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.
Above and Be Woe
Patrick Hunnicutt preaches on Luke 6:20-26.
"In the year King Uzziah died." For all their tumultuous history, Israel lived in relative stability during the reign of Uzziah. When he left the throne, it ushered in a time of instability--Isaiah's career as a prophet will largely take place under Syrian occupation. Was it the finality of death and the inevitable reminiscing that comes with shock and mourning that made Isaiah recall "the good old days"? Rev. Whitney Fauntleroy preaches on Isaiah 6:1-8. The Scripture is read by Nico Gutierrez from Boy Scout Troop 129.
What the Church Cannot Do
In a world in which sin and evil, death and disease, tragedy, treachery, and tyranny retain a great deal of their power, the church will never be able to reach every human being, heal every illness, eliminate every form of injustice, bring reconciliation to every personal, familial, political, religious, class, ethnic, tribal, national, or global conflict. But even when we accept, however reluctantly, what the church cannot do, there is one thing – one thing – that the church retains the power to do: bear witness to the Word God has given us, a Word which – in the end – is a word of hope. Rev. Larry Hayward preaches on Luke 4:21-30 and Psalm 71:1-6.
Love for What You Hate
When we come to church, we expect to hear about love. But love and hate are bound in very intimate ways, so today we'll take a detour into the realm of hate. We ask ourselves, what is it that we hate? Patrick Hunnicutt preaches on Luke 4:14–22a.
The Wedding at Cana
The first miracle Jesus performs in the Gospel of John occurs at a wedding feast that lasts seven days and doubtless costs more than a few shekels. When Mary notices a human need – not one of life or death, of poverty or plenty – she turns to her son, whom both she and the reader know is “the Word” that has become “flesh” and “dwelt among us, full of grace and truth, ” and lays this situation at his feet. Larry Hayward preaches on John 2:1-11.
Please and Thank You
Baptism of the Lord Sunday always seems to come at just the right time: that part of the year that we are in between transitions, as we get caught up in the culture of the New Year. We might find ourselves somewhere between the reflections of the old and the hopes of the new. Whitney Fauntleroy preaches on Luke 3:15–22.
The Worship Life of Herod the King
In the Time Being in which we live, the Herods of the world often rule but do not ultimately prevail. The Child who lives is the One over whose birth the star settles, the One whose birth draws Magi from their precincts of learning and shepherds from their fields of labor. On the Epiphany of the Lord, Larry Hayward preaches on Matthew 2:1-12.
Everything Is Everything
How are we to behave in community? In Colossians, how we dress is a metaphor for how we strive toward communal flourishing. We do not dress for ourselves, but for our community: a community that should be imitators of Christ. Rev. Whitney Fauntleroy preaches on Colossians 3:12-17.
Such a Deal of Wonder(Christmas Eve)
On this night, Christmas Eve, we gather with a sense of rapt, beautiful wonder. Shakespeare once wrote: “Such a deal of wonder is broken out within this hour, that ballad-maker’s cannot be able to express it”. In contrast to all other services in which the church gathers at night, on Christmas Eve, the sense of wonder is so pervasive that not even our most beautiful hymns and anthems, our gentlest harp, our most inviting voices can “express it.” Christmas Eve almost begs to be silent. Rev. Larry Hayward preaches on Luke 2:13-20.
Hopes and Fears
On this Sunday before Christmas, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, I want to do something I rarely do in a sermon: I want to bear witness as clearly and beautifully as I can as to why I believe in all we are doing in this service today: the words we say, the music we hear and sing, the prayers we lift spoken or silent. In other words, I want to say, as best as I am able, why I am a Christian and how I got to be one. I hope to do so in a way that is not so much about me, but becomes about you who have gathered and about the birth, life, and destiny of the Christ whose name draws us here. Rev. Larry Hayward preaches on Luke 1:39-45.
Paul's encouragement to rejoice, his assurance of the nearness of God, his promise that we would obtain a peace that surpasses understanding - these are the words of the Bible that the church has been playing over and over again. If all we listen to are these "greatest hits," they might lose their power. Haven't we played that song enough? On the third Sunday of Advent, we light the candle for joy. Patrick Hunnicutt preaches on Philippians 4:4-9.
We Live If You Stand Firm
As we read Paul’s letters, we become aware that he knew – from personal experience – that not all human relationships can be mended, not all conflicts resolved, not all divisions healed, even those relationships that begin in a common faith. His words to the Thessalonians are written with this awareness of the human propensity for division, but also with a hope and a pathway toward something better. Rev. Larry Hayward preaches on the first Sunday of Advent from 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13.
Grace and Peace
Paul began his letters to the early churches by saying, "grace and peace." The apocalyptic writer John used the same words to introduce his vision of a new heaven and a new earth. "Grace and peace" make for great beginnings and for great endings, too. Rev. Patrick Hunnicutt preaches from Revelation 1:4-8.
Is it part of the irony of God that something so historically and religiously significant as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam would come from a small desert region of the world and from a people whose origins barely registered in the annals of historians of their day? How little we know. Rev. Dr. Larry Hayward preaches on Mark 13:32-37.
The Folly of the Cross
On this 100th anniversary of the armistice, the question I would like to address today – more as a minister than a citizen – is this: Is there a theological reason to remember every year, those who have put their lives on the line? Rev. Dr. Larry Hayward preaches on this Remembrance Sunday from 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. This sermon was preached at the 8:30 a.m. service.
I conclude the series today by seeking to answer perhaps the most ambitious question of all – “Why Tithe?” I ask this of you because I believe that our faith is neither as rich nor complete until we are committed to returning to God a significant portion of the material goods which so mark and bless our lives. Rev. Dr. Larry Hayward preaches from Genesis 14:17-20.
Why give to the church – not only our time, but a considered, thoughtful percentage of our income as well? Why give our money – as well as our time – to the church? Rev. Dr. Larry Hayward preaches from Matthew 6:19-21.
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