnestly advise you, Fourthly: "Keep in the very path wherein you now tread. Be true to your principles." Never rest again in the dead formality of religion. Pursue with your might inward and outward holiness; a steady imitation of Him you worship; a still increasing resemblance of his imitable perfections, -- his justice, mercy, and truth. (JW to ppl called Methodist)

• Regarding the date and author of James, it really doesn’t matter when or who. Its value is in its content and in its challenge… challenge to put action into faith.

Be doers (1:22, also 1:27 (orphans, widows, purity), surely also Matthew 25: the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, prison)

and not merely hearers (posers.. start out deceiving others, end up deceiving selves) (This was a driving force of Methodism)

who deceive themselves (deceit is greatest detractor from life in God)

but those who look into the perfect law… (God who made us gifted us and provided mirror and guide if we will look at it) and persevere… they will be blessed

• God is not looking for religious nuts, but spiritual fruits

• If you were on trial for being Christian, would you be found guilty? May your actions, your lifestyle, your words, your attitudes reflect Christ. NOT so that you may receive attention for piety or works but so that Christ may be illumined.

• Apostles’ Creed (881), followed by Hymn 405 Lord I Want to Be A Christian

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 53 in worship.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

No God Like Our God

August 23, 2009
Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

No God Like Our God
1 Kings 8

O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath,
keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart. - 1 Kings 8:23

My sermon outline:

• A plane was going through some particularly rough turbulence when a passenger turned to the priest seated next to her and said, “You’re a man of God; can’t you do something about this?” Replied the priest, “Lady, I’m in sales, not management.”

I point to God. As Jesus said, My food is to do the will of the one who sent me. (John 4:34). And says Paul in Acts 20:24, “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.”

• We’ve spent the summer in the lectionary with the Kings of Israel, beginning with Saul back in June, spending all of July with David, and introducing Solomon last week. And believe it or not today’s the last day of the kings in the lectionary. Hello and goodbye, Solomon. We won’t be getting into Solomon’s downfall or the falling apart of the kingdom or the succession of kings where each one was worse than the last. No today we celebrate one of Solomon’s great achievements, the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. The earthly dwelling place of the God of Israel. THE central place of worship and sacrifice. Using the finest materials and craftsmen available (as well as forced labor!), it took Solomon seven years to complete the Temple… and 13 years to complete his own palace and houses, but that’s another story...

• I was drawn to two verses from today’s reading: 1K8:23 and 1K8:27.

“O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart…”
- 1 Kings 8:23

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built!”
- 1 Kings 8:27

• There is no God like our God... Search through other religions and you will not find a God like the God of Christianity, who enters into relationship with his people, who loves and offers wholeness and newness of life, who asks us to be like him and therefore gave us a model to follow and a Spirit to empower, who lives within us, thanks be to God. Point to God, be in God sales, give God glory.

• 1 Kings 9:3 I have consecrated this house that you have built, and put my name there forever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time.

• #540 I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 51 in worship.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Weighing Solomon

August 16, 2009
Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Weighing Solomon
1 Kings 3:3-14

Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people,
able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?
1 Kings 3:9

My sermon outline:

• The NFL preseason opened this week. Kickoff in 4 wks. Preseason news of note is the Eagles signing ex-con Michael Vick, much to the chagrin of Eagles' fans.
Will the haters change their tune if Vick gets victories?
Time will tell.

Let's make pro and con lists of some folks, weigh their deeds.

Weighing Vick

- dogfighting
- financing of the industry
- positive drugtest.

- 1,000 yards of QB rushing in one season
- greatest QB yards per carry of a season
- running 100 yards in a week
- his pro-bowl history…

Weighing David

- adultery & conspiracy/murder
- wives & power

- love God, heart after God
- military victory
- piety, enthusiasm
- goodlooking, musical

Weighing Solomon (David’s son by Bathsheba)

- married foreign wives
- built big ol’ house first
(before security or temple)
- offered sacrifices @ Gibeon

- love God, follow David
- asked for wisdom
- riches and honor
- long life

Scripture honors legendary David.

Solomon loved God, followed David, offered sacrifices and incense at the high places.
Which is something like saying I love my wife, I keep my marriage vows, and I only sleep with other women on weekends.

Then God meets Solomon at Gibeon – where he’s just made an extravagant sacrifice to whom?

And God blesses Solomon.

• Scripture confirms that Solomon loved God and that God was with Solomon

• In fact this passages makes clear beyond shadow of a doubt that all of Solomon’s blessings are gifts from God… Solomon goes to Gibeon, God meets him there. God offers him anything he asks, Solomon asks for wisdom, God gives wisdom and riches and honor and long life.

• In the end it doesn’t matter how Solomon’s scale comes out, or David’s, or mine or yours or Michael Vick’s… If we ask for God to be a part of our lives, for God’s guidance and for relationship with God, then by the grace of Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit, the scale is tipped in your favor.

• & when you’ve received the gift, it pray for the desire, strength, and ability to use it, keep it for God’s glory.

• 650 Give Me the Faith Which Can Remove

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 71 in worship!
Church picnic today.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Making Amends

August 9, 2009
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Making Amends
2 Samuel 18:33

The king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, he said, “O my son, Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would that I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” – 2 Samuel 18:33

My sermon outline:

• Poignant passage, heart wrenching. (recall death of David’s unnamed son).

• We’ve skipped much... Absalom is David’s 3rd son, son of Maacah. In the six chapters we skipped, Absalom kills his oldest half brother Amnon, the heir to the throne, who had fallen in love with Absalom’s sister Tamar... When Tamar refused Amnon’s advances, Amnon raped Tamar. In a scheme of revenge, Absalom (which means “my father is peace”) then kills Amnon, and, for fear of his father David, runs away.

• (put yourself in David’s shoes... Your oldest son has raped your daughter, and your third son has killed him for it.)

• Absalom runs away, and after a few years, David has grieved the death of his son, and longs to have meaningful relationship with Absalom. David’s general Joab persuades David to grant Absalom’s safe return, but when Absalom returns, David refuses to see him for 2 years. Absalom finagles an audience with the king, and the king offers a formal reconciliation (but David the father does not participate meaningfully).

• Little surprise, then, when Absalom conspires to usurp the throne... (scripture doesn't really tell about Absalom's older brother Kileab)

Absalom decides that his father King David is no longer fit for leadership, so he shrewdly turns troops and people to him, and amasses a formidable army against the king.

David, aware of his estranged son’s doings, get out of the way, avoids conflict, runs away, with a few loyal troops.

• Recap: Absalom slew Amnon. David doesn’t speak to Absalom for years. Absalom rebels.
Who is responsible for the broken relationship between David and Absalom?

• Today: Absalom is killed by David’s men (by Joab, actually). And David weeps. Wish it were me, he says.

Frederick Buechner writes that when David wished he had died instead of Absalom, “he meant it, of course. If he could have done the boy’s dying for him, he would have done it. If he could have paid the price for the boy’s betrayal of him, he would have paid it. If he could have given his own life to make the boy alive again, he would have given it. But even a king can’t do things like that. As later history was to prove, it takes a God.” (quoted in The New Interpreter’s Bible)

• David’s grief occupies several levels.

• loss of life of son (perhaps the 4th to die. Kileab, Amnon, the unnamed son of David and Bathsheba)
the child is not supposed to die before the parent.

• the consequences of David’s sin being played out.
Who has ever played “If only”

2 Samuel 12 David’s told this isn’t over yet...

• unfinished business with Absalom. Grudge.
Grudges are held. Grudges are nurtured. It takes work to keep a grudge alive. Negative energy.

• David had opportunity to make amends, which woulda been terrific leadership, given glory to God. But he allowed the 2-way rift to remain untreated until it was too late. Challenge: break cycle.

I often say at funerals, if you have any grudge with the deceased, any unfinished business, if you need to forgive the deceased or receive forgiveness, take care of it now... make amends. Making amends takes work, too. But it's worth it, and it can give glory to God.

• Grudge not. Be humble, and give glory instead.

• 534 Be Still My Soul

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 48 in worship. Rainy.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Jesus Bread

August 2, 2009
Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Jesus Bread
from John 6

... Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life... John 6:27
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. – John 6:35

My sermon outline:

• (make a cup of tea in a clear container in view of congregation)

• This past week we did Vacation Bible School, Camp E.D.G.E. (Experience and Discover God Everywhere!)
It included daily Bible adventure treks (to the promised land, to Bethlehem, to a Pharisee's house, to the upper room, to Galilee), daily pledges, and fun songs.
We had as many volunteers as kids… lot of effort, time, resource (many thanks, and thanks for prayers)
Most importantly, God was there.

• There were kids who knew about God, knew the stories, and kids who didn’t.
Volunteers showed the love of God in their actions., and taught & witnessed to their faith.
I don’t know if kids’ll remember or not, but it was building faith foundation, and God was there.

• Now. in some ways, God and salvation in Jesus Christ is a concept, an idea. Not exactly tangible.

Tell a kid or neighbor “Jesus Christ is alive & loves you” then they say okay, where? how?
Well he lives in me & loves through me… okaaay…

• Talk amongst yourselves, you who profess Christian faith… how is Jesus alive, how does he love?

• Jesus says I am the bread of life. manna from heaven (Exodus 16), God’s daily saving heavenly bread.

God gave manna to the people in a time and political situation when no leader or government was between the people and God... it was the way God designed it to be.

• now in time of plenty, it can be hard to see God. It can also be easy to see what we don’t have. It takes some guidance to see Jesus.

• Know that when we have nothing, or all things, when we have confusion or clarity, depression or ecstasy, when we live in poverty or fear or pain, or life is rainbows and roses, we have Jesus.

• Like the tea has been in the water, Jesus’ love is in us, bringing color and flavour to our lives if we will let him in.

• Jesus asked why the people came to see him, whether for more bread or for signs or out of worship…

we come together to love. to reaffirm, strengthen. to send to work for God (believe). and to stay close to God, who is the bread of our lives.

• & let us remove the obstacles to our communion with God & each other by confessing…

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 55 in worship.