Sermon Notes (Page 3)

“Works in Progress” Matthew 26:26-35 Maundy Thursday

This Sanctuary was constructed in 1858, and it certainly has had a few upgrades over the past 159 years.  The bricks were baked in the sun on a nearby plantation owned by John Byne Walker; each of the bricks have a stamp of JBW on the inside.  Because they were sunbaked rather than kiln-baked, the bricks have to be sealed periodically, otherwise they serve as sponges soaking up water which then permeates the inside plaster walls.  We had the bricks sealed last summer, and now we are in process of redoing and painting some interior plaster walls.  The upkeep of our aging, beautiful historic facility is a work in progress.

“Called to Carry Jesus” Matthew 21:1-11

It was Palm Sunday, and Jesus was coming into Jerusalem.  He was riding on a blazing white stallion and kicking up a cloud of dust as he rode along.  He was looking for troublemakers.  The people that he passed on his way were in awe of such a beautiful animal, but they were even more awestruck by the man who was riding it.  As Jesus passed by, you could hear the people say, “Who was that masked man?”

“Finding Homes for Dragons” Ephesians 2:19 22

In keeping with the “Church First” theme, today, we focus on our church’s unique openness and welcoming atmosphere.  Today’s skit (Debbie and the Dragon) communicated to us the task of the Church: namely to find homes for dragons.  Look around you; there are dragons everywhere.  We all have unsightly scales and occasional bad breath.  Look at your neighbor and say, “You are looking a bit scaly today.”

“Church First” Hebrews 10:19-25

During this church year, many of my sermons will be highlighting the theme, “Church First.”  Our hope is to continue to remind ourselves of how important our church is.  In writing to the Hebrews, the author reminded them of how important it was for them to gather together for worship.  But the reason we should place “Church First” is because of Jesus.  If the Church is the Body of Christ, then to make Church First, we have to be followers of Christ.  The best way I know to do that is to adhere to what Jesus taught.

“Stop Holding the Mirror” Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 Ash Wednesday

Most Baptist churches do not have Ash Wednesday Services; many Baptist churches never mention the season of Lent.  When I was growing up in a Baptist church, I only heard the words “Lent” and “Advent” when we went to my grandmother’s church, Jones Chapel United Methodist Church in Madison County.  Now, most Baptist churches observe Advent; many Baptist churches mention Lent; a few Baptist churches have Ash Wednesday Services.  Many Baptists choose not to speak of Lent or have Ash Wednesday Services, because they say that Catholics do that, which is true.  But other Protestants like Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Methodists also have Ash Wednesday Services.  So we gather tonight more as Christians than as Baptists, and frankly, I will make that choice every time.

“The Freedom of Simplicity” Matthew 6:19-24

Richard J. Foster, in a book titled, The Freedom of Simplicity writes, “Our contemporary culture is plagued by the passion to possess.  The unreasoned boast abounds that the good life is found in accumulation, that “more is better.” (Richard Foster. The Freedom of Simplicity. New York: Harper & Row, 1981. p. 3) Another way of saying it is “The one with the most toys wins.”  Christian simplicity can free us from this modern mania.  It brings sanity to our compulsive extravagance, and peace to our frantic spirit.  It allows us to see material things for what they should be: goods to enhance life, not to oppress life.  People once again can become more important than possessions. 

“Children Can Teach Us Too” I Samuel 17:32-37, 41-45, 48-49

Today’s worship service has shown us that children can lead us.  Our children have led us in the welcome, music, prayers, in Scripture reading, and in other aspects of worship. The children worked with our ushers in handing-out the bulletins and received our offering.  I found that mental picture symbolic of the verse from Isaiah 11:6, “a little child shall lead them.”  Our children can lead us, but our children can teach us too.  As a parent, I learned from my children on a regular basis; most parents do, as evident by this article entitled “Things I’ve Learned from my Children… (Honest and No Kidding).”  I am not sure who wrote it, but listen to some things that parents have learned from their children:

“Called Because of Acceptance” Matthew 9:9-13

This morning’s New Testament lesson records the calling of Matthew as a disciple of Jesus.  Matthew was hated by the Jewish people and may have been the most unlikely candidate for being called as a disciple.  He was a tax collector for the Roman government, but the big deal was that the Romans controlled the Jews.  Those who were tax collectors were told to get money for the government, which they did, but they also charged whatever they wanted.  There were no newspapers, radio, television or internet, so the taxes were not published for all to see.  The court system did not allow the Jewish people to challenge the tax collectors either.  Besides all that, the Jewish people had been taught that their greatest allegiance was to God as their King, and they had trouble paying taxes to someone who claimed to be greater than their God.  Biblical commentator William Barclay records that by Jewish law, a tax-gatherer was debarred from the synagogue. (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, vol. 1, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975, p. 330) Matthew was hated.