Sermons | Eldersville United Methodist Church

Sermons

Reflections on Scripture for God's People

Advent 3: Trust!

John 1 (NRSV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.... read more

Advent 2: Let Go!

Luke 3: 1–20 (NRSV) In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ” John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who... read more

Advent 1: Wait for the Lord

Luke 21:7–11, 25–36 (NRSV) They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away... read more

Meaningless Thanksgivings

Scripture Reading: Ecclesiastes 1–2, 11:7–10 (NRSV) One of Jesus’s most powerful and memorable teaching moments was at a time when he was surrounded by children. Parents were bringing their young ones to see Jesus from near and far, seeking his blessing. The disciples were trying to keep the children from Jesus—they wanted to reserve the teacher for adults who could understand and wouldn’t cause a fuss. But Jesus was angry. He said, “let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” If we take a moment to reflect on this teaching, the meaning becomes apparent. Children are not only dependent on their parents, just as we are to dependent on God. The lives of children are also filled with wonder, curiosity, and a perpetual sense of newness. Everything in the life of a child is fascinating to them. They learn seemingly by osmosis, picking up on their surroundings. To a child, everything is new under the sun. Once they learn about something, they’re eager to share their new knowledge with someone else. If only we could retain such youthful exuberance in our spiritual life! To children such as these, the Teacher of Ecclesiastes says, “rejoice, young ones, while you are young, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth.” Taken out of its context, that sounds well and good. Those with the wisdom that comes with age often say such things to children and youth. We tell them to enjoy their time of youth because we fondly recall some of the same experiences.... read more

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

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