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First United Methodist Church
Plymouth, Indiana

Sermons and Messages

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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...
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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...
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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...

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There are times when we’re weary… When the road has been long.  Uphill, it seems. When the best we can do is pick up one foot after the other. When grand thoughts are beyond us.  When the simple task of focusing on our feet and the trail ahead is enough for now; the best we can do. When we realize that it’s time to sit at the well…
Each of us has been lost at some point in our life—unless you’re a guy and we’re talking specifically about driving.  Then you just call it taking the scenic route. If I were to ask you to think about a time when you were lost, or when someone else was lost, you might point to that time when you made the wrong turn...
Psalm 51 is one of the traditional texts lifted up on Ash Wednesday, as King David admits and laments his sinfulness and asks God for cleansing and pardon, following his pursuit of Bathsheba, and ultimately killing her husband to cover up what he’s done. David begins by pleading, “Have mercy on me, O God...
Today marks the beginning of the season of Lent. During the next 40 days, which does not count Sundays, we’ll be preparing ourselves for Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. During this time, we’ll be walking toward Jerusalem, the place where Jesus will give himself up for us. There are different ways...
Raphael’s painting of the Transfiguration reveals the two interconnected, sometimes conflicting, and very real spheres of our lives as followers of Jesus Christ. There’s the divine, the holy, the blessed, the inspiring moments when we can see Jesus, when we hear God’s voice, when there can be no other response but...
This morning’s scripture begins with Jesus coming down from a mountain where he’s been in prayer all night. He’s recently called his disciples to join in ministry with him, and in the paragraph immediately preceding this morning’s text, his disciples are all named, and we’re told he calls them apostles. Jesus has been preaching...
Sometimes it happens.  You don’t ask for it, you don’t plan for it, you don’t expect it. It may happen in the midst of something pretty ordinary. You experience it in a new way, hear it in a new way, believe in a new way.  And you walk away changed. That’s what happened to Isaiah. It happened the year King Uzziah died...
Sometimes we misunderstand.  We get things wrong. We mishear, we misread, we miss the inflection behind the voice, behind the words. Perhaps we'll receive an email or a text message that is puzzling to us. A friend or relative or coworker sends a few sentences off to us with a twinkle in their eye and the hint of a smile but...
They had traveled a great distance, seeking, searching. They were star-gazers; not men of faith, but men of science. Those two things are not mutually exclusive, mind you, but these men had come because they had seen something in the sky that had captured their attention so completely that they left everything behind to come and see...
The news of Mary's pregnancy had to have set off a minor scandal.  It nearly leads to the breakup of her relationship with Joseph.  Even worse, In Mary's world, an unmarried woman found to be pregnant could have been executed by stoning at the entrance of her father's house (Deut. 22). Under these circumstances...
It’s the Third Sunday of Advent, 9 days till Christmas, and you’d think we’d be sitting on top of the world.  Feeling good. Excited.  Ready! Some of us are, but a whole lot of us, aren’t. When I was a little kid, getting ready for Christmas was a whole lot different than it is now.  I had shopping to do.  Every Christmas Eve, I’d go to...
A voice is heard, crying out in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight… It's a voice that perhaps you can hear off in the distance as you make your way through the crowds in the stores. Maybe you can hear it as you set up your Christmas decorations, or as you think through your "to do" list, as you listen to the radio...
I know. We were looking forward to moving out of the series we've been working through and doing something different. The season of Advent seemed to be just the right thing! Preparing for the coming of Jesus…scriptural texts that calm our minds and soothe our souls. We can't help but think of Christmas...
Since September, we've been talking on Sunday mornings about what it means to be a missional church. The purpose of reading through and talking about Shaped by God's Heart hasn't been to "fix" us; it's been to help us see a little further out, and to help us think about how we might more effectively reach out...
So often we lose track of what's of ultimate importance. We get distracted with "real life" and "real needs." These "distractions" aren't insignificant. We have to deal with them. There are bills to be paid. We can be so careful, and then something unexpected happens, and there you go! You've gotta figure it out...
This morning we are looking at Mission Practice Number 8, from Milfred Minatrea's Shaped by God's Heart: The Passion and Practices of Missional Churches. That practice tells us that we are to Measure Growth by Capacity to Release, not Retain. As a parent of 3 children...
Some of you may remember that moment in the movie "City Slickers" when the old cowboy (played by Jack Palance) tells the visitor from New York City (played by Billy Crystal), "you've got to know the one thing." "What is that?" the young city slicker asks. "Oh," Curly says, "that's for you to find out." We all need to figure out what our life is all about...
This morning our worship order is different than usual, because the message has been divided into several sections. As we continue through our series on Shaped by God’s Heart: The Passion and Practices of Missional Churches, we are talking today about Missional Practice # 4: Rewrite worship every week. The purpose of the order...
I've had two really good friends over the years who have been quilters. I used to sew, but now I only sew to mend. But at one time, I thought I’d like to quilt. Both friends said they'd teach me. Carol and I went out and we both bought the things we needed for each of us to make a simple Christmas quilt to hang on our walls. It was a good first project...
Somewhere along the way, you wanted to fit in, but you weren't sure you did. You didn't want to stray too far away from the dress code, the hair length or style of the day, or the words you chose to use. You wanted to be sure you used your very best manners. You went home that night and realized that your face muscles hurt because you had pasted on that smile...
Doesn't every fisherman have some kind of a story, about the one that got away? Or, I 'caught one "this big."' Well, today's scripture is a pretty good fishing story. It's about some ordinary, everyday guys who catch more fish than they would ever have imagined, and then make the decision to give up this life they know to follow...
How would you define church? Some of us would describe a physical place. We could say it's a brick and mortar building where we come to worship God. We might describe this downtown building of ours, or we might think of those beautiful little churches in the countryside or in the hills that we see...
It all begins with the recognition of how blessed we are. We are so incredibly blessed. I am so incredibly blessed. The knowledge of that doesn't come to my awareness often enough. I take too much for granted. From the beauty of creation around me…my family, my friends, all who love me...
Scott's father was born on leap day, February 29, 1920. We only have a leap day every 4 years, so although Dad was on this earth for 93 years, he only had 23 birthdays. It was fun when he and our middle son celebrated their 21st birthdays in the same year. They kept saying they were going to go out...