“Old Testament Women of the Bible: Esther”/9/30/18/Esther 1:1-4, 7:1-20, 9:20a, 21, 22; James 5:13-16, 19-20/Rev. Laurie Williams
As most of you know, my past three sermons are a part of a series about Old Testament women. To this point, I have been rescuing them from the bad rap they have received by some biblical scholars and commentators down through the ages. We have heard of Eve, Sarah and Hagar, and Tamar. Today I will jump way ahead in scripture and talk about Esther as it is also in the Revised Common Lectionary for this Sunday. While there are no known documents of a historical nature concerning Esther, she is very important to the Jewish faith story and consequently our faith too. This story tells of the salvation of the Jewish people, residing as refugees in Persia, from certain death. The King in the story is Ahasuerus. His Persian name was thought to be Xerxes who reigned from 479 to 465 B.C. […]
This coming Sunday, September 30, at the 10:30 worship service both puppet teams will perform the popular Christian song, "I Can Only Imagine." You will want to be here and hear/see them!
“In Praise of Romantic Love”/Song of Songs 2:8-13, 8:6-7; Genesis 2: 18-24; Mark 10:6-9/ Rev. Rodger Allen/9-23-2018
The “Song of Songs,” also known as the “Song of Solomon,” has not had an easy time of it, as far as books of the Bible go. Whether or not it should be included in the Bible at all was more than once a matter of heated debate as the contents of the canon were being selected, and in fact it may have only squeaked in due to its already-established popularity among the people of Israel. We can easily imagine why some early Christian leaders raised questions about the Song. Picture a group of the early “Christian fathers”, in the third or fourth century or so, still making decisions about what’s right and wrong for their young church, having recently decided to make their stand on the belief that celibacy is the most desirable lifestyle for Christians when it comes to questions of male/female relationships. Oh, it’s okay to be married if you must, they have allowed, but the ideal to aspire to if possible is a life without physical intimacy, without desire, without involvement with the opposite sex. Priests, for example, are to be unmarried and celibate, as will also be monks and nuns. Intimacy is regarded at best as a necessary evil, and at worst as nothing more than a temptation, a sin, a failure. The ideal life, they have decided, is one without physical intimacy; that’s what God considers best. […]
There’s a story that most preachers have heard many times, and many of you may have heard too; one version goes like this: The brand new preacher was fresh out of school and beginning at her first congregation; she was enthusiastic and excited, and so was the church. Her first sermon was about the millions of people around the world who don’t know Jesus, who follow other religions or no religion, and wouldn’t their lives be better if they faithfully followed Christ. At the end of the service her church members were elated; they surrounded her, shook her hand, and hugged her, saying “What a fine preacher; what a great future we have.” Her second sermon referred to the millions of people in this country who are not people of faith, or who don’t know Jesus; wouldn’t their lives be better if they faithfully followed Christ. “Oh, what a fine preacher,” she heard afterward; “what a great future we have.” In her third sermon she commented on how some Christians of the past, or even in other churches today, have gotten some things wrong in their discipleship – the murderous Crusades of Europe, excesses of the 16th century Catholic Church, extremists who get a bit off-track; wouldn’t their lives be better if they faithfully followed Christ. “What a fine preacher; what a great future we have.” […]