Written Sermons

  • On its face, the opening story from Luke’s second volume of his masterpiece Luke-Acts seems about as far from the way an average 21 century United Methodist looks at the world as it can be. For starters, God lifts up Jesus and a cloud takes him from their sight. I realize that some churches specialize in speculation about such otherworldly scenes, but generally Methodists do not. We are, if you will pardon the pun, a pretty “down to earth” group of folks. We tend to be practical, pragmatic, and sensible people. Many of us are like Thomas, the apostle from Missouri, who said, “Show me” (John 20:24-29). Read full text here. 

  • Although Mother’s Day is not a day of worship per se, as is Christmas or Easter, it is relevant to the church’s life. What about the origin of Mother’s Day? The earliest celebrations go back to the spring revelry of ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the gods. During the 1600’s, England marked “Mothering Sunday,” which honored England’s mothers. Many of England’s poor worked as servants for the wealthy and lived with their employers. On Mothering Sunday, the servants returned home and spent the day with their mothers.  Read full text here. 

  • Luke tells a great story today. It is about a triple Israel outcast—a foreigner, a Gentile, and a sexually mutilated person—who desired to worship and learn of Yahweh. Philip had been preaching in Samaria as our story opens. Luke tells us the basics of a story about an outcast who is a seeker: the time is noon (alternate translation “toward the south”), the place is an isolated road with a chariot upon it, the key character is an Ethiopian eunuch, the minister (CFO) to the queen, and who was a “God-fearer,” coming home from a worship pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Read the full text here.

  • Let’s explore God’s promise in Jesus as the Good Shepherd. We center on one of Jesus seven “I am” sayings in John’s Gospel. These are Jesus “ego ami” (eimi) sayings. They disclose who John thinks Jesus is and does for believers. Hear the Gospel lesson: 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Read the full text here

  • I heard a scholar say that evangelism is inviting people into stories of God’s promise to the ancestors (Abraham/Sarah, Isaac/Rebekah, Jacob/Rachel), the deliverance from slavery, the gift of the land, and the like. Evangelism also means that as we invite people into the initial stories of faith that these stories become so descriptive for our lives that we abandon and renounce all other stories that shape our lives. In other words, the stories of scripture are the stories that characterize who we are and what values and meaning God’s gift of life has for us. Read full text here. 

  • Dateline: Idaho Falls, Idaho—Dihydrogen monoxide causes thousands of drownings each year, leads to excessive sweating and vomiting, and contributes to land erosion. There’s nothing anyone can do to stop it. Fifteen-year-old Nathan Zohner made people aware of that fact by proving in his science project on critical thinking skills just how vulnerable people are. Media and members of Idaho’s congressional delegation called Nathan to talk about the project that won the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair, the Post Register reported. The project asked fifty ninth graders if we should ban the compound called dihydrogen monoxide. Forty-three said yes. The undecided pupils were six. A single student told Nathan that dihydrogen monoxide is just a chemical name for water. Read full text here.

  • Many people like puzzles—at least to a point. The New York Times Daily Crossword Puzzle is a puzzle that many Americans daily anticipate. Rubik’s cube is a puzzle that has notoriety as well. Yusheng Du (3.47) holds the current World record. He shaved off 0.75 seconds from the previous record set by Feliks Zemdegs (4.22). His record is the one and only sub 4 second solution achieved in competition. Read full text here. 

  • John’s Gospel includes several distinctive features by way of contrast to the Synoptic New Testament Gospels- Matthew, Mark, and Luke. These three Gospels share so much in common that scholars refer to these three as the “Synoptic Gospels”- as seen with “one eye”. Examples of the differences include a one-year time frame for the synoptic account. Yet, John’s story requires three years seen in three different Passovers mentioned in the story. John, in addition, is the only canonical Gospel that refers to Jesus as plainly divine and pre-existing. Read full text here. 

  • Not too many years ago I was in a restaurant in Austin late one evening after having made several hospital calls. I sat at a table and noticed a family of several children sitting at a booth with what appeared to be the children’s parents. As it is with families set in this constellation, the family was loud and having fun. I had pulled out a book while I waited for the server to come and take my order. He first stopped however at this family’s booth to take their order. All seemed to be going well until one of the children, and I judged him to be about 10-12, decided he wanted to order off of “the big people’s menu.”

    Read full text here. 

  • This Marcan text outlines our Palm Sunday procession. The parade is a rich endorsement of Jesus Christ, our Messiah. It also trumpets God’s triumph. Jesus rides into Jerusalem and into our lives as the conquering Lamb. “For he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful” (Revelation 17:14). And . . . at the start of the processional, momentarily we feel called, chosen, and faithful. But those who know the story well remember there is a shadow cast by the hoopla surrounding this parade. It is similar to a long-ago November 1963 parade—John F. Kennedy’s funeral procession. We remember that for all the pageantry of magnificence of that parade, Jesus’ Palm Parade too has its ominous side. Read full text here. 

  • We can ponder a theme fora Christians that we might title “Follow the Leader.” For Lent this could mean that our theme is “where Jesus goes—we go too.” Today our title is “Finding Jesus to Follow . . .” and time figures into today’s lesson. The coming of the Greeks signals that the hour has come for God to glorify Jesus. A biblical scholar puts it: “In true Johannine fashion, the Christian’s hour of glory is identical with the hour of obedience, pain, and servanthood. The old adage has it, ‘No cross, no crown.’ In John, cross and crown are one” (Gerard Sloyan, John: Interpretation Series, John Knox Press, 1988, p. 156). When the Greeks ask to see Jesus, John sets the stage for Jesus’ hour. Read full text here. 

  • When we talk about taking time for the journey we could be speaking about Sabbath Time. Ephesians 2:1-10 instructs that all things are in Christ. We who receive this gift might also need time to delight in it. Imagine God as a parent observing us unwrap Christmas presents. We watched our own small children in that setting too— unwrapping one thing and quickly moving to the next “bright, shiny object.” We watched our children do that. We noted that they didn’t seem too focused on the gifts. “Sabbath Rest” is an occasion to appreciate God in worship and rest from our work. Read full text here. 

  • Our lesson today has become the rallying cry of those who want Americans to return to a clearer cut and simpler grasp of right and wrong. James Madison wrote: “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind of self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” Hear our lesson, Exodus 20:1-17. Read the full text. 

  • Have you ever noticed how far our world will go to escape the realities and difficulties that life has thrust upon us? Here is a 20+ year old news item to ponder: Among tourist-attraction theme parks recently proposed: one modeled after the Berlin Wall (armed guards, re-enacted escape attempts) in Ft. Lauderdale; an amusement park at the $5 billion, never-used Kalkar, Germany, nuclear power plant (with the cooling towers holding up the roller coaster); the Navy Glory Center tribute to the Cold War in Vladivostok, Russia (charging visitors $700 to fire a Soviet missile); and the Billie Sol Estes Museum in Granbury, Texas, featuring papers and artifacts of the notorious fertilizer-tank swindler of the 1960s. Read the full text

  • Someone once told me that if you confessed Christ and joined the church, then your troubles would be over. Has anyone ever said anything like that to you? Once, in the De Leon hospital a nurse approached. She asked about an eighty-five-year-old retired pastor with health problems. His doctor always admitted him to our nearby De Leon Hospital. He regularly came to the hospital as he was in pitiful shape. Read the full text here. 

  • We complete Epiphany on Transfiguration Sunday. Today’s Gospel lesson recounts Jesus’ transfiguration as recounted by Mark’s terse, but potent description. The lesson from 2 Kings conveys Elijah’s translation into heaven. Elijah also places his prophetic mantle upon his successor, Elisha. This text appears today because Elijah plays a role in Jesus’ transfiguration. Also, leadership transitions always challenge the church. Thus, stewards who manage a household of leadership might pay attention to the leadership transition written about here. Read the full text

  • “I have become all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:22). Perhaps it is a cliché, but unsuccessful people, those who fall short in their chosen profession, commonly fail because they don’t get along with other people. Adults and even children struggle with “getting along with others.” I had a pastor friend, who once got a note in her church’s collection plate. A youngster had scrawled this question: “Do you believe in the Devil? I think he may be in my class at school.” On my own grade school report cards, there was in fact a category labeled “getting along with others.” Few people can succeed with others if they are hard to get along with. Read the full text.

  • Some New Testament moral issues seem terribly irrelevant today. These ethical topics do not seemingly impact our burning modern church problems. Even talk about these issues looks like a deflecting tactic. Why deal with inconsequential sin as Rome burns? Eating food linked to pagan cultic worship looks like a trivial matter easily avoided—until we recognize that we can learn much about dealing with church conflict, about honest differences we have as Christians, and the dire matter of individualism versus community. Read the full text. 

  • Dr. Mosser's Sermon - 01/24/2021

    A rabbi who lived in a small Russian town at the turn of the 20th century had long been pondering the deepest religious questions. After twenty years of contemplation, he finally concluded that when he got right down to it, he just didn’t know. Shortly after reaching this conclusion, he was walking across the Village Square toward the synagogue to pray. A Cossack, a local czarist cop, was in a mood to harass the rabbi. “Hey rabbi, where do you think you are going?” The rabbi answered, “I don’t know.” This response thoroughly infuriated the Cossack constable. Read the full text.

  • Plainly, there is too much for us to mine from a lesson as rich as this one. So, in order to examine this story, I ask that we mainly focus on two phrases: “Come and see” and “Where did you get to know me?” The first phrase occurs as Jesus comes to Galilee. Seeing Philip, Jesus invites him to “follow me.” Philip then finds Nathanael and tells him that he located the long-awaited Messiah, promised by both the law and the prophets. The Messiah comes from Nazareth—Nazareth, is the Gospel’s version of our Waxahachie. In other words, Nathanael’s asks: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth (or Waxahachie)?” Read the full text. 

  • Today is the Baptism of the Lord Sunday—a day when the church thinks about baptism and its meaning. Plainly, baptism is a divisive issue that modern churches discuss—even here in Salado. The dispute is as old as denominations. Baptism is supposed to make us “brothers/sisters” in faith, as when we say “Brother Jimmy” or “Sister Gaye.” Yet, we know people are overly zealous in their understanding and interpretation of baptism. They appointed themselves as the “baptism police.” Their so-called spiritual gift is to tell others whether or not their baptism is valid. Regrettably, this situation has been with us for years. Read the full text. 

  • 1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: Read the full text.