Recent Sermons


Let Your Gentleness Be Known…

Philippians 4:4-7 Rev. Dr. Robert T. Carlson, Jr. Christmas Eve December 24 The Apostle Paul appears to have no interest in stories of the birth of Jesus. This is the man who wrote more than half of the entire New Testament, and not a word about the birth of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, or Bethlehem. On the other hand, there is not one letter attributed to Paul that does not refer to the death and resurrection of Jesus. So if you want to read Paul in the Christmas season, the Christian tradition has been to pick up the letter he wrote to the church in Philippi—to the ...

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God Came To Us as Jesus

Mark 1:1-8 Rev. Dr. Robert T. Carlson, Jr. Advent II December 10 Sometimes in December—and sometimes in early January, people may approach me about their intention to begin reading the Bible. This is a good discipline any time of year, but  w often find ourselves more motivated at the new year. I usually suggest that they begin by reading the Gospel of Mark. Genesis will soon turn into an almost endless series of “begettings”—Adam begat Seth, who begat Enosh, who begat Kenan… and so it goes for more generations than we can count. It will soon tax anyone...

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The Fullness of Christ

Ephesians 1: 15-23 Rev. Alice Fleming Townley November 27 Paul wrote this letter from prison.  I wonder if he had a window?  Probably not. I imagine the prison being dark and damp, perhaps dungeon like.  I wonder if he had enough food or water.  I wonder if he was chained.  I wonder who he missed at the holidays.  I wonder what made him seem so dangerous to government authorities, and yet we get a glimpse.  Paul’s audience was primarily the lower class, mostly slaves, who made up the early church in Ephesus.  From the one who was jailed to those who were ...

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Good and Faithful Servants

Matthew 25:14-30 Rev. Dr. Robert T. Carlson, Jr. November 19 Just before Jesus is arrested and put on trial by Jewish authorities and Pilate, he preaches 3 last sermons from the Temple grounds—tells three last parables. These are stories about the end: The end of time, the end of God’s presence in the Temple, the day of the LORD, the end of Jesus’ life in Jerusalem. Jesus looks his own death in the eye and says, “Then, the kingdom of God will be like this.” By using the word “then,” Jesus signals that he is teaching the disciples how to live in the ...

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Shining Light

Rev. Alice Fleming Townley Matthew 25:1-13 November 12 At first glance, this is a hard story to understand or relate to.  This morning’s parable is part of an apocalyptic grouping in Matthew.  The grouping begins in the previous chapter, as Matthew remembers Jesus warning that there will be days when it seems even the sun doesn’t shine, and our foundations are shaken.  And Jesus said, look to the fig tree, and remember the seasons.  Remember the leaves of summer, and then what happens . . . Remember the fig tree. Today we read of the bridesmaids, which is ...

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What Do These Stones Mean?

Joshua 3:7-17 Rev. Dr. Robert T. Carlson, Jr. All Saints, November 5 Tuesday night was the culmination of a high holy day in American society—All Hallowed’s Eve. My house is the center of this activity for my family and as it neared 6:00 p.m., Batman and Pikachoo came running through the door, to be greeted by a skeleton, Spiderman, a walking slice of pizza, and other creepy and cuddly characters. This is the Halloween pageant acted out all across the land—in cities, suburbs and rural settings. The seven little boys help each other along the way, as parents ...

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Grace Upon Grace

Ephesians 2:1-10 Alice Fleming Townley October 15 Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “God formed us with love upon love, with grace upon grace.  We are God’s work of art—beautiful, stunning, flowing.  We are created in Christ to join in the good works-- which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”  (paraphrase, Ephesians 2:7-10, NJB) In Proverbs 8, we hear of how the Spirit of Wisdom was together with God, before the beginning of all.  “I was by God’s side, a master artisan, delighting God day after day, ever at play in God’s presence, deligh...

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Beloved

Matthew 21: 33-46 Rev. Dr. Robert T. Carlson, Jr. October 8 The word in Greek is makrothymia, and it was considered the queen of human virtues. English has no single word for this virtue. Patience, long-suffering, risk-taking, compassion and self-emptying together describe the vineyard owner Jesus reveals to us in this morning’s parable. The rich Greek word that Jesus uses refers to a person in a position of power who can extract vengeance on his enemies but chooses not to do so.  He literally puts his anger far away.[i] A rare virtue in the 21st century. We would ...

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Bread for the Journey

Exodus 16:2-15, Matthew 20:1-16 Rev. Alice Fleming Townley September 24 One Sunday as I was shaking hands after church in the early months of ministry, a visitor startled me.  “How many stoles do you have?  And what seasons are they for?” “And your name is?” I asked. It turns out she was a sister of one of my church members, visiting from far away, and I would never see her again.  I probably only had the stole I was wearing. On Thursday, a package arrived at church for me.  And in it, were two hand sewn stoles from the stranger.  She pinned a ...

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Hearts Aflame

Exodus 3:1-15 (Romans 12:9-21) Rev. Alice Fleming Townley September 3 “Would you speak up?” This was the question that accountability researches asked at a shopping mall.  “Would you speak up if someone cut in front of you in line?” “Of course,” responded most everyone. Then they sent people to actually cut in front of others standing in line at a movie theater.  Not one person spoke up, not one.  They tried changing the age, gender, and size of the line cutters in trial after trial—to no effect.  Finally someone tapped the shoulder of the ...

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