Sunday, October 21

rainbowcarrots 021.JPG

Oktoberfest Sunday!!  10:30 a.m.

Scripture passages:  Psalm 91; Luke 12: 16-21

Text:  “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves, but are not rich toward God.”  Luke 12:21

Sermon:  “All Good Gifts”

Tease:    Harvest festivals have been observed for over seven thousand years!!  As we gather to enjoy our own Oktoberfest, we’ll take a look at the history and meaning behind these autumn traditions that are celebrated around the globe.   In a world where so much actively promotes one’s own self-interest, our Gospel lesson will also remind us that  harvests  provide wonderful opportunity to righting the balance between providing for ourselves and building a world that reaches out to those in need.  So join us as we share some brats and bier … and gather in our final Teaching Garden harvest (carrots) for Neighbor to Neighbor.

October 14

Morning Worship  10:30 a.m.

Pooh.jpg

Scripture Readings:  Psalm 22;  Romans 12: 3-18

Text:  “If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”  Romans 12:18

Sermon:   “Oh Bother!”

Tease:  Sunday marks the anniversary of the publication of A. A. Milne’s first collection of stories about Winnie the Pooh!   What we discover in these tales of the “Hundred Akre Wood” is a portrait of society that has remained relevant for almost a Hundred years!!  Yes, the characters are merely stuffed toys… but within their exploits and, more importantly, their foibles, we see ourselves and all the possibilities for finding life in all its fullness.

September 30

 “St. Francis Feeding the Birds”  by Giotto

“St. Francis Feeding the Birds” by Giotto

Morning Worship   10:30 a.m.

Scripture Lessons:  Psalm 124;  Luke 12:32-40

Text:  “Fear not, little flock for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  Luke 12:40

Sermon:  “The Other Jesus”

Tease:   Christendom pauses this coming week (October 4) to remember John Bernardone - better known as Francis of Assisi.  History’s most beloved saint is often associated with animal blessings and statuary in tranquil garden sanctuaries.   His true legacy, however, leads us to society’s harshest realities and ministry among the  most destitute.   Biographers often refer to Francis as the “other” Jesus because he so fervently desired to become a true “crusader” - or cross bearer. While the church tends to “tame” her saints, St. Francis challenges us to grapple with the Gospel message in the light of our most personal issues and concerns. 

September 23

CParkFall2 035.JPG

Morning Worship   10:30 a.m.

Scripture Readings:  Psalm 1; 2 Corinthians 9: 6-10

Text:  “The one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”  2 Corinthians 9:6

Sermon:  “Sweater Weather”

Tease:  Now that we’ve passed the Autumnal Equinox, we will be unpacking the flannel, fleece and alpaca wool that provide those comfy layers against falling temperatures fall and waning sunlight.   But before we get consumed with storing up our reserves for colder, leaner days ahead, we take a moment to recognize and savor the unique spirituality that autumn always brings us.

September 16

Kippur.jpg

Morning Worship  10:30 a.m.

Scripture Lessons:  Psalm 19;  1 John 1: 5-10

Text:  “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will … cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9

Sermon:   “Escape Hatch”

Tease:   As our Jewish friends gather for Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)  this week, we will also be taking a look at the Biblical remedy for what can often seem like an endless cycle of sin and retribution.  The surprisingly simple antidote is one that even the most modest and unassuming among us can practice!

September 9

TradeTowers.jpg

Morning Worship  10:30 a.m.

Scripture Readings:  Psalm 146   Mark 7:24-37

Text:  “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs”   Mark 7:28

Sermon:   “Ground Zero”

Tease:   Shortly after the attacks of 9-11, a national ethos, rooted in “us against them,” took hold of America that still finds expression in national discourse.   Born out of grief and sorrow, this tribal mindset sadly runs counter to Gospel teachings.  As we approach the seventeenth anniversary of the tragedy, we’ll pause to hear Jesus’ challenge that God’s future invariably calls us to venture beyond our parochial borders …and reach out to a troubled world with greater compassion. 

September 2

LaborDay.jpg

Morning Worship  10:30 a.m.

Scripture Readings:  Psalm 15; Matthew 12: 9-14

Text:  “So, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Matthew12:12

Sermon:   “Love’s Labours Found”

Tease:  Labor Day was instated after a series of violent railway strikes in 1894 to honor those martyred in a campaign to improve workers’ conditions and wages. Needless to say, this holiday has morphed into summer’s “last hurrah” … before we settle back to our daily routines.  So, in the midst of this weekend’s final fling, let’s take a moment to gather for worship and reflect on the ways we might make better use of the division between work and leisure - earned by those who sacrificed so we can now enjoy our Barbeques and Budweisers.

August 12

 Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes by Jacopo Tintoretto  ( 1550)

Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes by Jacopo Tintoretto  ( 1550)

Morning Worship and Barbeque   10:30 a.m.

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 130;  John 6: 35, 41-51

Text:  “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.”   John 6:51

Sermon:   “Bread and Circuses”

Tease:  We take a final look at John’s account of Jesus Feeding the Five Thousand.  Once again, we will be reminded that Jesus is the “Bread of Life,” a humble metaphor that challenges us to consider not the things that we want … but the things that we truly need.   Sadly, the crowd is not interested in Jesus’ “heavenly” sustenance.   Like many today, they are too easily enticed with promises of bread and circuses. 

July 29

 "Feeding the Five Thousand"  by Ambrosius Franken the Elder ( 1544-1618)

"Feeding the Five Thousand"  by Ambrosius Franken the Elder ( 1544-1618)

Morning Worship    10:30 a.m.

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 14; John  6: 1-14

Sermon:  “Basket Case”

Text:  “And from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets!”  John 6:13

Tease:  A number of scholars have weighed in on Jesus’ feeding the five thousand as a lesson on the ability to turn our hearts from an inward focus on self to an outward concern for others.  And yet, a little drama plays out in John’s narrative even before we get to the miraculous picnic – and that’s the role a small boy plays in the eventful day.  His remarkable generosity and faith serve not only as an inspiration, but as an example of how we might be able to “feed multitudes” in our own day.

July 1

 "Raising of Jairus' Daughter by Vasilij Polenov

"Raising of Jairus' Daughter by Vasilij Polenov

Morning Worship    Holy Communion

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 130;  Mark 5: 21-43

Text:  “Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet …”   Mark 5:22

Sermon:  “Step by Step”

Tease:   This week we witness two remarkable healing stories that reveal the true depth and scope of Jesus’ ministry.   Once again, we will be called to leave our comfort zones and take some bold, yet intimidating steps toward Christ’s radically new vision of God’s Kingdom.

June 24

 "Christ in the Storm" by Ludolf Backhuysen, 1695

"Christ in the Storm" by Ludolf Backhuysen, 1695

Morning Worship   10:30 a.m.

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 69;  Mark 4: 35-41

Text:  “A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.”  Mark 4: 37

Sermon:  “Eye of the Storm”

Tease:  Each of the Gospels has a version of Jesus calming turbulent seas and Mark recounts an additional high seas windstorm!  These are all essential passages.   Storm clouds are beginning to gather over Jesus’ ministry, as opposition grows.  None of his followers quite know what the future holds and many in Jesus’ entourage are terrified.  While the tempest stories bring considerable drama to the Gospel narrative, they are nonetheless stories designed to calm our own anxious hearts during times of personal upheaval.  

June 10

Jesus' family.jpg

Sunday, June 10   Morning Worship and Annual Church Picnic!!

2018-19 Henry Green Scholarships will also be awarded.

 Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 138; Mark 3: 20-35

Text:   “And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?”   Mark 3:33

Sermon:  “Family Ties”

Tease:   Apparently, members of Jesus’ own family are well aware of the dangers surrounding their loved one.  And so, they journey to Capernaum intent on convincing him to abandon what they believe to be an ill-fated mission.  They fear Jesus is losing his mind and only a forced intervention will protect him from the religious authorities.  It’s quite a dramatic moment.  With his own kin standing on the door step, Jesus decides to redesign the contours of the “biological” family, in order to create what one of my favorite authors likes to call his “logical” family.

Annual Church Picnic 

Following Church Service - 11:30 AM

Continuing our long-standing tradition, we will join together for our annual picnic, immediately after worship THIS Sunday.  Hamburgers, Hot Dogs and beverages will be provided. 

May 27

 Nicodemus Visits Jesus by Night by Crijn Volmarijn, 1640

Nicodemus Visits Jesus by Night by Crijn Volmarijn, 1640

Morning Worship  10:30 a.m

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 29;  John 3:1-17

Text:  “He came to Jesus  by night …”   John 3:2

Sermon:  “Night Shift”    Rev. Garren preaching

Tease: The author of the Gospel of John uses the imagery of light and darkness throughout his narrative.  For example, he uses the term “night” to describe those time in our lives when we “fish all night and catch nothing”  - times when, despite our best efforts,  we come up empty.  So, we can be certain that Nicodemus visiting Jesus “by night” is more than a statement about the time of day, but  rather a description of the religious leader’s own personal life - a description that, when we stop and think about it, could be used to account for all of our lives - at one time or another.

May 20

 Descent of the Holy Spirit by El Greco

Descent of the Holy Spirit by El Greco

Pentecost Sunday  10:30 a.m.

Lectionary Readings:   Psalm 104 and Acts 2: 1-21

Text:  “Suddenly, from heaven, there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind.”  Acts 2.2

Sermon:  “Second Wind”

Tease:  This Sunday we hear one of the greatest narratives of the Christian faith.  It is the story that speaks to us about the beginnings of the Church, the moment when the Spirit of God “blew” into a gathering of Jesus’ followers and forever changed their own life stories.  It is a story filled with amazement and confusion, with disbelief and wonder.  It is a story that has been seen as a beginning… as a new birth.  What do you suppose would happen if we were to hear this story yet again, not as something weird that happened a long time ago…but in such a way that connects it to our own lives and faith today?

May 13

Morning Worship  10:30 a.m.  

 The Choosing of St. Matthias

The Choosing of St. Matthias

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 1;  Acts 1:15-26

Text:  “…and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven.”  Acts 1:26

Sermon:  “Out of the Ordinary”

Tease:  As we begin our preparations for Pentecost, we examine the story of Matthias, the man chosen to replace Judas Iscariot.  It’s no “burning bush” story, to be sure.  In fact, what stands out is how ordinary the selection process ends up becoming – a casting of lots.  We learn nothing of Matthias’ qualifications.  And we will learn nothing about his subsequent performance.  And yet, his selection tells us volumes about the meaning discipleship and the expectations we bring to our own role within the community as faith – as ordinary as that life ends up becoming.

May 6

Ascension.jpg

Ascension Sunday     10:30 a.m.

Holy Communion

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 47;  Luke 24:44-53

Text:   “While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.”

Sermon:   “On The Edge”

Tease:   The story of Jesus’ ascension defies any human logic.  What does Luke mean when he asserts so matter-of-factly:  “Jesus withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven?”  Surely, his statement demands a few more details.   What actually happened?  How fast did he ascend?  Where did he go?  The author makes a second attempt to recount the same event in his Book of Acts.  (None of the other Gospel writers even give it a try!) In Acts, he simply tells us that a cloud came in and “hid him from their view.”   It’s as if Luke takes us as far as he can … to the point where traditional language suddenly stops working … and we must muster the courage to venture beyond that edge … and into uncharted spiritual territory.

April 29

 Nick Schipper and I visited organic farmer, Jane Wynn on her nature preserve above Port-au-Prince, Haiti.   Here she proudly displays a thriving crop of sweet potatoes.

Nick Schipper and I visited organic farmer, Jane Wynn on her nature preserve above Port-au-Prince, Haiti.   Here she proudly displays a thriving crop of sweet potatoes.

Fourth Sunday of Easter  10:30 a.m.

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 22;  John 15: 1-8

Text:  “Abide in me, as I abide in you.”   John 15: 4

Sermon:  “All vine and No Taters”

Tease:   I am choosing some old Appalachian wisdom as we reflect on Jesus’ final conversation with his followers.  “I am the vine,” he says, “You are the branches.  Those who abide in me will bear much fruit.”  The image of a grapevine graced the entrance to the Jerusalem Temple. So, he’s reminding us that no matter what the future holds, his teachings remain the true life and way for God’s faithful.   It’s easy to detect the health of a grapevine by counting the clusters of plump fruit.  Not so, with sweet potato vines.  In fact, one can be tending wonderfully verdant vines, but when the time comes to pull the tubers beneath the surface …well, let’s just say grandma won’t be baking no sweet potato pie.  Which is to say, when it comes to abiding in Christ, there’s always the danger of being “all show and no substance.”

April 22

shepherd.jpeg

Fourth Sunday of Easter   10:30 a.m. 

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 23; John 10:11-18

Text:  “I am the good shepherd, I know my own and my own know me.”  John 10:14

Sermon:  “Hook, Or By Crook”

Tease:   One of my most memorable experiences was visiting a Bedouin encampment on the Palestinian West Bank.  My stay included time in the fields with the shepherds and their flocks.  Once the sun was directly overhead, we guided the sheep to a small watering hole where a number of shepherds and flocks gathered for a time of refreshment.  What was truly amazing was the way in which the flocks intermingled with each other, with no markings to differentiate one group from another.  But, when it was time to go, each shepherd had their own distinct call and the flocks separated themselves and went peacefully on their way.  Each sheep knew the sound of his, or her own shepherd.   Needless to say, this lovely passage offers some welcomed guidance in cacophony and confusion of our own time.

April 8

  "The Incredulity of St. Thomas by Benjamin West

"The Incredulity of St. Thomas by Benjamin West

Second Sunday of Easter

10:30 a.m.

Lectionary Readings:  Psalm 133;  John 20:19-31

Sermon:   “Room for Doubt”

Text:  “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”   John 20:19

Tease:  If it’s the Sunday after Easter, the focus of our worship will be the story of Doubting Thomas. Poor Thomas.  So misunderstood!  How quickly we forget that it’s always Thomas who stands so valiantly beside Jesus.  When everyone cautions Jesus not to visit his sick friend Lazarus for fear of being arrested … it is Thomas who says, “We must go and, if necessary, die with him!”  Thomas is forever criticized for wanting to see the resurrected Jesus, for himself. But, wouldn’t we do the same?  In fact, we may just discover that Thomas has a few things to teach us about finding the risen Christ in our own lives.