When I say the words “9/11”, “The Shootings in Orlando”, “Mother Immanuel Church in Charleston”, or “ISIS”, what images come to mind? We live in an age of fear. And yet, fear in the world is nothing new. It’s been around since the dawn of time, and it was very evident when Jesus walked the earth 2000 years ago. However, something else caused fear to grip the followers of Jesus that first Easter. A different kind of fear that seized their hearts. Our text tells us that they were trembling and bewildered at the report of the angel, and they fled from the tomb because they were afraid. What was this fear all about?
This Lenten season our sermon series is “Practices for the Journey.” But before we talk about practices, we need to be clear on what journey we are on. Our journey is to follow Jesus and become like Jesus (the first disciples are our example). Lent is a special season in the church year in which we engage in ordinary practices, individual and communal, inward and outward, that help us follow Jesus. Like the first disciples though, we are not only following Jesus, but Jesus is our companion in the journey through the Holy Spirit. This gives us confidence and hope as we step forward in the journey. Our Practices for the Journey Lenten devotional booklet is available online or at the Welcome Desks. Practices for the Journey Devotion Booklet
Tough Questions sermon series runs from January 8 – February 22. We’re going to look at the hard questions of faith like Does God exist? Is the Bible reliable? Is Jesus who He claimed to be, and is He the only way? Why is there suffering and pain in the world? There are two reasons that this study is important. The first reason is because in 1 Peter 3:15 we are instructed in Scripture, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” But there is a second reason that is equally important and essential for us to grapple with hard questions in our church. Because anyone who is a skeptic or who struggles with doubt are welcome here. At First Pres we want people to know that our church is a safe place to wrestle with doubts and matters of faith, and we’re not afraid to grapple with the tough questions in life. You might consider inviting your friends and co-workers or family members who are struggling with Christianity to come and listen to some of these sermons. It will provide a good space for you to have honest conversation with them about what you believe and why you believe it.
The Moods of Christmas sermon series runs from November 27-December 25, 2016. As we prepare to celebrate the wonder and excitement of the birth of Jesus, we will explore the different moods we may experience during this season of Advent. We pray that our hearts would be open to the Lord’s prompting and how He wants to shape us into His image this season.
Our current sermon series, Lord, Teach Us To Pray, runs September 11 – November 13, 2016. In this series we will be exploring The Lord’s Prayer. The prayer only consists of 52 words and it can be said in less than a minute. But despite its brevity, this prayer has been proven to be a great benefit to millions of people through the last 20 centuries. This fall we will spend time studying each phrase of the prayer and look at them in depth.
A Faithful God For A Fallen People| June 5-September 4
A Faithful God for a Fallen People, runs June 5 – September 4, 2016. In this series we explore the book of Genesis and we’ll study the lives of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. Many people think that the Bible is filled with stories of people who were spiritual giants and had it all together spiritually. However, as we shall see in our study this summer, the people in the Bible who followed God in the past were folks who were just like you and me – individuals who were filled with strengths and weaknesses, and people who sometimes got it right but often missed the mark and messed things up in profound and damaging ways. Through it all God was faithful in calling to Himself a people who would one day be a blessing to the whole world and through whom He would eventually send the Messiah – Jesus.
Faith That Works, runs April 3 – May 29, 2016. In this series we will be exploring the book of James and faith and works. Many people think that the apostle Paul and the apostle James were at odds with each other when it comes to faith and works. Paul says that salvation comes from faith alone, and it isn’t the result of works (Ephesians 2:8,9). But James says that if you have faith without works, your faith is dead (James 2:26). So who is right? The answer is, both are. For faith to work, it has to be a working faith. As Jesus said, “you know a tree by its fruit. A good tree will produce good fruit” (Luke 6:43-44).
In this series we’ll explore some of the key texts from the Passion Narrative in the Gospels related to Jesus’ journey to the cross and culminating with our celebration of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. The reason the sermon series is titled this way is because we believe that the miracle of the Incarnation, and especially the events that took place the last week of Jesus’ life including His resurrection, split history in two. Even our calendars mark these event – B.C. (Before Christ, or Before the Common Era) and A.D. (In the Year of our Lord, referring the years of history after Jesus was born).Most people don’t realize that things we now take for granted, like education and health care, were reserved for the wealthy elite in the ancient world until Christians insisted on providing them for everyone. Christianity has produced the most creative reform movement in the history of the world which has impacted things like disease, poverty, racism, education, slavery, incarceration, and care for the dying. The impact Jesus has had on the world is unparalleled.We hope you will join us in making this journey through the rest of Lent as we celebrate our hope in Christ who gave His all as a sacrifice of love and provides our ultimate hope – in this world and the next.
Becoming the Church Jesus Longs For| January 3 – March 6
Jerry Sittser has written that “when the church is functioning at its best, there is simply no community on earth that can rival it.” But he also writes, “…when the church is functioning at its worst, there is no community on earth that can do as much damage. History itself proves the point.” What would it take for First Pres to become more like the caring community that Jesus longs for? John 15:9-17 includes Jesus’s directive to his disciples, to “love each other as I have loved you.” We will explore this commandment, how we can truly love one another, and what that looks like for our church community.We also have a small group/individual study based on Jerry Sittser’s book, “Love One Another:Becoming the Church Jesus Longs For”. Books will be available for purchase at the Welcome Desks or from Amazon. You may find the Study Guide Schedule here.
In the season of Advent, we remember the promises God has made and we wait with anticipation for the coming of the Messiah. We celebrate Jesus, the fulfillment of God’s promises and who He is; Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
Most of us aren’t satisfied with our lives, and we lack contentment. God calls us to a life of contentment, which seems to be so elusive. How can we find contentment in life when everyone and everything around us says we need to do more, buy more, and become more? When is what we have enough?
We are a spiritual family on mission sent by God to be the hands, feet, and voice of Jesus. This sermon series explores our new mission statement as we invite all people to say “yes!” to Jesus with their whole lives and our core values: A Family on Mission… to Encounter Jesus, Experience Grace, Grapple with Scripture, Serve our Neighbors, and Invest in the Future Church… all for the Glory of God.
The movement of the Spirit in the early church is nothing less than the unfolding of God’s mysterious plan since the founding of the world to draw all people to say Yes to him. And this movement will never be hindered, because God’s salvation is deeper than hardness of human hearts.