Central Presbyterian Church

Massillon, Ohio

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"The Best Blind Date"

Selections from John 1

1 John 1: 1-4

What comes to your mind when you hear those two words:  blind date?  For most of us, either

 delight or disaster…..more often than not, the latter.

      When I was in college, my roommate Fritz set me up on a blind date with a friend of his girlfriend

from back home.  It was just before Christmas break.  The Geneva College Player’s Guild  was performing

“A Christmas Carol” at the Bagpipe Theater.  So we bought our advanced tickets a week

ahead of time, and I began the process of grilling Fritz about this young lady named Kathy.  I must

confess, my first question wasn’t “Does she have a nice personality?”  Instead, I wanted to know

about her eye and hair color; her complexion; the lines and curves of her face….. and the lines and

curves elsewhere; you know, all the really important stuff.  By the time Friday rolled around, I had

formed in my mind what I thought was a very clear picture of this Kathy I was soon to meet vis-a-vis. 

I almost felt like I already knew her.  But alas, when we met the girls in the lobby of Memorial Hall,

boy was I surprised.  Kathy was nothing like I had pictured her!  And as it turned out, I was nothing

like she had pictured me.  That being said, I’ll leave it a mystery as to whether that blind date was a

delight or a disaster.

"The Cards of Christmas"

Isaiah 2:1-5

Luke 2:1-14

Introduction: a Christmas card is enclosed in each bulletin.  Ask congregation that as

they listen to the Scripture lesson, consider how their particular card reflects anything

within that story of the birth of Jesus…..or not.

(Read Luke 2:1-14)        

      I’d like to ask for a show of hands.  How many of us still send Christmas cards the old-fashioned way;

you know, using the sign, seal and stamp method?  These days, it seems more and more of us – espe-

ially of the younger set – send Christmas cards online.  Vale and I still mail out Christmas cards like the

dinosaurs we’re becoming.  But with the passing of so many older relatives and friends, our Christmas

card list is way shorter than it was in the early years of our marriage. Instead of a hundred or more, we

now send a couple dozen.  In turn, we receive far fewer Christmas cards these days. We do get a few

online. 

"Gratitude Attitude Adjustment"

Exodus 16: 1-3

Philippians 2: 14-18

      In just a few days, we’ll be celebrating as a nation yet another Thanksgiving.  It affords most of us

a day off work, and some of us a four-day weekend.  We’ll gather at table with family and friends on

Thursday, enjoying our Thanksgiving Day favorites.  After dinner, the men folk will fall asleep in front

of the TV watching the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears.  While the men sleep, the women folk will

develop some Black Friday shopping strategies.  All that is groovy!  But frankly, those are the superficialities of the day. 

The true purpose of Thanksgiving Day – and our response on Thanksgiving Day -- is to do what?  To give thanks!

 Of course!  How precisely do you and your family do that? 

"Motivation"

Joel 2:23-32

Luke 18:9-14

"Wouldn't That Be Wonderful"

1 Corinthians 1: 10-17

Psalm 133

      Early in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he makes an appeal to that congregation “…that

all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in

the same mind and the same purpose.”  Wouldn’t that be wonderful, that all Christians would

come together and land on the same page; maybe the page that says in Jesus’ own words:  “I

give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also

should love one another.”  Wouldn’t that be wonderful!

"Finally Got a Piece of the Rock"

Isaiah 51:1-3

Matthew 16:13-20

This morning’s sermon title is “Finally Got a Piece of the Rock.”  What image comes to your

mind when you hear those words?.... No, it shouldn’t be the theme song from a sitcom called

“The Jeffersons.”  That was: “Movin’ on up to the East Side; we finally got a piece of the pie.”

Some of us may not be old enough to remember those TV commercials for Prudential Insurance

which featured an image of the Rock of Gibralter dubbed over with a deep masculine voice

stating:  “See your Prudential agent for all your insurance needs, and get a piece of the rock.”

Today’s message has nothing to do with your insurance needs, but has everything to do with a

piece of the rock.

"A Church Taboo"

Philippians 4: 10-14

Psalm 145: 10-21

There are some things we tend to be reluctant to talk about in church.  One of those things is

giving money to the church.  That’s a private matter; a personal matter; a matter fundamentally between

us and the Lord.  My parents never told me how much they gave to Mt. Calvary.  I do

remember that mysterious box of envelopes always sitting in the same spot on the desk where my

mom used to pay bills.  And I remember my mother faithfully taking one of those envelopes to

church each and every Sunday.  What I also recall are those occasions when we’d get home after

church, sit down for lunch, and my dad grousing, “Rev. so and so, asking for money, again.”  Money

is one of those somewhat taboo issues which we know is of vital importance in the Christian life,

and to the work of the Christian church.  But when it’s time to talk about money in church, the facial

expressions of finance committee members can grow grim.  Preachers tend to become apologetic. 

Church treasurers begin to sweat.  Church members may become tense and restless.

“DON’T BE A TESTA DURO”

Text:  Luke 5:27-32

         Psalm 103:1-5

      This morning, we join Jesus early in His ministry as He’s in the process of calling those who would

become His inner-circle of disciples.  The first days of Jesus’ ministry were marked by growing, if not

explosive popularity, with the exception of the incident at the synagogue in His hometown of Naza-

reth, when they were ready to throw Him off a cliff when he dared suggest He was fulfilling Jewish

prophecy.  By and large, His early reception was akin to the initial months of a new pastorate in a new

town.  Everyone says, “You should meet our new pastor.  She’s awesome!  What a sermon she

preached a few weeks ago on the second coming.  And the baptism she did last week.  She had half the

congregation in tears.”  So it was with Jesus. 

"Eden Among US"

Genesis 2: 4-23

Revelation 22: 1-6

"Connected"

Text: John 15:1-11

        Psalm 133

      It occurs to me that what we consider one of the greatest advancements of human civilization

may, in time, be regarded as one of human civilization’s greatest ironies, and greatest pitfalls.  We

live in an era in which the technology of internet, cyberspace, social media have made communi-

cation and exchange of information lightning fast; widespread, bridging every nation on earth; as

if we’re in one another’s living rooms.  What comes forth from my mouth (or from my fingers) can

be in the ear (or on the screen) of anyone on earth within seconds.  That quickly, I can spread a

good word, or a word that’s not so good.  This is a technology which was only a dream in the

minds of NASA scientists a few generations ago.  Now it’s a reality in the hands of just about

every man, woman and child on this globe. 

Central Presbyterian Church

47 Second Street NE
Massillon, Ohio 44646

Telephone: 330-832-7455
Fax: 330-832-7102