Where We Stand With God – March 27, 2016

Resurrection Sunday – Watch Live Where We Stand With God. The Illusion of Neutrality. Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 40:1-2; Isaiah 40:28-31 New Testament Lesson: Romans 5:18-20; Hebrews 9:26-10:14; I Corinthians 15:1-22 (Romans passage read in unison as a Call to Worship) Gospel Lesson: John 20:1-18   Years ago I told you of my experience as a young teenager of working watermelons each summer on my uncles’ farm at Kanapaha. I told you of the excessive and oppressive mid-summer heat of the open field, with row-upon-quarter-mile-row of ripening watermelons to be manually harvested, shimmering as if a mirage. As Neil Diamond sang, “You could almost hear yourself sweat.” I told you of nearly being ‘bear-caught’ – what city-folk would call heat exhaustion – and of the promise at the end of each row of a spate of rest, a drink of sugar-cane water, and of a few minutes spent in the shade provided by the wind-break treeline. One such time I was barely cognizant; only loosely tethered to the planet; close to dehydration; standing dazed at the end of the row in the blazing sun. My uncle said, “Son, the shade is free. But you have to go stand in it.” Well, indeed.   Britain was prostrate. Defeated in every regard save for formal surrender to the Nazi war machine which was poised on the coast of France, some few miles across the English Channel. The Maginot Line had been circumvented and trampled as if it were a tinker-toy model with match-stick structures – the French army in panicked retreat. The British Expeditionary Force – basically all Britain’s ground troops...

Choices, Choices…, November 8, 2015

Old Testament Lesson: Joshua 24:1-15 New Testament Lesson: II Peter 1: 3-11 Gospel Lesson: Luke 13: 22-30   The great Exodus was winding down.   Forty years of wilderness wanderings – tangible evidence of the forlorn landscape of disobedience – was about to become history as the Children of Israel prepared to de-camp from the Jordan River’s west bank and cross over into the Promised Land of Canaan.   Of the 600,000 Hebrews who were led out of Egyptian bondage – to salvation of God working through His servant Moses – only 2 (Joshua and Caleb) entered Canaan. All the others died during the 40 years ‘journey of disobedience’ in the Sinai Peninsula.   Recall the basics: God led the Hebrew people out of Egypt – through the Red Sea – which then enveloped and destroyed the world’s most mighty army which was in fierce pursuit of this amazing and chaotic migration.   Once safely across the Red Sea (and into the western-most reaches of Sinai), Israel’s salvation was procured and bondage to Egypt was no longer a threat.   But after being led directly across Sinai, free will ran amok, diminishing – as it always does – connection to God –; the Israelite’s failure to choose wisely by allowing their free will to be influenced by faith cost them 40 years of misery.   You recall the story.   The Hebrews were at the Jordan River, with the Promised Land just across the way. Moses selected 12 spies to reconnoiter the land of Canaan and report back.   Upon re-convening the group, the vote was 10-2 against proceeding...

The Church’s Missional Covenant

Connecting People to Jesus OT Lesson: Ezekiel 37:1-14 NT Lesson: Romans 8:6-11 Gospel Lesson: John 11:1-45 The area of Gainesville generally between Archer Road and Newberry Road; west of 34th Street, east of I-75 is a hub of shopping and apartments; Butler Plaza, a large student village, Hogtown Creek Swamp, and Oaks Mall. 55 years ago it was a sparsely populated area of north Florida woods. Vestiges of the Old Stage Road – which connected the Bellamy Road where is crossed Alachua County up near the town of Alachua, with Cedar Key – generally followed a southwesterly route near the creek to Lake Kanapaha. It ran by the Split Rock hotel and spring-fed pool, by the Kanapaha Presbyterian cemetery. Other than the Old Stage Road there were no official roads, the wood being threaded with footpaths which gradually accommodated automobile traffic, but only rarely, and usually only by the inhabitants of the Dry Prairie and Daysville backwood communities. My great-grandparents’ dairy farm and moonshine operation sat in that thicket. The woods were littered with Native American burial mounds and work sites such that every hard rainfall bled up arrow heads and chard and pottery fragments. North of present day 20th Avenue – on an abrupt high slop of ground next to the creek sat the Daysville Community Cemetery where Black people of the woods had been interred back to 1840. I was about 10 years old – Zachary’s current age. My father and I had walked through the woods hunting squirrel. The cemetery was isolated and overgrown, and to a 10 year-old boy, spooky. I had lost sight of...