Sermons | Eldersville United Methodist Church


Reflections on Scripture for God's People

A Juice Box Faith

1 John 5:1–8 (NRSV) Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?  This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. There are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree.  Have you read a children’s Bible recently? It’s likely that some of you have, whether its to read a story to your children or to your grandchildren. Some of those Bibles are more comprehensive than others. They all try to hit the major points, especially those that will appeal to children—the creation story, the animals on Noah’s ark, and something about the life of Jesus. In each of these stories, the authors have to make tough choices about how to adapt these stories into language young children will understand. Some of the more difficult elements of Scripture are glossed over, while the love of Jesus and the power of God are emphasized.... read more

An Oasis Encounter

Acts 8:26–39 (NRSV) Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,     and like a lamb silent before its shearer,         so he does not open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him.     Who can describe his generation?         For his life is taken away from the earth.” The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to... read more

The Good Shepherd Becomes a Sheep

Psalm 23 John 10:11–18 This week, we’re greeted by two familiar texts that are favorites to many. Psalm 23 might be the only complete chapter of the Bible we have memorized. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” For many of us, this text has added significance because it’s a text we turn to for comfort in our darkest hours, when we ourselves are traveling through the valley of the shadow of death. These words are promises of God that we cling to when we feel burnt out and beaten down. The words of this Psalm help to restore our parched souls that desperately search for the water by which we will no longer be thirsty. Sometimes we say these words, and immediately we know them to be true. We’ve been off on the wrong path, but our Lord can guide us back to safety. We are surrounded by evil, but we no longer fear because our shepherd holds the rod of correction and the staff of protection. We hunger for the bread of life, and God provides for that need at the table of fellowship. We may feel alone and exposed on a treacherous road, chased down by temptation and accusation, but we delight in the promise that God will only let goodness and mercy pursue us. We don’t need to fear out on our own, because we have a dwelling place in the house of the Lord. There are times when things around us seem to change, just because we took the time to bask in the promises of God expressed in this Psalm. But... read more

Witnesses of the Resurrection

Luke 24:36b–48 (NRSV) Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” On Easter Sunday, we gathered to hear the good news of the empty tomb. Last week, we looked ahead to the impact Jesus’s resurrection had on the way the first Christians lived, as they shared everything they had. Today, we have an opportunity to... read more

What Difference Does the Resurrection Make?

Judges 21:25 NRSV (See also Judges 2:10–17) In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes. Acts 4:32–35 NRSV Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. When I talk to many Christians these days, one of the things everyone seems to agree on is that the world is getting worse every day. People have fond memories of the past—when the church was full, when the American dream seemed to be a possibility, and when everyone they knew and respected held to the same strict moral code. Nowadays, people seem to talk about the decline of the church, the intangibility of the American dream, and the rejection of morality. We frequently hear that the heart of American society needs to change so that we might see an end to violence and exploitation. In former times, people may have done what was right, but now people do what is right in their own eyes. (Or, so that story goes.) Then again, maybe that narrative of decline tells us more about who... read more

The Great Reversal

Read the following Scriptures before reading the sermon below: Mark 11:1–6 and Mark 15 Jerusalem was the place to be during the festival of Passover. For that one week a year, the holy city would swell to at least four times its normal population as faithful Jews made their pilgrimage. Residents and the political and religious elite pulled out all the stops to make sure everything went off without a hitch—and, of course, that they would be able to profit from their new guests. Passover had all the political showmanship of the Olympics, complete with demonstrations of power and prestige. The highlight of all this pomp and circumstance was the grand procession into the city of Jerusalem. On one spring day in the early 30s of the 1st century AD, onlookers lined thestreet as their divine representative, the locus of power and authority, rode horseback into the center of the city, all the way to the Jewish Temple. Some people watched the procession with zeal, waving their hands inthe airwhile others cowered in fear of the great power that was on display. I am speaking not of the procession described to us in Mark 11, but of a parade on the other side of town. This was the triumphal entry of Pontius Pilate, the prefect of the Roman province of Judea, serving under the Emperor Tiberius. Every year, he would enter to this crucial city center with soldiers and weapons in tow to remind the entire Jewish world that he was in control. To the crowds that gathered to watch Jesus’s grand entrance into Jerusalem, the distinction between these... read more

Take Up Your Cross!

This week’s sermon is by Mallory Peterson, one of our Lay Servants at Eldersville UMC.  John 12:20–33 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said... read more

Inclusive Faithfulness

Acts 15 (selected, NRSV) Then certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to discuss this question with the apostles and the elders. So they were sent on their way by the church, and as they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, they reported the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the believers. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. But some believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and said, “It is necessary for them to be circumcised and ordered to keep the law of Moses.” The apostles and the elders met together to consider this matter. After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “My brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing... read more

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Joel Peterson

Joel Peterson


Joel has been serving Eldersville UMC, with his wife Mallory, since 2015. He graduated in 2014 from Houghton College with a degree in Music and Religion and is currently a student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

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