• Start Here and Now, Old First Sermon 09.08.13

    Deuteronomy 30:15-20 and Luke 14:25-33 Our Scripture lessons today are both a bit stringent. In our Deuteronomy passage, Moses finishes his sermonizing to the people of Israel on the plains of Moab before they enter into the Promised Land. He has reheated and served up the Law to the people again, and he’s hardly mincing [...]

  • Meet Over Eat, Old First Sermon 07.21.13

    Somewhere in that space between us
    as we open ourselves to one another,
    – in that space that can be even as small as
    the distance we left between ourselves at our first junior high school dance –
    there, in that infinitesimal space,
    we also begin to become more present to God.

  • What If There’s a New Victim Every Time You Pass… Old First Sermon: 07.14.13

    Colossians 1:1-14 and Luke 10:25-37 The “Parable of the Good Samaritan” is one of the most well known, beloved, and influential stories in the New Testament. So much so, it’s taken on in our western culture a life of its own, quite independent of the specific religious tradition that it springs from. A striking narrative [...]

  • “Let the Mint Be the Mint,” a charge to how we are to be

    (At Michael’s installation on Sunday, June 23, the Rev. John D. Vertigan, the Conference Minister of the Indiana Kentucky Conference, gave Michael this charge. By implication, it extends to Old First as a whole…) I like that we are sitting here in historic Philadephia right next door to the US Mint. My sources tell me [...]

  • To Get Out of Solitary, Old First Sermon 05.12.13

    Acts 16: 16-26 and Acts 16:27-34 In last Sunday’s sermon, speaking about Paul’s missionary journey to Macedonia, I said: “God’s counting on us because we’re Christians to go places we can’t foresee, to speak with someone who we aren’t sure of and we certainly don’t really know, to say or do God knows what in [...]

  • What We Offer, Old First Sermon 05.05.13

    Psalm 67 and Acts 16:9-15 I love our passage from Acts. A dream. A trip and a task. A series of surprising twists and turns. And success that’s clearly not Paul and Silas and Timothy’s, but God’s… Let me start by asking, If someone asked after your Christian faith because they were in need of [...]

  • Too Sacred to Hold God Back, Old First Sermon 04.28.13

    Acts: 11:1-18 It’s an odd episode the lectionary serves up for a Sunday of the baptism of one of the newest daughters of our congregation. It’s not one of the very well known stories of the Bible, but I hope Jill and Greg will over the years teach it to Sonja. Not just to know [...]

  • Do We Persecute Jesus?, Old First Sermon, 04.14.13.

    (Michael preached a “conversational sermon” on Sunday, April 14, as he did as well on Christmas Eve. More off the cuff and story telling, from the front of the sanctuary, rather than the pulpit, and without a text… As we don’t currently have the capability to tape sermons, instead, he offers a brief summary.) Psalm [...]

  • Easter for Doubters (or Leaders for a Rising Future), Old First Sermon 04.07.13

    Revelation 1:4-8 and John 20:19-31 When I came up with the sermon title, I was only far enough along with the sermon to think of “Easter for Doubters.” Now finished, it could also be titled “Leaders for a Rising Future.” If Peter, in the pre-Easter narrative of Jesus and his closest cadre, is not quite [...]

  • Love at Large, Old First Easter Sermon 03.31.13

    Isaiah 25:6-9 and Mark 16:1-8. Without Easter, it can be said, we wouldn’t know about Jesus. I could mean without the resurrection, we wouldn’t really know him fully. But I’m speaking even more basically– if his story had ended with his crucifixion, he would have been forgotten. A religious reformer, trying to make the outward [...]