Apr 14, 2019
The Thief and the Garden

April 14, 2019 The Thief and the Garden

With prayer and fasting, this Sunday we will begin the observance of the the most significant week in human history. Holy Week includes the celebration of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem; his last supper with his disciples; his arrest in the garden and trial; his suffering on the cross for the sins of the world; and the day known as Good Friday when Christ dies and those who trust in him receive redemption for their sins.

The week ends with Jesus in a tomb closely guarded by Roman soldiers. The only question that remains is: Can the chains of death hold Jesus back from fulfilling his promise to defeat death and rise on the third day?

I hope and pray we'll see you on Holy Thursday and Good Friday in the VUMC sanctuary and on April 21st - Easter Sunday - when we will cry out together, "Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!"

Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

Luke 23:32-43

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  • Apr 14, 2019The Thief and the Garden
    Apr 14, 2019
    The Thief and the Garden

    April 14, 2019 The Thief and the Garden

    With prayer and fasting, this Sunday we will begin the observance of the the most significant week in human history. Holy Week includes the celebration of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem; his last supper with his disciples; his arrest in the garden and trial; his suffering on the cross for the sins of the world; and the day known as Good Friday when Christ dies and those who trust in him receive redemption for their sins.

    The week ends with Jesus in a tomb closely guarded by Roman soldiers. The only question that remains is: Can the chains of death hold Jesus back from fulfilling his promise to defeat death and rise on the third day?

    I hope and pray we'll see you on Holy Thursday and Good Friday in the VUMC sanctuary and on April 21st - Easter Sunday - when we will cry out together, "Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!"

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    Luke 23:32-43

  • Apr 7, 2019Ruth and Naomi: Unfamily Becomes Family
    Apr 7, 2019
    Ruth and Naomi: Unfamily Becomes Family
    Series: Redemption

    April 7, 2019 Ruth and Naomi: The Unfamily Becomes Family

    Have you noticed how many of our church members are care-givers? Mothers and grand-mothers taking care of children. Nieces caring for aunts. Wives taking care of husbands (and husbands caring for their wives). Children caring for their aging parents. And people caring for folks outside of their natural family, because of their love and concern.

    While in the middle of the last century our society focused on the "nuclear family," most families today extend well beyond the classic 1950's ideal of two parents and three children. This is the situation we find in the story of Ruth and Naomi in the Old Testament book of Ruth.

    Ruth, despite famine and poverty and the loss of her husband, refuses to leave her widowed mother-in-law Naomi. In one of the Bible's most familiar and moving passages, Ruth tells Naomi, "Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die - there will I be buried." Ruth becomes an eternal symbol of abiding loyalty and devotion and our example this Sunday of God's redeeming love for the world.

    May God watch over our care-givers - and may no one in our community live a moment without knowing that someone cares for them.

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    Ruth 4:13-17

  • Mar 31, 2019Redemption – Out of Egypt
    Mar 31, 2019
    Redemption – Out of Egypt

    March 31, 2019 Out of Egypt

    Our Lenten sermon series on "Redemption" continues this Sunday as we open the book of Exodus to witness the redeeming grace of God as he frees the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt. That same grace is at work in our world today, redeeming you and me and all who place their faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation.

    Looking forward to being together in fellowship and worship this weekend and beyond!

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    Exodus 12:21-30

  • Mar 24, 2019The Rescue
    Mar 24, 2019
    The Rescue

    March 24, 2019 The Rescue

    Come this Sunday as we continue our Lenten sermon series on "Redemption."

    Looking forward to being together in worship!

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    Romans 5:6-11

  • Mar 17, 2019The Prodigal Father
    Mar 17, 2019
    The Prodigal Father

    March 17, 2019 The Prodigal Father

    How great is God's love! In Luke 15, Jesus describes His Father's love in three successive parables. In the first, a shepherd finds his lost sheep and throws a party.In the second, a woman finds her lost coin and throws a party. In the third, a father's lost and wandering fun returns home and THE FATHER THROWS A PARTY!

    If Luke 15 is accurate, then heaven must be a continual party where angels rejoice when a sinner repents and God the Father rejoices when the lost are found.

    Come this Sunday as we continue our Lenten sermon series on "Redemption" with the familiar story of "The Prodigal Son" from Luke 15. [Did you know that the word prodigal does not mean lost or wandering. It means "wasteful extravagance."] While the common title to this story puts the emphasis on the younger son, there is another way of hearing the story that puts the focus on the father. That will be our focus this Sunday.

    Looking forward to being together in worship!

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    Luke 15:11-32

  • Mar 10, 2019A Strange Romance
    Mar 10, 2019
    A Strange Romance

    March 10, 2019 A Strange Romance

    How great is God's love! So great that He did not leave us in our sins. So great that his only begotten Son died for our sins. So great that his saving grace and not our works remain the only condition for our salvation.

    Come this Sunday as we begin our Lenten sermon series on "Redemption" with a great and moving story of love from the book of Hosea. Hear how Hosea obeyed God and married a prostitute, Gomer. How their marriage lived out the same cycle of repentance, redemption, and restoration that we witness in our own relationship with God. How God is faithful in his love. And how his judgment of our sins is for one purpose - to restore us to a right relationship with him.

    Brothers and sisters, our world may seem broken beyond repair, but we have a great God who can heal every hurt and wound and redeem our very souls. Let's rejoice in his love this Sunday!

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    Hosea 3:1-5

  • Mar 3, 2019Simple Church
    Mar 3, 2019
    Simple Church

    March 3, 2019 Simple Church

    After four days of following the UMC's General Conference, I am longing for a return to the simple message of Jesus. Jesus told a stories and parables to make sure he was understood. He spoke truth even when it brought persecution. He spoke directly and with authority.

    With all the complexities dividing our denomination, I felt moved to speak this Sunday of the Jesus style of church. A church where we keep the main thing the main thing. A church where we seek the plain truth of Scripture; unfiltered and unvarnished. A church where we can love each other and join each other in sharing the good news of Jesus without a thousand points of order blocking our way and with our eyes firmly focused on our eternal, all powerful God.

    So I invite you to join us this Sunday as we explore the fundamental truths of what it means simply be the church in the midst of a complex, divided world.

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    1 Timothy 1:12-17

  • Feb 24, 2019Do Not Fear
    Feb 24, 2019
    Do Not Fear

    Feb 24, 2019 Do Not Fear

    If you are a pastor or church member who cares about The United Methodist Church, it is hard to ignore what is on the immediate horizon for our denomination. For two years the specially called General Conference of The UMC beginning this Saturday in St.Louis has loomed large in our minds. For many it has cast a shadow over our denomination's future; a potential catalyst for a tidal wave of doctrinal division and infighting, powerful enough to sweep United Methodism from the face of the earth. Others welcome it as an opportunity to bind up the deep wounds of our divisions and to refill the reservoir of goodwill and mutual respect that has been severely drained after five decades of debate.

    I will admit that there are moments when I share the thoughts of the young pastor I heard preach last Sunday morning while I was away on vacation: "I fear that in a few days our United Methodist Church will be no more." There are other times when I share John Wesley's fear that our United Methodist Church will not so much disappear but exist as a dead sect having "the form of religion without the power."

    Fear and the weariness it brings can quickly deaden the joy and peace of our walk with Jesus. That's why - in the midst of the denomination's conflicts - I have been listening to God's Spirit lately, hearing God's constant reassurance in Scripture to those who hold fast to Him in faith and obedience - "Do not fear, I am with you."Our God asks us to love him with all our being. To seek His will and obey, no matter the cost; no matter the world's opinion of us; no matter the fears that threaten to overtake and undermine our faith and life together as brothers and sisters in Christ. God is with us. No matter the outcome of the coming conference in St. Louis, know this: God will faithfully guide us into the future that awaits. That is the only thing I know for sure.

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    Isaiah 43:1b-2a

  • Feb 17, 2019God’s Choice / Our Choice
    Feb 17, 2019
    God’s Choice / Our Choice

    Feb 17, 2019 God’s Choice / Our Choice Chad Brown

    Sermon Series: Choices – Biblical examples of faithful decision making

    Chad Brown will preach in my stead this Sunday as I am with family in Woodbridge for several birthday celebrations (including my own). I'll then be in Richmond Sunday evening through Wednesday for the Virginia Conference Board of Ordained Ministry meeting - please keep us in your prayers. Please keep Chad in your prayers as he preaches on "God's Choice / Our Choice."

    Our Sunday morning sermons in January and February are focusing on CHOICES. Like Joseph, Moses, Jonathan, and other people of faith in the Bible, our United Methodist denomination has some critical choices to make in the near future. Over 800 delegates from around the world will meet in St. Louis at a General Conference of the UMC in St. Louis from February 23-26 to attempt to make decisions around the issues of human sexuality and biblical authority that divide our church.

    As we pray for this conference and God's will to be done, it seems wise to turn to the Bible and study the men and women who, in their own time, made the critical choice to follow God.

    Please pray and ask for God to guide us all in the coming days.

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    John 3:14-17 / Philipians 2:6-8

  • Feb 10, 2019Simeon & Anna – Persistent Faith
    Feb 10, 2019
    Simeon & Anna – Persistent Faith

    Feb 10, 2019 Simeon & Anna – Persistent Faith

    Sermon Series: Choices – Biblical examples of faithful decision making

    Did you know that Sir Edmund Hillary, the New Zealander who conquered Mount Everest in 1953 with his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay, was a beekeeper? His family owned 35 apiaries consisting of 1,600 beehives! As a teen-ager and adult working with his dad and brother, he would average between 15 and 100 bee stings a day!

    That's right, the world's most renowned mountain climber made his living at beekeeping most of the year, leaving the winter months to sharpen his climbing skills. Eventually, his persistent dedication to his goal of conquering the world's highest peaks would be his greatest fame. But when asked about his incredible work ethic and persistence, he credited the hard, hot, mundane work of lifting and caring for the beehives. His willingness to do that work was in part due to his love for the bees themselves. He wrote in one of his many books: "The spring and summer, when the bees were gathering nectar, was a time of great excitement."

    As most of you know, I love bees (not to the point that I go around hugging them, but you know what I mean). And one thing I know after years of being around beehives is that bees are incredibly persistent. To be a successful beekeeper you must adopt a bee's attitude of persistence. To be a faithful follower of Jesus, it doesn't hurt to wed that same attitude of persistence to your faith.

    In this week's sermon passage from Luke 2, we learn of the prophetess Anna who spent years at the temple in Jerusalem waiting for the "redemption of Jerusalem" to come. Her persistent faith - no doubt dismissed as a desperate zealousness by many in Jerusalem - was rewarded when Mary and Joseph presented the infant Jesus at the temple. Anna's joy in life was more than complete.

    How persistent is your faith? How dedicated are you to the holy life Jesus has called you to? How does that faith influence your choices in life? If we learn anything from the bees and the prophetess Anna and Sir Edmund Hillary, it is that wise choices are only made when accompanied by a persistent belief in God's call upon your life.

    Our Sunday morning sermons in January and February are focusing on CHOICES. Like Joseph, Moses, Jonathan, and other people of faith in the Bible, our United Methodist denomination has some critical choices to make in the near future. Over 800 delegates from around the world will meet in St. Louis at a General Conference of the UMC in St. Louis from February 23-26 to attempt to make decisions around the issues of human sexuality and biblical authority that divide our church.

    As we pray for this conference and God's will to be done, it seems wise to turn to the Bible and study the men and women who, in their own time, made the critical choice to follow God.

    Please pray and ask for God to guide us all in the coming days.

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    Luke 2:25-38