Texts: Luke 5:1-11; 8:1-3

Speaker: Joel Miller

Luke 5 tells the story of Jesus calling his first disciples.

He’s standing by Lake Gennesaret, a local name for the Sea of Galilee.  It’s early in his public ministry, but he’s already well known.  A crowd forms around him, “pressing in” as Luke says.  Jesus needs some space.  His solution is to borrow a nearby boat, climbing in, asking its owners to put out into the lake a bit.  From this floating pulpit, Jesus teaches the crowds.

The teaching session ends, and the focus of the story shifts away from the crowds and toward the fishermen who are left in the boat with Jesus.  The boat belongs to Simon Peter.  Other gospels indicate his brother Andrew was there too.  Jesus tells them to push out even further, to deep water, and let down their nets.  They’d been working all night with nothing to show for it, but Simon agrees to give it one more go.  They let down their nets.  This time they catch so many fish they have to call over their business partners to help them pull it in.  Another set of brothers, James and John, bring their...

Text: Romans 12:1-8

Speaker: Mark Rupp

Often when I sit down to write a sermon, I start by taking time to think about what is in the air, what kinds of things are occupying our minds, our hearts, and our lives.  With Valentine’s Day this last week, it means that, among other things, love is in the air.  It only seems right, then, to make this a sermon about love (which, aren’t they all), and to start with a love poem.  This one by Elizabeth Barrett Browning is probably familiar to many of us:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I...

Isaiah 62:1-5; John 2:1-12

Here’s a bit of CMC trivia: In what official congregational document do these words appear: “Thus we pledge to allow sufficient time for work of the congregation and to involve ourselves, on a scheduled basis in the outreach of the congregation, realizing this may conflict with an already busy schedule.”

This is a bit of an unfair question because this is more of a formerly official document.  A big clue is that we are currently working on revising our current version of this statement.  Any takers?

This line comes from our original membership commitment statement, written in the early 60’s.  It’s actually the last line of that statement.  How interesting that when our founding mothers and fathers were naming the commitments they were making to one another as they formed this new congregation, they felt compelled to end by naming a key limiting factor in anyone’s commitment to any purposeful activity: time.  We only have so much time.  We commit, we pledge, we will, we also pledge…”realizing this may conflict with an already busy schedule.”

That very last part about busy schedules didn’t make it into the Revised Standard Version of the Membership Commitment...

Text: Ruth

Speaker: Joel Miller

I want everyone to think back to when you were 11 or 12 years old.  If you attach memories more to school grades, this would be sixth grade.  If you’re not yet in sixth grade you can imagine a bit what it might be like.

Are we there?  If sixth grade was not a highlight of your life, I apologize for taking you back there, but try to stick with it just a bit.

I want you to think about what it was like to be you at that time?  Who were the key people in your life who loved you – family, friends, and teachers?  What did you already know deep down that had always been there and has never left?  What were you learning about yourself, about how life works?

This is a time of life so pivotal that cultures around the world have surrounded it with ritual.  Maybe not exactly the same age across the board, but there is a near universal recognition of this sacred passage out of childhood, into an age of greater independence and responsibility.  This Coming of Age service is our small way of ritualizing this...

This sermon contains musical interludes and is best heard (above) rather than read.  Many thanks to Tom Blosser (piano) and Jim Myers (clarinet), and to Rick Leonard for doing a first draft physics fact check, resulting in some editing that makes me sound like I know more than I do about such things.   

Texts: Isaiah 60:1-6; Matthew 2:1-18

Sitting down a while back to plan this worship series, one of the tasks was assigning which sense would go with which week.  Seeing and hearing could go anywhere, but when, exactly, in the Advent to Christmas to Epiphany plot is it time to taste, to touch, to smell?  Fortunately, the texts help us out.  It’s not every week frankincense and myrrh get hand delivered into the story line.  And so, we finally arrive at the wafting wonder of Epiphany.  A time to breathe in the fresh air of a new year.  Do you smell what I smell?

Do You See What I See?

Matthew’s birth narrative has a distinctly different smell than Luke’s.  Luke has the infant Jesus laid in a manger, a feed trough for animals.  Do you smell what I smell?  Mary and Joseph are soon...