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 30, 2010

Triune Christianity

May 30, 2010
Trinity Sunday
Peace With Justice
Memorial Day Weekend

Triune Christianity
...There are three that testify: 8the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree. – 1 John 5:7-8

My sermon outline:

• The first of the Articles of Religion upon which The UMC is founded:
There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

• John Wesley himself had nothing particularly exciting to add to the doctrine of the Trinity; he joined spiritual forebears in affirming it, declaring it central, and declaring it mysterious. Said we need not understand the sun to believe in it or receive its light and heat, we need not understand that Amazing love how can it be that Thou my God shouldst die for me but we can believe in the sacrificial love of Jesus and celebrate God because of it.

• Also not just one God three different hats like I am pastor husband and father, but God the Father is distinguishable from God the Son, etc. And it’s one God not three. The Father is Almighty, the Son is Almighty, the Spirit is Almighty, but it is not three Almighties but one Almighty.

Indeed we do not speak of Trinity because we can with authority, but we speak of Trinity because we must.

• Tis a doctrine born from scripture... JW believed one could not read the NT without constantly hearing of the sending of the Son by the Father and the Spirit’s enabling and fulfilling of the mission of the Son.

• Inasmuch as Trinity is not three different hats of the same God, we children of God are not God, and we can and do wear different hats, and there are multiple aspects of our life of faith that are important, without which our religion would be lacking. Part of our religion, our life of faith, is the confession of belief in Trinity, believing in God our Father who sent his Son Jesus who saves us and empowers us with the gift of God the HS.

• Part of our religion, our life of faith, is the sharing of the gospel, the good news that God loves the world, is in relationship with it and its inhabitants and that God both seeks and makes possible reconciliation, reconciliation between God and man and reconciliation between people. People who know you should know that you believe that God is real and that God is loving and that God takes an important place in your life. By the power of the HS make disciples of all nations...

• And part of our religion, part of our life of faith is mission to the world... to Is 58, to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the prisoner free, to share food with the hungry and provide the poor with shelter and clothes...
Not just people we like or people who believe like we do, but people.

• One of the ways we’re involved is Special Sunday Peace With Justice.
The Special Sunday supports programs that advocate peace and justice at home and around the world.

The United Methodist Church declares that peace with justice will be celebrated when all people have access to adequate jobs, housing, education, food, health care, income support and clean water. The denomination will further celebrate when structures and systems that reflect economic exploitation, war, political oppression and cultural domination no longer exist.

• Jessica is a 12-year old girl in Los Angeles, who every day deals with the stresses and abuses of the large school district she’s a part of. Jessica has also attended a Peace camp that was funded in part by The UMC’s PWJ offerings.
PWJ offerings make possible camps and courses that teach children and young leaders conflict resolution and communication skills, empowering them to bear peace and light in contexts we’re removed from.

• As Ascension people we are hands feet eyes mouths and wallets of God... we remember that we are lovingly created by our father, redeemed by our savior, and sent forth with power by the HS.

May Spirit of Gentleness add to your understanding of our Triune God and God’s calling on our lives.

• Hymn insert: Spirit of Gentleness

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 73 in worship.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Better late than never

It happens time to time.
I get a little behind.
Or a lot behind.

I'll try to do a few a night (or week)
working backwards from the present
through Christmas, when the deficit began.

Hey, while you're reading this, say hey!

God of Chaos and Power

May 23, 2010
Pentecost Sunday

God of Chaos and Power
Genesis 11:1-9 and Acts 2:1-12
...All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability... – Acts 2:4

My sermon outline:

• Tower of Babel, heard it before? Seems odd that God
- would punish the people for their unity
- who spoke order out of chaos would stir order up into chaos with purpose of making difficult communication

• Wherefore? The people wanted to make a name for themselves. Erect a monument to them. Bask in their own glory.
And in doing so, defy God’s order to “be fruitful and multiply” and fill the earth. (Gen 1:28 as well as 9:1) (sounds a bit like Go ye therefore into the world and make disciples of all nations)

God does not want the people to rest on the laurels of their mighty deeds, stay home and look at their trophies. God does not want them to be self-focused.

Not only, but bricks + bitumen = something out of nothing = Adam & Eve be like God

• Therefore chaos (or re-introduction thereof) is just what the doctor ordered.

• The story stands in contrast to the story of Pentecost (50 days... the people were gathered for the Feast of Weeks to celebrate the giving of the Torah, also a harvest holiday 7 weeks after Passover)
where God grants the power & ability to communicate, to break language barriers down.

• In contrast to folks from Genesis, who want to build selves up, folks in Acts proclaim not their own mighty acts but God’s mighty acts.
Earlier, they gathered behind closed doors for fear... where no one would hear the mighty acts of God... where they wait for God to send visitors.

Decidedly NOT self-focused.

• Juxtaposition of two stories has purpose: to get us out of self-focus of “here we are, let’s take care not to get too spread out, let’s make a name for ourselves”
but Let’s proclaim God’s mighty acts in a manner that’s meaningful to our surrounding people. Who may look different. Talk different. Think different. Have different backgrounds, questions, assumptions. Who are our surrounding people, what are their needs, and how can we address?

Not gather in fear and wait for people to fall in our laps but Let’s trust in God’s power to gift us with what we need to do that.

• Our worship, our budget, our actions, our mission should reflect that our primary concern, primary focus is God and what God has done, is doing, and wants to do in Spring City.

• To that end, leave you with this question: if SC UMC were to vanish, what then?

• Hymn 539 O Spirit of the Living God

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 62 in worship.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ascension People, Raise Your Voices

May 16, 2010
Ascension Sunday

Ascension People, Raise Your Voices
Ephesians 1:15-23 and Acts 1:1-14

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

My sermon outline:

• Great Christmas songs. (Silent Night every time we have a hymn sing)...
Great Lent songs (when I survey).
Great Easter songs. (Christ the Lord is risen today, He lives, Easter People...)
Not too many great Ascension Day hymns.

Western church focus on Easter people (hymn 304).
What are we excited about? Forgiveness. Because we like to sin (JK) (What can wash my sins away, nothing but the blood of Jesus, hymn 362).

Eastern church gets more excited about incarnation. Where we’re Easter people, they’re Christmas people, and not because of Santa Claus but because the word became flesh and dwelled among us, Light has come into the world, and through him we become children of God. (Love came down at Christmas, hymn 242, Let all mortal flesh keep silent, hymn 626)

I wonder whether we ought to be Ascension people instead. (plus there’s no hallmark cards or family gatherings, no lines at the post office or airport).

• What has Ascension Day to do with us?

• First, over 40 days (six weeks) since Easter, Jesus has been with (Jesus has been with!), offering many convincing proofs of himself alive. That’s a big deal... yeah I was having lunch with the Pres the other day – wha??!

Series of unexpected events: the death was unexpected (though Jesus talked about it)... and they abandoned. the resurrection was unexpected (though Jesus talked about it)... they went fishing. Jesus has been around for 40 days again, & the disciples wonder when Jesus will take political power, and he up and leaves em staring at the sky! Unexpected!

As unexpected as his physical presence among us right now.

• Before he ascended, gave instructions: Don’t worry about kingdom of Israel. You’ll receive power from the HS. You’ll be my witnesses.

• Heavenly announcement from behind, in case they try to go fishing again. Jesus will come again. Remember his stories about landowners going away and leaving property in the charge of his servants...You’ve got your marching orders, now hop to it, get things done, he’ll be coming back, and there’s work to do.

• Why does Jesus ascend? Cuz if he stuck around, God would have two hands and two feet, two eyes, one mouth, and one wallet. If he delegates (& he does) then he’ll have the hands and feet and eyes and mouths and wallets of his followers, & many more things can be done. If he sticks around, folks will stand around aghast hoping he’ll do another miracle or give another sign, & if he goes, his followers will be witnesses, ambassadors, they’ll receive power & go & live & love & do.

The success of McDonald’s (& other ff) was reproducibility: getting others to do the same thing the same way. & we are little Christs

• We have been Easter people, forgiven & reconciled. Let’s be Ascension people, empowered & commissioned.

• Hymn 368 My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 52 in worship.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Paul's Vision of Macedonia

May 9, 2010
Sixth Sunday after Easter
Mother’s Day

Paul’s Vision of Macedonia
Acts 16:9-15

“During the night Paul had a vision... [and we were] convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to [Macedonia].” – from Acts 16:9-10

My sermon outline:

• Some things you can’t do anymore (trash truck, seatbelts for kids, deal on a handshake)

Devil would love for us to believe that God doesn’t grant visions anymore, and that vision-worthy goals are unachievable because of the red tape.

Devil would love for us to believe this sanctuary will not be filled as it was in its glory days

Devil would love for us to believe that some problems are too great for us to handle. God is greater.

• Paul had a vision. God gives visions. Jesus said I will not leave you orphaned (Jn 14:18) and F will send HS to guide and teach (Jn 14:26). Sure enough, Paul receives vision.

Paul’s vision comes while P is active in ministry, seeking a venue.

Paul’s vision comes to him alone, and at night. & he shares.

• Paul has a small group of advisers. Paul, Silas, Timothy, Luke. When he shares vision they immediately decide to pursue.

> aside: sometimes we wait until all ducks in a row before starting. All lights green. Not the case. You don’t go without forethought, but neither do you get bogged in the details.

They go into city, perhaps getting lay of the land, learning the people, perhaps preaching, perhaps selling. And they find faithful community by intuition on Sabbath. And God meets them there too.

• Vision may be to unexpected recipients. Prejudge not. They present gospel to a woman who is not a Jew and whose husband if she has one is not mentioned but who has a household. (scandal). Likely an ex-slave made rich by local trade, so she’s got savvy. God blesses, she supports.

• Hymn 128 He Leadeth Me, O Blessed Thought

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 72 in worship.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Glorifying God

May 2, 2010
Fifth Sunday after Easter

Glorifying God
John 13:31-35

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
– John 13:35

My sermon outline:

• What is glorify?
Example: Hannah Montana tv episode. Jackson (19 years old, older brother to Miley) wants to go out to a party past curfew. Father (Robby Ray) knows Jackson has lost cell phone. Eventually gives permission. Jackson doesn’t go, and fesses up that he lost his phone. “What kind of father are you?” “A proud one. You told the truth, and you didn’t have to!” Glory.

• Our choices to live lovingly & in obedience is glorifying to God.

- The Good Samaritan acted lovingly, went out of way to show humankindness to person in need. Does your love of God motivate you to go out of your way to glorify God through your actions?

- John 21: 18-19 I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.)

Peter’s humility and obedience unto death (sound like Jesus?) glorified God. Rather than saying I don’t know the man and save his skin, he said I will answer to God not to man, & if people will kill me for it they will kill me for it.

Sometimes love will take you where you do not want to go.
Jesus didn’t want to suffer, but he chose to say yes to God. Glory to God.

Christ condescended to human cruelty in order that humanity might begin to comprehend God’s love... Christ came into the world to reveal more fully the loving nature of God. And in this, God is glorified. I know I’m gonna go in there, and eventually they’ll kill me, but I’ma go in there anyway so I can save some.

• Ajax commercial (Ajax was here... and they’ll know we are Christians by our love).

In Christ and through Christ-like humility and obedience God is glorified and makes things new.

• Hymn 620 One bread, One body

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 57 in worship.