Sermons | Eldersville United Methodist Church

Sermons

Reflections on Scripture for God's People

The War to End War

Ephesians 6 (NRSV) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak. One hundred years ago today, at 11am Paris time, the Allies and German army declared a ceasefire that would lead... read more

Sabbath Rest

Scripture Readings: Mark 2:23–28 and Joshua 24:14–18 On Tuesday, many of us will participate in a familiar political ritual as we go down to the Township Fire Department, or wherever your polling place is, to cast votes for a variety of positions within our national and state governments. It may not seem like much of a ritual since it’s an activity we engage in two times a year at the most, but it’s surrounded by other practices that give meaning to it. For months now, we’ve been exposed to a steady stream of political ads. For years, we’ve been engaging in debates with one another and our televisions about the interpretation of a common text, the constitution, and how it should be applied. For most of our lives, during school every day, we’ve stood at the foot of the flag and declared our supreme allegiance to the “flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands…” We’ve sung psalms, songs, and spiritual songs in service of this political system like the “Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.” And so on Tuesday, when we cast our votes, we’re engaging in a biannual ritual or practice that makes sense within a system of other practices. In many ways, these practices are a good thing. They unite us around shared concerns. They give us voice in matters of importance—we are blessed to live in a place where we do have such a voice, where we can safely and privately cast a vote based on our conscience. It’s a good thing that we care about the affairs... read more

By Faith!

Scripture Readings: Revelation 7 (NRSV); Hebrews 11–12 (The Message) As we gathered this morning for worship, you may not have noticed it visibly, but we have gathered with an enormous congregation of believers that cannot be counted. We have gathered with all the saints who have gone before us in faith, what Hebrews 12 calls the “great cloud of witnesses.” Through the visionary language of Revelation 7, we have gathered in spirit with those representing the 12 tribes of Israel and the great multitude of believers from every tribe, people, and nation that is and will be gathered in worship before the throne. Today, through our raw grief at the events that transpired yesterday, we recognize among those 11 worshippers of the people of Israel that now join the heavenly chorus in praise of God: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The first and the last, the beginning and the end. As it was explained to us in the voice of the unnamed elder, the multitudes who have gathered, dressed in white, waving palm branches in their hands are the saints of God, the ones who have come out of what is called the “great ordeal,” the oppression and suffering that has typified the common Christian experience on earth for millennia. With the saints, we proclaimed, “Salvation belongs to our God!” With the angels, we declared “Blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever.” And truly, God’s salvation is good news for these saints of the church triumphant with whom we worship the Lord. The saints have come through the great ordeals... read more

Leading in Love

Today is a very special Sunday in our church year as United Methodists. If you knew what it was, you might have decided not to come to church today (yes, I know that’s what many of you do when I’m not preaching). Today is laity Sunday! For those who don’t know, Laity Sunday began as a yearly tradition in the Methodist Church in 1929 to “emphasize the place that lay members have in the total life and work of the church.” Back then it was called “Laymen’s Sunday,” but we are blessed that all 3 of our currently certified Lay Servants in Eldersville are women. Last year, Mallory preached on Laity Sunday to commemorate the occasion and before the year is out, some of our lay leaders will preach in my place again. But this Sunday, I decided to do something different to recognize the contributions of our laity. It’s not just our 3 certified Lay Servants that lead us in service, but as a small church, we all pitch in when there’s a job to do. Today, I want to lead us in reflecting on the way of life that Christ has laid out for all of us, lay and clergy, and then we’ll respond to the word by praying for all of our ministries as part of Christ’s body as we all strive to be principled Christian leaders. Ephesians 4:25–5:2 (NRSV) — Rules for the New Life So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not... read more

The Good Place

Mark 10:17–19 (NRSV) As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’ ” Ephesians 1:15–20 (NRSV) I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places. In the first episode of NBC’s hit comedy The Good Place, Eleanor Shellstrop wakes up one day only to find out that she died in a tragic shopping cart accident. She finds herself in what her host Michael... read more

A Global Household of Faith

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 2:11–22 (NRSV) So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God. One of the... read more

Do “All Dogs Go to Heaven”?

Scripture reading: Romans 8:19-23 (NRSV) I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freeife, dom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. I’ll admit—I’ve never been much of an animal person. My family’s first pet, a terrier named Taffy, died when I was young and we never got another pet. I desperately wanted a cat growing up, but my mom got me books on cats rather than an actual cat, and I quickly lost interest. I don’t have anything against animals or pets, but I’m more content to observe them from a distance. I like my personal space. Yet, I recognize that for many people, animals are an integral part of the family. My brother’s corgi Stella was present... read more

Consider the Trees!

Scripture Reading: Genesis 1–3 NRSV (selected) Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.” And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may... read more

God of the Mountains

Image Credit: Jumonville Camp & Retreat Center, a mountaintop that is for many a sign of the faithfulness of God. Scripture Reading: Psalm 125 (NRSV) Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time on and forevermore. For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, so that the righteous might not stretch out their hands to do wrong. Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts. But those who turn aside to their own crooked ways the Lord will lead away with evildoers. Peace be upon Israel! Having lived in Eldersville for just over three years now, I realize I’m still (and always will be) a newcomer. As I’ve gotten to know you and this community, I’ve been blessed to hear many of your stories—stories of growing up here, of significant moments of your life in this church, and accounts of how things have changed. I notice your love of this place often, especially in the way that I’ve been asked frequently in these three years, “how do you like living in Eldersville?” You want to know if I share the same love for this place that you have. Compared with many of you who have deep roots in this community, I don’t know what it’s like to have one place that you can call home. As you realized getting to know me early on, the answer to the question “where... read more

Delighting in Creation

Scripture Reading: Psalm 8 and Song of Solomon 2:8–13 One of the things that I learned quickly about this congregation and community is your no-nonsense, can-do attitude. When there’s a problem that needs to be solved, someone will make sure it gets solved When there’s a project that needs to be completed, people are going to show up and put in the work so that it’s done. We don’t like to talk about it, we just want to make sure it happens. I’ve come to appreciate your pragmatism, the matter-of-fact way that you deal with what needs to be done. It’s not just the business of the church that we deal with practically. Everything we do is done though the lens of practical concerns. When we read the Scriptures, we do so to get the information we need related to our salvation. We want to know what God requires of us (and other people) to be right with God. We want to know what behavior is and is not acceptable. We want to know how we should think rightly about God. When we come to church and Sunday school, it’s often to get the information we need from the Bible so we can just get back to work and do what needs to be done. Whenever the conversation moves beyond those practical issues, it can feel like we’re missing the point and splitting hairs. The Bible is full of practical insights that relate to how God wants us to live as God’s people. The first few books of the Bible give us concrete rules, the prophetic books tell us how... read more

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