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First United Methodist Church
Plymouth, Indiana

Sermons and Messages

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Perhaps you have heard it said (or have thought yourself), “Being a Christian just makes sense. Your life will go better if you sign on with Jesus.”  But I say to you that if you listen to Jesus, if you take his teachings seriously, then you will find your life becoming a bit more complex and complicated. Take today’s gospel for instance… You have heard it said, Jesus says to the people gathered ‘round listening to him teach.  You have heard it said: it’s important to try to be compassionate and caring...
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On Sunday the church gathers. Christians hold their lights up. We talk about the light. We educate our children about the light. We hold instructional seminars about how to light the world more effectively. We vow to proclaim the light to the world. On Monday through Saturday, the church scatters—into the marketplace, schools, homes and community—to carry the light. As Jesus’ followers and God’s ambassadors, we bear His light. Jesus’ strategy always involved believers being light...
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Please pray with me: Lord, we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of our minds and the longing of our hearts, by the words of my lips and in the thoughts that we form. Speak, O Lord, for your servants listen. Amen. When I was a kid, I remember a time when my mother decided to make up some chocolate nut fudge or something very tasty like that. She had all these wonderful ingredients assembled on her kitchen counter, all these lovely smells wafted around the room, she was busy...

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Perhaps you have heard it said (or have thought yourself), “Being a Christian just makes sense. Your life will go better if you sign on with Jesus.”  But I say to you that if you listen to Jesus, if you take his teachings seriously, then you will find your life becoming a bit more complex and complicated. Take today’s gospel for instance… You have heard it said, Jesus says to the people gathered ‘round listening to him teach.  You have heard it said: it’s important to try to be compassionate and caring...
On Sunday the church gathers. Christians hold their lights up. We talk about the light. We educate our children about the light. We hold instructional seminars about how to light the world more effectively. We vow to proclaim the light to the world. On Monday through Saturday, the church scatters—into the marketplace, schools, homes and community—to carry the light. As Jesus’ followers and God’s ambassadors, we bear His light. Jesus’ strategy always involved believers being light...
Please pray with me: Lord, we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of our minds and the longing of our hearts, by the words of my lips and in the thoughts that we form. Speak, O Lord, for your servants listen. Amen. When I was a kid, I remember a time when my mother decided to make up some chocolate nut fudge or something very tasty like that. She had all these wonderful ingredients assembled on her kitchen counter, all these lovely smells wafted around the room, she was busy...
There’s a commercial on television right now that portrays a slightly less creepy than other recent commercials of Matthew McConaughey ice-fishing. (I always thought he was pretty cool, but here recently, his commercials in my opinion have been pretty creepy). He sets everything up and then sits in a fancy SUV until a flag triggers that he’s caught something in the fishing hole he’s drilled. It’s all very different from the way my grandpa used to fish. Grandpa was a man who loved to fish, no matter what...
Hopefully, I’m not the only one who ever does this: I’ll be in the kitchen and decide I need something in my study. It’s maybe, 10-12 steps away. I’m not singularly focused, of course, thinking about all kinds of things.I pick up this piece of mail to take back with me, turn off that light that’s on for no good reason on the way back. No need to waste energy. I step inside my study and stop—and realize I have no idea what I went back there to do. I look around a bit, thinking it will come to me. It doesn’t...
A lot has happened as we’ve worshiped in these past few weeks! Jesus was born in Bethlehem and we were told of his birth by hosts of angels and bright stars. The child and his mother and father were visited by three wise men who brought them gifts. Mary and Joseph and the infant Jesus fled to Egypt in terror of King Herod and his murderous rage. The family settled in Nazareth and Jesus grew up. In the same way that our children’s growing up years seem to speed by...
The painting on the front of our worship folders and on the screen before you is entitled “Holy Family” and was painted by Rembrandt in the 17th century.  It portrays the nativity as if it were taking place during that time period. Mary and Joseph’s clothing and furnishings are what one would find in a typical Dutch home from Rembrandt’s own day. Mary is seated with an open well-thumbed book, presumably the scriptures, held open by her left hand. Her right hand...
It seems as though we ought be able to bask in the wonder of it all for awhile, doesn’t it?  It was only a few days ago, we were singing the carols we love so much: “Silent Night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.”  “O, little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.”  We think of angels and shepherds, of “deep and dreamless sleep, as silent stars go by.” We’ve created in our minds a beautiful setting of a young handsome couple and their perfect child, a crude manger...
Over the past several weeks in worship—and now tonight—we’ve been lighting candles, singing carols, listening to the words and poetry of the prophets, passed down through the ages, preparing ourselves for the birth of Jesus: for the coming of God in the flesh into our lives and our world. It has been a joyful time, a busy time as it always is, as we try to do too much in too short of a time frame. This year I was giving thanks that Thanksgiving was a week later than usual, until...
From the very beginning, from his inception/conception (when he was just a twinkle in his daddy’s eye), Jesus began disordering/disrupting the world. Of course, to begin with, it was a very small piece of the world, but 2 lives that had intended to join together to create a new family were suddenly changed when Mary, and then Joseph, learned that Mary was pregnant. Last week, in the gospel of Luke, we experienced Mary’s response to the...
An angel appears to Mary, telling her that she will give birth to a son.  Initially frightened by the angel’s appearance, he soothes her, telling her not to be afraid, because she has found favor with God. The promise of the angel is that: He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end...
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” I’ve already heard this much-loved Christmas carol played a number of times—along with others—in the stores where I’ve shopped, for several weeks now.  We’ve grown accustomed to Thanksgiving decorations being set up before Halloween, soon followed by the red and green and gold glitters and sparkles of Christmas...
Questions are asked for all kinds of reasons. We might ask a question because we’re curious, we’d like more information, we’d like to get to know someone a little better. Sometimes questions are asked to clarify, to make sure the other person has received the information we’re trying to share, to be sure they understand what we’re saying—like the questions a teacher will...
People in the crowd can see what’s going to happen. They begin to smile in anticipation. Some of the folks in the crowd gently elbow the people on their right and left and whisper, “Wait till you see this!” The rabbi from Nazareth, the traveling preacher, is coming through town on his way to Jerusalem. This rabbi, unlike most of the others, never swallows the truth in order to be polite...
Have you heard the story of the man who came to the gates of heaven to be greeted by Saint Peter? Peter asks the man if he can give a brief history of his life with an emphasis on the good deeds he’s done in order to gain entrance into the kingdom of heaven. “You will need 1000 points to be admitted,” Peter tells the man. “This will be a cinch,” the man thinks to himself...
Mary Ann Cain is one of my favorite people. She is a lay-person, she’s wise, full of vim and vinegar, well-read, and devoted to Christ and His Church.  She was our Director of Adult Ministries or Education or some such title when I served in Elkhart, and she continued to serve until she retired some years after I headed off to a new congregation. I remember in some setting...
The man’s wife had left him. He was completely depressed. He had lost faith in himself, in other people, in God. He found no joy in living. One rainy morning the man went to a small neighborhood restaurant for breakfast. Although several people were at the diner, no one was speaking to anyone else. Our miserable friend hunched over the counter, stirring his coffee...
We’ve been traveling along through the gospel of Luke, and Jesus has been teaching his disciples and others gathered around all along the way. We’re more than halfway through the gospel now, and for we who are reading the written down version, the stories follow one right after the other, and I’m guessing that for the disciples, that’s how it feels to them, as well. As they walk..
Today we hear the story of the rich man and Lazarus, another one of those stories that catches our attention and causes our backbone to stiffen just a bit.  We don’t want to place ourselves in the fine shoes of the rich man, but we know we can’t relate to Lazarus, either, sitting at the rich man’s gate, longing to eat whatever might be left over from his last meal, that will end up...
Here we go again: another installment in what I could have entitled as a sermon series, “What in the world was Jesus thinking?” as he teaches his disciples and the “sinners, tax-collectors and Pharisees” who are gathered within earshot, listening to him. What in the world was Jesus thinking?  What is he wanting to teach us? To cheat? To lie? To mess with...
I read something this week that suggested that one of the reasons Jesus was put to death was to stop all the stories he kept telling! When Jesus told stories, he had this annoying tendency to make the wrong people either the heroes or the bad guys. Two people go up to the temple to pray, one a pious, biblically learned religious leader, the other a compromised, evil collaborator...
Wow!  This is a text that grabs your attention, isn’t it? It starts out telling us that large crowds are traveling with Jesus, but after hearing what he has to say, we can’t help but wonder how quickly some folks might have responded by backing away, not wanting to hear another word! This is another one of those times when our first response is: seriously, Jesus?...
In my experience with Jesus, he’s not one to avoid answering tough questions. We pastors, on the other hand, learn through experience that one ought be cautious in responding to tough questions. “Preacher, what does the Methodist Church have to say about… gambling… the death penalty… euthanasia… human rights… immigration...
There’s a little book written by the late Bishop Rueben P. Job entitled Three Simple Questions: Knowing the God of Love, Hope and Purpose, that I’m guessing some of you studied when it first came out a few years ago.  In the book, Bishop Job reminds us that: God is greater than anything we can comprehend or imagine; Each of us is God’s beloved child, just like every other human being is on God’s good earth; All of us together are God’s family; and...