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Second Presbyterian Church, Baltimore
15 minutes | Mar 29, 2020
“And the Walls Came Tumbling Down” - Sermon for March 29, 2020
Nobody has every said, "A crisis? Yippee!" But the children of God are called to "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." Yes, even in times of unprecedented fear such as this. As Rev. Tom describes, like a trapeze artist jumping from one swinging bar to another, we will have times when our lives are up in the air, with no security to ground us. In these times, we are not called to find shelter too quickly, to pray for stability to soothe our worries right away. No, Jesus did not claim that his time with us would end all suffering, but foresaw that even the most splendorous of humanity's works are temporary and could crumble to ruin, leaving not one stone upon a stone. Such is what happened to the Temple in Jerusalem, and also to countless other buildings and institutions glorifying God throughout history, and also to many livelihoods and lives in peril right now. But as Rev. Tom teaches, no such structures can limit God. God's love is found not only in peaceful times and serenity, but most strongly in times of suffering. Here and now is where God's love is found, reaching out to others, in compassion and healing. Do not despair; God is here. (Bible reading - Mark 13:1-8, 24-27, NRSV) Adult Seminar: "Learning to Walk in the Dark: Because Sometimes God Shows Up at Night by Barbara Brown Taylor" - Beginning next Sunday, April 5, 11 AM following worship. For technical reasons, you will have to leave the worship meeting and log on separately to attend the Adult Seminar at this link: https://zoom.us/u/abjRcspWR. (Dial-In: 1-646-558-8656; Meeting ID# 308 659 340.) We will be reading and discussing "Learning to Walk in the Dark," which is available on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Learning-Walk-Dark-Because-Sometimes/dp/B00IA69FG6/. The Kindle version is free with Kindle Unlimited. One Great Hour of Sharing - Restoring Hope, Feeding the Hungry, Empowering the Oppressed. During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, we are reminded that the most vulnerable in our midst suffer first, most, and longest. For over 70 years during Lent, OGHS has supported these vulnerable people among us. Please give generously. Text “SeekShareServe” to 73256, and select the OneGreatHourSharing2020 fund.
15 minutes | Mar 22, 2020
“The Recipe of Love” - Sermon for March 22, 2020
There's a saying: "A cook is only as good as the ingredients." If the essentials for a good recipe aren't there from the beginning, then the cook cannot make what's needed. As Rev. Amy describes today, whether it's cooking without sugar, building a house without a foundation, or trying to follow the law of God without knowing the love of God, we cannot succeed without the basics. When Jesus disputed with the scribes of the Temple, he didn't argue about burnt offerings or how to meticulously perform sacrifices. He spoke of love - love for God and love for neighbour - a transformational love that brings us all closer to the kingdom of God. Rev. Amy shows how in this time of crisis, isolation and fear, this focus on our basic need for love is needed more than ever. When our lives seem ready to crumble like a cookie, love is the one special ingredient that can bind us together. (Bible reading Mark 12:28-37) With in-person worship cancelled due to the pandemic, consider making an offering online or through the mail if you are financially able. Your continued support for is important to maintain Second’s ministries to our congregation and to the many mission organizations that serve those in need in Baltimore and beyond. Thank you. You may text your offering to 73256, entering “SeekShareServe” in the message box. (Please don't set up another account if you already have a Realm account as it creates accounting confusion.) You can also make a one-time gift through the church website: https://secondpresby.org/give-now/ Pastors' Zoom Office Hours - On Mondays through Fridays we will hold pastor "Zoom office hours" between 10 am and 12 noon. Anytime during this time, you can click the office hours link and meet a pastor on Zoom to talk, laugh, pray, cry, etc. Link: https://zoom.us/j/358828399. Meeting ID: 358 828 399. Phone: 1-646-558-8656. Easter Memorial Flowers - The Chancel Guild plans to decorate church for Easter inside and out, and to share that with the neighborhood and online. Donations for Easter memorial flowers will be received until Palm Sunday, April 5. The donor’s name, along with the names of the persons remembered or honored, will be printed in the bulletin. The lilies and other flowers will be delivered after the Easter services to our shut-ins by the Deacons. Email names to Joyce Zimmerman, firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks may be made payable to Second Presbyterian Church with a notation at the bottom “for Easter flowers” and mailed to the church at 4200 Saint Paul Street, Baltimore MD 21218.
16 minutes | Mar 16, 2020
"Another Brick in the Wall" - Sermon for March 15, 2020
Today's church services were held online only, due to coronavirus concerns. The full 11 AM service can be viewed at: https://www.facebook.com/secondpresby/videos/690774551660768/ The Church has always needed to face uncertainty. Whether this uncertainty was viruses, war, poverty, or other calamities - the followers of Jesus have always been a part of this world and its troubles. As Rev. Tom describes, Jesus and anyone who would be his disciple must face another difficulty - they never really fit in. In the reading from Mark, a vineyard owner and his servants face violent opposition from those entrusted to grow the vineyard. Even his son is not immune to their wrath. Our pastor from Pennsylvania describes how Jesus' spiritual purpose on Earth is like a keystone - not fitting in with the expected pattern of bricks in a facade, because it has a deeper, special purpose within the whole. As Rev. Tom describes, we too are called to act in a new way within community, to build on the foundation of the keystone, to support the whole world in the process of God's redeeming works. (Bible reading - Mark 12:1-12, NRSV) We ask you to remember to continue giving. In times like these, our financial demands tend to increase rather than decrease. We encourage you to give online at www.secondpresby.org/give-now/. (And you can always mail in a check.) Collecting Food Bags for Families Affected by Virus-related School Closures or Income Loss - We are in close contact with CARES about potential needs for the marginalized during this pandemic. Many students at Guilford Elementary/Middle School (and around the city) rely on breakfast and lunch provided by the school. If schools close due to the coronavirus, our community children could go hungry. Others in hourly service jobs may go without pay or lose their jobs. We are proactively putting together food bags (using our t-shirt bags) of non-perishable foods. These will be handed out by GEDCO CARES if schools are closed. If not, the food will be distributed during regular CARES Food Pantry hours. For Each T-Shirt Bag: 2 boxes spaghetti 2 jars spaghetti sauce 2 boxes Velveeta Shells & Cheese 4 Ramen noodle packages 2 boxes of cereal (Frosted Flakes & Honey Nut Cheerios) 6-pack of individual sweetened apple sauces 2 cans green beans 6 or 8-pack box of granola bars 2 cans tuna 2 cans of a hearty soup Drop off bags in the Mission Corner or at the church office during regular business hours, Monday - Friday, 9 AM - 5 PM. Habitat for Humanity Spring Build Days - Saturdays, March 21, May 2, May 30; and Fridays, April 17, June 12. New Habitat for Humanity build days in the Woodbourne-McCabe neighborhood will start up in March and are currently scheduled through November. We are looking for volunteers. If interested, sign up online here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/904094ba8a922a3fb6-habitat. Rev. Jenn DiFrancesco at email@example.com can also answer your questions. Mission Book Group - Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour. We are postponing our March book group until April - Wednesday, April 15, 7 PM, Westcott Room.
15 minutes | Feb 18, 2020
"The Look of Love" - Sermon for February 16, 2020
Bible reading - Mark 7: 1-23 Today, Rev. Tom describes how Jesus deals with hypocrisy, and how we can deal with it too - not with hypocrites (though those are always present), but the hypocrisy within ourselves. As he illustrates in two stories, humans have a hard time being true to themselves - our desires simply make us blind to our own true motivations. Jesus needed to rebuke the Pharisees not because they didn't respect the law or didn't think it mattered, but because they were following rules that they thought were better than God's. Like a driver being inundated with constant barrage of traffic signs and lights, we can't keep every traffic law, and soon stop following them, but drive for our own desires. But Jesus finds the Spirit behind God's law, and shows how following that can cleanse us of all law-breaking - by working on and changing our hearts, where all desires for law-breaking resides. Birmingham, Alabama School Concert Choir to Sing at Second, Sunday, February 23, 11 AM - The 110-member concert choir from the Indian Springs School of Birmingham, Alabama, will perform the anthems during our 11 AM worship service next Sunday as part of their Washington DC area tour. Indian Springs is a private boarding and day school for students in grades 8-12. The choir has garnered critical praise for their sensitivity and "exciting, vibrant" singing. Please join us next Sunday for this special addition to our worship service. Lent 2020: "MARKed by Christ" - Mark’s brief Gospel shares numerous encounters as Jesus meets people in all kinds of life situations. In Mark’s Gospel, everyone matters. They may be very ill, very self-centered, very possessive, or very set in their ways (not unlike us.) Mark’s brevity demands our attention. And Jesus joins in their life’s journeys. He understands people all too well, undercutting self-defenses and delivering invitations (albeit challenging ones) to all who will hear. Can we allow ourselves to be touched by Jesus this season and take some new steps along with him in our journey of faithfulness? Ash Wednesday Worship Service, Wednesday, February 26 - Light Meal, 6 PM, Smith Hall. Worship 7 PM, Sanctuary "MARKed by Christ" Lenten Bible Study - Mondays, March 2 to April 6, 7:30 PM via Zoom. Thursdays, March 5 to April 9, 9 AM, Westcott Room. (Zoom Tutorial - February 23 & March 1, 10 AM in the Cafe.) This Lenten Season, as a part of our series MARKed by Christ, we will continue the Lenten tradition of offering a Bible Study. Together in community we will read and reflect on the Gospel of Mark. This year, we are trying something new by offering this Bible Study via Zoom, an online video chat. Zoom is very user friendly and will enable us to gather from the comfort of our homes without interrupting busy family schedules, worrying about driving at night or in inclement weather, and even allowing our members who live out of state to participate as well! Our zoom study will take place Mondays at 7:30 PM. For those who prefer to meet in person, we will also be offering a Bible Study at 9 AM on Thursday mornings. If you have never used Zoom and would like some help with it, we will be meeting at 10 AM in the Cafe on Feb 23rd and March 1st to offer a brief tutorial. Through the study of scripture we will open our hearts to recognize how we have been MARKED by Christ and called to be disciples.
19 minutes | Feb 11, 2020
“How Much Baggage Do We Need?” - Sermon for February 9, 2020
Good project managers don't plan a project without know they have the proper resources of people, materials and time. But as Rev. Tom describes today, Jesus also knows what his followers need to NOT have. The baggage that we all carry around with us can weight us down, keeping us from our true calling in Christ. Jesus helps us with holding on to the unshakable faith that truly sustains us, and also removes those parts of our lives that burden us with pain and anxiety. Like Auguste Rodin, who created sculptures like The Thinker and Danaid by removing the parts of the stone that don't belong, Jesus removes the unnecessary parts of us, until only the necessary remains - love and true faith that God will work goodness in this world, whatever we might have to set aside. As Christians, we are called to follow our Lord, who gave up everything - humbling himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Bible reading - Mark 6:1-13, RSVCE) Lenten Devotional Contributors Wanted - Second's Christian Nurture Council, in charge of coordinating education and fellowship, has organized Advent and Lenten devotionals for several years. We're hoping to attract a wider variety of contributors this Lenten season so we're issuing an open invitation. Anyone in the congregation who feels moved is encouraged to contribute. You will be provided with instructions, Bible verses, and a due date. We are open to personal and heartfelt expressions of your faith during Lent - a prayer, a reflection, a picture, etc. What a wonderful way to contribute your talents to our faith community during this holiest of seasons! Please sign up with Shay Herman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-591-4594. Sisters Circle College Care Package Project - Second is collecting items for Sisters Circle College Care Packages till February 24th. Sisters Circle is a long-term mentoring program beginning in elementary school and continuing to offer support to young women as they pursue college education or post-high school vocational training. We would like to provide each of their 25 young women with care packages as they prepare for spring semester finals. The suggested NEW items we would like to include in the package are: • Post-It Notes • Pens/Pencils/highlighters • Erasers • Fun Socks • Chapstick/lip balm • Herbal Tea and Hot chocolate packets • Granola bars, microwave popcorn and other small non-perishable snacks • Individually wrapped hard candies and chocolate • Travel Size toiletries • Stress Ball • Playing Cards/Uno Cards Please drop off items in the mission corner in the basket labelled “College Care Packages”.
16 minutes | Feb 3, 2020
“Interrupting Jesus” - Sermon for February 2, 2020
We are experts at insisting on our own way, but the Love of God is not so intransigent. On this Super Bowl Sunday, people may cheer for a football player who is goal oriented, but Jesus has never followed the crowd. In today's sermon, Rev. Tom describes how Jesus doesn't keep a rigid schedule, but turns from his way to receive a gentle touch from someone in need. In a famous story of Jesus' healing, he heals two people in impossible circumstances - a poor, outcast woman suffering for years, and the daughter of a well-to-do household suddenly and grievously stricken. Jesus does not show favor to what the crowd or his disciples were expecting, but he goes where he is needed, wherever a voice may cry out to him. As Rev. Tom describes, both the unnamed woman and Jairus, the girl's father, had to go outside of their expected paths and society's expectations for them to reach for Jesus, and Jesus is never too busy to interrupt his schedule to reach back in love. (Bible reading - Mark 5:21-43) Peace & Justice Committee - Tuesday, February 4, 6:30 PM, Westcott Room Calling all members with a passion and concern for Environmental Justice. The Peace and Justice Committee is looking for 3 to 5 members to form an Environmental Justice subcommittee. Join with your fellow members at the Faithful Green Leaders Training taking place in Baltimore on Monday, February 17 from 10 AM to 4:30 PM. We need at least 3 members to register. Visit www.InterfaithChesapeake.org/GreenTeams for more information. Please contact Juli Callahan at email@example.com if you are interested. Guilford Elementary School HEART Market - Tuesdays, February 18 & March 17 HEART Markets are the Maryland Food Bank’s pilot program to combat child hunger. It is a festive event that creates an inviting environment for children to obtain healthy food and learn about food nutrition. Volunteers are needed: 1 to 3 PM (or any time in between) – Set up; 3 to 4:30 PM (or any time in between) — Break Down/Clean up. Contact Andrew McCormick at firstname.lastname@example.org or (443) 670-2155. Guilford EMS needs your help!
18 minutes | Jan 28, 2020
“What Have You to Do with Me, Jesus?” - Sermon for January 26, 2020
What's the worst thing about demon possession? Is it that demons are spooky and threatening in an Anne Rice or Stephen King kind of way? In today's sermon, Rev. Tom describes how the evil influence of demons terrify us most because of their control over our lives, forcing us into self-destructive actions and separation from others - a situation that is just as familiar in the modern day as in Jesus' time. By curing the demoniac, Jesus performed both an individual act and a commentary on the wider society. To the first listeners of the story, the "Legion" of demons who retreat into a herd of swine would be an obvious representation of the Roman army - an outside controlling force as gruesome as any demon nightmare. As Rev. Tom describes in two modern stories, the demons of alcoholism and racism can also possess us and force us to live "among the tombs." But these demons can be overcome. The way of Jesus is to come to the sick where they are, to overcome the fear of their presence, and to show how much the Lord can work in their lives - in acts of mercy and words of love. (Bible reading - Mark 5:1-20) Children & Youth Peace Choir Second Presbyterian’s Peace Choir returns in 2020 to prepare “Hosanna”, an original composition by Peace Choir & Handbell Director, Beau Lochte. “Hosanna” includes parts for singers, ringers, and percussion/solo instruments and will be premiered on Palm Sunday, Sunday, April 5. Rehearsals will begin Sunday, February 9 following the Time with Children (around 9:20 am) and will take place in Smith Hall. For more information, email Beau at email@example.com. GEDCO CARES Valentines for Sale We have made lots of lovely Valentines as well as birthday cards, thank you notes, etc. and will sell them on Sundays, January 26, February 2 and 9 after worship to support GEDCO CARES food pantry. Join us after worship on February 16 from 12 Noon to 1:30 PM to make more cards! Bring a lunch. Souper Bowl of Caring Youth of all ages will be collecting canned goods for CARES Food Pantry and dollars for Manna House before and after both Sunday worship services on February 2. Each year, Second collects hundreds of dollars and cans to help feed some of the most vulnerable in our city.
17 minutes | Jan 20, 2020
“Far More than Parables” - Sermon for January 19, 2020
On this Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, we take a special look at someone who also embodied the promotion of justice and deep spirituality - Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Rev. Tom describes how the fame-loving young Íñigo had his life undone and reformed by what has become known as a "cannonball moment." Severely injured in battle, Ignatius turned from his military career to a long period of rigorous asceticism, praying for hours in a cave and begging on the streets in Catalonia. It was this time that spiritually prepared Ignatius to be a great worker for Christ and founder of the Jesuits. As Rev. Tom explains, this was like the time when a sower sows his seeds onto the path, rocky ground, thorns, and good soil. He does not know what is happening deep under the ground to decide which plants grow into abundance, which mustard seeds will burst forth as the greatest of shrubs. He must trust that God is working through the good works, to bring forth life from unexpected beginnings. Likewise, we must trust God to use the dark times of our lives to build, within the deep secret areas of our lives, a spiritual practice that brings abundant life - to ourselves and to others. (Bible reading - Mark 4:1-12, 21-25, 30-34)
13 minutes | Jan 12, 2020
“Can You Keep a Secret?” - Sermon for January 12, 2020
What truths does a secret hide? If the secret only hides itself, it can be used for good or ill. But sometimes, a secret can be used to reveal a greater truth. Such is the case with the secrecy that Jesus kept around his identity during his ministry. As Rev. Tom describes, Jesus did not seek the limelight as a healer. Many came to him to be healed, but this pointed the way towards Jesus' deeper ministry — the healing of people's spirits in selfless love. Not only did he quiet those whom he healed, but also those who would proclaim him king. To quote C. S. Lewis: "Enemy-occupied territory — that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed — you might say, landed in disguise." As Rev. Tom notes, the works of the Christian community — if they follow the works of our Lord — are formed in a new Spirit that is "healthy, creative, caring, peaceful and generous." This Kingdom of God comes in secret, to subvert the ways of this world with the ways of love. (Bible reading - Mark 3:1-12) Churches of Charles MLK Day of Service, January 20, 2020 The community of churches along North Charles Street are coming together to serve our community. This is a great way for us to learn about local mission programs, meet new people, and be the presence of Christ in someone else's life. To learn more or to sign up, Please visit: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090a49a4a829a57-mlkday6 Meatless Mondays Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative founded in 2003 in partnership with our hometown Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center. If you are not familiar with the reasons for participating, here is a great article with “19 Reasons Why.” Michael Pollan, a long-time New York Times Magazine contributing writer and author of many books on food including The Omnivore's Dilemma, says this about the benefit of this change: “Even one meatless day a week - a meatless Monday, which is what we do in my household - if everybody in America did that, that would be the equivalent of taking 20 million mid-size sedans off the road.” And finally, here's a link to recipes to help support this change. The Peace and Justice Committee hopes you join us in this step of Environmental Justice for our planet. Every meatless meal makes a difference.
15 minutes | Jan 6, 2020
"Beyond Boundaries" - Sermon for January 5, 2020
This Epiphany Sunday, we’re following the Narrative Lectionary as it shows us a more profound manifestation of Jesus than just a baby boy that the Wise Men visit. Beginning our journey through the Gospel of Mark, Rev. Tom describes several stories when Jesus healed the sick and troubled. These manifestations are not merely to display Jesus’ power, but also to show how the mercy of God works within our lives. Jesus’ acts of healing were focused on the outcast and the unclean – people pushed to the margins of society. As Rev. Tom reminds us, when Jesus makes the unclean clean, he is crossing boundaries that we make to divide ourselves from others. But in truth, there are no such boundaries. The breath of God comes to all of God’s creations – binding all things in an interconnected whole. It is within this interplay of “Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female” that the reconciliation brought by Jesus to us is fully manifested. Churches of Charles MLK Day of Service, January 20, 2020 The community of churches along North Charles Street are coming together to serve our community. This is a great way for us to learn about local mission programs, meet new people, and be the presence of Christ in someone else's life. To learn more or to sign up, Please visit: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090a49a4a829a57-mlkday6 (Bible reading - Mark 1:21-45, NRSV)
16 minutes | Dec 23, 2019
“An Orderly Account” - Sermon for December 22, 2019
Back when the Gospel writer Luke was a physician, he might not have had orderlies, but he definitely had an orderly ... account of the good news of Jesus. In this Sunday’s sermon, Rev. Tom leads us into the New Testament with a birth narrative – but John the Baptist’s, not Jesus’. This story of John’s birth sets an orderly foundation of how the Messiah would come to the world to save it. John’s parents – Elizabeth and the priest Zechariah – were elderly, and were not expected to bear a child. But it is in such circumstances that God’s word flourishes. As Rev. Tom describes, in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus’ message of peace comes to those who have lost all hope – the poor, the abandoned, the ones who are lost beyond recovery. But all things are possible for God, and in the depths of poverty and loss, there the true light of Jesus’ birth shines. (Bible reading - Luke 1:1-25, 57-80) Christmas Eve Candlelight Services Family Service - 5 PM (Children’s preludes begin at 4:45 PM). Please note that parking restrictions are in place on Christmas Eve until 6:30 PM on Charlcote Road on the west side of the church, and on the northbound lane of St. Paul Street. Don’t get ticketed or towed! A Service of Lessons & Carols - 8 PM. A Service of Christmas, Communion & Candlelight - 11 PM. Holiday Worship Schedule December 29 - 10 AM. Single worship service in the Sanctuary - 5th Sunday Mission Day. During worship you will receive a t-shirt with easy instructions to turn it into a reusable bag at home. Bring the bag back to church full of non-perishable foods for CARES on Epiphany Sunday, January 5. January 5 - 10 AM. Single worship service in the Sanctuary. Serving Breakfast at Manna House January 5, 7:45 AM to 10:30 AM. 435 E 25th Street, Baltimore. We need 5 to 6 volunteers to serve breakfast to homeless men and women at Manna House. Email Rev. Jenn DiFrancesco at firstname.lastname@example.org. Guitar by Olivier Hecho
15 minutes | Dec 18, 2019
"A Welcome 'Welcome Home'" - Sermon for December 15, 2019
"You can't go home again." This may be a sad saying for many people, but God's ways are about creating all things new - new blessings for a new generation of God's people. In today's sermon, Rev. Tom describes how Israel received a blessing of restoration from captivity in Babylon. They received not just freedom, but the means to recreate the Temple and altar of God, to bring back worship in Jerusalem. However, this restoration was painful to many older people, who remembered the glory of the first Temple. Rev. Tom relates this to the Christmas story - how the young couple of Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem in expectation of a new beginning for God's people. This was not just the restoration of the Kingdom of David, but "good news for all people". This Christmas, may we all find a new "Welcome home" - one that expands the blessings of God, welcoming ones who might have never seen such blessings before. (Bible Reading - Ezra 1:1-4; 3:1-4, 10-13) Service for Wholeness & Healing, Advent Vespers - Wednesday, December 18, 7 PM, Chapel. If you are you feeling loss, lost, harried, or harrowed this holiday season and “jolly” isn’t part of your holiday spirit, this service for wholeness and healing is a respite to feed your soul and still your mind. Angel Tree: Our annual Angel Tree is up in the Rotunda. Once again, we will provide gifts for people who are clients of Glenwood Life, a non-profit drug treatment center in Woodbourne-McCabe. Clients collect tokens throughout the year, for things such as participating in programs and reaching certain milestones, which they can use to “buy” gifts for their family members. Bring gifts by December 19th. Gift Shopping & Wrapping at Glenwood Life - December 20, 10 AM to 5 PM: Mission Council is looking for volunteers to help folks shop at Glenwood and wrap presents. We are looking for gently used gift bags, wrapping paper, bows, etc. as well. Please join us for the annual fellowship tradition of decorating the church for the season. Saturday, December 21 at 9 AM meet in Sanctuary to place poinsettias. Contact Janet Short (email@example.com) if you have any questions. Children's Christmas Eve Preludes: Children who play an instrument or sing are invited to contribute their musical gifts during the 5 PM family Christmas Eve service. Children are encouraged to select music that celebrates the birth of our Savior. (i.e. no Frosty or Santa) Please fill out the online form to register your child. Children should arrive in the sanctuary at 4 PM on Christmas Eve. Pecans: Schermer Pecans is a 73-year-old family-run Georgia company. This year’s crop will be available for sale each Sunday from 10 to 11 AM in the Coffee Café. Guitar by Olivier Hecho
19 minutes | Nov 25, 2019
“Finders Keepers” - Sermon for November 24, 2019
"Ignorance is bliss" may be an often-quoted proverb, but it's not in Proverbs. It definitely doesn't apply to King Josiah of the kingdom of Judah. As Rev. Tom describes, Josiah was a righteous king, but was missing out on essential information. During renovation of the Temple, the high priest Hilkiah found a book of the law of God. It didn't take Josiah long to realize that the people of Israel had strayed far from the ways of God. What is a person to do when they learn something that changes everything about them - when the foundations of their lives are pulled out from under them? Rev. Tom walks us through the actions that the wise king takes. First, Josiah repents. He hears the words of truth and recognizes the error that he and the nation of Israel have maintained. Second, he verifies the new information with another authority - the prophetess Huldah. We know almost nothing about Huldah other than she's a prophetess. But God often acts through the lowly and obscure - she can accurately hear and interpret the words of God, and that is enough. And lastly, Josiah acts. He tears down the false idols and the false ways of worship. On this Christ the King Sunday, Rev. Tom shares a story in which we see that God cannot be grasped by our own striving, but can be accepted into our hearts when all our idols and our vain efforts are set aside for the way that God knows is peace. (Bible reading - 2 Kings 22:1-20)
16 minutes | Nov 11, 2019
“Brokenhearted God” - Sermon for November 10, 2019
Does reading the Bible seem dry to you sometimes? The paragraphs of who begat whom? All those numbers in Numbers? Even the lessons in Proverbs can seem distant and esoteric. Then the book of Hosea is the one for you! Here, God's emotions are shown in deep relief. As Rev. Tom describes, the prophet Hosea showed God's anguish over Israel in the most personal of ways - through his own family. By marrying a scandalous wife and giving their children scandalous names, Hosea was deliberately shocking his community, to show them that their unfaithfulness to God was even worse. Of course, people prefer to see scandals in the yellow press than recognize them in their own lives; that way, it's far easier to condemn the people involved. But does God eagerly condemn Israel? No. Hosea's example is one of continuing faithfulness, despite the pain Israel causes God. As Rev. Tom shows, this painful faithfulness is one of the greatest acts of support and compassion that we can give to our loved ones - whichever scandal or crisis they may be in. (Bible reading - Hosea 11:1-9, NRSV) On Friday, November 15, 2019, 7 – 9 PM, Second Presbyterian Church Mission Council is sponsoring a night to make Christmas cards for CARES! We will be making handcrafted Christmas and Holiday Cards. All you need to bring is your imagination and creativity! We will supply all of the materials and bling to make beautiful handcrafted Christmas and Holiday Cards, that support the mission of GEDCO CARES - handcrafted cards that are unique and great to send to family, friends and business associates! Make as many cards as you like and take home your favorite 3. (You may purchase an additional quantity that evening.) The remainder will be sold as bulk-ordered cards and at the Second Presbyterian Alternative Gift Market on Sunday December 8. We will have for your enjoyment: Christmas music, wine, cheese and crackers, fruit, soft drinks, hot and cold apple cider, cookies …and most of all: FUN! Tickets for this event are $25.00 per person. All proceeds benefit GEDCO CARES programs. Sign up at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/countdown-to-christmas-creating-cares-cards-tickets-77126139359
19 minutes | Nov 4, 2019
"If It Is of the Lord, Then Follow" - Sermon for November 3, 2019
Should you put God to the test? Deuteronomy 6 clearly says no, but Malachi 3 says that the children of Israel should do just that, by seeing how God responds abundantly to faithful tithing. In today’s sermon, Rev. Tom describes how one prophet tested God, in a competition against hundreds of other prophets of false idols – with stakes far higher than any season of “American Idol”. Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest on Mount Carmel at a time when the Hebrew faith was at one of its lowest points ever, under the reign of the sinful King Ahab and in the midst of a devastating drought. Elijah’s triumph was complete, a flawless victory. This cemented his legacy as a prophet without equal. But as Rev. Tom explains, on this All Saints Sunday, we should remember the many people in our lives whose achievements were not overwhelming successes, but little acts of kindness. These people – whether softly singing to us in a time of distress, or teaching us lessons of responsibility – are the everyday heroes who spread the love of Jesus – not through astonishing acts of fire that end a drought for an entire nation, but through simple acts that nourish our faith and bring the soft rains of compassion to a single person in need. (Bible reading - 1 Kings 18:17-39 NRSV) 1 Kings 18 Glossary Ahab Ahab was the ninth king of the northern kingdom of Israel since Jeroboam I, the son and successor of Omri, and the husband of Jezebel of Sidon (9th century BC). The Hebrew Bible presents Ahab as a wicked king, particularly for condoning Jezebel's influence on religious policies, among other evil deeds. Elijah Elijah (or the Latinized Elias), meaning “My God is Yahweh]”, was according to the Books of Kings, a prophet and a miracle worker who lived in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of King Ahab. Baals or Baalim Any of various local fertility and nature gods of the ancient Semitic peoples, considered to be false gods by the Hebrews. A false god or idol. Jezebel Daughter of Ithobaal I of Sidon and the wife of Ahab, King of Israel, according to the Book of Kings. Jezebel, along with her husband, instituted the worship of Baal and Asherah on a national scale. She ruthlessly sought to purge the prophets of Yahweh from Israel. Asherah Ancient West Semitic goddess, consort of the supreme god. Mount Carmel The name is derived from the Hebrew kerem (“vineyard” or “orchard”) and attests to the mountain's fertility even in ancient times.
19 minutes | Oct 28, 2019
"The Best Advice of All" - Sermon for October 27, 2019
There's a saying: "Don't give advice. The wise don't need it, and the foolish won't heed it." Of course, humans almost always fall somewhere in between wise and foolish. So we need to seek out advice, and judge that advice apart from what our desires may want to be true. In today's sermon, Rev. Tom describes when the foolishness of a king split a nation into two. King Rehoboam of Israel unfortunately did not inherit the wisdom of his father Solomon, his grandfather David, or his great aunt Abigail. Instead, he dismissed the good advice of experience, and listened to the foolishness of the quick fix. Ten tribes of Israel rebelled against this decision, and chose Jeroboam to lead their revolt. Sadly, this king quickly listened to bad advice, too - setting up a sacrificial altar opposing God. Rev. Tom describes how such advice - both in the Bible and in our own lives - can ripple for years, even centuries. Through a story with a quick, simple reaction to unexpected misfortune, Rev. Tom shows how a person's character can be revealed not in decisions of nationwide consequence, but in small reactions of compassion. It is through this compassion that true wisdom is grown. (Bible reading - 1 Kings 11:42-43; 12:1-17, 25-29)
23 minutes | Oct 23, 2019
"A Link in a Chain of Life; Not the Key" - Sermon for October 20, 2019
No understanding of how God and humans interact in the Bible is complete without studying the life of King David. As Rev. Tom describes, David was a person of faith unlike any who had come before. Here was a leader confident in his abilities and his connection with God. When David inquired of God, God responded. However, this self-assurance of David's came crashing down, right at the threshold of his greatest accomplishment - the recovery of the Ark of the Covenant and the establishing of Jerusalem as the City of David. The seemingly arbitrary death of Uzzah made David question the benevolence of God. But Rev. Tom explains that David came to realize that it's not all about David. We - like David - can give our abilities for God's work, without our abilities being the one key needed for God's work to flourish. Our work is a single link, included in a tapestry of love, far greater than we can see within our own lives. And it is within the Church where this love can be expressed across generations. (Bible reading - 2 Samuel 5:1-13,17-21;6:5-16) Next Sunday, Second Presbyterian will have one combined service at 10:00 AM, followed by our annual Fall Festival at 11:00 AM. The festival will have trunk-or-treating, food trucks, musical entertainment, and creative car trunks decked out in Halloween finery! Find our more at our webpage or by contacting Rev. Amy Carlson at firstname.lastname@example.org!
16 minutes | Oct 16, 2019
"Where You Go, I Will Go" - Sermon for October 13, 2019
The old expression, "You don't know what you have until it's gone," may apply to many people, but some folks just know how to hold on. As Rev. Jenn describes to us today, there are countless things in our lives that we can't control. But we can control how we love, and how we respond to each other - graciously and with commitment. In the story of Ruth and Naomi, their tragic and unexpected circumstances would lead Naomi to bitterness at her loss and isolation. But Ruth would not let her go. Her vows to cling to Naomi sealed a new relationship that had no immediate or clear advantage for Ruth. This fierce faithfulness is not often seen in humanity, but it is a reflection of the faithfulness that God has for us. For even if we don't cling to God, God - in true divine love - clings always to each one of us. Rev. Jenn shows us that God will go where we go, God will live where we live - even if it is in loss, fear, anger or hopelessness - to show the love of God that never lets go. (Bible reading - Ruth 1:1-17, NRSV)
16 minutes | Oct 7, 2019
"Written on Our Hearts" - Sermon for October 6, 2019
We have a guest speaker at Second Presbyterian Church for today's services - the multi-talented MaryAnn McKibben Dana! When Moses brought down the laws from Mount Sinai, it can feel like a New Year's ball-drop might as well come down with him. The laws of God are an inspiration for us to seek goodness in our lives, but they can be as impossible for us limited humans to follow as those New Year's resolutions we always break before February. Rev. MaryAnn describes how all these things we are called - and desire - to do are so often interrupted by life's curveballs, they can be overwhelming. But if we step back, we can reframe those obstacles and speed bumps in life as opportunities to rehearse what our responses to this world's needs can become. Whether these ordinary opportunities are found when we're sitting in our house, talking to our children or walking, or they're found on our doorposts, tied around our hands or written on our hearts, each moment calls us to find joy in building a habit of expressing how we follow and trust in God. That way, wherever our lives reach out to the world - even if it's only the 3 feet just around us - we can bring the law of God to fruition in love. (Bible reading - Deuteronomy 5:1-4; 6:4-9) Learn all about MaryAnn McKibben Dana's work as author, speaker and improv artist at her excellent blog! You can order her latest book, "God, Improv, and the Art of Living" from IndieBound, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble! Are you looking for a personal or running coach? MaryAnn does that too! See more at this link!
21 minutes | Sep 29, 2019
“Salvation in the Reeds” - Sermon for September 29, 2019
We humans tend to look for salvation in grandeur and radiant splendour. Rarely do we consider salvation sleeping in a simple manger, dying on a cross, hiding in a valley and being fed by ravens... or being placed in a basket in the mud and reeds of a river. Today's Lectionary story is the famous one of the Pharaoh of Egypt ordering the deaths of every male Hebrew newborn, and he would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for those meddling kids. For after a desperate mother trusted her son to a tiny ark upon the Nile, it is the children who took the risks of making a new, liberating outcome where hope seemed hidden beyond recovery. As Rev. Tom describes, both Pharaoh's daughter and the baby's sister, Miriam, took actions against a system that kept the Hebrews oppressed. It's not only in the Bible that we see a minority population treated as "other" - second class citizens, foreigners speaking a different language, who can't be trusted. But these two - females with no political power and no hope of changing the system - would save the child Moses, and draw out salvation from the unlikeliest of circumstances. (Bible reading - Exodus 1:8-17; 2:1-10)
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