August 12: The Bread of Life, John 6:35, 41-51, Brad Clayton
The Gospel of John is full of "I am" statements. Jesus describes Himself several times saying, "I am the Good Shepherd," "I am the vine," "I am the way, the truth and the life." In this passage, Jesus tells the disciples that He is the bread of life. Jesus is the source of life that nourishes us, sustains us, and saves us. When we share the bread and the cup of communion, we remember not only the death of Jesus on the cross, but also that Jesus is our source of life.
New Sermon Series: Sing a New Song
Psalm 96:1 says, "Sing a new song to the Lord. Sing to the Lord, all the earth.”
August 19: What Lies Ahead, Philippians 3:5-16, Brad Clayton
Hymn No. 853: We Are Marching in the Light of God
Paul tells the Philippians that all of the awards and accolades of his life do not compare to the grace of God. He does not rest comfortably on his reputation or on what he has accomplished, but he looks to the future, always putting his hope in the grace of God. We are called to press forward together, so that our past informs us, but does not hinder us as we seek to be reformed in God's image every single day.
August 26: Lay Down Your Burdens, Psalm 55:17-22, Galatians 6:1-6, Brad Clayton
Hymn No. 851: Come Bring Your Burdens to God
Presbyterians offer a confession of sin each week. This is not unique to our denomination. In fact, Catholics are encouraged to offer confessions individually to their priests. We confess both personally and corporately, admitting that we make mistakes as individuals, but we also fall short of God's will for the world together as a community. Many other churches have stopped this corporate confession in worship because it puts too much focus on our faults and our guilt. But as disciples, we offer our burdens to God so that we may focus on God's healing.
September 2: Sing Praise, Psalm 61, Brad Clayton
Hymn No. 614: Great Are You Lord
We have many reasons to praise God. We offer our praise to God because God is our Lord, because God is the creator and author of everything around us. But there are many times when we are in need, when the world does not seem to make sense, and we do not feel like offering our praise. In Psalm 61, King David confesses his heart is weak and that he is in need of shelter, but he still ends the psalm promising to praise God always, and so we should do the same. When life is difficult, we still are called to praise. When our prayers are not answered as we like, we are still called to praise. When we are in need, God still deserves our praise. Praise can be a joy, and it can also take discipline, but it always turns our focus to God instead of ourselves.
September 9: Abide With Me, 1 John 2:1-6, Brad Clayton
Hymn No. 775: I Want Jesus to Walk with Me
Abraham Lincoln was once asked during the Civil War if he believed God was on his side. He responded, "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on my side, but whether I am on God's side." So often we pray that God will be with us, helping us with challenges, healing us when we are sick. But when we pray for God to be with us, we must also accept the challenge to try to live our lives by God's side, following God's will rather than our own.
September 16: A Diving Reflection, Genesis 1:26-31, Brad Clayton
Hymn No. 760: Bring Many Names
In our mind we often imagine a God that is old and gray . . . a grandfather or possibly a grandmother who has been here caring for us since the beginning of time. Our scripture and our new hymn today call us to look for God in many different places. If we are all made in God's image, then we should be able to recognize God all around us.
September 23: Send Me, Isaiah 6, Brad Clayton
Hymn No. 746: Send Me, Jesus!
In our prayers, in our hopes we often ask for God's help, for God to help others, to solve problems, to send miracles. In our passage from Isaiah and in our hymn, we pray a different prayer. We pray that God will send each of us. Send me to the world to serve. Send me to the world to help. Send me to the world to inspire. Send me to shine God's light. Sometimes God answers our prayers by sending us into the world to answer the prayers of others.