Sermons | Eldersville United Methodist Church


Reflections on Scripture for God's People

Principled Christian Leadership

What do you aspire to be? We all have aspirations. We aspire to be excellent at our jobs, perhaps even a team leader or manager. Some of you may be aspiring to retire in a few years and get a glimpse at the “good life” you’ve been missing. We might aspire to lose weight or be healthier, either in hopes of impressing someone else or for our own personal satisfaction in ourselves. We ask this sort of question all the time of children, teenagers, and young adults: what do you want to be when you grow up? What career path are you on? When the question is asked of small children, their response is often shaped by their parents vocations or their own particular interests. A child who loves to play with trains might, for a time, aspire to be a conductor or locomotive engineer. It usually isn’t too long before children learn what professions are really worth aspiring to. Children are enticed by the prospect of becoming doctors or even the President of the United States. No one aspires to be a trash collector, housekeeper, laborer, or restaurant server as a child, or an adult for that matter, but all of those jobs are important, aren’t they? We want to feel important, to get some glory for our position, and to be great at what we do. We want to have influence over other people. But someone has to do the jobs that no one wants to do and that no one appreciates. The same dynamic applies in Christian ministry. When we talk about Christian ministry in the... read more

Offering the Real Jesus

Scripture Lesson: Mark 5:21–43 Do you ever have one of those days where you can’t get a moment’s rest? One thing happens after another and a million things are competing for your attention. You can’t get a moment to catch your breath. All the while, you feel like you’re getting nothing done. The story we hear about Jesus’s healing ministry today describes one of those kind of days. As soon as he arrives back at shore a great crowd surrounds him and competes for his attention. Whatever well-crafted plans Jesus may have had for that day, they were immediately cast aside as a leader of the synagogue is in desperate need of help. His little girl is about to die. But Jairus knows about this faith healer named Jesus, one who answers prayers and makes miracles happen. He begs Jesus, come, make her well! Jesus follows him for a while, but before he gets to the bed of the dying girl, he’s interrupted again. A woman who has been afflicted with a blood disorder for twelve years pushes her way through the crowd. Jesus is trying to hurry on to Jairus’s house, but the crowd is pushing up against Jesus and slowing him down. This woman too had heard about Jesus the one who makes people well. She knew all too well about physicians who would take her money and do nothing for her. She felt isolated from her faith community, as she has been deemed ritually unclean—unable to take part in temple worship—for twelve years. We see in this story, only a few verses in, the phenomenal need... read more

Get in the Boat!

Mark 4:35–41 (NRSV) On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” The Biblical drama is full of stories about deliverance from the sea. We don’t give it second thought, but the book of Genesis begins with a story about the waters of chaos: “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep.” Before anything was created, in the ancient imagination, there was a dark, watery abyss. But the winds that swept over those waters on that first day were not the winds of chaos, but the Spirit of God, ordering what had been in disarray. Light was separated from darkness, the sea separated from the sky. It was all very... read more

Flourishing (Like a Mustard Seed)

Mark 4:26–34 [As he was teaching in parables, Jesus] also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples. I’ll admit, I’m completely out of my element when it comes to agrarian discussions like the one presented to us by Jesus in today’s Gospel reading. I come from a long line of farmers and smaller-scale gardeners who have toiled in the careful work of planting vegetables and taking care of farm animals. I suppose that family line will have to be carried on by my cousins, because I don’t have so much as a green thumb. I... read more

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

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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 completed his seminary studies in 2018 at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

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