Your Time Has Come
The Rev. Jacob Bolton preaches on the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, as the candidate for Associate Pastor for Christian Formation. He will join the staff of Westminster in early October. The Scripture lesson is John 2:1-11.
The Relentless Return
In what may seem like the crevices of our scripture, we find a painstakingly beautiful reminder of God's love for us. Hosea shows us a God who has inner turmoil about whether God should exercise wrath or grace on their creation. We are reminded to what ends God will go to call us home, and of the lavish manner in which God chooses to love us. Rev. Whitney Fauntleroy preaches on the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The scripture lesson is Hosea 11:1-11, and is read by Rev. Patrick Hunnicutt.
Today we discover a gift for us, through the rather uncompromising stance of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church he helped found in Galatia. That gift is freedom. We will probe what it means to be free in Christ and to see how this freedom binds us in the direction of love for others and for God. Rev. Patrick Hunnicutt preaches on the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Scripture lesson is is Galatians 5:1-6, 13-14.
When Compromise Enhances
As many words formerly considered off limits in our culture have gained general acceptance or at least have lost their ability to shock, another word which once enjoyed a respectable reputation has become a word of off-limits: compromise. A compromise is something that we promise together, as representatives of two or more groups who have been in discussion, dissension, disagreement, debate and yet have managed to come to some form of resolution and to a promise into which each is willing to enter. Compromise. “A promise together.” Dr. Larry Hayward preaches on the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Scripture lesson is selected verses from Acts 15:1-31, and is read by Nancy Griswold.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Faith
One of the best known short stories of Raymond Carver is entitled “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” What I propose is that “what we talk about when we talk about faith” sometimes needs to be “how can we talk about faith” at all because we so rarely do; and when we do, no matter how many sermons we have heard, no matter how many hymns we have sung, no matter how many classes in Old and New Testament we have taken, we don’t really know how to talk about our faith. We are not even sure that we should. Rev. Larry Hayward preaches on the fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Scripture lesson is Acts 14:8-18, and is read by Rev. Patrick Hunnicutt.
When Christians Hold Power
In today’s sermon, three days after we have celebrated the signing of the Declaration of Independence and hence the birth of our nation 233 years ago, around the idea – the idea, not race or soil – that all people are created equal, I want us to look at one scene in in which early Christians –in this case Paul and Barnabas – come into contact with a person who holds considerable political power in the Roman hierarchy of rulers. Looking at this story, I want us to consider what can happen when Christians live and work or at least come in contact with people who hold genuine political power. Larry R. Hayward preaches on the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Scripture lesson is Acts 13:1-12.
When God Isn't Finished
We are in the midst of a sermon series on the Book of Acts, a book which recounts in dramatic fashion the story of the early Christians who – armed with the good news of the resurrection and commissioned by Christ at his ascension to carry that good news to all people and nations – are about the business of taking the spiritual force, the humanitarian idealism, the promise of ultimate redemption found in Jesus and translating it into the world of facts and fancies, kings and empires, families and fortunes, gained and lost. Jesus started a movement; and beginning in Acts, the church translates that movement into a religion, an institution, a global community “in the world” but not “of the world.” In doing so, early Christians had a continual need for deliverance, a need often met by intervention on the part of God. Rev. Larry Hayward preaches on the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Scripture lesson is Acts 12:1-19, and is read by Rev. Whitney Fauntleroy.
When Change Is Rooted in Continuity
We often assume that major times we experience the presence of God or make a deeper commitment to our faith involve a break with the past, more change than continuity. But while the direction of Paul’s life – and the focus of his deeply held service to God – takes a 180 degree turn on the road to Damascus, it is rooted in the faith and life, the language and literature, the vocabulary and vernacular that had shaped and formed him in his upbringing in Judaism. Rev. Larry R. Hayward preaches on the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time. The Scripture lesson is Acts 9:1-20, and is read by Lauren Beyea, chair of the Worship and Music Committee.
Reflections on Mom: In Life and Death
"I want to preach today on the recent death of my own mother, Carolyn Hayward, 22 days ago in her 87th year. Now I do so aware that such a sermon is fraught with potential pitfalls, not the least of which is that it can become more about the preacher than the good news to which the preacher is called to bear witness. I seek to walk through this sermon in the midst of you whom I love, and whose love I have received since I first stood in this pulpit 15 years ago." Rev. Larry Hayward preaches on Trinity Sunday. The Scripture lesson is Luke 2:36-38, read by Rev. Whitney Fauntleroy.
It is Pentecost. While this morning you will not hear about the tongues of fire and the chaotic cacophony of that first Pentecost, rest assured that the Spirit moves. Whitney Fauntleroy preaches on Pentecost Sunday. The Scripture lesson is Romans 8:14-17.
This Passage is No Picnic
Welcome to this "Picnic Sunday," the closest that Westminster gets to "casual Friday." But in the midst of all the woundedness in the world, how DO we have a picnic? Perhaps the ultimate point to be made in all of this is: in light of such loss and hardship that is out there and also with us here, you do not cancel the picnics. Jesus, after all, in the face of his people's despair, began his ministry at a wedding. Patrick Hunnicutt preaches on the Seventh Sunday of Easter. The Scripture lesson is Acts 16:16-34.
Gamaliel was a Pharisee: one of the foils of the gospel, the misguided bad guys who always got it wrong because they insisted on others getting it right. But in Acts, Gamaliel stands out as a person worthy of respect, and full of wisdom. Patrick Hunnicutt preaches on Acts 5:27-40.
Who Am I That I Could Hinder God?
The history of the church that chooses to divide and conquer with our privileges and preferences is long--it is indeed very long. This "us and them" mentality is seemingly so innate to our faith, we don't pause like Peter enough to ask, "Who am I that I should hinder God?" Whitney Fauntleroy preaches on the Fifth Sunday of Easter and Confirmation Sunday. The Scripture lesson is Acts 11:1-18.
Throughout the literature of the Bible, there is a link between the power of the voice and the omnipresent image of Shepherd. As a preacher, anytime I speak of “hearing the voice of God” or “Christ speaking to us” I know that a number of people will assume and hope that I am speaking symbolically; a number will look down at their bulletins in awkward silence; and a number will say to themselves “God has spoken to me, but if I say anything about it, people might avoid me.” Wherever you fall among these numbers, please stay with me. Larry Hayward preaches on the Fourth Sunday of Easter. The Scripture lesson is John 10:22-30.
Now That I Can Dance
Three times, Jesus asks Simon Peter, "do you love me?" And three times, Peter answers correctly. But like the church that Peter would come to represent, Peter did not always do so well with questions--especially when his own life was in jeopardy.
Patrick Hunnicutt preaches from John 21:15-19.
The Story We Don't Tell Enough
There is an aspect of the resurrection of Christ that we don’t talk about often, an aspect that is part of a larger story we don’t tell enough. This aspect is the redemption not just of our own lives as individuals, but the redemption of the whole of the created order. Just as there is a “life to come” for individuals, so also there is a “life to come” for all of creation.
Larry Hayward preaches from Revelation 1:4-8.
The Empty Tomb
Perhaps the most important words the men in dazzling clothes speak to the women may not be, ironically, “He is risen.” Rather, the most important words may be “Remember…remember how he told you.” The reason these words are so important is that they are instructive. They chart the way the women come to trust the message that Christ is risen – and as such they form a way we can come to such trust as well.
Larry Hayward preaches on Easter Sunday from Luke 24:1-12.
Sermons in Stones
It is a regret of my life, perhaps not beyond repair, that I have not read more of Shakespeare. When I first started preaching, I encountered a phrase from Shakespeare’s As You Like It that has stayed with me for obvious vocational reasons:
And this our life, exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
It is the “sermons in stones” that I remember.
Larry Hayward preaches from Luke 19:28-40.
Why Be A Christian? (Part 5) [Embracing Transformation]
What does it mean to “follow Jesus,” to “practice” Christian faith in an increasingly post-Christian culture? What makes us uneasy about claiming Christian faith in the current climate? Is there a difference between being a good Christian and just trying to be a good person? Does being a Christian mean we have to reject other religions? This 5-week Lenten series explores these and other questions as a way of helping us name in new ways our sense of Christian identity in contemporary culture. This week's topic is "Christian Spiritual Maturity." Please note: part 3 is not available due to technical difficulties. Dr. Kathy Staudt works as a teacher, poet and spiritual director at a number of institutions, including Virginia Theological Seminary and Wesley Theological Seminary.
Construing the Cross: The Serpent
From the story of Creation to Jesus’s calling the Pharisees a “brood of vipers,” the serpent in the Bible is not the most inviting of creatures. Yet their rep is not always disreputable—in various cultures and religions, serpents are symbols for fertility and rebirth, guardianship of temples and sacred places, and medicinal healing. As in history and mythology, the association of serpents with the cross is a mixed bag. Larry Hayward preaches from Numbers 21:5-9 and John 3:11-15.
Construing the Cross: The Tree
We come now to sermon four of five in a Lenten series entitled “Construing the Cross.” Through these sermons we are looking at different but complementary ways the Christian faith interprets the death of Christ on the cross: sacrifice, scapegoating, deliverance, tree and serpent. All these ways I hope prepare us to celebrate even more hopefully that day on which we will sing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” Larry Hayward preaches from Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17; Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Revelation 2:7; and Revelation 22:1-2.
Construing the Cross: Deliverance
This series looks at different but complimentary ways our faith seeks to interpret the death of Jesus Christ: as sacrifice, as scapegoating, as deliverance, as tree, and as serpent. Today the association we explore is that of the cross as deliverance. God moves through history bringing freedom. God moves through humanity bringing salvation. These gifts are part of the larger movement of God’s redemption of all of creation – found within and jumping out at us from the pages of Genesis through Revelation. Larry Hayward preaches from Exodus 12 and John 6.
Construing the Cross: Scapegoat
In this series we explore differing but complementary understandings of the death of Jesus Christ: sacrifice, scapegoat, deliverance, tree and serpent. Today’s sermon explores the association of the death of Christ with the ancient practice of sending a scapegoat into the wilderness and the common phrase that ritual has bequeathed to our language. Larry Hayward preaches from Leviticus 16:7-10, 20-22 (KJV) and John 11:45-53.
Construing the Cross: Sacrifice
In Christian tradition, we say as a matter of course that the death of Christ involves sacrifice: Christ sacrificing his life or his being sacrificed for us. Today we look at sacrifice as related to the cycle of life and death in nature: as in the cycle of all living things, Jesus's death bears fruit that changes the human heart and overcomes the power of sin and evil in the world. Larry Hayward preaches from John 12:20-26 in the first of a five-part Lenten series.
Love Your Enemies?
"Love your enemies is not the only teaching of Jesus Christ that leads me to question the seriousness, if not the reach, of my faith. Then when Jesus adds, 'do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you" - my doubts remain. Larry Hayward preaches from Luke, Proverbs, and Romans.
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