Reflections on Remembrance Sunday
Following a tradition that began in 1982, Westminster remembers those who have given their lives in service to our nation. Several choral anthems, were offered to mark this Remembrance Sunday, with Dr. Larry Hayward offering reflections on each.
What the Wise Consider
I wish I could say that every wave returns to the sea before it does damage, that every storm is stilled before it becomes destructive, that every disease is stopped short before it claims its first victim. I wish I could say that that every international crisis will end before the words are spoken that cannot be taken back, before the first sword is drawn, the first bomb dropped. But you know that I cannot make that promise. And neither does the psalmist. But in a psalm that is both eloquent and realistic about the heights and depths we experience as human beings, the psalmist closes with these words: Let those who are wise give heed to these things; And consider the steadfast love of the Lord. Larry Hayward preaches on Psalm 107.
Like many Protestant congregations around the world, we at Westminster are acknowledging the 500th anniversary of the Reformation today. In this sermon, Larry Hayward shares what the Reformation has come to mean to him, a Presbyterian pastor in the twenty-first century. “I hope what you glean from this sermon will help you understand our church, our Reformed tradition, and most of all, where your own faith fits or lives in tension with our heritage.” The Scripture lesson is Romans 12:1-4, 9-15. The sermon title is a reference to Karl Barth’s commentary on The Epistle to the Romans.
Where Does Westminster Fit Within Christianity Today?
Is there a place for a church like Westminster: with worship rooted in tradition centuries old, with thoughtful preaching and teaching, with acceptance of and respect for a variety of people’s individual religious experiences and the differing moral viewpoints which grow out of those experiences? Will there be a place in the world for the values and practices we at Westminster hold dear and have embodied since our founding in 1940 as we move ever so quickly toward 2040? Larry Hayward expands on his recent talks with Adult Education and the Men of Westminster. The Scripture lesson is Acts 17:16-34 (selected verses).
24 Karat Magic
"The Israelites serve as simply people--flawed and forgetful people. They remind me that God has long been in the business of loving people who are either completely a hot mess or, at best, more or less ok." Whitney Fauntleroy preaches on Exodus 32:1-14.
The Ten Commandments
"In 37 years of preaching, I have never given a sermon on the Ten Commandments. But they are central to our faith; many of us were exposed to them or even memorized them as children; and they are our Old Testament passage from the lectionary today. So I think it’s about time." Larry Hayward preaches on Exodus 20:1-18.
For Jesus, the political is pastoral and the pastoral is political. Casey FitzGerald preaches from Matthew 21:23-32.
In the midst of the history we are living, God is living with us. God provides. But God’s provision also places a call upon us: a responsibility to know who we are, and to know where we have been as a prelude to knowing where we will go. Larry Hayward preaches on Exodus 16:1-5, 10-15.
Through the Sea
Dry land or no dry land, the people of Israel take a leap of faith and step into the waters. Larry Hayward preaches on Exodus 14:19-31.
What is it about God—the God who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Christ in whose name we gather, who is the Spirit whose presence we invoke—that compels us to one simple and positive four-letter word? Larry R. Hayward preaches on Romans 13:8-10.
The Burning Bush
Perhaps God will remain within the burning bush until he finds someone willing to join him in the effort of setting his people free. Larry R. Hayward preaches today on Exodus 3:1-15.
Jesus asks his disciples two questions of identity: "Who do people say that I am?" and "Who do YOU say that I am?" Rev. Whitney Fauntleroy explores how the answers reveal both our typical human capacity of defining people through what we already know, and our ability to move beyond that through experience and revelation. The Scripture lesson is Matthew 16:13-20.
In our story for the day, our assigned lectionary text, Jesus drops the mic on 2017: It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles. Jesus is clear--words matter. Casey FitzGerald preaches today from Matthew 15:10-28. The song included in the Scripture reading is "Listen in the Silence" by Linnea Good.
The Pit and the Rope
Larry Hayward continues his summer sermon series, "In the Beginning". Today's scripture is Genesis 37:12-28.
Ultimate Fighting Discipleship
Something about being human means being drawn to a good fight. Patrick Hunnicutt continues the story of Jacob in Genesis 32:22-31.
Rachel and Leah
A Ladder Set Upon the Earth
Whether it is daylight or darkness; whether you are home, in the process of leaving home, or returning home; whether you are estranged from your family or as close as you have ever been with them: may you know that the Lord is with you, and may the Lord take you – Jacob-like – to your true home. And when you arrive, may you recognize it with the joy and wonder that came to Jacob. Larry Hayward continues the series “In the Beginning” with Genesis 28:10-19.
Jacob and Esau
Among the most pronounced divisions which unfold in Genesis is that between brother and brother. In the story of Jacob and Esau, can we find hope for reconciliation? Larry Hayward preaches on Genesis 25:19-28.
Isaac and Rebekah
From the time Isaac is born to Abraham and Sarah until the time nearly forty years later he marries Rebekah, we see Isaac experience nothing but trauma and loss. But as the story of Isaac continues in Genesis, we get to see Isaac experience a moment of healing as well. Larry Hayward preaches on Genesis 24:62-67.
Leaders and People in a Democracy
As we share in our nation’s 241st year of independence, the dynamics in this text concerning the relationship between the people of Israel and their leader Moses can, I believe, add a bit of wisdom to the dynamics of what it means in our time to be the people called “The United States of America.” I offer these comments neither as law, prescription, nor even opinion, but as perhaps a bit of wisdom gleaned from a particular moment in the history of the people of God who were not quite as far along in their formation as a people as we are in our nation today, but a people with whom we may have more in common than at first we think. Larry Hayward preaches on Numbers 11:24-30.
When we first read the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, it is hard to garner much respect for any of the adults in it, for the flaws of each are on full display. The book itself presents us with certain ethical dilemmas and at times violent, morally reprehensible, and stomach-turning behavior on the part of the people of God. Larry Hayward preaches today from selected verses in Genesis 16 and 21.
There are moments when we are called into spaces and places—or when places and spaces appear around us suddenly—where we feel helpless and overwhelmed by the need at hand. Into this world, we are called to see, to hear, to experience what is around us. And then we are called to speak good news, and even to heal. Rev. Casey FitzGerald preaches today on Matthew 9:35—10:23.
The Two Directions of Creation
This summer, Dr. Larry R. Hayward preaches a sermon series on the Genesis selections of the Lectionary. The series begins with Genesis 1:26–31. In this first Creation story we encounter both a vertical relationship, between God and humanity, and a horizontal relationship--a communal relationship--within God's own person and with each other.
Ready to Activate
The church is a gathering of difference: different stories, different backgrounds, different calling, different life experiences, different gifts. In 1 Corinthians, Paul is writing to a divided church, one where certain gifts are being valued over others. Paul writes to remind them who they are, that the church is best when it is a motley crew of faithful folks seeking to bring humanity in reach of something higher. On the Day of Pentecost, Whitney Fauntleroy preaches on 1 Corinthians 12:3b–13.
The Last Memory
As the disciples pick up the mantle of mission in Acts, they face bitterness, resistance, persecution. Some are imprisoned. Some are shipwrecked. Some are assailed by angry mobs. Yet the last memory they have of Christ is him blessing them: thus they are able to carry on, even when carrying on is the last thing they have the confidence to do. Larry Hayward preaches on the Ascension of the Lord from Luke 24:44-53.
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