Thursday, November 29, 2018
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Merry Christmas to you all!
Friday, November 16, 2018
On Sunday, November 18, 2018, we'll explore what Jesus has to say about the permanence of the temple and of the incoming kingdom of God. We will discover reason for hope, gratitude and thanksgiving in the midst of a chaotic world. Join us and see.
We will also sing a couple of old favorite hymns related to the Thanksgiving day celebration.
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Sermon for Sunday, October 14, 2018, based on Hebrew 4:12-16. Life is scary, and always has been. The first half of today's scripture reading is scary, and always has been. However, the second half of the reading tells us where to turn to leave fear behind. To whom can we turn to be courageous? Who is in our corner, ready to help us, and to be at our side when our judgment finally comes? Listen and find out.
Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Sermon based on Luke 10:30-35, ending our summer superheroes series with Spider-Man. We focus on matters of the heart, whether we will have hearts cruel, calloused, or compassionate. It impacts everything we do and say. It influences the world around us and everyone we interact with. Watch and discover how.
Word of warning: we were located in our air conditioned office wing during our heat wave, which is a tighter space. While you'll hear the sermon entirely, the picture will move wildly as the camera person had to move from one location to another for late arrivals that morning.
Invitation: Join us for our new endeavor and in the new live stream community and Bible study we are creating. It is called Beyond Loaves and Fishes. Here's how to find it and participate in the half hour long Bible studies from the comfort of home. To learn how to join us on the Beyond Loaves and Fishes live stream event tonight, take a look at the following blog post and follow the simple steps: https://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2018/05/beyond-loaves-fishes-livestream-bible.html
Further, if you like what you hear in this sermon or if the Bible study intrigues you, drop by Sunday morning if you are close to Lansdowne, PA, and join us for worship. All are welcome. See this blog site for hours.
Sunday, June 18, 2017
Sermon based on Acts 2:1-13, telling the story of Pentecost and the power of the Holy Spirit. Be careful watching this one: the Holy Spirit goes where the Spirit wills, and powerfully!
Sunday, April 9, 2017
May the peace and blessing of God be upon you during this Holy Week and always.
Saturday, January 17, 2015
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
Monday, December 15, 2014
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.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
There is surprisingly, wonderfully good news for you coming from a long ago prophet who appeared long after the age of prophets was thought to be done. He brought news of the coming of one who the people of Israel had longed for over many generations. We live in a different world because of this news.
Monday, December 1, 2014
Presented for your consideration, a challenge to love the outcast and the downtrodden. This challenge comes from one of the most potentially unnerving passages in the New Testament. Give it a listen and "hear" for yourself. God bless you.
Friday, November 21, 2014
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.
To understand how American Baptist Churches USA fights modern day human trafficking (slavery) today, read:
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.
Tizon, Al. Missional Preaching: Engage, Embrace, Transform. Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Judson Press, 2012.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Stewardship sermon based on Joshua 24:14-25. It was a challenging question for the people of Israel back in Joshua's day and remains just as challenging for us. The "little g gods" may have changed, but the importance of the challenge and the response of each of us remains the same. God bless you as you ponder the question.
For a creative little piece on stewardship by a friend and fellow pastor, see: http://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2014/10/daily-vlog-299-made-to-give-60ssss.html
Monday, October 27, 2014
Sunday, October 26, 2014
Due to technical difficulties, the camera was not working today. However, the message is too important not to offer for consideration. Below is the complete transcript of the sermon.
For more on ending violence, see: http://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2014/08/actively-working-to-end-violence.html and http://lansdownebaptistchurch.blogspot.com/2014/08/we-cannot-delay-helping-others-while.html
Working for Mercy & Peace
October 26, 2014
This is, without doubt, the hardest sermon I’ve written. Philadelphia Baptist Association has asked pastors to preach this Sunday on domestic violence awareness. While it is not entirely clear what all leads to domestic violence, an often silent and hidden epidemic in our culture and our churches, it is known that conditions leading to family stress ignite it. Right now, economic growth is below normal. Unemployment rates remain too high. Those individuals suffering beneath the poverty line have increased to roughly 50 million, around one in every six persons in our population. As we have seen working with the Interfaith Food Cupboard, the rate of food insecurity is far too high. Opportunities for advancement have dwindled. This is an incredibly stressful environment to live in and fertile ground for domestic violence. According to the pamphlet available from PBA, 2,135,000 women and men are abused annually by partners. Numbers like this can leave us feeling helpless and wanting to withdraw. However, using God’s methods of mercy and peace, as seen in today’s Scripture reading, we Christians can make a difference.
Moses was an extraordinary prophet and leader. Moses had an amazingly close relationship with God. We are told Moses had God’s Spirit, received a divine calling and divine revelation from God. Moses spoke with God’s words. Here was the prophet who led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Moses formed this “stiff-necked people” into a nation. Listening to his father-in-law’s advice, he gave them a judicial system. All of the prophets who came later were compared with Moses. In the New Testament, parallels were made between Jesus and Moses, so powerful was Moses’ legacy. In Deuteronomy 34:10, it is written, “there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” No one short of Jesus would be used by God so intensely as an instrument of revelation. God spoke to Moses clearly and Moses saw God’s form without dying.
And yet, Moses, for all his virtues, was a human being filled with human flaws, human fears, and a human temper. In his youth, Moses struck down an abusive Egyptian beating a Hebrew and fled to Midian to evade Pharaoh’s wrath. Later, in the wilderness of Zin, after the death of Miriam, Moses’ sister, at Kadesh, Moses was caught up in a quarrel among his people. They were waterless and sure they were going to die. They were accusing Moses of poor leadership, bringing them to this hostile place. God told Moses and Aaron to command the rock to yield water before the assembled crowd. This would be a sign of God’s power and holiness. Instead, Moses, apparently with temper flaring, proclaimed, “Listen, you rebels, shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” Striking the rock with his staff twice, the water came. God saw this action as Moses’ lack of trust in God and God’s methods, stating, “Because you did not trust in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” Moses was neither free of fear nor sin, though God made great use of him.
For many centuries, that judgment, in the face of all Moses did right, has worried scholars. Many explanations have been offered but none seem to satisfy. Right now this is a painful story of judgment, harsh judgment. And Moses was about to die. Will this story be redeemed? There is a modern story about which we can ask the same painful question.
Moses was in a situation of high stress both times when his temper got the best of him. The people of Israel became those famous “stiff-necked people” arguing and abusive when they were stressed as well. Great social stress today leads to domestic abuse, as we have seen. That is the dangerously fertile soil into which the evil seeds of cruelty fall and thrive. Seeking out an explanation for the cruelty involved in domestic violence, I turned to the Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling. The experts there explained that our life’s expectations are “mapped out” early in childhood. Those expectations grow as the years roll by and impact behavior. Generally speaking, if a child received love and care, those are the expectations mapped out for later life and that child is likely to be loving and caring. However, when a child is told constantly and unfairly that he or she is bad and is treated with cruelty and violence, the map of life’s expectations is altered and behavior changes. That child will likely exhibit cruel behavior later in life. Victims become victimizers as they try to decrease painful, pent-up feelings from their own trauma. This awful and wrong cycle perpetuates. Again, this is general. There are exceptions.
Sadly, social attitudes going all the way back to the Code of Hammurabi, the oldest legal documents, have been lax on domestic violence. In the Code, the rights of a husband to discipline a wife and children as he saw fit were affirmed. In time, restrictions were placed on how men might exercise this right. By the 19th century, social reform movements made child and wife abuse less excusable. However, today, while there are laws in every state prohibiting assaults on family members, all too often there is reluctance to enforce them. Batterers are rarely charged and victims are encouraged not to press charges. Worse, victims are often blamed as being complicit in the abuse.
Any community that tolerates interpersonal violence perpetuates it and passes it on like toxic seeds to the next generation. For instance, a 28-year-old contractor filed for divorce from his estranged wife, a wife he declared he no longer loved. One day, cancelling his wife’s home insurance, he obtained the necessary permits and demolished her three bedroom home. Fortunately, she and their three children were away. Quite a few men in the community called this violence “bulldozer justice” and supported the contractor. His community let it be known that violent, vengeful attitudes and behaviors were legitimate ways to end family disputes.
Christian families are not exempt from this crisis. Some years ago, Methodist church women were surveyed and 68% revealed they had experience with abuse. Domestic abuse is a crisis facing peoples of every social and economic class, every ethnic group, both genders, all ages, and every faith. Like our story from Deuteronomy, at this point it feels like terrible, harsh judgment and leaves us in a quandary as to what we should do.
It is easy to imagine ourselves standing on some high mountain, looking longingly off into a promised land, but unable to reach it.
While this is a story of God’s judgment, it is even more a story of God’s mercy and peace. In the Bible, among the nation of Israel, the infirmities of advanced age were often used to portray God’s judgment against the people. Weakness is the result of sin and rebellion. And yet, Moses, a man of 120 years was clear-sighted and vigorous. Moses’ past actions may have denied him direct access to the Promised Land, but God’s judgment is further muted by his treatment of Moses at the end. God is very gentle with his faithful, dedicated, if sometimes prickly servant. God grants Moses a rare delight. Ascending Mount Nebo, some 2,600 feet above sea level—there’s vigor in a 120 year old for you—God provides Moses with a view of the entire Promised Land as no mere mortal could. Moses sees in detail the future homes of the various tribes of Israel. God reminds Moses, “this is the land that I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob …” when the tour is finished.
The promise was about to be fulfilled. God shows mercy to Moses and Moses receives that mercy with acceptance, receiving also God’s peace.
Throughout Moses’ long life he responded with a range of emotions to God’s calls. At times Moses was filled with self-doubt and fear, then with bravery in the face of great danger, and even offering up a gentle reproach to God to calm things when the people were at their worst. Just once did he stumble as God’s prophet, at Meribah, as his impatience and temper rose with his people. One scholar wrote that since Moses was a model for his people for all time to come, the price Moses paid for that lapse was high. Yet, when God’s justice collides with God’s mercy, as it did here, mercy prevails. In the end, the text even suggests God may have buried Moses God’s-self, providing a final moment of startling closeness in the relationship between God and his prophet. God helped Moses with his final mile on this earth. The text suggests, in Moses’ quiet observation of the Promised Land and his ending without complaint that Moses had serenity in the face of God’s mercy and peace. It is a hopeful end. How might we use those great qualities of mercy and peace today to change lives and offer hope to those struggling with domestic abuse today?
Last week Paul asked the Thessalonians to do the “work of faith and labor of love” by imitating Paul’s efforts among the church. This week, in this story of Moses, we can see ourselves imitating the ways of God, the ways of mercy and peace. We can also take the message away that, even in the face of the turmoil created by domestic violence and the circumstances that aggravate it, we should continue to have faith. God’s great age of the peaceable kingdom will come and we can strive for the mercy and peace it represents in the here and now, seeing it from afar like Moses from Mount Nebo. Like Moses, we may not live in the Promised Land in which such violence is finished forever, but we can work toward it. We can have faith, like Moses, that God will guide us in our work.
From this Scripture lesson we can also take the lesson that while our efforts might not be complete, like Moses we can pass them on to another generation and have our work continued, just as Joshua continued Moses’ work with the people of Israel. Using God’s example of mercy over judgment and peace over wrath, we can contend with domestic violence. This never appropriate behavior is criminal assault. It includes physical and emotional abuse and neglect. The intent is to control others in the relationship. Victims include children and adults, males and females, the single and the married. Domestic violence takes on many forms, including name calling, putdowns, isolation from family and friends, withholding money, preventing partners from getting or keeping jobs, actual or threatened harm, assault, stalking, and intimidation. There is much we can do to help work against this crisis. Churches like ours can provide emergency help for victims. We can help victims get the legal, medical, and social help they need through persistent advocacy on their behalf. When no emergency centers are available, some churches have developed host home networks for temporary safe housing.
We can also help victims and families recover from long-term effects of abuse with guidance to counseling services and by sponsoring support groups. We can offer violent families the chance to build positive bridges with others, breaking their isolation for a healthier way of life.
As a church, we can also offer up nonviolent images of family life so needed today. We can provide family-life education programs that offer instruction on non-abusive ways of parenting and conflict resolution. Pastors are offering up premarital and post-marital counseling to address domestic violence prevention.
Further, we can work to reduce social stresses that are flash points for violence. We can work, reaching out with mercy and using peaceful methods against sexism, racism, poverty, and hunger, poisonous soil from which domestic violence grows. We can also speak out against domestic violence, making others aware of this crisis, and never supporting violent actions like “bulldozer justice.”
American Baptist missionaries Ray and Adalia Schellinger, and their partners in Tijuana, Mexico, are working against domestic violence there with Deborah’s House, a shelter for women and children escaping severe domestic violence fostered by a harsh economy paying less than $1 an hour that demands 50-60 hour weeks, and offers no child care—when work can be found. At Deborah’s House, women learn the sewing business. Working together, these women form a business that allows them to make salaries three times higher than factory rates, allowing them to spend more time with their children, and frees them from violence. Ray and Adalia also provide counseling for abusive men, guiding them toward different, non-violent ways.
Using God’s approach of mercy superseding judgment and peace instead of wrath, we can work against this terrible crisis of our age. Dedicated to this effort, we can make a difference.
©2014 J.B. Snyder
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Exploring the Ten Commandments and what they mean for us in today's world. "This covenant was an invitation for the people to accept God’s love for them and choose to live the better lives God would have them live. That remains true for us today, all around the world."
Fun fact: "As an interesting aside, the law “honor your father and mother” was particularly aimed at the old and infirm. It let the people of Israel know that, unlike some other nations, it was not okay to send the old folks off on a trip in the hopes they’ll either be eaten by wild animals or die of exposure. If you wanted to stay on the land God gave you, you’d need to maintain higher, more humane family standards."
If you find yourself in the the Lansdowne, PA, area any Sunday, consider yourself to have an open invitation to come and worship with us. You will be most welcome!
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Sermon based on Romans 14:1-12, in which Paul grapples with the issue of cooperation and the law. Timely for us all. We are in the early experimental stages here at Lansdowne Baptist Church in recording sermons. We brightened this one a bit.