This Sunday Howard Memorial gathered with Cobb Memorial, Grace Chapel, Nahalah, and Pinetops Presbyterian Churches to worship God. These churches share a deep history that stretches back to the three Annas whose faith and witness in 1868 helped create Tarboro Presbyterian Church that would expand to seven other churches in Edgecombe and Halifax Counties. We came home this past Sunday to reconnect!
“Temptations” : A homily on the Lord’s Prayer
"Do not lead us into temptation," Jesus teaches us to pray. The challenge of this phrase is how we interact with temptations. What are they and how do they function in our lives? How do we overcome, avoid, and anticipate them? And can we? As we walk our journey of life we will be tempted and the question then becomes how do we respond. Check out Rev. Ben's homily to hear how God is inviting us to engage with temptations.
“As We Forgive Our Debtors”
Inez Ribustello, a child of HMPC and an elder, preached the homily today on forgiveness.
“Debts, Trespasses and Sins : A Homily on the Lord’s Prayer”
Depending on our tradition or denomination we use one of three words at the twelfth verse of The Lord's Prayer in Matthew's gospel. What do those words mean and why were they chosen as translations? This question captures our attention, so much so that we forgot that no matter which word we use, they all call upon us to seek forgiveness from God for our sins. In this homily, Rev. Ben walks through the history of these words on a pathway to revealing what it means to seek forgiveness from God for our debts, trespasses, or sins.
“Give Us This Day, Our Daily Bread” : A Homily on the Lord’s Prayer
This might be the hardest part of the prayer because it requires us to relinquish control of our lives. We all believe we are self-sufficient to some degree and so this text challenges all us no matter what our political affiliations, our theological leanings, and beliefs about humanity are. And in the process of being challenged we see how much God wants to be in our lives. (References include: Robert Smith's commencement address at Morehouse College found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-P1Cc... and Chris Arnade's book "Dignity: Seeking Respect in the Back Row.")
“Heaven on Earth” : A Homily on the Lord’s Prayer
Heaven is all around us and Jesus, in the Lord's Prayer, invites us to see all the places and spaces where heaven is. Where do you look for heaven? Where have you seen heaven on earth? Most of us are trying to "get to heaven" and Christ reminds us that faith isn't "getting to heaven," but realizing that God comes to us and reveals that heaven is already here because God is here.
“Thy Kingdom Come” : A Homily on the Lord’s Prayer
"Thy kingdom come," Jesus prays. It is a statement, a point of fact that leaves us wondering what he means. When we realize God's kingdom has come we begin looking for it and that search is the source of Rev. Ben's homily this morning. Where do we look and what keeps us from looking? How do we handle barriers and what happens when we realize that God's kingdom comes whether we do anything or not? Join Ben as he explores Christ's word to us this day.
“Hallowed Be Your Name” : A Homily on the Lord’s Prayer
Jesus came to engage humanity in conversations of old. One of the oldest conversations centers around this question: How do you make God the center of your life? In this homily, Rev. Ben explores the various ways God tries to get back into the center of our lives. In saying, acting, and believing that God's name is hallowed we begin. But there's more. God takes us on a journey of faith that leads us closer to God. Check out this homily to hear more about the journey God wants to walk with each of us. (Note: I'm indebted to Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III, from whom I heard about the story of Olive Schreiner in his homily, "The People Who Could Fly," on 30 Good minutes.)
“This Way” : A Homily on The Lord’s Prayer
Before Jesus teaches us The Lord's Prayer, he proclaims that we don't know how to pray. In that declaration, he preaches good news--in saying we don't know how to pray, we realize our need for God. But it is hard to get to that point where we recognize our need for God. In this homily, Ben explores what holds us back from relinquishing control and accepting that we don't know how to pray and, therefore, need God. (I'm indebted to Nick Lannon and his introduction to "Life is Impossible." In this homily, I reference his description of the movie,, "All is Lost." Click here to read the article: https://www.mbird.com/2019/03/all-is-...)
“Pay Attention” : A Homily on the Opening of the Lord’s Prayer
This summer we are looking closely at The Lord's Prayer, but before we look at the actual prayer it is important to note the setting of where Jesus' taught this prayer. In Matthew's gospel, he's the prayer is included in the Sermon on the Mount — so it has particular implications. Before uttering a word of the prayer, Jesus sets the stage for his disciples to pay attention to how, why, when, and what they pray as all of these elements are essential.
Elder Adam Schultz preached today.
“Staying in the Box” : A Homily on Acts 14:8-18
Christians experience the adoration and accolades that accompany acts, deeds, and words we'd call divine. When that happens, when we are showered with praise, we have to make a split-second decision as to how we'll respond. Do we accept the accolades as proof of our hard work and tenacity or do we give thanks to God? This may seem easy to answer, but in life, it is harder to give God the glory. In this homily, Rev. Ben explores what happens when we are forced to make that split decision and how God keeps showing up because of and despite our decisions.
2019 Senior Reflections during Youth Sunday by Hope and Grace Whitehurst and Tucker Harrell.
“Are We There Yet?” : A Homily on Matthew 28
At the end of Matthew's Gospel, Jesus sends his disciples out into the world to fulfill his ministry. They are given a task and a call. Despite their lack of faith ("some doubted") and the fact that they were an imperfect eleven, Christ gives them the perfect call. So what do we do with the call Jesus places upon our lives? How do we take that into the world? Rev. Ben explores these questions as he invites us to live into the call Jesus presents to each of us.
Christ is Risen! That is the message we are called to proclaim. Now that we've heard it, go and proclaim it.
Elder Jim Winslow preached a homily on 1 Corinthians 12, focusing on what it means to be a part of a community.