Shady Grove United Methodist Church -- Mechanicsville
Thursday, May 24, 2018
growing together

Sermon Files

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Sermon Files Email kerimarston@shadygroveumc.org

Ode to Cracked Pots

Sunday, September 03, 2017 Play this file. Play
The good news from these two texts is that God uses broken things…God uses cracked pots! And the wonderful secret to our value is revealed in this letter Paul wrote to the church at Corinth...for kept inside each broken, fragile, ordinary jar of clay is a treasure, a priceless treasure of immeasurable worth - God’s grace revealed in our lives! We’re all cracked pots – all of us. But when we actually pause to consider the glorious treasure we hold, it’s awe-inspiring! And those frailties and cracks in our clay pot, well, they allow God’s love to seep out for all those around us to experience. God is using us in spite of our cracks, even because of our cracks.
 

Instructions for Living A Life: Tell About It

Sunday, August 27, 2017 Play this file. Play
This sermon concludes our three part sermon series, Instructions for Living A Life.  In this message “Tell About It,” we gain insight from Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well.  Real healing happens here...this woman’s brokenness is quenched by the living water Jesus offers, and as a result, she is changed forever. Her resulting energy and excitement caused others to risk checking out what she said.  Through the power of God’s transforming grace, this Samaritan woman becomes the first evangelist! Through this sermon, we ponder how we have experienced God in our own lives.  Are we willing to share our experiences? Might we too become unlikely evangelists?   Scripture:  John 4:5-42
 
 

Instructions for Living A Life: Be Astonished

Sunday, August 20, 2017 Play this file. Play
In this sermon, we will consider the Biblical story about Moses and the burning bush, relating that to the 2nd of the Instructions for Liveing A Life – “Be Astonished!” This story of Moses’s experience standing on holy ground in God’s presence, invites us to become more aware of the Holy ground on which we walk and stand. It invites us to pay attention, to be attentive, to be amazed by the Holy. Have you had any Moses moments lately? Seen any burning bushes lately? Has God ever spoken in your life in such a dramatic fashion? Scripture:  Exodus 3 & 4, select verses 
 

Instructions for Living A Life: Pay Attention

Sunday, August 13, 2017 Play this file. Play
This sermon begins a three-part series called Instructions for Living A Life which is based on a section of the poem “Sometimes” by Mary Oliver, in which she identifies life’s instructions as: “Pay Attention. Be Astonished. Tell About It.” We start with the instruction to “pay attention” – a sometimes difficult thing to accomplish in our modern culture built on noise and information…on constant movement and revolving door schedules. Where in all that hurry do we find ourselves, much less God? In this text, Jesus invites his disciples to “come away to a deserted place and rest a while” -- it is a call to us even today to be intentional about stepping off the hurried treadmill of life, in order to focus our attention on being still and knowing that God is God. It is a call to do as Jesus did – to practice strategic stillness.    Scripture:  Mark 4:33-38a & 6:30-34, 45-46
 

Out of the Way

Sunday, August 06, 2017 Play this file. Play
At times we work so hard to accomplish something “for God” that we unintentionally become a stumbling block for what God is really doing.  After all, Peter, while well-meaning, was unable to provide the means necessary for God to reconcile the world through the cross, as are we. It was perplexing to Peter that Jesus had to die to save the world. And perhaps here and now, God wants to work in mighty but perplexing ways, which may only happen when we step aside and allow God to be God.  Scripture:  Matthew 16:21-28
 

It's Cool In the Furnace

Sunday, July 30, 2017 Play this file. Play
Our text tells the story of the three Hebrew boys, Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the fiery furnace. The main point of this martyr legend is the miraculous deliverance of the three young people by their God. That was good news then, and it’s the good news for us today as well. But there are other lessons we can glean from this story, such as courage of conviction, and confidence that God will provide. Over and over in scriptures we are reminded God will never leave us, nor forsake us. Might this story be a reminder to us as well that we can draw upon the same reservoirs during our times of trial?   
 

Perspective: Up A Tree, Out On A Limb

Sunday, July 23, 2017 Play this file. Play
This week, as we conclude our 3 part sermon series on PERSPECTIVE, we gain insight from a familiar and seemingly simple Bible story. As we move beyond our comfortable Sunday School version of this story, we learn that Zacchaeus found himself relegated to the fringe of his community -- because of his stature and his status in the community, he found himself up the proverbial tree and out on the proverbial limb. All the crowd saw was this silly, short man perched in a tree -- the despised chief tax collector. But Jesus saw something different than what the crowd saw. The crowd saw a vile sinner - Jesus saw a precious child of God. Jesus saw a curious, desperate man that needed a friend. Jesus’ perspective is always different than the world’s. We too are called to have a different perspective…to see the world from a different vantage point. Jesus’ grace-filled response to the tree-percher certainly caused Zacchaeus to change his vantage point. Might our vantage points be challenged by this story as well?   Scripture: Luke 19:1-10
 

Perspective: Walk By Faith Not By Sight

Sunday, July 16, 2017 Play this file. Play
In this week's text, Paul’s message to the church at Corinth is a reminder about the limits of navigating by sight. The fact is, that no matter how good our sight is, our vision is limited -- we are not able to see things from God’s perspective. John Wesley preached a sermon in 1788 on this very subject, entitled, “The Difference Between Walking by Sight and Walking by Faith.” In framing his sermon, Wesley asked, “Do you walk by faith?....Observe the question.” And rather than merely observing the question, as Wesley suggested, we will be challenged by Paul’s words to actually take the first step and begin navigating by faith, rather than relying on our own limited vision, and our own comfortable perspectives.   Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:6-17
 

Perspective: What Do You See Young Grasshopper

Sunday, July 09, 2017 Play this file. Play
In this sermon's text, the Hebrew people perceive themselves as grasshoppers, and their grasshopper perspective framed their whole world and how they interacted with it. The majority report focuses on the problems and the obstacles. There is no mention of God anywhere in the majority report. In contrast, look at the minority report from Joshua and Caleb, the two who had the same shared experience as the other ten spies, but in the midst of the circumstances were able to see the possibilities. Joshua and Caleb’s report focused not on what they could accomplish, but on what God could do. Their report is, “the Lord is with us, do not fear! The Lord is with us…with God’s help, we are far from grasshoppers.” Is our outlook, our perspective on life, framed by how we perceive ourselves? Are we limited by our own grasshopper perspectives?   Scripture: Numbers 13:30 - 14:10
 

Shall We Dance?

Sunday, July 02, 2017 Play this file. Play
Our text next Sunday tells the story of King David kicking up his heels and making merry before God. This mental picture of David dancing wildly before the Lord, raises the question -- have we in mainline North American churches lost touch with David, the king and the Psalmist, and all the people of faith through the ages, who were passionate in their spirituality….who found in God their greatest joy? Have we gotten too prim, too proper, too stuffy, to make merry before God when something wonderful occurs? While our way of expressing worship may not be exactly like the way someone next to us would express themselves, we need to invite ourselves to be open to new ways of experiencing the pure awe and glory of God in our midst.  Scripture: 2 Samuel 6:12-21
 

Praying and Sending

Sunday, June 18, 2017 Play this file. Play
Christ does not require us to do anything without first equipping us. Next week’s text helps to bring to life the concept of leadership and the message of preparing, praying, and going forth.  We will look at examples of roles of Earthly fathers and examine Christ’s role in leading through preparation and prayer. We hope you will join us for this special Father’s Day message.  Scripture: Matthew 9:35-10:8
 

Gardening 101: Is this A Weed or A Plant?

Sunday, June 11, 2017 Play this file. Play
This text stretches our understanding of gardening -- Jesus tells a story, a parable that puts a twist on our preconceived notions about gardening, suggesting that weeds be allowed to coexist with the healthy wheat plants. This parable (and all the parables Jesus shared) relates a familiar metaphor that the crowds could relate to. But behind the familiar metaphor, is always a hidden truth...a twist that revealed a deeper meaning that challenged the norm, and shed light on what God’s kingdom was really like. And so, what is it with Jesus and his peculiar farming techniques? And what can we learn from this parable to help us relate to our world today?
Scripture: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
 

Finding Joy -5 Keys/Living Well-Part 5 The Most Important Commandment

Sunday, June 04, 2017 Play this file. Play
 Join us next Sunday as we talk about the First Great Commandment (The Shema Yisrael). On the Day of Pentecost God came again as promised by Jesus, and the disciples lived into loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. We are called to love God in the same way.  Everyday when we wake up and everyday when we lie down, we are to remember the Shema.  Scripture:  Acts 2:1-21, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Mark 12:28-34
 

Finding Joy -- 5 Keys to Living Well - Part 4: The Requirements of the

Sunday, May 28, 2017 Play this file. Play
 What is the meaning behind the scripture lesson Micah 6:8?  “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?  Join us next Sunday as we examine this well known scripture and the verses that surround it, Micah 6:1-8.  
 

Finding Joy -- 5 Keys for Living Well -- Part 3: Six Words to Set You

Sunday, May 21, 2017 Play this file. Play
 I am sorry. I forgive you.  The spirit of forgiveness begins from knowing that God has forgiven us.  Join us next Sunday as we embrace the concepts of asking for and extending forgiveness.  
 

Finding Joy - 5 Keys to Living Well- Part 2: The Secret to True Wealth

Sunday, May 14, 2017 Play this file. Play
We often measure our lives by our abundance of possessions.  Whoever has the most at the end of our lives, wins.  We find our joy can get tangled up in the pursuit of wealth. However, money can only buy temporary happiness, it can’t buy real joy.  Real wealth is about generosity, 1. Generosity with our spirit, 2. Generosity with our finances, 3. Generosity with our time.  Joy and meaning in life depends on these three opportunities for generosity.  Friends, relationships, and faith by far are greater indicators of happiness in our lives.  You are blessed to be a blessing to others.  
 

Finding Joy -- 5 Keys for Living Well -- Part 1: The Gold Standard

Sunday, May 07, 2017 Play this file. Play
 We don’t always think about how we treat people. Others may see our missteps, but we are often blind to them. The number one Christian litmus test for living into God’s ways is the Golden Rule - very much like one of the two greatest commandments (loving neighbor as loving self). Join us next Sunday as we take a closer look at this common childhood lesson, but in a new way.    
Scripture:  Matthew 22:35-40
 

Direction Correction

Sunday, April 30, 2017 Play this file. Play
 By our actions, we still deny Jesus and denial of Christ is a form of persecution. Saul had the authority from the Sanhedrin to persecute the early Christians. He would extradite them from Damascus and bring them back to Jerusalem. Like Saul, we are in need of conversion.  Scripture:  Acts 9:1-6
 

Beyond Belief

Sunday, April 23, 2017 Play this file. Play
In next week’s text, the disciples encounter the Risen Christ, and it is Thomas in particular that draws our attention.  Many have tried to paint Thomas in a negative light, but doesn’t Thomas resonate with all of us when he asks for some tangible proof? Most of us, no matter what is said about how “blessed it is for us to believe without seeing,”…most of us really want to see first. Our text invites us to open ourselves up to the in-breaking of Christ, even today, that we might begin to see signs of Jesus’ resurrected presence in our world and in our lives; that we, like Thomas, may boldly proclaim, “my Lord and my God!”
Scripture:  John 20:19-31
 

Hands and Feet of Christ: Perfected Hands, Itinerant Feet

Sunday, April 16, 2017 Play this file. Play
We invite you to join us next Sunday as we gather as Easter people to not only to celebrate, but to gain an understanding of the series of events that took place leading up to Christ’s resurrection. 
 

Hands and Feet of Christ: Royal Hands Rested Feet

Sunday, April 09, 2017 Play this file. Play
 It’s easy to fall into a comfortable, predictable Christianity - a faith that expects little and demands even less. Sometimes we are only spectators watching what is happening within the church of Jesus Christ. We need to get off the sidewalks to join the procession! Get involved! What will it take for us to be motivated to be the hands and feet of Christ?
Scripture: Matthew 21:1-11
 

Hands and Feet of Christ: Feeding Hands, Buoyant Feet

Sunday, April 02, 2017 Play this file. Play
When the going gets tough, do you ever feel like giving up?  Does the work load seem too expansive and overwhelming?  Think of how the young boy must have felt amongst the multitude when he brought Jesus five loaves and two fish.  Like that young boy, can we be so bold to bring all that we have to Jesus?  What blessings may be revealed in our lives and in the lives of others? 
 

Hands and Feet of Christ: Healing Hands, Crowded Feet

Sunday, March 26, 2017 Play this file. Play
 Sometimes people feel shut out from the healing touch of Christ. This week’s text tells the story of the friends who brought the paralytic to Jesus and lowered him through the roof.  Christ calls our church to radical openness, especially to those who may be inclined to feel unwelcome.  Everything Jesus proclaims in words is also manifested in deeds. How can we lend direct assistance, following Jesus’ model, to those who are in need?
 

Hands and Feet of Christ: Touching Hands, Restricted Feet

Sunday, March 19, 2017 Play this file. Play
Who are our neighbors? We don’t always acknowledge the value of our neighbors. It is sometimes easier just to ignore them, than to intentionally place ourselves within their company. It is important for us to draw closer to people, all people, so that they too can be connected to a community of faith.  This week, we will examine Jesus’ healing the leper as an example of how we too must reach the marginalized in our own community.  Scripture: Mark 1:40-45

Hands and Feet of Christ: Teaching Hands, Sandy Feet

Sunday, March 12, 2017 Play this file. Play
 This week, we will examine Jesus as teacher and the one true authority figure in our lives.