31Dec

S6E35: Search (Prepare the Way pt. 6)

We are all searching for something. The question is, where are we searching? When we search for truth are we searching Google, or are we searching in the pages of God's word? When we search for meaning are we searching in the world, or are we searching for meaning in a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ? We come to a familiar story of Jesus in the Temple, and we find ourselves asking the question: If I am searching for satisfaction in life, why am I searching anywhere other than in our Father's house?

Recorded at Hudson UMC on December 30, 2018

S.D.G.

28Dec

S6E34: For Unto Us a Child Is Born

There is nothing at all remarkable about the birth of Jesus. No chronicler stood by to record the exact day and time of his birth. No human herald declared it in the streets of Jerusalem. Certainly very few even noticed that this child was born in Bethlehem and laid in a manger with the animals, born of meager means, born to unremarkable parents. And yet we still celebrate this birth two thousand years later, and that is because this unremarkable birth was more remarkable than any other birth in the history of mankind. Of the billions of people who have been born and died in the history of the world, this is the only birth we celebrate year after year for millenia. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and his name shall be called Wonderful! Counselor! The mighty God! The Everlasting Father! The Prince of Peace!

Recorded at Ebenezer UMC on December 24, 2014

S.D.G.

26Dec

S6E33: The Word Made Flesh

I found it interesting that Christmas fell on a Sunday in 2016, but what may have been more interesting is the reaction many people had to having service on Christmas day. My rebuttal was usually in the vein of, "Well, if you don't want to come to church on Christmas, then don't." That might seem a bit blunt, but honestly, we as Christians are challenged to a deeper relationship with God through Jesus Christ than simply indulging in the gluttony of Christmas gift-giving. After all, what gift could possibly top the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus? None that I can think of. Through the opening stanzas of John's gospel we hear the incredible truth that Jesus is God, and that God became flesh and dwelt among us. It's a startling revelation that, once we as Christians fully understand it, we are never the same.

Text: John 1:1-14

Recorded at Hudson UMC on December 25, 2016

S.D.G.

25Dec

S6E32: Arrive (Prepare the Way pt. 5)

On Christmas we often give gifts and receive them. As children the joy is in the receiving, but as we grow older the joy is more and more in the giving. Yet Christ tells us we need to receive the Kingdom of God like a little child. How can we get back to that place where we receive the gift of God in Jesus Christ with the joy that exhausts children to the point of passing out? When Christ shall arrive, will we greet him like the shepherds, or shall we slumber on like the peole of Bethlehem?

Recorded at Hudson UMC on December 24, 2018

S.D.G.

24Dec

S6E31: Welcome (Prepare the Way Pt. 4)

On the fourth Sunday of Advent our focus is on Peace. Micah's prophetic vision for Judah was that a new king would rise from Bethlehem, and that he would not simply be a leader for Israel but for all the world. Seven hundred years later, Mary would be the fulfillment of this prophecy and would go in anxiety to her cousin Elizabeth, already six months pregnant with the baby who would become John the Baptist. In welcoming Mary she gives her assurance that God will do what he has promised. We can welcome those who are feeling anxiety, sadness and loss in what should be a joyous season, and we are filled by God's Spirit to do just that.

Recorded at Hudson UMC on December 23, 2018

S.D.G.

21Dec

S6E30: What Should We Do?

The third Sunday of Advent is about Joy. Today's gospel from the Lectionary might seem to be one that is not very joyful. John's sermon in the wilderness by the Jordan starts with the words "You brood of vipers!" Not exactly very joyful words. Yet as we will see in this week's lesson, sometimes the good news seems so much better in light of the bad news. And we also find that the bad news often compels us to cry out, "What, then, should we do?"

Text: Luke 3:7-18

Recorded at Hudson UMC on December 13, 2015

S.D.G.

19Dec

S6E29: Do (Prepare the Way pt. 3)

Often when we respond to God's invitation of a relationship with Him, our first response to all that God has done for us is: What can I do? Sometimes when we feel a sense of obligation, the question becomes: What do I have to do? These are both questions that the people of Judea - both Jew and Gentile, religious and apostate - brought to John the Baptist in the wilderness. On this third Sunday of Advent, we also look at the joy we celebrate when we consider all that God has done, all that he is doing, and all that he will do for us in the future.

Text: Zephaniah 3:14-20 & Luke 3:7-18

Recorded at Ebenezer UMC on December 16, 2018

S.D.G.

14Dec

S6E28: Are We Ready?

On this second Sunday in Advent, we come to the person of John the Baptist, who is preaching a baptism of repentance. His coming was foretold by the prophet Isaiah and those prophetic words were repeated in all four gospels. He is the voice crying out in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord. In today's message, we see how John's words echo across the centuries to today, and how we can apply them in our lives. So the question for us today is not whether Christ will come again, but rather, are we preparing the way for his coming?

Text: Luke 3:1-6

Recorded at Ebenezer UMC on December 6, 2015

S.D.G.

12Dec

S6E27: God Is Good (Thanksgiving Eve Service)

This year, the Ministerium of Penns Grove, Carneys Point and Pedricktown held what we hope to be an annual eccumenical Thanksgiving Eve service at St. Gabriel's Parrish in Carneys Point. As we were discussing the service at our monthly meeting, I made mention that I always write a Thanksgiving sermon just in case we ever have a Thanksgiving Eve service, something we did yearly at my home church in Pitman. And so I ended up giving the message, based on the lectionary text from Joel. Joel is one of those Old Testament prophets who brings a message of doom and gloom for an unfaithful nation. And yet, in the midst of their transgression, God delivers a promise of restoration, saying they will never even remember the bad times. God is good, all the time, and in the midst of our troubles, we always have that to be thankful for.

Text: Joel 2:21-27

Recorded at St. Gabriel's Parrish on November 21, 2018

S.D.G.

10Dec

S6E26: Refine (Prepare the Way pt. 2)

The process of refining is destructive. It involves heating to the melting point, skimming off the impurities that rise to the surface, and discarding the unwanted, keeping only the pure metal. When metal like gold or silver is refined, it does not seek to reincorporate those impurites back into itself; yet we, in our sinful nature, demonstrate a desire to reacquire those sins that the Holy Spirit removes from us by way of sanctification. In this season of Advent we need to allow the Holy Spirit to refine us, to prepare the way for the Lord to enter into our hearts and lives.

Text: Malachi 3:1-4 and Luke 3:1-6

Recorded at Hudson UMC on December 9, 2018

S.D.G.

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