By Pastor Tracey Leslie
Scripture: John 2:1-11
This morning we continue our Lenten sermon series “Table Talk.” Now, perhaps “tables” seem like an odd choice for the season of Lent; but here is the thing: historically, the season of Lent has been a time when Christian converts were taught about the faith and prepared for church membership; and, it was also a time when church folks who’d “back slid,” we might say, had the opportunity to repent of their sins and return to the church and renew their commitment to Christ and to his people. So Lent, at its core, is about relationships and fellowship. Lent is a time both to strengthen our relationship with Jesus and a time to grow our relationship and fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. And there are not many things I can think of that have more to do with fellowship and relationships than meals. Meals are, by their very nature, about fellowship. We eat meals with family and friends. Even when we have a business lunch or a working lunch, often the idea in mind is that, by eating a meal together, we’ll grow the relationship enough to seal the deal or pitch the concept. There is something about meals that binds us to one another.
And there is also something about meals that is celebrative. I have presided through the years over more funerals than I could begin to count. And most of them have been followed by a meal. Now here’s the interesting thing: no matter how much the family wept during the funeral service, it is a mighty rare and unusual thing for no one to laugh over the meal. Over that funeral luncheon, they tell stories of their loved one – fun and humorous stories. “Remember that time when…”
But, of all the meal settings we can experience, I’m not sure any can compare to the joy of a wedding reception.
By Pastor Tracey Leslie
Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11
All of Britt’s and my dogs have been rescues. Most were several months old when we adopted them. But our Naomi, who passed away last summer, was born in a rescue program and we adopted her at 10 weeks old. Having her at such a young age, Naomi’s trust in us was exceptional. Although stubborn at times, she always wanted to be with us and no obstacle could prevent her from getting to her people. She was also an impetuous dog and the combination of exceptional trust and her impetuous behavior nearly had a catastrophic result. When Naomi was probably around two, we went to visit my sister and her family in Johnstown. We took the dogs to the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown to walk. It’s a beautiful campus. In the center of it is a big wall, with steps leading to the top of a platform with a panther statue at the top (as in the Pittsburgh Panthers). Naomi was a very athletic and energetic dog and we needed to always keep her mentally and physically stimulated. Britt walked her up the stairs to the top of the platform, about seven feet high. He gave her the “stay” command and walked away back down the stairs. Then, stepping further away, after some delay he hollered, “Naomi, come.” It was both of our assumptions that she would run down the stairs she had climbed up – and the stairs she’d watched Britt descend. But, no; to our utter horror, Naomi shot out over the wall. Why waste time on steps, right? Flying would get her to her people faster. Britt’s and my hearts nearly stopped. It was one of the most dreadful, panicked moments in our lives. We rushed to the wall as she landed, stumbling a bit and skinning her nose, but none the worse for the wear. In hindsight, we should have never engaged in such an exercise. That day, Naomi’s trust in us could have been her death.
This morning we begin our Lenten sermon series, “Table Talk.” Yet, today’s Bible story is not a meal or table story. In fact, we might call it the “un-table” story for it is a story of fasting. But this story, in Matthew’s gospel, in many ways, “sets the table” for all that is to come. Within Matthew’s gospel, this story of Jesus being tested in the wilderness is bookended by the story of his baptism and the inauguration of his public ministry.
By Pastor Tracey Leslie
Scripture: Matthew 17:1-13
Our days are getting longer. Tonight the sun will set at 6:32. Though a Pennsylvania native, I have little confidence in the predictions of that furry rodent from Punxsutawny. I hate winter but I do appreciate the tradition behind Groundhog Day. Groundhog Day, or Candlemas, is a syncretistic thing. Fun facts… Feb. 2, Groundhog Day, marks the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox but it also marks the 40th day after Jesus’ birth which, according to Jewish custom, would have been the day when Jesus – the light of the world – would have been presented in the Temple. The gospel of Luke tells us that “When the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, Mary and Joseph brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord.’)”[i] And so, Groundhog Day or Candlemas, is one of those times when we are reminded that, in Jesus, the light of God – the one who first said, “Let there be light” – in Jesus, God’s light has broken into our world in ways we cannot ignore or overlook. The Son shines the Light of God into our world.
[i] Luke 2:22-23 NRSV
On a lifelong journey of seeking to live out God's call on my life and to reflect His grace.
10 Minute Sermons