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A Torn Sky, A Broken World

Watch the sermon here.   Mark 1:4-11 The story of Jesus’ baptism is told or at least referenced in all four Gospels, but this one is my favorite.  The Gospel of Mark is not usually my favorite.  The writing is abrupt, terse at times, often lacking in detail.  But this story—oh, this time the writer gets it right! We […]

Rewriting the Story

Watch the sermon here. Matthew 2:1-12 Selective attention is the process by which our brain determines what is important for our senses to notice.  At any given moment, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of things vying for our attention through our senses.  Our brains are amazingly adept at helping us notice only those things we need to notice. Of […]

Are You Sure, God?

Watch the video here. Luke 2:22-40 This beautiful passage from Luke’s Gospel begins with what seems like a simple fulfillment of what is expected. Mary and Joseph are required by the law of Moses to present their firstborn child to God and offer an appropriate sacrifice–in their case, the sacrifice due for a poor family, a pair of turtle-doves […]

Surprise Party

Watch the sermon here. My grandmother did not like surprises. She ordered her world through tight control.  Any surprise, no matter how seemingly insignificant, could cause a seismic shift.  Nobody else might feel it, but she had a seismograph heart. She was not a woman you shouted “Boo!” at.  Surprises weren’t safe.  (And neither were you if you threw […]

Surprised by Dreams

https://youtu.be/Ji_ASCNrjmc Matthew 1:18-25 I’ve always been fascinated by dreams.  Like most people, I’ve had scary dreams and embarrassing dreams             and flying dreams which are far too rare.  On the flip side, I’d be fine if I never had another dream about showing up on Sunday morning without a sermon.  I don’t seem to remember my […]

An Unexpected Christmas Pageant

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Surprised by How

  Watch the sermon here. Luke 1:26-38 Who, what, where, when, why. The “Five Ws” they are sometimes called, and according to Wikipedia, together they create “a formula for getting the complete story on a subject.”  They are all equally important, I’m sure, but I sometimes wonder if some of us put more emphasis on one than the others […]

Surprised by Silence

  Watch the sermon here. Luke 1:5-23 There is so much interesting background information on this text that I could preach for twenty minutes before getting to a point.  So I will try to limit my background information to three areas. First, our passage begins “In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah.” […]

My Way … Or the Highway! by Rev. J. Barrie Shepherd

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But Remember…..

Watch the video here. Deuteronomy 8:6-18 I imagine that every politician has, at least once, said something they wish they could take back. Maybe it was something inappropriate that they shouldn’t have said, or maybe it was something that just didn’t come out quite right. For Barack Obama, one of those occurred on July 13, 2012, when he got […]

It Continues to Work

Watch the sermon here. 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 This is a dangerous text to preach on during stewardship season, and especially on this day we consecrate our pledges. You see, Paul is defending his ministry by reminding the people that he doesn’t accept any payment from them, but works a regular job for a living.  You see my dilemma!  Every […]

Where God has Been

Click here to watch the sermon.   Exodus 33:12-23 Before AnnElissa and I tell the story, I want to set the scene.  When Moses went up on the mountain to talk with God and get the Ten Commandments, the people didn’t realize how long he would be gone.  They went to Aaron and said, “Come, make gods for us, who shall […]

Thou Shalt Not

Watch the sermon here.   Exodus 20:12-21 I think it’s a shame what we’ve done to and with the Ten Commandments, particularly this half of them.  We took the archaic language of the King James Version with its “Thou shalt nots,” and we made it into the voice of God, like this: Thou shalt not! We made God a […]

“No Other Gods”

  Watch the sermon here. Exodus 20 On the Religion News Service website, there is a blog by Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin called “Martini Judaism: For those who want to be shaken and stirred.” This is what he had to say this week: “I am usually not great at predicting things. But I can predict the sermon topic that will […]

World Communion Sunday

Watch the sermon here.   Philippians 2:1-5 As I have prepared for World Communion Sunday this week, one of my favorite communion stories from my childhood kept coming to mind. There was an old couple in our church who both had hearing problems.  I’m guessing hearing aids were not as good then as they are now, but neither one […]

The Weak and the Strong

Watch the sermon here.   Romans 14:1-12 What does the word strong mean? Give me some synonyms for strong or strength.  We tend to think first of the concept of physical power.  How else do we use the words strong or strength? Here are a few from the dictionary; let’s see if we named them all. Strength can mean […]

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