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First United Methodist Church
Plymouth, Indiana

Sermons and Messages

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In this third week of our series, God is Holding Your Life, I want us to hear/to experience the confidence proclaimed in Psalm 139 that God is with us from the time of our creation to the time when the grave is made our bed—and every moment in between.
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Do you lift your eyes up and turn to God when something happens in your life that you’re not sure how to deal with? Do you see God when you look out into the world and see beauty? A pink sunrise or an orange sunset introducing the new day or night? When you see the sun shine on frost-covered trees?
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The Psalm we’ve read this morning is praise and a prayer that was probably written to be repeated at the coronation of a king. According to its inscription and placement, it comes most likely when David hands over his throne to his son Solomon, who prayed to rule and to judge the people with wisdom. Like all of Israel’s kings, Solomon both succeeded and failed “royally” in that calling.

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In this third week of our series, God is Holding Your Life, I want us to hear/to experience the confidence proclaimed in Psalm 139 that God is with us from the time of our creation to the time when the grave is made our bed—and every moment in between.
Do you lift your eyes up and turn to God when something happens in your life that you’re not sure how to deal with? Do you see God when you look out into the world and see beauty? A pink sunrise or an orange sunset introducing the new day or night? When you see the sun shine on frost-covered trees?
The Psalm we’ve read this morning is praise and a prayer that was probably written to be repeated at the coronation of a king. According to its inscription and placement, it comes most likely when David hands over his throne to his son Solomon, who prayed to rule and to judge the people with wisdom. Like all of Israel’s kings, Solomon both succeeded and failed “royally” in that calling.
This morning’s text tells us of the magi—the wise men who came to Bethlehem to visit Jesus at the time of his birth. They are thought by Matthew to be Babylonian astrologers—not magicians, not kings, but experts with special knowledge. They have traveled a long way—nearly 1000 miles from their own home—and they are apparently unaware of the personal and political turmoil they cause as they arrive in the capital city of Jerusalem, inquiring the whereabouts of the child born to be king. Herod, the current ruler, of course found their questions to be extremely disturbing.
I John 3:1 says, “See what love the father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.” As we’ve listened to scripture being read this evening, we’ve been reminded of our history. From the very beginning, God has reached out to us in a variety of ways, but we haven’t always been able to listen. We haven’t always responded.
I’d like you to take just a few moments this morning and try to remember the most beautiful moment in your life. I know quiet time is a little awkward online. People just tuning in or who stepped away for a bit to refill their coffee will think something is wrong with their sound.  But I’ll be quiet for just a bit so you can think.
This is the third Sunday of Advent, the Sunday that if we were all together in this place lighting our traditional Advent wreath, we would be lighting the pink candle—the candle of Joy. I purposely chose all white candles this year instead of purple and pink, so that it would be easier for you to make use of candles that you already have at home, rather than thinking it necessary to go out shopping for something in particular.
I remember his hands. They were big, they were rough, they were calloused. And somehow, they were always warm. I remember going ice fishing with him on a small private lake on one of the neighbor’s farms. While grandpa was fishing, I was running around on the ice, sliding and having a good time.
It was a sunny January morning: the air was crisp and cold. The lighting seemed stark and the noise seemed sharp as the woman stood at the counter in McDonald’s, staring up at the breakfast menu, not really seeing what was there.
Do you remember taking an examination somewhere along the way that had maybe 50 or 100 questions, with the written directions: first read completely through the exam before answering any questions?  Some people finished pretty quickly. 
This morning we hear the story that Jesus tells about a man who goes on a journey, and before setting off, distributes his property to three of his servants, entrusting it to their care in his absence. As the story continues, the property is described as being “talents” which in our experience today refers to an ability that an individual has, but in the time of Jesus a talent was a measure of money.
There were 3 weddings that I was a part of this year, for which the planning of each began pre-Covid.  All 3 couples had to reschedule dates or locations; they planned once, then had to plan again (and again), and pretty much—up to the day that each wedding occurred, they had to tweak, adjust, adapt, and think of alternatives to their alternatives.
Before our daughter Dominique was married a little over a month ago, I was given the task to find wedding pictures of Scott and I, and of each of our parents. I thought finding our pictures would be the easy assignment, but it took awhile to find them, too, I discovered.
A couple of weeks ago, Scott and I watched the movie Late Night, starring Emma Thompson, which came out in 2019. The story is about a legendary late night talk show host who has fallen into the comfort of her reputation, and though she maintains a loyal fan base, her ratings have dropped and the network has decided to replace her. 
The Ten Commandments are familiar to us, though when we start naming them, we may get stuck after the 5th or 6th one, and need a little help to carry on. We’ve seen them displayed at different places, on plaques inside Christian schools, on great granite monuments in front of courthouses, where I think they’ve mostly been removed. There was controversy a decade or so ago, and so in many places they were relocated in order to accommodate separation of church and state...
Grumblers. Have you met any? Maybe you’re willing to admit that you’ve had a grumbling moment or two at some point in your life. Sometimes we get in a mood. We know we’re being negative, but we’re on a roll.  One thing bothers us, and you know, while I’m on it, this is bothering me, too. One thing leads to another. We may realize it’s happening and decide we need to give ourselves a time out. Take a nap. Go to bed. Take a walk. Whatever works for you. Tomorrow will be different...
They had come this far, but it didn’t look they would be going any further. They’d been given some time to prepare for their journey—enough time to gather silver and gold and clothing from their neighbors. Enough time to prepare for the Passover.  They were to sacrifice a lamb, to paint their doorways with its blood, to roast their lamb and prepare bread made without yeast.  They were to eat their meal in haste: cloaks tucked into their belts, sandals on their feet, and a staff in their hand...
The festival of Passover is the liturgical celebration of the central theological belief of Judaism: the remembrance and thanksgiving that God saved Israel from bondage in Egypt, laying the foundation of the covenant between Israel and God. The first commandment given by God to Moses states, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2).  Worship belongs to God who saves...
Through the next 2 months, we are continuing the narrative that began in the book of Genesis, continues through Exodus and is completed in the Old Testament books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.  These first 5 books of the Bible are known as the Pentateuch and they take us from creation, through the Patriarchs and into Egypt.  According to Exodus 12 (v. 40-41), God’s people remained in Egypt a total of 430 years before being led out of captivity and into the promised land...
He was 17, and as far as he was concerned, his family was lucky to have him.  He was without question (in his mind), the best looking, most intelligent son of Israel, and Israel (who we once knew as Jacob) had a lot of sons.  By this time, Israel has 12 sons and one daughter, but Joseph, being the 11th son and 12th child—was the first child born to Rachel, and Rachel had always been Jacob’s favorite wife. Israel looked at Joseph and he remembered his beloved Rachel.  He remembered...
This week we’re returning to Jacob and his family who have now spent about 20 years with Laban, the father of Jacob’s two wives, Leah and Rachel.  In the women’s competition to provide sons for Jacob, both Leah and Rachel have given him their maidservants as wives, and all together the 4 women have bore him 11 sons and one daughter.  Sadly, after this encounter with Esau, Rachel will bear Jacob his 12th son, Benjamin, and she will die in childbirth. Leah and Rachel are not the only...
Whenever I read the story of Jacob’s family, I’m reassured.  The dysfunction that exists in my family is so trivial compared to his.  And knowing that even with all that family drama, God blessed Jacob and makes a nation of him, is an encouragement, I think for all of us! Last week you’ll remember, Jacob was on the run from his twin brother Esau, fearing for his life, as he had stolen his father’s blessing that had been intended for Esau, his firstborn. Their  mother Rebekah has continued to...
We’re going to hop back into the book of Genesis this a.m., with the story of Jacob and Esau. Jacob and Esau were twins, born to Isaac and Rebekah. Even before the twins were born, it seemed to her that there was a wrestling match going on inside her belly. There was a rivalry between those two boys long before they were ever born. And when they were born—though Esau entered the world first, Jacob was clutching the heel of his brother, following behind, a close second...
Time to go to the well again. Another trip to the well, just like yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. The well, as important as it was for all of their lives, had become an act of monotony to Rebecca.  Nothing seemed to change in this hot and dusty place. She lived in her parent’s tent and had to share a part of it with her greedy brother Laban. Being a woman was no easy thing in this culture. She had few choices, and the ones she did have meant very little in the long run...