Showing posts with label perspective. Show all posts
Showing posts with label perspective. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Strong Foundation



Sermon for November 19, 2017, on the 130th anniversary of Lansdowne Baptist Church's 1887 founding. The sermon is based on Luke 6:47-49, Jesus' parable of the wise and foolish architects. One builds on a strong foundation and weathers all storms. Jesus' teachings and example and salvation are that strong foundation. Worthwhile consideration for all churches today.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Wicked Tenants



Sermon based on Matthew 21:33-46, which reminds us what Jesus expects from us if we choose to be fruitful rather than wicked tenants. It is a message well worth reflection.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

1000 Ministers March for Justice



A few images from the 1000 Ministers March for Justice of August 28, 2017, starting at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and ending at the Department of Justice. Ministers, priests, rabbis, and other faith leaders all marched. Over 3000 concerned faith leaders showed up to march for justice for every person oppressed, outcast, and marginalized in our turbulent society today, moving far beyond the expectations of those who organized the march. We came to express our desire to love God and love neighbors. We came to call on our elected leaders to do likewise.

Persistence was required for me as delays began when I arrived. I kept Luke 18:1-8 in mind as I persisted. I started at the Crystal City Underground parking lot in Alexandria, Virginia, took the Metro to the Mall, praying all the while for a person hit by a subway car at L'Enfante Plaza that day (and all persons impacted by that tragedy), headed on over to the MLK memorial down near the Lincoln Memorial (a substantial hike, praying to get there in time and represent my faith well), and joined the growing assembly of marchers there at 11:45 instead of 10:15 or so, as I had hoped. I was in time for the final speech at the memorial and the mile and a half march from the memorial to the Department of Justice. On the way we sang "This little light of mine" with some interesting verse variations, "Sanctuary," and called for justice in a variety of ways, given our various God-given talents. One quote from the event that resonated with those faith leaders present: “It’s time for moral leaders of all religions to get rid of their fear and their political laryngitis and stand up together,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who led the march with Martin Luther King III. “We agree that morality must be above party politics.”

I was gratified to meet some of my friends and colleagues there, and to know that others were present, including denominational leaders of American Baptist Churches USA, the Philadelphia Baptist Association, and fellow seminary graduates of Palmer Theological Seminary.

Disclaimer: The "unique" camera views are due to the fact that it was a sunny day and the screen didn't give me much of a view of what I was recording. Still, this will give you a small sense of what happened from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.



Persistence Is Key

We are living in challenging times. We are called to be faithful followers of Jesus by being persistent in the face of extraordinary challenges. Persistence is defined as: firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition. In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus gives us the parable of a very persistent woman seeking justice from a corrupt judge. She called upon him every day until he gave in, fearful that she'd give him a black eye if he didn't give her justice. Jesus calls upon us to pray to God, who is keenly interested in justice for all, and act in faith as we are strengthened by prayer.

On our vacation to Indiana, my wife and I encountered "The Wedge" at Turkey Run State Park, a small area of the state left in a primitive and natural state as the land is far too rocky to cultivate. The Wedge was once part of a cliff face that sheered away and split into three large pieces on impact. In a small crack in one part of The Wedge, the small seed of a tree fell. The seed persisted in this unlikely and unwelcoming location. As it grew, its roots dug into obstinate rock, creating soil, and the tree grew tall and strong in this unlikely location. This tree is a great illustration of the persistent woman's determination. Be like the woman and this tree and persist. Be like the woman and work tirelessly for justice. 

~Rev. Jeff Snyder

The Wedge, in three pieces
Persistent tree growing out of the top of the right hand
section of The Wedge.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

American Baptist Resolution on the Resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan

The fight against the sin of race hatred is ongoing. We stand against the darkness as a denomination and as a church within that denomination. My great grandfather, the Rev. Martin Luther Hall, refused the demands of the Ku Klux Klan when they rode up to his church after Sunday service and demanded he join their hateful forces. He let them and his entire congregation know in no uncertain terms how strongly he refused the hatred this organization stood for. We continue to work against the deep sin of mindless hatred in all its forms today. At the hate demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 11-12, 2017, protesters carried a sign reading "Diversity = White Genocide." We contest that belief strongly. As one of the most diverse denominations in the US, we see that diversity as one of our greatest strengths and an affirmation of many bible verses, including Revelation 7:9: After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. That is a vision we heartily endorse and work toward every day. ~Rev. Jeffrey B. Snyder

Below is the resolution adopted unanimously by ABCUSA:

AMERICAN BAPTIST RESOLUTION ON THE RESURGENCE OF THE KU KLUX KLAN
The mood of America is characterized by growing economic unrest, unemployment, rapid social change and a sense of impotency and futility. That mood is contributing to a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, or to a “new Klan,” and to other white-supremist movements in the United States.
Public opinion has encouraged the growth of the Klan and racism in general when it has sympathized with it or indirectly supported it by endorsing the attitude that America’s minorities have “come too far, too fast.” Public tolerance has been demonstrated by voter acceptance of Klan political candidates, widespread distribution of printed material which accepts KKK actions, and by the failure of the criminal justice system to investigate effectively and end Klan-related violence.
THEREFORE: In accordance with the American Baptist Policy Statement on Human Rights which supports the right of all persons to be protected against discrimination and in light of its concern over the current manifestations of racism as evidenced in the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, the General Board of the American Baptist Churches urges local congregations and individuals to:
1. Indicate publicly their opposition to the Klan by statement and action wherever the Klan appears;
2. Encourage politicians and governmental bodies to take active positions against the racism, terrorism and acts of violence fostered by the Klan;
3. Educate members, especially children, about the nature of the Klan and about the myths which it seeks to foster related to racial superiority;
4. Design and implement programs to educate people, especially children, about the biblical imperatives for racial justice;
5. Take every opportunity afforded by the media to affirm our support of racial justice; and
6. Become actively involved in local and national efforts to achieve and assure racial justice.
We call upon the agencies and the leadership of the regional and national units of American Baptist Churches in the USA to:
1. Provide informational materials and other forms of support to individuals and to congregations engaged in efforts to educate their members about the nature of the Klan and about racial justice;
2. Represent American Baptist Churches in ecumenical efforts to combat the Klan;
3. Encourage public media to use their resources to promote racial justice;
4. Commend those media which have carried out investigative reporting about the Klan and its activities; and
5. Express our repugnance for the philosophy and activities of the Klan through appropriate governmental and legal channels.
Adopted by the General Board of the American Baptist Churches – December 1980 130 For, 0 Against, 0 Abstentions

Friday, July 28, 2017

LBC Participating in National Night Out 2017

Lansdowne Baptist Church will be represented again at the Lansdowne, PA, National Night Out on Tuesday evening, August 1, 2017. Come and meet us, get to know who we are, and let us get to know you too. For any congregants interested in participating, the pastor and his wife will be setting up at 5 p.m. in the Highland Avenue parking lot. If you want to join us representing the church, please bring a chair and water. We will have a portable shelter as we have in the past. We'll bring information, invitations, some coloring pages to give away, and a good, old fashioned American Baptist Christian welcome! This year, the police department will be providing a "Critter Connection," allowing the community to meet Officer McGowan and his K-9 partner Chapek. There will be a K-9 demonstration at 7 p.m. As always there will be a community cookout and The Taste of Lansdowne. It is a good time and a great opportunity to meeting more of our community and share our joy in Jesus.
Whenever we gather together as a congregation as ambassadors for Jesus,
we have a good time.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Living Between Expectation & Experience



Rev. Dr. Harold Trulear spoke to Lansdowne Baptist Church about how we may assist individuals who have been incarcerated and their families. It is an important and powerful message. He also has something to say to those who would dismiss prisoners as "bad people" who should be ignored. Please watch.

At the end of the sermon, Rev. Dr. Trulear invited individuals with family members in prison to come forward for a prayer. This was a powerful moment for everyone as ten people came forward. One person was in tears, feeling until that moment that she was suffering alone. That prayer is not recorded here as those people were not asked in advance if they cared to be filmed.

Monday, April 24, 2017

City in Turmoil


Palm Sunday sermon 2017 based on Matthew 21:1-11. The question was who did the people of Jerusalem understand Jesus to be. That question remains for each and every one of us today.

Monday, October 17, 2016

No Scaredy Cats



Sermon based on 2 Timothy 1:6-10, delivered on October 2, 2016. The letter encourages Timothy to emulate the fearless faith of his mother and grandmother. It's still excellent advice.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Penmanship Epiphany

Years ago, my grade school teacher told me to loosen my grip on my pen if I wanted better penmanship. It has taken me all these years to realize she was asking me to following the often repeated biblical admonition, "Do not be afraid." If I'd just loosen up a bit, trust in the guidance given and tools received, life (and penmanship) would improve markedly. Sure enough, a looser hold on a pen and life brings greater results. However, white knuckling it through writing and life are hard habits to break!

Wishing you all the blessings of a life far freer of fear. 

Give Judging Others a Rest

In this highly charged political season, let's follow some sound advice from Jesus and from theologian Henri Nouwen. Henri Nouwen writes in his devotional, Bread for the Journey,
Essential to the work of reconciliation is a nonjudgmental presence. We are not sent to the world to judge, to condemn, to evaluate, to classify, or to label. When we walk around as if we have to make up our minds about people and tell them what is wrong with them and how they should change, we only create more division. Jesus says it clearly, "Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge; ... do not condemn; ... forgive." (Luke 6:36-37)
If you have to evaluate, classify, and label, I hope you are in one of the sciences. Otherwise, along with judging and condemning, don't do it, please! Be friendly, be open, be hopeful, and offer a helping hand instead. And forgive others who have not yet learned this lesson and walk a darker, more difficult path. Pray that they will find this better way to live, and soon!  

Saturday, July 25, 2015

LBC Lemonade Sale Success

This morning, volunteers from Lansdowne Baptist Church conducted our first lemonade sale. One of our members handy with tools and wood created a sensational lemonade stand on wheels, complete with an awning and space in the back for an ice cooler. We had both adult and children volunteers who had a terrific time selling lemonade and meeting the community. The weather was ideal and the turnout was great. Many members of our community turned out, curious to see what we were up to.

Several generous people provided donations and asked for nothing in return. The lemonade, both regular and pink, sold out by the time the stand closed up at one in the afternoon.

One of our volunteers said of the experience, "The money we brought in doesn't completely describe the positive experience for our church, our kids, our volunteers, and everyone who supported the event. We met some very nice people, many who stopped by to get lemonade but wound up talking with us and the kids about the church."

I personally want to thank everyone involved who made the day such a success. We are very glad to have met so many people from our local community and look forward to seeing them again soon.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Choosing as Jesus Chose

In Mark 1:40-45, Jesus chose to help a leper, a real outcast in his society, a person others would neither approach nor touch. The man knelt before Jesus in humility and faith, saying, "If you choose, you can make me clean [to have leprosy was to be ritually unclean as well as ill]." Deeply moved by the man’s plight, both his illness and his social isolation, Jesus reached out. Jesus rejected all that society used to separate themselves from this sufferer. Most individuals in Jesus’ day would never have touched a leper, in part because that would have made the person touching the afflicted an unclean outcast as well. Jesus breaks through that isolation, touching this pleading victim. Jesus reached out in sympathy and compassion, something he would do time and again throughout his ministry. I wonder when the last time was that this sufferer had actually received a gentle touch? Jesus responded to the sufferer directly, stating, “I do choose. Be made clean!” The leper became clean.

Today, we Christ followers are supposed to be like Jesus. We too are to reach out to the outcasts of our time, the people who are seen as taboo for one of any number of reasons in our society. We are to choose to love, to help, to heal as we are able. By the way, "Christian" originally meant "little Christs," and was a derogatory name for Jesus' followers given to us by those outside the faith. The name was designed to ostracize us, but we have since made it our own. As the scholars of the Interpreter's Bible wrote, we are to live with "outstretched hands and outstretched lives." Let's choose to be those "little Christs" today and always.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

An Argument for Positive Activity

Dr's Henry Cloud and John Townsend have some wonderful advice in their book Boundaries. Included is this material on attempting to accomplish things, even if we fail. It is well worth taking to heart when considering what new direction God might wish you to go and whether or not to make the effort.
Human beings are responders and initiators ... God will match our effort, but he will never do our work for us. ... He wants us to be assertive and active, seeking and knocking on the door of life. ... The sin God rebukes is not trying and failing, but failing to try. Trying, failing, and trying again is called learning. Failing to try will have no good result; evil will triumph.
God bless you in your efforts. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Life Interrupted





The story of Jesus inviting four fishermen to interrupt their day-to-day lives and follow him instead is instructive for us all. We too are called to interrupt our routines and do things differently. How will we respond?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

New Beginnings





Genesis 1: In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

It is amazing the theological depths contained within these five verses and those that follow in Genesis 1-2:4. The sermon begins with a reminder of what is possible when faithful people work together to support those in need in our community. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Leap of Faith





Here is a suggestion on how to face all the uncertainties of the new year, following Mary's example during the wedding at Cana. Wishing you all a blessed year.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rejoice Always





The apostle Paul calls you to rejoice this Christmas season, and throughout the year. It's a matter of trust and a defiance of fear. It's also a healthy way to live. Wishing you a blessed Christmas.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Recommended Reading for Clarity


There is a lot of confusion out there today about Christianity and the Bible, where the Bible came from, how it is interpreted, what it has to say about specific topics, and more. Here are a few books that will provide some clarity for the truly curious.

For an introduction to the faith, try:

Nouwen, Henri J.M. Life of the Beloved. Spiritual Living in a Secular World. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992.

To come to grips with the powerful love of God for humanity, read:

Nouwen, Henri J.M. The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming. New York: Doubleday, 1994.

To approach the Bible with insight and clarity, the following are suggested:

Brash, Donald J. The Indispensable Guide to God's Word. Cleveland, Ohio: The Pilgrim Press, 2010.
Davis, Ellen F. & Richard B. Hays, eds. The Art of Reading Scripture. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2003.

To better understand where the sixty-six book library of the Bible came from and what a great stretch of time is covered in those books, see:

Lightfoot, Neil R. How We Got the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1963, 1988, 2003.

Tackling some of the most challenging passages from the apostle Paul is:

Brauch, Manfred T. Hard Sayings of Paul. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1989.

To understand the complex imagery used in the Bible, and to understand slavery in biblical terms, read:

Ryken, Leland, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III, eds. Dictionary of Biblical Imagery: An Encyclopedic Exploration of the Images, Symbols, Motifs, Metaphors, Figures of Speech, and Literary Patterns of the Bible. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press USA, 1998.

To grapple with the relationship of slaves with Christianity in the Antebellum South, read;

Raboteau, Albert J. Slave Religion: The "Invisible Institution" in the Antebellum South. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978, 2004.

Please see the bibliographies of all of the above sources for additional reference material.

For the history of the American Baptist Churches USA denomination, including our fight against the vile historical institution of slavery in the U.S., read:

http://www.abc-usa.org/what_we_believe/our-history/

To understand how American Baptist Churches USA fights modern day human trafficking (slavery) today, read:

http://www.abc-usa.org/2013/12/12/abhms-endorses-iccrs-statement-against-human-trafficking/

Finally, if you wish to use study Bibles to dig deeper, see:

Coogan, Michael D., ed. The New Oxford Annotated Bible. New Revised Standard Version. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Since there are a number of sermons available on this site, if you would like some understanding on what is involved in creating a weekly sermon, read:

Allen, Ronald J. Patterns of Preaching: A Sermon Sampler. St. Louis, Missouri: Chalice Press, 1998.

and

Tizon, Al. Missional Preaching: Engage, Embrace, Transform. Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Judson Press, 2012.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Life Application: As You Judge, Matthew 7:1-5



"Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

There are certain kinds of judgements we need to make each and every day. We must judge if the person or people approaching us on the street or in their cars are likely to be safe or not. Is the salesman being honest? Then there's election season ... but let's leave that one alone. Some judgments help us stay safe and navigate the world we live in successfully.

However, all too often we are encouraged by society to be hypercritical of everyone and make snap judgements about people based on ... almost no facts at all, skewed perspectives based on a variety of things including "how it used to be" (which is often viewed through rose-colored glasses ... working with the whole vision metaphor here ... and therefore never was quite that way), or on gossip among other possibilities. Lots of our entertainment today is based on harsh, critical, angry judgment, the very sort of thing we are being warned against in this passage. 

Given this calling from society to play harsh judge, these verses are extremely useful for us today. Jesus calls us not to judge others. We are warned that the way we judge others is the way we will be judged. This is not simply dealing with judgment we face before Jesus at time's end. No, we are warned that in the here and now to judge others harshly will have a serious backlash. Those who judge others the most severely are frequently surprised when they are treated no more generously by those who know them than were the victims of their own harsh assessments. Jesus calls us to steer clear of this trap. It's wonderful advice.

He softens the blow with the wonderful joke about the log in your eye. But there is also a tempering message here. We are to mind our own business, deal with our own flaws, and let others worry about their own specks. It's excellent advice, advice to live by, advice to grow a loving community with if we care to be so countercultural and take it.

Oh, and by the way, "you hypocrite" may well refer to ... according to scholars ... Greek actors for the stage, meaning you are not to act out your faith without really meaning it. An interesting interpretation in this context.