The light of a silvery moon may provide the inspiration for a budding romance, but the full moon in May is the right time for bream fishing in our neck of the woods. Even a novice angler can fill a Sheetrock mud bucket half full of bluegill and shellcracker after fishing only a few hours. Jigging with a cane pole from the bank or spin casting from a johnboat is equally effective. Crickets or red worms on a long-shank hook flipped into a bream bed are sure to provide a tasty supper of fresh pan fish.
In May of last year our son, his father-in-law, and I took our oldest grandson fishing on the full moon. We stopped at our local bait shop for red worms and Louisiana pinks. On that day the bream had an appetite for Cajun fare. The tough pink worms from the bayou were the main entrée.
The three adults on the trip had made a secret agreement. We wanted the young boy to land the first fish. It didn’t take long. Standing on the grassy bank of a well-kept private pond, our grandson landed a hand-sized bluegill. Two hours later the four of us had forty-two bream in the bucket. Our grandson, of course, caught the most. Read more…
Text: Luke 5:1-11; Acts 2:1-8; 13-15; 36-41
Today our text comes from both Luke 5 and Acts 2. Hear now the Word of God.
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon,
“Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”
11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Acts 2:1-8, 13-15, 36-41:
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning.
6 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
This is the Word of God for the people of God.
Once again we come to a Sunday where we see a convergence of two events and observe today both Graduate Recognition Day and the Day of Pentecost. I have entitled this sermon “The Graduate” with apologies to Dustin Hoffman and those of you old enough to remember the movie.
Last week I was invited to offer the opening prayer and benediction at the commencement exercises at the University of South Carolina Upstate (USCU). It was one of the very few times in my life when I was asked to wear a cap and gown. Thankfully, I do not have to dress in that attire very often.
One of the issues of concern that night was the impending rain. USCU was like the hole in a doughnut. It rained all around us but not during that commencement exercise. I should tell you that Chancellor Dr. Tom Moore and Dr. Harris Pastides, the President of USCU, both looked at me as if I could do something about the rain. Since I was the designated person to pray, they probably thought I could do something about the weather. I simply said, “I don’t do weather. That’s not my deal.” I do not take credit for good weather, nor do I take blame for bad conditions.
This is also the time of the year for the graduation ceremonies for both Wofford and Converse. Those two colleges will hold their commencement exercises this afternoon. Today we honor three young men from our own congregation who will graduate from high school this year. They have led us in this worship service in a wonderful way, and we appreciate their willingness to participate.
How can we connect the occasion of graduation with the birthday of the church? On the Day of Pentecost everything broke loose. The gift Jesus had promised, the gift of the Holy Spirit, transformed the church. It seems to me that the two occasions come together in the person of Simon Peter, one of the twelve disciples. Read more…
Wallace Hartley had become a celebrity in musical circles in Britain and had just recently landed his most important gig as a professional musician. Now he had the chance to work as bandmaster on the maiden voyage of “the ship of dreams,” the unsinkable Titanic. Hartley was no stranger to transatlantic crossings. During the three years he had worked as a musician for the Cunard Line, he had crossed the Atlantic eighty times.
Adding to his joy was the fact that Maria Robinson, the love of his life, had accepted his proposal of marriage. Their wedding was to take place after Wallace returned from what seemed to be the opportunity of a lifetime.
As an engagement gift, Maria had presented Wallace with a new violin. The engraved silver marker fastened to the base plate of the instrument read, “For Wallace on the occasion of our engagement – from Maria.”
The future held great promise for Wallace and Maria, but the events that unfolded over the next few days turned their dream into a nightmare. Read more…
I want to note that both Ascension Sunday and Mother’s Day fall on the same Sunday this month and that next week we will observe both Pentecost and Graduation Recognition Sunday. This meshing requires a good bit of homiletic dexterity on the part of the preacher.
On these days between Ascension Day and Pentecost, I want to call your attention to an important passage of Scripture. What was happening during those in-between days in the early church of the first century? Jesus had told the disciples to wait, so they waited. He had gone back to heaven. They made the decision to replace Judas Iscariot with Matthias, a disciple who is never mentioned again in the Bible. The disciples elected him to serve by casting lots. Maybe Morningside should roll the dice and see how our deacon election turns out sometime. The early church then waited until Pentecost for the empowering of the Holy Spirit.
We all find ourselves in these in-between times often in life. Read more…
On May 10, 1908, Anna Jarvis organized the first Mother’s Day celebration in Grafton, West Virginia. Neither a wife nor a mother herself, Anna wanted to encourage Americans to honor the women who are the strength of the nation. When the holiday became so quickly commercialized, Jarvis protested. The sale of cards and flowers and the proliferation of Mother’s Day advertising, detracted from Anna’s initial vision of a simple day to express gratitude for our mothers and grandmothers.
Arthur Brisbane, a famous newspaper editor, gave this advice to his fellow journalists, “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.”
Picture a woman whose face you have seen and probably recognize. She is not a famous celebrity; neither a beauty queen, nor a film star. When she gave permission for her most familiar photograph, she was not strutting on a red carpet. She was under a makeshift tent, nursing the youngest of her seven children. Though the photograph became an immediate success, the mother in the picture never received any compensation. For the photographer, the picture brought fame. For the woman pictured and her family it became a source of shame. Read more…
A Silvertone cathedral-style console radio occupied a corner of my grandparents’ living room when I was a boy. The radio was actually taller than I was. Every evening after supper, Pappy sat in his chair with his vintage standing ashtray close at hand. As he enjoyed his last cigar of the day he listened to the radio. I remember Fibber McGee and Molly, Amos ‘n’ Andy, Death Valley Days, The Shadow, and my favorite, The Lone Ranger.
The legend of the Lone Ranger is pure fiction. Several versions of the tale have circulated through the years, but the basics are consistent. Six Texas Rangers led by Captain Daniel Reid were on patrol when a band of outlaws, Butch Cavendish and his Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, ambushed and killed five of the men. The lone survivor was Dan Reid’s younger brother, John.
An Apache Indian stumbled upon the scene and recognized the wounded ranger as the man who had saved his life several years earlier. This Native American, named Tonto, stayed with Reid, nursing him back to health. Together two men dug six graves – five for Reid’s fallen comrades plus a sixth – so that Cavendish would think no Ranger had survived the attack.
Tonto fashioned a black mask, using material from Captain Daniel Reid’s vest, to conceal John Reid’s facial scars and identity. Even after the Cavendish gang was brought to justice, Reid continued to fight for law and order, against evil and crime, under the guise of the Lone Ranger. Read more…
I invite you to open your Bibles to our text for today, Luke 6:31, a passage that contains what is known as the Golden Rule. This law, which tells us how Jesus wants us to live, is also known as the Law of Love, the Law of Liberty in the books of Ephesians and James, and the second Great Commandment. The Golden Rule, in its positive form, “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” is the apex, the centerpiece, of Christian ethics. This ethic of reciprocity also has a negative form, which is, believe it or not, more commonly used. Often called the Silver Rule, the negative is usually phrased something like, “People should not treat others in ways that they would not like to be treated.”
We find variations of this rule in numerous very old cultures. In ancient Egypt the rule is somewhat selfishly motivated: “Do for one who may do for you, that you may cause him to do that.” Ancient Greece offered several variations: “Do not do to your neighbor what you would take ill from him,” “Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing,” “What you do not want to happen to you, do not do it yourself either,” “Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others,” and “What you would avoid suffering for yourself seek not to impose on others.” Ancient Rome offered this phrasing: “Expect from others what you did to them. It is not so, as you might believe, that one is made happy through the unhappiness of others.”
Almost every world religion incorporates the Golden Rule, though usually in the negative form.
- Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.”
- Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.”
- Confucianism: It is said a student approached Confucius and asked, “Is there one word for the conduct of life?” Confucius gave the Chinese word for reciprocity, offering, “Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire. Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.”
- Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary.” We find this rule in the Talmud from the great teacher Hillel.
- Islam: “None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” The great misfortune is that in Islam, the rule applies only to people who are a part of the Islamic faith.
- Christianity: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31). We also find the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” The wording in Christianity is noticeably different; it is expressed in a positive nature. Jesus is the first to word the rule in this way. Read more…