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May 23, 2022 23
May 2022

“I Thank My God for You”

Speaker: Sharla Hulsey

Every week, as we entered Lydia’s house to worship and break bread together, we were faced with an uncomfortable reminder. The last time Paul had been with us, he left without his hat, and it’s still on its hook in the front hall. When we see it, week after week, we lament that Paul isn’t with us, and we worry about him.

May 16, 2022 16
May 2022

“How do I talk to these people?”

Speaker: Sharla Hulsey

It’s one thing to preach the gospel when most of the folks listening are already Christian, or at least predisposed in that direction. But we don’t always have that option.
These days we’re seeing three, even four, generations who have not been part of church, and at this point many of them don’t really even know why church should matter to them. At least that many generations haven’t read the Bible enough even to understand the origin of some of the references that are part of our everyday language, like “forbidden fruit,” or “the handwriting on the wall,” or “in the lions’ den,” or “Damascus Road.”

May 9, 2022 09
May 2022

“Just When Things Were Going Great”

In his commentary on the book of Acts, William Willimon quotes Flannery O’Connor about Paul: “I reckon the Lord knew that the only way to make a Christian out of that one was to knock him off his horse.”
She’s not the only one who imagines the scene that way. A lot of artists portray Paul as being knocked off a horse—or in many cases, like the one on our bulletin, the horse also knocked down. And they show Paul lying on the ground, sometimes hiding his face from the blinding light or reaching out in agony, like in Murillo’s depiction on the bulletin.

May 2, 2022 02
May 2022

“Redirection”

Speaker: Sharla Hulsey

In his commentary on the book of Acts, William Willimon quotes Flannery O’Connor about Paul: “I reckon the Lord knew that the only way to make a Christian out of that one was to knock him off his horse.”
She’s not the only one who imagines the scene that way. A lot of artists portray Paul as being knocked off a horse—or in many cases, like the one on our bulletin, the horse also knocked down. And they show Paul lying on the ground, sometimes hiding his face from the blinding light or reaching out in agony, like in Murillo’s depiction on the bulletin.

April 25, 2022 25
Apr 2022

“I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Speaker: Sharla Hulsey

He didn’t ask for anything the other disciples hadn’t gotten, you know. I’m talking about my husband, Thomas, who was one of Jesus’ first twelve followers. Yet ever since that day, people have used his name as an epithet: “Doubting Thomas.”

April 18, 2022 18
Apr 2022

“Haven’t we already been over this?”

Speaker: Sharla Hulsey

Easter can be a tough Sunday on which to preach.  There’s very little new that can be said.  It’s the same story every year.
The Revised Common Lectionary, which isn’t the one I’m currently using to plan my preaching, makes matters worse by assigning the same Gospel text—the one from John that we have before us today—every single year, even when one of the other Gospels is the one we’re focusing on the rest of the year.

April 11, 2022 11
Apr 2022

“I said what I said and I meant what I meant”

Speaker: Sharla Hulsey

On the last Sunday of the church year, right before the beginning of Advent, we’re called on to observe “Christ the King Sunday.”  It’s a relatively new observance, having been placed on the church calendar only in the 1920s.  It was put there by Pope Pius XI, in reaction to the hyper-nationalism that touched off the horrors of the First World War, hoping to remind Christians where our true allegiance belongs.

April 4, 2022 04
Apr 2022

“Approach the Bench”

Speaker: Sharla Hulsey

I have sat in on a couple trials in my life. One was actually just a sentencing, of someone who had harmed one of my youth group kids, who had asked me to be there.
Another was an entire trial for a relative of a church member who turned out to have been wrongly accused. It went on for the better part of a week; some of my church ladies and I attended to give the defendant and family some moral support.

March 31, 2022 31
Mar 2022

“The Old, Rugged Cross”

Speaker: Sharla Hulsey

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 Paul could very well have been speaking to us. One thing that makes ecumenism—the coming-together of different churches for shared worship and service—so challenging is that there are many things on which we do not and cannot agree.  We have churches with clear statements of faith that […]

March 28, 2022 28
Mar 2022

“Cold Feet”

Speaker: Sharla Hulsey

The year was 1934.  Times were hard all around the world—the Great Depression was not just an American crisis.  In postwar Germany, things were especially difficult, given the lingering aftereffects of the First World War.

March 21, 2022 21
Mar 2022

“That will never happen”

Speaker: Sharla Hulsey

It’s mighty tempting to hear the story of Peter’s denial and cluck our tongues in self-righteousness and sympathy.  It’s awfully easy for us to say, well, if we were there we wouldn’t have done that.  We would have bravely spoken up and said, yes, we do belong to Jesus.

March 14, 2022 14
Mar 2022

“My filthy feet”

Speaker: Sharla Hulsey

Some time ago, a Presbyterian colleague of mine by the name of Thom Shuman was leading the children’s time during his worship service.  (Many Presbyterian pastors, like many Disciples pastors, among others, wear robes on Sundays, and Thom was wearing his robe that day.)  A little boy asked him, “Why do you wear that dress?”

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