"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.
We believe in some sense our faith can exist apart from the community created in its name, the church. While I do not want to deny that we can come to and even grow in faith apart from a congregational setting, I still want to offer three interrelated and ascending answers to the question: “Why join a church?” So here goes. Rev. Larry Hayward preaches on 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11.
If you came to Westminster needing to hear how easy it is to be a follower of Jesus, then this passage in Mark is a reminder that following Jesus is, and always will be, a difficult decision. Or that following Jesus is surrendering to a life of difficult decisions every day. Rev. Whitney Fauntleroy preaches today from Mark 10:17-31.
On this World Communion Sunday in which we break bread and share wine with churches of different denominations across the world, what is it that Westminster particularly embodies that leads us to be a genuine part of the of the answer to the question “Why Church?” Why Church? Fall Sermon Series The series will lead up to our stewardship campaign, in which we each decide how much of our financial resources we will pledge to the work of Westminster in 2019, but it will not be limited to that focus. In some ways, the series will ask basic questions about why we are here, why we are involved in a church at all, and what role our involvement plays in our lives. In a time in which American religious life is changing, and in a church in which many of us may only be here for three or four years before being transferred to the next city, we all benefit from paying attention to fundamental questions this series will address.
Leafblowing in the Wind
"Whoever is not against us is for us," says Jesus. Who is for? Who is against? Who is right, who is wrong? Who and what are true, and who and what are false? It's just too bad that Scripture has no resonance with current events. Patrick Hunnicutt preaches on Mark 9:33-41.
Why Church? [PDF only]
*PLEASE NOTE* There is no audio recording of this sermon due to a technical error. Why Church? Fall Sermon Series The series will lead up to our stewardship campaign, in which we each decide how much of our financial resources we will pledge to the work of Westminster in 2019, but it will not be limited to that focus. In some ways, the series will ask basic questions about why we are here, why we are involved in a church at all, and what role our involvement plays in our lives. In a time in which American religious life is changing, and in a church in which many of us may only be here for three or four years before being transferred to the next city, we all benefit from paying attention to fundamental questions this series will address.
"I know that there have been times in my preaching where I have read to you writings that are too dense, too complex, too long for most listeners of any age to follow. I plan to commit this sin again today, and challenge you, once again, to listen well." Larry Hayward preaches on Proverbs 1:20-33.
Today’s sermon is about maternal, parental, even grand-parental love. It is a sermon about how such love can be ever so close to God’s love. It is a sermon about how the love we have for children is akin to the love we receive from God. As the body of Christ in the world, it is important for the church to embody and foster such love. Larry Hayward preaches on Mark 7:24-30.
In the passage we read today, the Gospel writer Mark expresses a critique of Jewish ritual. Jesus, however, appears less concerned about the specific practices Mark is critiquing than with the intention and motivation that lie behind both the ritual and its critique—a focus more on the heart than the practice the heart produces. Larry Hayward preaches on Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23.
Israel has been waiting for a fixed locale to faithfully worship, to experience the God of Abraham, Isaac, and and Jacob. Now Solomon is in the Temple, dedicating the space after what has to be one of the longest house hunting expeditions in Israel history. Rev. Whitney Fauntleroy preaches on 1 Kings 8 (selected verses).
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