Matthew Sermons2018-06-01T12:25:13+00:00

Sermons

  • Matthew 1:18-25 The Dark Night, the Big Dream (Hoffacker)

    THE BIRTH OF JESUS THE MESSIAH: Joseph does everything he needs to do in preparation for his wedding. Then what he never imagined would happen, happens. His fiancee is pregnant. He knows he is not the father. Suddenly his world shatters, as when a stone hurled by a child shatters ice on a pond.

  • Matthew 1:18-25 When the Moment of Crisis Comes (Hoffacker)

    Joseph. Remember him? Before he gets to the Bethlehem stable, he is a young man who just wants to marry his fiancee, settle down, make an honest living as a carpenter, and raise a family. Then it happens! He finds out that Mary is pregnant, and knows that he is not the father.

  • Matthew 1:18-25 God Is with Us (Wagner)

    In college we were required to go to weekly convocation. To validate our presence we were required to present our computer cards. The cards were sent to a computer company to track our attendance. If college students learn anything in college, it is learning how to beat the system.

  • Matthew 1:18-25 The Faithfulness of Joseph (McLarty)

    Three versions of the Christmas story: The Gospel According to Matthew, where we get the wise men. The Gospel According to Luke, where we get the shepherds and angels. And then there's the Gospel According to Hallmark, in which we get a partridge in a pear tree.

  • Matthew 2:1-12 Fear or Faith (Hoffacker)

    THE VISIT OF THE WISE MEN: Herod is a king who shows himself to be a catastrophe. He cannot salute a royalty greater than his own.

  • Matthew 2:1-12 What Our Gifts Say about Us (Molin)

    I asked my confirmation class what they received for Christmas gifts. The 8th and 9th graders were more than willing to admit that what they received this Christmas was not always what they wanted. Then I asked “What did you give this year for Christmas?” For a moment, there was silence.

  • Matthew 2:1-12 Follow the Star (Leininger)

    There is a wonderful lesson for us in this story. The Wise Men met God in the midst of doing what they were supposed to do: they were at work. God can and does speak to us ANYWHERE and ANYTIME. The lesson is BE ALERT!

  • Matthew 2:1-12 Almost Missing the Messiah (Entrekin)

    We seem to start a lot of sentences with the word, "Where?" around our house. Where's the paper? Where's the salt? Where's the dog? The other day a video camera disappeared into thin air. It's not a large house. There are only two of us plus dogs living in it. No one can find it. We are always missing something we need. We want to know – where. It is a question of the ages. In Matthew magi come looking for the "child born king of the Jews" and the first word they speak is, "Where?"

  • Matthew 2:1-12 A Light to the Nations (Kelley)

    Now, sometimes it's easy to be light in the middle of Christmas when all is going well. But it's not always easy to be light and it's not always easy to point to God--who is not always what and where we expect God to be.

  • Matthew 2:1-12 An AHA Moment (Bedingfield)

    The word, epiphany means, a “showing forth,” or the “revealing of something,” that previously had not been seen. A modern writer described an epiphany as, “an AHA moment,” the moment when the light bulb goes on above our heads.

  • Matthew 2:1-12 We Three Kings (Hoffacker)

    Among the beloved songs of this season is "We three kings of Orient are." This wondrous hymn had a beginning. It was written in 1857 by an Episcopal deacon, John Henry Hopkins, Jr., who taught church music at the General Theological Seminary in New York City.

  • Matthew 2:1-12 Twists, Turns, and Detours Along the Way (McLarty)

    Happy New Year! Yes, I know our New Year began on November 30, but let's give the pagans their day. It's the start of a new calendar year and we're all looking to see what the next twelve months have in store for us.

  • Matthew 2:1-12 The Star of Bethlehem (McLarty)

    This morning I'd like for us to listen to Matthew, as we consider yet a fourth sign – the Star of Bethlehem. To be fair, I should tell you that the Star of Bethlehem has been the subject of endless debate over the years.

  • Matthew 2:1-12, Meaningful Gifts (London)

    Ah, yes, The Wise Men. Magi from the east following a star and searching for a child born king of the Jews. Visions of Christmas cards and nativity scenes, complete with camels carrying gold, frankincense, and myrrh dance in our minds’ eye. Yes, we know the story well. Or do we?

  • Matthew 2:1-12 Transcending the Tribes (Bowen)

    Lets talk about those strange fellows present in every crèche, highlight of every pageant, subject of story and song. We three kings .... no they were not. The word is Magi, a kind of astrologer priest common to Syria and Iran in those days. But we do owe them a lot, especially the kids.

  • Matthew 2:1-12 A Feast of Epiphanies (Sellery)

    These first verses from the second chapter of Matthew are among the most action packed accounts found in the sixty-six books of the Bible. A Hollywood script writer would be hard pressed to match the inspiration and the intrigue, the triumph over treachery.

  • Matthew 2:13-23 They Grow up So Fast (Molin)

    THE ESCAPE TO EGYPT AND THE MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS: C.S. Lewis once wrote “Let us make a pact that, if we are both alive next year; whenever we write to one another it shall not be at Christmastime. That period is becoming a sort of nightmare to me!” I disagree with Dr. Lewis.

  • Matthew 2:13-23 Herod: The Not So Great (Strayhorn)

    "What do we call the three wise men?" the Sunday school teacher asked. "The three maggots," replied a bright 5-year-old.

  • Matthew 3:5-12 Empty Words and the Power of God (Fast)

    The words of my Palestinian friend, Nisreen, dug deep into my conscience: “I want to live in peace”, she said, “but I don’t trust this word anymore. It is a big trick and a dirty word. Talking about peace makes me very angry – more than anything else. Before it was making me laugh. So it is better to say that I don’t want to live anymore. And I really start to envy the people who have been killed.”

  • Matthew 3:1-12 John’s Fire & Spirit (Wigmore)

    THE PROCLAMATION OF JOHN THE BAPTIST: Each year, long about this time, we receive our annual visit from a very strange-looking dude by the name of: John the Baptist. Now any time a Baptist shows up, you can be pretty sure he’s gonna start quotin’ you some scripture! – And this Baptist doesn’t disappoint!

  • Matthew 3:1-12 I Can’t, But God Can (McLarty)

    Once upon a time an unscrupulous painter wandered into town. He found a quaint little clapboard church in need of painting and offered his services. The folks could hardly believe his rates – all he wanted was the price of the paint, plus room and board.

  • Matthew 3:1-12 An Advent Lesson from the Miners in Chile (Somerville)

    On the 12th of October, thirty-three trapped Chilean miners ascended to the surface of the Earth. As spectacular as that event was, their exodus might never have happened, were it not for the miners' faith in action. Theirs is a story worth telling.

  • Matthew 3:13-17 Downward Mobility (Hoffacker)

    THE BAPTISM OF JESUS; Consider how the mission of Jesus begins. He is not given a throne. He is not invested with a sash of honor. No one gives him either keys or crown. Instead, he goes down, he goes down, he goes down into the muddy brown river water... This is how Jesus' mission gets started.

  • Matthew 3:13-17 To Fulfill All Righteousness (Hyde)

    Into the shallow, muddy waters of the Jordan they have come. Sinners all. There is Levi, that rascally tax collector, and Miriam the harlot. Simeon, who trades in camels and is known to illegally roll back the mileage on his older models, is there as well. Sinners all.

  • Matthew 3:13-17 Praying Our Way out of a Pickle (Wigmore)

    (This sermon was delivered to a group recovering from alcohol and drug addiction.) When I was sitting in treatment for the second time–I got assigned to one of the toughest counselors on the staff. He said: “Hi, my name is Ted – I’m your counselor, … and I’m going kill you!”

  • Matthew 3:13-17 Belonging to Something Greater (Bedingfield)

    "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." Everyone in this church this morning is someone’s child. And if you’ve been alive very many years, I promise that there have been times in your life when you craved hearing those words from your own father.

  • Matthew 3:13-17 Come to the Water (Sellery)

    Jesus says: "Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." That's really clear. Baptism is not a suggestion. Christ calls us to the water. Baptism is not an optional initiation ritual. It is God’s own medium of saving grace.

  • Matthew 4:1-11 Skill, Trust, and Power (Hoffacker)

    THE TEMPTATION OF JESUS: The devil does not present a slice of chocolate cake, or offer piles of money, or volunteer to arrange a one-night stand. The devil is not working from a view of sin like that of our society. He doesn't concern himself with simply illicit sex, ill-gotten gain, or excessive, tasty calories.

  • Matthew 4:1-11 The Tempter, the Tease, and the Trial (Molin)

    It began quite innocently; my life of crime, that is. I don’t know how old I was, maybe ten? ...My career in random crime came to an abrupt end in 9th grade when I was caught shoplifting with my best friend, Dean Anderson.

  • Matthew 4:1-11 Temptations Will Come (Wigmore)

    (This sermon was delivered to a group recovering from alcohol and drug addiction.) I had a friend in early recovery who gave me a little book titled: Our Devilish Alcoholic Personalities. It was abbreviated as ODAP--the name of the devil assigned by Satan to snag us alcoholics & addicts.

  • Matthew 4.1-11 When Faith Is Tested (McLarty)

    The relationship between testing and tempting lies at the heart of the gospel lesson for today. It's embedded in the word itself. The Greek word, periazo, can be translated tempting or testing. Take your pick. They're closely related.

  • Matthew 4:1-11 Trying to Be God (Bedingfield)

    Lots of Sundays during the Church year have titles; like Pentecost Sunday, Trinity Sunday or Transfiguration Sunday. Well, if this first Sunday of Lent were to get its own name, it would have to be “Temptation Sunday.”

  • Matthew 4:1-11 Deliver Us from Evil (Sellery)

    Knowing the divine nature of Jesus, I’ve always felt that Christ was just toying with Satan before he told him to get lost. In reading this week’s gospel, we may be tempted to see Satan as a pushover. And that would suit him just fine.

  • Matthew 4:12-23 A New Creation (Hoffacker)

    JESUS BEGINS HIS MINISTRY IN GALILEE & CALLS HIS FIRST DISCIPLES: The Gospels preserve stories about how the very first disciples begin to follow Jesus long before his death and resurrection. These stories recall the past; they also describe the present. They tell what happens with these early disciples. They also illustrate what happens with subsequent disciples, even with you and me.

  • Matthew 4:12-23 Drafting a Vision, Crafting a Dream (Molin)

    Where did you learn to be a follower of Jesus Christ? That’s the question I have for you today; who taught you how to follow Jesus?

  • Matthew 4:12-23 My Final Sermon (Molin)

    “As he walked along the Sea of Galilee, he saw two fishermen, Simon and Andrew, and he said to them, ‘Follow me.’ And they followed him....” And so began the public ministry of Jesus. The 30 years leading up to this day was merely practice.

  • Matthew 4:12-23 Fishing for Men [and Women Too] (Wigmore)

    (This sermon was delivered to a group recovering from alcohol and drug addiction.) Someone sent me a little brochure a few years back – and it lists the twelve differences between a sponsor and a therapist. I’ll pass it on to you tonight with the hope that it might be helpful to anyone here who might be making that very difficult and god-awfully painful transition.

  • Matthew 4:12-23 We Are All Called by God (Bedingfield)

    Ten years ago, Quentin Tarantino followed up his box office smash hit, Pulp Fiction with a movie that I think is eminently better. In my opinion, his story telling in Jackie Brown puts his work in Pulp Fiction to shame. One of the things I love about Jackie Brown is the device Tarantino uses to tell us how the story unfolds from the viewpoint of various characters.

  • Matthew 4:12-23 From Casting to Casting Aside (McLarty)

    I have a confession: I've never particularly cared for this verse: "Come after me, and I will make you fishers for men." What hooks me – if you'll pardon the pun – is the idea that making disciples is, somehow, like fishing.

  • Matthew 4:12-23 The People Who Walk in Darkness (Sellery)

    John is in jail and Jesus is on the run. This week’s gospel opens up like a western movie. Back then, preaching peace and living love could be a very dangerous business. In fact, it still can be.

  • Matthew 5:1-10 The Beatitudes (McLarty)

    I used to lead church camps in the summer. One summer we agreed to go all day without eating or drinking anything. It was miserable. By the end of the day our throats were parched and exhausted. We met for worship down by the lake. One of the adults read this Beatitude and asked, "Now, do you know what it's like to be hungry and thirsty?"

  • Matthew 5:1-12 I’ll Be Happy When (Donovan)

    THE BEATITUDES: See if you can finish this sentence: "I will be happy when...." There must be a million possible endings for that sentence. "I will be happy when...."

  • Matthew 5:1-12 Here and There (Wicher)

    When I was four I asked why I couldn't go to school. My mother told me because I was not five. When I went school at the age of five I asked when it would be all over. My mother told me not until you’re eighteen.

  • Matthew 5:1-12 Are You Blessed? (McLarty)

    When I first moved back to Hope (Arkansas), I worked out at a local fitness center. What I enjoyed most about it was the camaraderie. There were about twelve of us regulars, both men and women, who came to the fitness center in the early morning hours for exercise. The place was reminiscent of Cheers, “where everybody knows your name.”

  • Matthew 5:1-12 & Rev. 7:2-4, 9-17, The Wedding Picture (Hoffacker)

    One feature of weddings here are the photographs. After the service is complete, and the man and woman are now husband and wife, and the congregation has filed out of the church, there comes a time when pictures are taken. The arrangement I like best is when all the relatives on both sides gather round the bride and groom.

  • Matthew 5:1-12 Christianity for Dummies (Sellery)

    For about twenty years now Wiley Publishing has been producing the tremendously successful “… for Dummies” series of titles. My first experience was “Windows for Dummies.” My latest is “iPhone 5 for Dummies.” The secret of their success is to make intimidating subjects approachable. That's what Jesus does with the Beatitudes.

  • Matthew 5:3-10 True Happiness (Gerhardy)

    No doubt, some of you have watched the reality show, Survivor. Imagine putting 16 people together from different backgrounds - trying to survive together and at the same time competing against one another for individual survival. After each round, the participants meet together to cast their votes to see who will be dismissed from the group.

  • Matthew 5:13-16 Should the Church Stick its Nose…. (Leininger)

    SALT AND LIGHT: Some years ago, shortly after I had moved to Florida, on a Sunday just like this one, just before an election, I preached a sermon about Christian responsibility in regard to the ballot box. A few days later, a letter arrived on my desk from one of those who had been in the congregation that morning. It expressed absolute outrage at my "political use of the pulpit." Huh?

  • Matthew 5:13-20 Salty Christians (McLarty)

    For a children’s sermon, I brought a salt shaker and asked, “What do I have here?” A little boy said, “That’s salt.” And I said, “You’re right, so what can you tell me about salt?” He didn’t bat an eye. He said, “If you eat too much, it’ll kill you.” So much for that idea.

  • Matthew 5:13-20 The Salt and Light Brigade (Strayhorn)

    A father was teaching his son what a Christian should be like. When he finished, the little boy asked, "Daddy, have I ever met one of these Christians?"

  • Matthew 5:13-20 The Bucket List (Sellery)

    A few years back Hollywood discovered a sure-fire formula for a big box-office payoff: Caste a couple of aging mega-stars as seniors who put together a “do-before-you-die” list of outrageous escapades. Then have them carry-on like out-of-control adolescents… while they drain the bottomless well of old-age jokes.

  • Matthew 5:14-16 This Little Light of Mine (McLarty)

    A little boy tried out for the school play. The problem was he was slow on the uptake. But the teacher found the perfect part for him. When he got home from school, his mother asked, "Did you get a part in the play?" He said, "You betcha! I get to clap and cheer."

  • Matthew 5:17-20 The Antitheses: Part One (McLarty)

    I used to get angry at the drop of a hat. Just about anything would upset me. I finally came to realize that I was the one who was out of step. I came to see how overly egotistical and opinionated I was. All others had to do was pop the cork. So, I decided to do something about it.

  • Matthew 5:21-26 Make It Right (Leininger)

    ANGER AND FORGIVENESS: There is a church in Columbia, South Carolina near the seminary I attended which has a bulletin board out front. For several years there was one other thing on that bulletin board, one of those little "sentence sermons" that we see so often. It said, "The same Bible that says BELIEVE also says BEHAVE."

  • Matthew 5:21-27 The Best Place to See the Glory of God (Hoffacker)

    In today's gospel, Jesus changes the rules. He expands them actually. He says, "But I say to you." Why is it that Jesus changes the rules? Why does he take established commandments and make them more demanding?

  • Matthew 5:21-37 Instructions for Daily Living (Kegel)

    Have you ever heard someone say, "I swear it is the truth," or "I swear on a stack of Bibles that it is the truth!" I do not know about you, hearing that always makes me think that everything else that the person says must be a lie.

  • Matthew 5:21-37 Raising the Bar (Sellery)

    Even simple common sense laws seem to have a way of exploding into a morass of regulations. The Federal Register of Regulations is quickly closing in on a million pages. But it’s not a new phenomenon. In Exodus God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. But that was followed by 27 chapters of do’s and don’ts in Leviticus and 34 chapters more in Deuteronomy.

  • Matthew 5:33-37 The Power of a Promise (Molin)

    CONCERNING OATHS: The Snyder’s Drug Store in Dean’s neighborhood had one clerk on duty, so when Dean put a Swiss Army Knife in his pocket, and I put a package of Whoppers candy in mine, we thought we were home free. We had no idea that the store manager was watching us the entire time. On the front sidewalk, he grabbed each of us by the nape of our necks and said “Let’s go in and call your parents, boys.”

  • Matthew 5:33-48 The Antitheses: Part Two (McLarty)

    Jesus said: "Don't resist him who is evil." (Matthew 5:39). Does that mean you're supposed to roll over and play dead? Not necessarily. If you hear a burglar breaking into your home, you'd be a fool to open the door and invite him in. When you're in harm's way, you have every right to protect yourself and your loved ones. This actually happened to a couple I know.

  • Matthew 5:38-48 Peacemaking (Donovan)

    CONCERNING RETRIBUTION AND FORGIVING ENEMIES: A friend of mine was struggling with this text. He didn't like the "turn the other cheek" idea very much. He finally resolved it! He said, "If someone strikes me on one cheek, I will turn the other. But if he strikes me on that cheek, watch out!"

  • Matthew 5:38-42 He Hit Me First (Molin)

    If we belong to the God of Grace, we must become people of grace. There’s no other way. And someday, somewhere, someone will be explaining how it is that the neighborhood lives at peace, and they will point to you and say “He started it.”

  • Matthew 5.38-48 What More Are You Doing Than Others (McLarty)

    The meaning is clear: The life of a Christian ought to go beyond that of an unbeliever. There ought to be a clear, recognizable difference in the way we think, talk and act out our faith that sets us apart from others and presents a living witness to the love of God in Jesus Christ.

  • Matthew 5:38-48 Love Your Enemies (McLarty)

    Lewie Donalson said the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount were not intended as social ethics, but as a model for how we're to live as children of God and relate to each other, one-on-one, as brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • Matthew 5:38-48 Jesus Trusts Us (Hoffacker)

    The great twentieth century theologian Karl Barth once advised his young colleagues "to take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible."

  • Matthew 5:38-48 As Good as It Gets (Sellery)

    The love of God comes in only one grade… super, high-test, premium.

  • Matthew 5:46-48 Raising the Bar (McLarty)

    The Sermon on the Mount is God's Word without the wiggle room.

  • Matthew 5:1-12 Here and There (Wicher)

    All Saints Sunday has a simple theme and it is this: "Here and there". Now listen closely to what I’m going to say about "here and there". Here is not there and there is not here and you can’t get there without being here.

  • Matthew 5:1-12 & Rev. 7:2-4, 9-17, The Wedding Picture (Hoffacker)

    One feature of weddings here are the photographs. After the service is complete, and the man and woman are now husband and wife, and the congregation has filed out of the church, there comes a time when pictures are taken. The arrangement I like best is when all the relatives on both sides gather round the bride and groom.

  • Matthew 6:1-4 Anonymous Giving (McLarty)

    If you allow your almsgiving, prayer and fasting to put you in the spotlight, you've missed the point. You may get the praise of others, but that's all you'll get. What you won't get are the blessings God has in store for you when you go about doing good deeds surreptitiously.

  • Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 An Excuse to Be Better (Leininger)

    My own initial encounters with Lent came as a boy growing up in Baltimore. Our Presbyterian congregation was a small island in a virtual sea of Italian Catholics. Most of my neighborhood chums were good Catholics, and come Ash Wednesday each year, I would see them in public with a smudge of gray on the forehead.

  • Matthew 6:1, 16-18 And When You Fast (McLarty)

    Let's talk about fasting. If this is uncomfortable for you, you're not alone. Over the years I've found that the three sermon topics that cause people the most angst are money, sex and fasting.

  • Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 Becoming a Place of Resurrection (Hoffacker)

    We give alms to help people in need or distress. Someone else is fed or housed, but we are transformed. This is how the Father who sees in secret rewards us. We would have settled for a certificate of appreciation, and instead God changes our lives.

  • Matthew 6:1, 16-18 Slow Down and Fast (McLarty)

    Let's talk about fasting. If this is uncomfortable for you, you're not alone. Over the years I've found that the three sermon topics that cause people the most angst are money, sex and fasting.

  • Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 Ashes and Eggs (Hoffacker)

    What makes "Humpty Dumpty" a memorable nursery rhyme is that it tells us something about ourselves. Each of us is Humpty Dumpty. Each of us is a cracked, broken egg that no power on earth can repair.

  • Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 Gardening Tips for Lent (Sellery)

    Once again Ash Wednesday inaugurates the season of self-examination and self-denial we call Lent -- a name derived from the Old English “lencten” which means “lengthen”, referring to the longer period of daylight in the transition from late winter to early spring.

  • Matthew 6:5-15 Praying to God (McLarty)

    An elderly saint took me on a tour of her house and showed me a little bench sitting just inside her closet door. "That's where I say my prayers," she said. "You know the Lord told us to go into your closet and shut the door." Then she confessed, "Well, I don't always shut the door, but then there's nobody here but me, so I don't suppose it matters."

  • Matthew 6:9-13 Abba in Heaven (Anders)

    A strange event happened in a small Kentucky town some years ago. It seems that there were two churches in the town and one distillery owned by an atheist. The churches were always doing battle with the atheist owner of the distillery. They had tried several times to get it closed.

  • Matthew 6:10 God’s Kingdom, God’s Will (Anders)

    I saw on television this week a woman who had lost $2 1/2 million in the Madoff scandal. Can you imagine? Another attorney said she had her whole retirement savings invested with him and lost it all. She said, "Now I will be working until I am 95." It has been a vivid reminder that life is far more insecure than we like to think.

  • Matthew 6:11 Daily Bread (Anders)

    People think of their bread as coming from investments, or from a business, or from an employer, but this prayer would remind us that these are merely the temporary channels through which God's blessings come. The ultimate source of all our bread is God.

  • Matthew 6:12 Forgive as We Forgive (Anders)

    Which kind of person you want to be? Listen to these two stories and see which one you want to be like.

  • Matthew 6:13 Deliver Us (Anders)

    There is a story about a man who worked the four to midnight shift. His walk home led him past a cemetery. When he was in a hurry and the moon was full, he would take a short-cut through the cemetery. But one black night, he fell into a freshly dug grave.

  • Matthew 6:19-21 Lasting Treasures (McLarty)

    Last Sunday, I said the three sermon topics that cause people the most angst are money, sex and fasting. Well, we made it through the sermon on fasting last week without any casualties, and I don't have a sermon in mind on sex; so, if we can get through this one unscathed, it should be clear sailing from here on out.

  • Matthew 6:19-24 Hotwired to the Heart (Donovan)

    Someone has put it this way. They said: "The scriptures deal with money matters, because money matters." Jesus put it this way: "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

  • Matthew 6:24-34 Wealth, Worry, and Worship (Molin)

    His name was Jimmy, Jimmy C; maybe you knew him. He was seventeen years old, a junior in high school, with a carefree personality and a smile as big as a house. He lived with his mom, and the economics of their household can only be described as “very humble.”

  • Matthew 6:24-34 How Firm’s Your Foundation (Wigmore)

    Floyd looked at me and said: “Bill, welcome to the human race!” Welcome home! I don’t believe I ever in my life felt more at home in my own skin than I did that day. A huge weight had been lifted off my soul.

  • Matthew 6:24-34 A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (Kegel)

    I was a boy of eight or nine and we were going to Disneyland. It was very special and we dressed up for it. We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel and were having breakfast. The waitress said, "Come with me. I want to introduce you to Walt Disney." He was really nice, and gave me his autograph on the place mat. It was pretty special!

  • Matthew 6:24-34 A Promise of Incessant Finding (Hoffacker)

    Recently, when I visited an airport, I stopped in a shop there, the sort that sells souvenirs. Facing me was a big wall of magazines with glossy, colorful covers. Some presented a stressful picture:The successful CEO. Others extended an invitation to indulgence: Expensive and stately houses,fancy new cars.

  • Matthew 6:25-31 Don’t Worry, Do Something (McLarty)

    Jesus tells us, plain and simple, "Don't worry," but we do it anyway. It's in our genes. It's as if we're born to worry.

  • Matthew 6:25-34 Gratitude, Not Platitudes (Strayhorn)

    A certain preacher always found something for which to be grateful. One Sunday morning the weather was cold, dark, gloomy, and miserable. However, the preacher began by praying, "Gracious God, we thank You, that the weather's not always like this."

  • Matthew 7:1-5 Don’t Be Judgmental (McLarty)

    There's no escaping it – we're all prone to criticizing and critiquing and judging those around us. We do it all the time. Some of it is light-hearted and innocent Some of it is downright hateful.

  • Matthew 7:7-12 What Is the It in Your Life? (McLarty)

    When the Texas Lottery first came out our boys were young. We'd driven to visit grandma. To break the monotony, Donna created a little game. The sweepstakes prize had gone up to ten million dollars, so she asked the boys what they would buy if they won all that money.

  • Matthew 7:7-12 A Father’s Love (McLarty)

    To all of you fathers here today: Happy Father's Day! I trust you know what an honor and privilege it is to be a father, to have a son or daughter who share your genes and will carry on your legacy.

  • Matthew 7:13-15 Chutes, Ladders, and the Kingdom of God (Molin)

    Today is confirmation day. At 10:30, some 19 smiling, shiny–faced young people will stand in front of their parents, and grandparents, and Godparents, and pastor, but most importantly, stand before God and say “I believe.”

  • Matthew 7:21-29 To Know You More (McLarty)

    When I first entered seminary, the dean gave us a piece of advice: "Read your professors' books." If you want to know how someone thinks, what makes them tick, read what they have to say. In much the same way, listening to Jesus' voice in scripture helps us to know him more intimately.

  • Matthew 7.21-29 Rock Like Living (Wagner)

    A wise person builds his home on solid ground while a foolish person builds on sand. What did Jesus mean? He wasn’t talking about personal dwelling places. He was talking about life, specifically how one enters the kingdom of heaven.

  • Matthew 7:24-29 Rejoice in the Past, Build for the Future (McLarty)

    It took a leap of faith to borrow the money and build the majestic brick church with its magnificent stain-glass windows on the corner of 29th and Washington. And it took even greater courage and vision to walk away from it and build this impressive complex on what was then farmland on the edge of town.

  • Matthew 7:24-27 A Firm Foundation (McLarty)

    Many young people have told me that, once they got established in their work, they'd give to the church and support its mission efforts. The idea was simple: The more they had, the more they'd have to give. It never quite works out this way, does it? For one thing, we never seem to have enough.

  • Matthew 9:9-13 The Company We Keep (Molin)

    The circles in which Jesus moved were not the refined and polished and sophisticated circles of the day. Jesus ran with the biker culture of the first century. We would never encourage our children to hang out with the people Jesus hung out with, would we?

  • Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26 Grace Changes People (Hoffacker)

    God's grace changes people. We call this conversion. The word "conversion" means simply "to turn around." God's grace turns us around. Sometimes the movement is slow. At other times we're spun around so fast we end up dizzy. But in all cases, conversion means that once we were looking in one direction, and now we're looking in the opposite direction.

  • Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26 Sinners All (Hyde)

    If Jack Welch (the former CEO of General Electric) had been managing Jesus’ ministry campaign, things would have been totally different. “You can’t grow long-term if you can’t eat short-term,” is one of his pithy insights. That means that you’ve got to be willing to suffer small losses in order to make big gains.

  • Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26 Eradicate Poverty and Hunger (Garrity)

    Wesley Frensdorff, former Bishop of Nevada, said: “Ministry, as the sharing of God’s gifts, is the personal privilege and imperative of every member of the church by virtue of baptism… The church is a ministering community, a community of ministers.

  • Matthew 9:35 – 10:8 Compassion Workers (Anders)

    Tom Black used to say that the church was to be a hospital for sinners, not a sanctuary for saints. For most of our history, I think we have held true to that value. We are here to have compassion, not to condemn.

  • Matthew 9:35 – 10:8 Don’t Talk to the Norwegians! (Molin)

    Jesus said: “And you shall be my witnesses, in Jerusalem, in Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.” Essentially, Jesus was saying “Start with the Jews and go out from there.”

  • Matthew 9:35 – 10:8 Laborers, All of Us (Hoffacker)

    Jesus does not tell his disciples to pray for more leaders, more visionaries, more people who are highly talented. What concerns him is that more laborers become available.

  • Matthew 9:35 – 10:23 Rules for the Road (Wigmore)

    (This sermon was delivered to a group recovering from alcohol and drug addiction.) On June the 10th, 1935, “God did a truly wondrous thing.” A miracle happened in Akron, Ohio. Two hopeless alcoholics did something that never should have happened: They stayed sober.

  • Matthew 10:24-33 His Eye Is on the Sparrow (Kegel)

    "I do not believe that suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable." (Anne Morrow Lindbergh)

  • Matthew 10:24-39 A Strange Sense of Family (Hyde)

    If you are a first-century Jew, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. is your 9/11, your Alamo, your Pearl Harbor, all rolled into one.

  • Matthew 10:24-39 What We Believe about the Church (Butler)

    E. Stanley Jones asked Ghandi: "Though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?" Ghandi replied, "Oh, I don't reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ."

  • Matthew 10:24-39 Denial, Hostility, Reconciliation (Hoffacker)

    Jesus manages to get himself killed for what he says and does. He offends powerful factions among his people. Roman authorities treat him as a threat to public order. Nobody gets crucified for gentleness. Something else is going on with Jesus. He ends up on a cross, and what he offers us is a cross like his own.

  • Matthew 10:40-42 Encouragement (Kegel)

    Oswald Chambers said, "Someone who is constantly criticized becomes good for nothing; the effect of criticism knocks all the gumption and power out of the person. Criticism is deadly in its effect. That is never the work of the Holy Spirit."

  • Matthew 10:40-42 The Stranger at the Door (Hyde)

    “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his children, and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name...” It doesn’t sound much like the gospel, does it? Sounds more like the Civil War.

  • Matthew 10:40-42 Sittin’ on God’s Porch (Molin)

    Explicit in the words of Jesus is the promise that, if you show hospitality, you will get a prize; in fact, you’ll get the same prize as the person receiving your hospitality.

  • Matthew 10:40-42 Guests of Honor (Sellery)

    Corpus Christi, Trinity Sunday, Pentecost… the big celebrations are over. This week Jesus is back to teaching the basics. And what could be more basic than Christian hospitality. This lesson is not so much about what to do as it is about who and why we welcome.

  • Matthew 11:1-17 New Traditions (Baldwin)

    Isn’t it a privilege to come together in the house of God? I get goose bumps just walking in the door. I mean, this is the house of God. His presence is in this place. It is a time to remind ourselves just who owns the house--not us, but Him.

  • Matthew 11:2-11 Including the Excluded (Hoffacker)

    A person in prison has a lot of time to think and question. This is true of John the Baptist when he gets thrown into prison for speaking the truth to power. There in that dark dungeon, John starts to wonder about Jesus. Jesus seems to him a most unlikely messiah.

  • Matthew 11:2-11 Are You the One? (Leininger)

    Now John is in prison, a hellhole of a place. He had preached just one sermon too many, and this one mixed religion with politics, dangerous anytime. It seems that King Herod Antipas had taken up with his half-niece, Herodias. John was an old school kind of preacher and thundered that such ought not to be.

  • Matthew 11:2-11 The Age of Miracles at Christmas (Wigmore)

    (This sermon was delivered to a group recovering from alcohol and drug addiction.) The Age of Miracles is what the Big Book says has arrived for us too. But being in sobriety is very much like being in the kingdom that Jesus preached: Some days we’re in it and some days it’s not even close.

  • Matthew 11.2-11 What Proof (McLarty)

    John the Baptist had gotten himself thrown into prison for insulting Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee. His days were numbered. In time, Herod would have him beheaded. The clock was ticking, and John wanted to know before his time ran out whether or not Jesus truly was the Promised Messiah.

  • Matthew 11:16-30 The Secret that Sinners Know (Molin)

    Jesus called people, not to follow a list of 613 picky rules about how to dress, and what to eat, and how to wash their hands, and when to pray. Rather, Jesus called them to a life of loving God and serving people. And then he said, “The journey won’t be easy, and the lifestyle won’t always be comfortable.”

  • Matthew 11:16-30 The Best Offer (Sellery)

    This week’s gospel breaks cleanly into two parts: the believing part and the acting part. Jesus first addresses belief and the obstacles to belief. And as with most social pathology, pride proves to be the prime impediment to belief. So Jesus quickly cuts it down to size. the believing part and the acting part. Jesus first addresses belief and the obstacles to belief. And as with most social pathology since time began, pride proves to be the prime impediment to belief. So Jesus quickly cuts it down to size… and prescribes his simple formula for the good life.

  • Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 Giving Our Sins to Jesus (Bedingfield)

    Quick! What’s your favorite verse in the Bible? (I know, this is an Episcopal Church and people think we’re not supposed to talk about the Bible here. But, we all know the secret … we talk about it a lot.) So, what’s your favorite verse?

  • Matthew 11:16, 25-30 Looking Around For Wisdom (Hoffacker)

    But now I would like to consider a practical application of all this. Where does Wisdom wait for us in our time and circumstances?

  • Matthew 11:16, 25-30 Old Hearts Young Again (Hoffacker)

    People sometimes assume that Christian living means taking on a lot of stuff, making life more complicated than it already is. Jesus suggests that living the Christian life takes us in the opposite direction.

  • Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 Are You in the Loop? (Molin)

    Several years ago, an 18 wheeler got stuck while going underneath a bridge--its roof lodged into the overpass. The officials consternated for hours as to how to remove this rig, but then an eight year old boy suggested that they try letting the air out of the truck’s tires. Now, why didn’t the experts think of that?

  • Matthew 11:25-30 Rest for the Weary (Kegel)

    Have you ever seen the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray? It is one of the most excruciating films I have ever seen. Our life may seem like Groundhog Day. It is often the same old thing over and over and over.

  • Matthew 11:25-30 Laboring for the Lord (McLarty)

    The sermon this morning comes with two disclaimers: One, Labor Day is anything but a religious holiday. Two, the text this morning has nothing to do with labor, per se; as in what you do for a living. I chose it because it deals with two of the most common mistakes people make when they read the Bible.

  • Matthew 11:28-30 The Burden of Perfection (Bowen)

    “Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.” But what is this labor that Jesus talks about. It is certainly not work, per se. Hard work is central to any productive, contributing life. So what kind of labor does he invite us to flee.

  • Matthew 11:28-30 Help for the Burdened (Gerhardy)

    There are a whole lot of endings to the sentence that begins, "You know it’s going to be a bad day when …." Here’s just a few of them.

  • Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 Clues for the Treasure Hunt (Hoffacker)

    The story line is simple enough. A sower goes out to sow. The story is simple, but the disciples of Jesus have trouble understanding it, and ask for an explanation. And ever since, the Christian community has struggled with just what this story means.

  • Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 What Kind of Soil Are You…. (Hoffacker)

    Before broadcasting referred to radio and television, this parable described the way seeds were planted. Handfuls of seed were scattered -- broadcast -- across the field. The people who gathered around Jesus were familiar with this broadcasting. They had seen it done, done it themselves.

  • Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 The Good Earth (Hyde)

    Those of us who are going to Thunder Bay later this week no doubt will be seeing a lot of hard, thorny, weedy, rocky ground. Then why do we bother to go? We go because we’ve got our bags full of seed and we’re looking for a place to sow.

  • Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 Of Soils and Souls (Sellery)

    God is the sower. His word is the seed. We are the soil. Substitute “soul” for “soil” and the lesson becomes even easier to understand. The sower and the seed are constants. The soil is the variable. God and his word never waver. But Soil cannot choose to be barren--souls can.

  • Matthew 13:1-9 The Parable of the Sower (McLarty)

    I studied the parables with Dr. William Farmer, who, at the time, was one of the foremost New Testament scholars in the world. I'll never forget the first lesson Dr. Farmer taught us. He said, "A parable is a simple story, using concrete imagery, to make a single point."

  • Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 Let Both of Them Grow Together (Hoffacker)

    I don't know about you, but of all the parables Jesus tells, this one about the weeds growing among the wheat irritates me the most. In many situations, I want to have happen what the farm hands in this story are ready to do: pull up the weeds, throw the bums out!

  • Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 Mom, Where Do Weeds Come From? (Molin)

    Several years ago, a mother and her young son were driving to our worship service. The little guy asked his mom, “If God created the earth, and me, and Adam and Eve…well, who created God?” I loved her answer: “When we get to church, you can ask Pastor Steve!”

  • Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 Weeds in my Wheat (Wigmore)

    (This sermon was delivered to a group recovering from alcohol and drug addiction.) Before I came into AA, I’d developed a real skill for spotting the faults in others. I thought it was a genuine gift. If you wanted to know what was wrong with you – all you had to do was come and ask me!

  • Matthew 13:36-43 The Parable of the Wheat and Tares (McLarty)

    What's the point of the parable? It's simply this: The Kingdom of God is a mixed bag in which wheat and weeds--good and bad--grow together side by side. You can't always tell them apart. And this. It is possible to do damage while trying to do good.

  • Matthew 13:24-30,36-43 In the Weeds (Sellery)

    Jesus addresses the paradox of sin flourishing side by side and often indistinguishable from virtue. Like old Westerns, the people in this parable are characterized as either wheat or weeds… good guys or bad guys. But real life seldom offers such a binary choice.

  • Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 God’s Surprises (Kegel)

    A man feared death, so he made a bargain with the Grim Reaper to give him repeated warnings. One day, however, the GR came. The man protested, "You sent me no warnings." But the GR replied, "Your failing eyesight, your dimmed hearing, your gray hair! Were these not warnings?"

  • Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 The Work of the Baker Woman (Hoffacker)

    "The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast, which a woman took, and hid in with three measures of meal, until it was all leavened." Three measures of flour! Do you know how much that is? About eighty pounds! This woman is not whipping up a couple of biscuits that weigh less than a canary. No, no. This woman is a baker!

  • Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 In Search of Hidden Treasure (Sellery)

    From Treasure Island to Indiana Jones, there is something about stories of buried treasure, secret maps and hidden clues that uniquely captures our imagination. This week’s gospel is full of clues on where to find the ultimate treasure… the kingdom of heaven.

  • Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 The Work of the Baker Woman (Hoffacker)

    How did Trevor Immelmon, Jimmie Johnson, the New York Giants, Venus Williams and all the other champions in their respective sports attain their most recent victories? By recognizing the great value in their lives of the thing they were after, and then selling all they had and getting this valuable thing.

  • Matthew 14:13-21 The Parties People Put On (Hoffacker)

    To make a long story short, this King Herod becomes enamored of his brother Philip's wife and divorces his own wife to marry her. John the Baptist condemns this, and ends up a prisoner of Herod, who want to execute him--except that he fears the people's reaction.

  • Matthew 14:14-21 Hungry People (Leininger)

    Every time I hear the story of the feeding of the five thousand, I am reminded of reading of a man packing a shipment of food for the poor people of Appalachia. He was separating beans from powdered milk, and canned vegetables from canned meats.

  • Matthew 14:13-21 Send Them Away (Hyde)

    I’ve never seen it myself, but I understand that in some churches the center aisle serves as a clearly-marked divider. The men sit on one side of the church and the women and children on the other.

  • Matthew 14:13-21 The Bottomless Basket (Sellery)

    The miracle of the loaves and fishes is a tale we have heard over and over since childhood. It is the only miracle recounted in all four gospels. Yet despite its familiarity, its full meaning often escapes our understanding.

  • Matthew 14:13-21 Do You Believe in Miracles? (Bedingfield)

    Do you believe in miracles? I know … you’re church folks and therefore you’re supposed to believe in miracles. But do you? Do you really? We live in a scientific age, an age in which it is almost passé to believe in miracles.

  • Matthew 14:22-33 Take Heart (Kegel)

    Books have been written on the low rate of religious affiliation in the Northwest with Oregon being the state with the lowest percentage of church members. People say they believe in some sort of God, but I dare say for many that God is far away from them.

  • Matthew 14:22-33 Walking on Water (Wigmore)

    (This sermon was delivered to a group recovering from alcohol and drug addiction.) The teacher said: “If you arrange the big things in your life first then you’ll find there’s room for all the rest to fit in neatly.”

  • Matthew 14:22-33 Remember the Storm (Bedingfield)

    Jesus calls Peter to him and Mr. Enthusiasm jumps out of the boat and starts walking. But what happened next? Like his name, petros (or rock) he started to sink. And this is the ultimate example for us, I think. We are all very much like Peter.

  • Matthew 14:22-33 Walking on Water (Sellery)

    Words matter--particularly gospel words. Jesus doesn’t “suggest” that the disciples go for a boat ride. He doesn’t “ask” them. He doesn’t even “tell” them. He MADE them get in the boat.

  • Matthew 14:22-33 When the Storms Come (Molin)

    When storms arrive unexpectedly, they can wreak havoc in our lives. And yet, the greatest storms in life have nothing to do with low pressure systems or cold fronts. The greatest storms come through the sudden twists and turns of our own lives.

  • Matthew 15.10-28 The Faith of a Dog (McLarty)

    In keeping all the rules, the Pharisees thought they were the righteous ones; while, if there were anyone undeserving of God's mercy, well, it'd be this Canaanite woman.

  • Matthew 15:10-28 A Fool for Love (Hoffacker)

    I wonder if Jesus and the Canaanite somehow came to understand each other the moment they met. Such things happen in human relations. So perhaps it was with a smile and a note of humor in his voice that Jesus says what would otherwise sound offensive

  • Matthew 15:10-28 Who Are the Dogs in Your Life? (Bedingfield)

    Have you parents ever imitated your child’s whiney tone of voice to show them how they sound? Have you ever spoken to someone the way they spoke to you in order to show them how harsh they were? That, I think is what Jesus is doing here.

  • Matthew 15:10-28 God Bothering (Sellery)

    “God bothering” is a sarcastic description of prayer that was coined as a nasty putdown. However, it seems appropriate when applied to this colloquy between Jesus and the Canaanite woman.

  • Matthew 15:21-28 Those People (Kegel)

    It is easy to draw a circle so that some are inside and others are out--to look at the man with tattoos or the woman with many piercings, or the woman who didn't make it through high school and say that this person is just not like us.

  • Matthew 15:21-28 Keep the Change (Anders)

    "Keep the change." Today I want to tie that phrase to the whole idea of change. Life should not be static, but dynamic. Change should be a value in all our lives. We need to be constantly changing for the good. And when we do, we should, "Keep the change."

  • Matthew 15:21-28 The Dogs Under the Table (Wigmore)

    (This sermon was delivered to a group recovering from alcohol and drug addiction.) Humility is made up of two simple things. The first is knowing what it is you cannot do – and the second is asking for the help you need to do it.

  • Matthew 16:13-20 Our Constant Companion (Hoffacker)

    Peter's world is turned upside down twice. First, when Jesus goes to the cross to die there. Second, where Jesus does not stay dead, but comes out of his tomb more alive than ever.

  • Matthew 16:13-20 Can You Keep a Secret? (Hoffacker)

    Ask a group of people to keep a secret, and you're looking for trouble. More than likely, someone will let it out. Especially if the secret is astonishing.

  • Matthew 16:21-28 An Invitation to Die (Hoffacker)

    Jesus asks of us no more or less than he did of himself. This shatters the life of every Christian like a rock thrown through glass. Echoing Peter's refusal, we don't want a suffering messiah, one who calls us to a cross with our name on it.

  • Matthew 16:13-20 What We Believe about Jesus (Butler)

    Who is Jesus? That’s really the question we Christians are all trying to answer—to the world, to each other, to ourselves—isn’t it? I used to know the answer . . . when I was 5.

  • Matthew 16:13-20 A Gospel for Slow Learners (Sellery)

    Just who is this Jesus? By the time of this gospel he has gained far too much buzz to be ignored. Is he a trickster, a blaspheming charlatan, a sacrilegious upstart? The Pharisees think so. Is he a good man, a prophet, a healer, an agent of God? His followers think so.

  • Matthew 16:13-20 The Unspoken Question (McLarty)

    I never owned one, but I liked the little W.W.J.D. bracelets. Ask yourself, "What would Jesus do here? What would Jesus say? How would Jesus react?" It can help you get beyond your own gut-level feelings and respond in a Christ-like manner.

  • Matthew 16:21-28 Look Good on Wood (Anders)

    The missionaries never knew what was happening. They didn't know they were being poisoned, and they didn't know why they were dying. They stayed and died because they trusted Jesus. And it was the way they died that taught others how to live.

  • Matthew 16:21-28 The Price of Admission (Sellery)

    Death and taxes: Only one of life’s absolute certainties remains absolutely certain. Our physical demise has no loopholes, no shelters, no rebates. You can foil the IRS by relocating offshore, but you still have nowhere to hide when mortality comes calling.

  • Matthew 16:21-28 Solid Rock or Stumbling Block (McLarty)

    There's no such thing as an anonymous Christian. You're either for Christ or you're against him. When it comes to bearing witness to him as your Lord and Savior, neutrality isn't an option. Neither is mediocrity.

  • Matthew 16:13-20 What and When? (Anders)

    In our men's group, one of the men mentioned the famous question from the Watergate Scandal--"What did he know and when did he know it?" Today I want to use that question to examine our text. "What do we know and when did we know it?"

  • Matthew 16:13-20 The Keys to the Kingdom (McLarty)

    Three keys to the kingdom are service, surrender and self-denial. They’re there in the person of Jesus Christ. Walk in his footsteps and follow his example and you’ll experience life in all its abundance. It’s as simple as that.

  • Matthew 17:1-9 Wonderfully Scared (Hoffacker)

    Larry hooks forty-five weather balloons to his lawn chair--puts on a parachute--attaches a six pack of beer--sets a CB radio on his lap--and slings a BB gun over his shoulder. (The gun is to pop the balloons when he wants to come down.)

  • Matthew 17:1-9 Those Whom God Transfigures (McLarty)

    Here's my thesis: Those whom God transfigures are often – if not always – disfigured in the process.

  • Matthew 17:1-9 Transfiguration (Sylvester)

    The Jews loved a good festival. One of their favorites was the fall harvest of figs, quinces, pomegranates, and grapes. Everybody packed into Jerusalem for a week-long celebration.

  • Matthew 17:1-9 The Preview (Hyde)

    The best part of going to the movies was the previews of upcoming attractions. The previews gave us a window into what would be coming to town the next week. The story of the transfiguration of Christ is the biblical equivalent of Friday night at the Capitol Theater.

  • Matthew 17:1-9 Little Epiphanies (Bedingfield)

    Do you remember the first time you heard a particular piece of music – when you got goose bumps – those are glimpses of God’s face; things that touch you so deeply that you are transformed.

  • Matthew 17:1-9 Transfigurations (Sellery)

    This is more like it. Brilliant lights and radiant garments, a voice from the clouds, Moses and Elijah in attendance… this is what the coming of the Messiah was meant to be.

  • Matthew 17:1-9 Mountaintop Experiences (McLarty)

    Over the years, a number of people have shared their mountaintop experiences with me. Some came at a retreat or summer camp. Others on a mission trip. In some cases, the person was alone. In others, they were in part of a group. Each experience was personal and unique.

  • Matthew 18:15-20 Two or Three (Hyde)

    Matthew wants everything to be perfect, and that includes his church. So, he records Jesus giving instructions to the disciples. When this happens, do this. When that occurs, do that. There’s an answer for everything.

  • Matthew 18:15-20 Blueprint For Living (Molin)

    In scripture, God describes how we are to relate to one another in community, which is another word for “church.” God shows us how to build our faith on a firm foundation, so that when the storms come, we will not be devastated.

  • Matthew 18:15-20 As We Forgive (Sellery)

    Today’s gospel is rich with advice on getting along with each other. We need to get along just to survive. We are communal creatures. We need to stick together. We have little choice. Isolation means extinction.

  • Matthew 18:15-20 Resolving Conflict (Bedingfield)

    Someone asked Rep. Dick Armey what his wife would say if she found out that he had had an affair. He said that the first he would’ve heard from her would be as “I looked up from a pool of my own blood on the floor and heard her ask, ‘How do you reload this thing?’”

  • Matthew 18:21-35 Corpses in the Corridor (Hoffacker)

    Did today's Gospel make you uncomfortable? The parable does not pack a dose of sweet comfort, but challenges us outrageously in a spot where we are most tender: the trouble that we have with forgiveness.

  • Matthew 18:21-35 Forgive from the Heart (Kegel)

    For Jesus' sake, God forgives all our sins. So far, so good. But the parable goes on and the story becomes more uncomfortable. We are called to forgive others as we have been forgiven.

  • Matthew 18:21-35 Choice of the Chosen (Molin)

    Peter asked Jesus how many times he ought to forgive. I’ve asked that question, haven’t you? A co-worker spreads gossip about you, then apologizes and of course you forgiver her. The second time, you also forgive her. The third time....

  • Matthew 18:21-22 9/11 + 7×70: A Formula for Forgiveness (Sellery)

    Forgiveness is the essence of Christian love. Forgiveness is not restricted to overlooking petty faux pas or even gross insults. Forgiveness is the transcendent courage to absorb a despicable blow without being consumed by a blood-lust for revenge.

  • Matthew 21:1-11 Humility Rules (Wagner)

    Appearing on a donkey put Jesus at odds with those in authority and power. The donkey symbolized that the way to salvation is the path of humility.

  • Matthew 21:1-11 Who Is This? (Anders)

    In the Triumphal Entry, Jesus seems to be playing a game, "Guess who I am." This story for Palm Sunday is all about the identity question. The people were saying, 'Who is this?'"

  • Matthew 21:1-11 Christian Nobodies (Wagner)

    These were powerless people that rallied around Jesus. They were just excited about the fact that someone actually reached out to them.

  • Matthew 21:1-11 One Inch from the Fence (McLarty)

    Would you have been among those who shouted, “Hosanna in the highest!” Or would you have been among those who cried out, “Crucify him!”?

  • Matthew 21:23-32 Trick Questions (Molin)

    One of the joys of serving as a parish pastor is the privilege of helping couples prepare for their married lives together. For me, the joy comes in helping them prepare for marriage.

  • Matthew 21:23-32 Show Me Now (Anders)

    Tony Campolo has a famous sermon for Good Friday entitled "It's Friday, but Sunday's Coming." Again and again, his voice rings out, "It's Friday, but Sunday's coming."

  • Matthew 21:23-32 The Strange Parade (Hoffacker)

    Jesus calls our attention to a strange parade--a parade that makes its way into the kingdom of heaven right through the front gates. At the head of this parade, in the place of honor, are some unlikely candidates.

  • Matthew 21:23-32 Walking the Walk with Jesus (Sellery)

    Jesus is the new sheriff in town, sent by his Father. And he doesn't like what he sees. The Pharisees had argued the life right out of God's covenant. Endless debate and ritual had replaced the purity of devotion.

  • Matthew 21:33-46 Whose Vineyard Is It, Anyway? (McLarty)

    Looking back to the Old Testament, the Parable of the Wicked Tenants is similar in many ways to Isaiah's Song of the Vineyard. (See Isaiah 5:1-7)

  • Matthew 21:33-46 Wicked Tenants (Anders)

    At the heart of your computer is the central operating system. It determines how everything runs on your computer. This text says that Jesus is to be the central operating system of our lives.

  • Matthew 21:33-46 Speaking of Us (Molin)

    I love the last line of the text. “When the Pharisees realized that Jesus was speaking of them, they wanted to arrest him and made plans to kill him. ‘He was speaking of us’ they said.” Well, duh!

  • Matthew 21:33-46 Stewards of the Planet (Bedingfield)

    In the midst of the War of 1812, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry said, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.” Some 150 years later, Walt Kelly's possum, Pogo turned it into, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

  • Matthew 21:33-46 The Chosen People (Sellery)

    Jesus is in the temple and things are starting to heat up. In parable after parable, he is trying to slap the religious leaders awake. They are the problem not the solution.

  • Matthew 22:1-14 When Showing Up Isn’t Enough (Anders)

    Just imagine that you were to receive a personal invitation to a banquet at the White House. So how do you respond? "Next Saturday? Let's see. Well, I don't know. I was planning to check my garden that day."

  • Matthew 22:1-14 It’s Not about You (Hoffacker)

    Jesus tells us that the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a wedding. Not just any wedding, but a royal wedding where the handsome prince marries his beloved, and the king puts on the banquet to end all banquets.

  • Matthew 22:1-14 Terrible Parable! (Molin)

    When Anthony Campolo wrote, “The Kingdom of God is a Party,” the religious right was offended. They believed the Kingdom of God was a courtroom where the guilty are condemned. “Not so!” says Campolo. “The Kingdom of God is a party where the guilty are set free!”

  • Matthew 22.1-14 Are You Properly Dressed? (McLarty)

    I'll never forget the time I dropped by the funeral home to pay my respects. I was wearing a pair of bright pants and a colorful dress shirt. Everyone else wore black. The funeral director met me at the door with a glare to stop a locomotive.

  • Matthew 22:1-14 RSVP (Sellery)

    There's a line attributed to Thomas More that the nobility of England would have snored through the Sermon on the Mount. But there’s nothing sleep inducing here.

  • Matthew 22:15-22 The Skill of the Baker (Hoffacker)

    You and I experience life as a pie graph. Our single self is served up in several slices: One slice for work, another for school, another for family. Together these slices make up the pie which is our life here and now.

  • Matthew 22:15-22 Show Me The Money (Anders)

    "Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." This stumped both the Pharisees and the Herodians. They were amazed and went away. Personally, I wish they had stayed and asked Jesus to clarify exactly what he meant.

  • Matthew 22:15-22 Divided Loyalties (Hoffacker)

    A problem that presses hard on many of us divided loyalties. An old phrase for what we find ourselves repeatedly doing is "robbing Peter to pay Paul." A new term for this is "juggling."

  • Matthew 22:15-22 Put God First (McLarty)

    MARRIAGE: We all know what happens in real time – you get busy paying bills and working and raising kids and keeping up with the Razorbacks--until your lucky if you have any time left over for each other.

  • Matthew 22:15-22 Gotcha (Sellery)

    There are two powerful lessons packed into today's gospel passage. FIRST LESSON: You're in way over your head, if you think you can trifle with Jesus. SECOND LESSON: We are in the world, but not of the world.

  • Matthew 22:34-40 Loving God and One Another (Gerhardy)

    Like Tevye, the Pharisees were concerned with tradition. Like Tevye, the Pharisees knew that without Israel's traditions life would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof. Like Tevye, they knew the importance of knowing who we are and what God expects of us.

  • Matthew 22.34-40 The Christian Shema (McLarty)

    A church member signed up for a religion class at the local college. He was hoping to borrow some of the books in his syllabus. With that, he handed me a four-page bibliography. I kid you not – four pages!

  • Matthew 22:34-46 In a Nutshell (Donovan)

    "Give it to me in a nutshell"—an old saying — means, Tell me what I need to know, but keep it short. Don't bother me with unnecessary detail. Just get to the bottom line.

  • Matthew 22:34-46 Tough Questions (Sellery)

    You can hear the sarcasm dripping as the legal lion addresses Jesus as "Master." He wants to draw this carpenter into an elevated discussion of law so he can expose Jesus as a presumptuous hick who’s way out of his depth daring to banter with the big boys.

  • Matthew 22:34-46 Loving God with All Our Parts (Bedingfield)

    The Very Rev. Sam Candler tells the story of an out-of-control man who heard that the Bible had all the answers. He decided to open the Bible to a random page and do whatever it said. The first verse he saw was, “Judas went out and hanged himself.”

  • Matthew 23:1-12 Servants and Leaders (Hoffacker)

    Jesus criticizes scribes and Pharisees who fail to practice what they preach. It's easy for us to cheer Jesus on as he does so. After all, not one of us is an actual Pharisee or scribe.

  • Matthew 23:1-12 A Servant’s Heart (Sellery)

    Jesus sure takes all the fun out of being a sanctimonious hypocrite. In defining greatness as servanthood, Jesus turns the whole social order on its head. The first become last. The last are suddenly first.

  • Matthew 23:1-12 Stewardship Through Service (Strayhorn)

    A little boy, seeing stained glass featuring the apostles, said, "A saint is a somebody the light shines through." Good definition! Who are your saints? Who are the people who let you see the light of God shining through.

  • Matthew 23:1-12 Empty Words and the Power of God (Fast)

    In 1999 I arrived in Hebron with an unswerving commitment to peace, nonviolence and sacrificial love. Three years later I left with the same commitment, a more tempered concept of ‘hope’ and a deep uncertainty about what peace, nonviolence, and sacrificial love mean.

  • Matthew 23:1-12 Easy as 1-2-3 (McLarty)

    In keeping with the spirit of All Saints' Sunday, I'd like to ask two questions: What's a saint? And how can we become a little more saint-like ourselves?

  • Matthew 24:36-44 Marching to the Beat of a Different Drummer (McLarty)

    This last Sunday in November is the first Sunday of our New Year. While others live out their lives in relationship to the earth's revolving around the sun, our lives revolve around the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Matthew 24:36-44 How Does One Know… (Molin)

    Today, the world is full tilt in its preparation for Christmas. But here is the irony; the Church is always the last to prepare. Because in the Church, we have this Season called “Advent.” Four weeks of getting ready for the coming of the Savior.

  • Matthew 24:36-44 Metro Moments (Hoffacker)

    In the original account of Noah and the flood, God punished the people for their sins. But as Jesus tells it, people in the days of Noah were sufficiently distracted by the usual business of life that they ended up losing their lives.

  • Matthew 24:36-44 Surprise! (Molin)

    Eight hundred years before the birth of Jesus, the Prophet Isaiah began to tell people that help was on the way--"the Prince of Peace.’” He was speaking of the baby Jesus, but the Jews didn’t know that. They saw in their mind’s-eye, a victorious warrior who would come and defeat their bitter enemies.

  • Matthew 24:36-44 Getting Ready for What’s to Come (Wigmore)

    Chapters 24 & 25 tell First Century Christians that their suffering is not in vain – that God hasn’t forgotten them. They tell them that there’s purpose to be found in suffering. “Only stay alert – hold on just a little longer; God will come and make it right."

  • Matthew 24:36-44 Happy New Year! (Bedingfield)

    This is a time in the Church year when we are caught in tension between two different things. On the one hand we look forward to the birth of Jesus. On the other hand we look forward to the parousia--the Second Coming of Christ.

  • Matthew 24:36-44 Is He Coming, or Not (McLarty)

    The Hanging of the Greens is a way of preparing for the coming of the Lord. As when expecting an honored guest to arrive at any moment, we clean the house and put out our best wares. We roll out the red carpet to give him a royal welcome.

  • Matthew 25:1-13 Every Tub On Its Own Bottom (Anders)

    "Every tub must sit on its own bottom" seems to be obvious. A tub can't very well sit on another tub's bottom. The meaning, of course, is that people have to be responsible for themselves.

  • Matthew 25:1-13 People Get Ready (Strayhorn)

    Jesus describes His Second Coming as a wedding. He even refers to the Church as His Bride. He is the Groom, preparing a place for us with His own hands. You and I, as part of the Church, are called to be the Bridesmaids. We're called to be ready and live ready.

  • Matthew 25:1-13 Checked Your Oil Lately (McLarty)

    EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED. If life is anything, it's unpredictable. Just when you think you've got everything under control and you can kick back and take it easy, something unexpected happens. A crisis occurs, and your life is thrown into a tailspin.

  • Matthew 25:1-13 Ever Ready (Sellery)

    We have been given the light of grace, but it is up to each of us to tend the flame and to keep the faith burning. As shown in this parable, things will not go well for anyone who takes God's gifts for granted.

  • Matthew 25:1-13 Oil Shortage (Bedingfield)

    The parable of the ten bridesmaids and next week’s parable of the talents and the following week’s separating sheep from goats are all one big piece of teaching for Jesus. He wants us to understand that part of our vocation--part of our calling--is to be ready for the Second Coming.

  • Matthew 25:14-30 Knock, Knock, Who’s There? (Molin)

    The word “talent” came to be known as a sum of money, like dollars, or pesos. Two thousand years ago, a talent was the equivalent of what a person could earn in 15-20 years. A talent was a lot of money, and five talents was a ton of money. Perhaps literally, a ton of money.

  • Matthew 25:14-30 God’s ROI (Sellery)

    The master has split his portfolio among his servants and he expects a solid Return On Investment from each servant. On average, the performance is outstanding. But this master isn't playing the percentages. He wants everyone to do their part.

  • Matthew 25:14-30 Trust, Not Fear (Hoffacker)

    The Parable of the Talents isn’t really about money or ability. It’s about something even more important. It's about trust--the trust the master showed toward his servants and the trust the servants showed (or failed to show) toward their master.

  • Matthew 25:14-30 The One in the Middle (Leininger)

    There is one aspect of this story that troubles me--the man in the middle, the two-talent guy? Is he superfluous? For that matter, were any of the characters in Jesus' stories superfluous? I think not. In my humble opinion, the one in the middle is there for an important purpose.

  • Matthew 25:14-30 The Cure for Apathy (Callaham)

    The servant with the lowest level of responsibility failed for lack of trying. The master's response was not an assurance that the slave could do better next time. He says, "Throw out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

  • Matthew 25:14-30 Multi-Talented (Bedingfield)

    The comedian, Steven Wright once said, “I started off with nothing. I’ve still got most of it.” The same could be said of the servant with one talent this morning.

  • Matthew 25.14-30 What Are You Afraid Of? (McLarty)

    The problem is wasted potential: For the once-and-only time in his life, the one-talent man had the opportunity to do something to make a difference, and he blew it. Instead of taking a chance, he played it safe.

  • Matthew 25:31-46 The Scavenger Hunt (Hyde)

    Fred Craddock attended a conference on hunger. Near the end, a young woman got up to speak. Eventually it dawned on Craddock that she was reading the same sentence over and over, each time in a different language. Finally she spoke English. “Mommy, I’m hungry. Mommy, I’m hungry.”

  • Matthew 25:31-46 Through the Eyes of Love (Sellery)

    Few of us have the makings of a Mother Teresa. We'll probably never be called on to drag the destitute and dying off the streets. But chances are God will place lots of suffering people in our paths, either directly or tangentially. They'll be inconvenient and annoying. But we ignore them at our peril.

  • Matthew 25:31-46 What the Saints Do (Molin)

    Everything you have heard about God’s grace is true. He does, indeed, stand ready to forgive every sin. But God also has expectations of how his people are to live their lives. The Saints will be generous. The Saints will be kind. The Saints will be filled with compassion. It’s what Saints do.

  • Matthew 25:31-46 Wholesale or Retail (Hoffacker)

    Each service can be done in a wholesale way or a retail way. The hungry can be fed by establishing a soup kitchen or taking a panhandler to lunch. The same blessing rests on each action; in each case, Christ takes the service as done for him.

  • Matthew 25:31-46 Seeing Christ in Everyday Faces (Bedingfield)

    Jesus IS found in the Eucharist. Jesus IS found in the Holy Bible. He IS found in our hearts – and some believe that crucifixes and painted Icons carry a sacred image of Jesus. But as Dr. Willimon says, none of these places is Jesus’ “primary residence.”

  • Matthew 25.31-46 The Gift of Chesed (McLarty)

    There's a wonderful tradition in the Jewish faith called "chesed" (pronounced heh-sed). Chesed is a Hebrew word that's roughly translated as "acts of kindness." It's where the Hasidic Jews get their name.

  • Matthew 25:31-46 What Would the Saints Do? (Molin)

    THE JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS: In this text, Jesus looks into the future, explaining in graphic detail what sort of judgment day awaits every one of us. It’s not a parable. It’s not a fairy tale. It's truth. Jesus tells us that the way we live matters.

  • Matthew 27:11-54 A King on a Donkey––A God on a Cross (Donovan)

    Jesus came riding, not on a great white stallion, but on the colt of a donkey. His humble procession proclaimed that the Almighty God chooses to work, not through displays of power, but through displays of humility.

  • Matthew 27:11-54 The Passion Play (Sellery)

    Peter was a multiple betrayer on that night. But, unlike Judas, Peter reached out for forgiveness and God heard him. Then there was the fickle mob of casual betrayers. Most of the world’s sins are banal acts or slothful omissions. They are the work of casual betrayers, like us.

  • Matthew 27:11-54 Beneath The Shadow of the Cross (Strayhorn)

    What better place to deal with the garbage and refuse of the sins that separate us from God than on a trash heap like Golgotha. What better place to come to the realization that Jesus is the Son of God, than in the shadow of the cross, the very cross of our salvation?

  • Matthew 27:2-10 Hope for the Hopeless in the Potter’s Field (London)

    Judas Iscariot. We find Judas both fascinating and frightening. Fascinating because we don’t understand him, we don’t understand why he did what he did. And frightening because we have a tendency to find our story within the story of the disciples.

  • Matthew 28:1-10 Celebrate Easter the Way Jesus Did (Hoffacker)

    But the best way of all to celebrate Easter is the way that Jesus did it. That does not require painted eggs or chocolate rabbits or crowded churches. To celebrate Easter as Jesus did means to forgive somebody, somebody who doesn’t deserve it.

  • Matthew 28:1-10 Easter Is Life (Gerhardy)

    The stone wasn’t rolled away to let Jesus out; he had already risen. It was rolled away so that the two Marys could look inside and see that the tomb was empty. There were other witnesses to this, independent witnesses if you like. The guards at the tomb saw all this and were terrified.

  • Matthew 28:1-10 Four Truths and a Lie (Molin)

    The first truth is this: Do not be afraid. Have you ever noticed in reading the New Testament that, every time angels show up, they use the same opening line? “Don’t be afraid!” Think about it.

  • Matthew 28:16-20 Taking Seriously the Great Commission (McLarty)

    As Presbyterians, we're temperamentally reserved, socially restrained and theologically grounded in the doctrine of election. No wonder they call us, "the frozen chosen"! While we might be content with that, there's no escaping the fact that Jesus said, "Go, and make disciples of all nations."

  • Matthew 28:16-20 Following Orders (Leininger)

    The first instruction Jesus gave was to GO...not an unusual order for soldiers. There is a battle to be joined. Victory is possible only if the troops will get themselves to the front. Sad to say, the commitment to GO on the part of Christian soldiers has flagged considerably in recent years.

  • Matthew 28:16-20 A Curious Community (Butler)

    “One day a stranger said, ‘You must be Henry Troeger's son.’ I said, ‘I don't believe I have ever seen you.’ He said, ‘Oh, no, you have never met me, but a long time ago I worked with your father. When I saw you, I thought, `You are the very image of your father.’"

  • Matthew 28:16-20 Go Ye, Therefore (Kegel)

    Jesus commands, "Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them..., teaching them...." Jesus sends us out. Jesus does not use the second person singular but plural. The great commission is not to individuals but to the community of the faithful--the church.

  • Matthew 28:16-20 The Biggest One (Sellery)

    As John Wesley wisely observed: “Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and I will show you a man that can comprehend the Triune God.”

  • Matthew 28:16-20 The Tipping Point (McLarty)

    I recently read "The Tipping Point," by Malcolm Gladwell. The thesis is in the subtitle: "How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference." For instance, just one tiny book match is all it takes to start a raging forest fire or destroy a home.