The heart of Collingswood Presbyterian Church is our worship. We exist to build and nurture a community that embraces Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Everything we do springs from our worship because worship both renews us and empowers us to go out into the world to witness to the Lord in all we say and do.
In the Presbyterian tradition, the sermon is an essential part of worship. Typically 20 minutes or so in length, the sermon reflects the preacher’s prayerful and studious understanding of each week’s scripture. Preachers may spend 8 hours or longer preparing the sermon. They try to understand the historical background of when the passage was first written as well as contextual clues provided by the passages before and after. At times, it is useful to read the passages in their original language of Greek or Hebrew. Preachers often consult commentators, scholars who research the Bible to provide further insights.
All this is to say that the sermon is not the opinion of one person or something that just emerges suddenly. Rather it is the culmination of a process that will transform listeners by making the ancient texts apply to their reality.
There are many ways to present or form a sermon. These may include telling the story from an individual’s point of view or making an argument based on the historical situation presented in the text.
Each passage of scripture has many truths to tell. However, the preacher can usually speak about one. The focus is that particular section or even word from the passage that unlocks its meaning.
A sermon is not a speech. Its goal is not informative but transformative. The essential function of the sermon is to refresh and renew listeners spiritually, thus empowering them to reenter the world knowing God is with us. Immanuel!
May 16, 2021 – “In not Of” – John 17:6-19 — In the last prayer Jesus offered on behalf of his followers, he declared that they were in the world but not of the world. It means that while they lived alongside their fellow human beings, they did not necessarily share their ideals and values. The question is for us whether we as Christ’s followers share Jesus’ values or those of the world? For a link to today’s recorded service, click here. For a link to the written sermon, click here.
May 9, 2021 – “Abiding In Love” – John 15:9-17 — One of the last acts of Jesus was to command, not request his followers to love each other. The best analogy we have is the love most mothers and fathers have for their children, But Jesus asks us to consider an even higher level of love — love for strangers, even people we may not like. It’s a hard teaching, but consider how the world could be if we followed it. For a link to the worship service, click here. For a link to the written sermon, click here.
May 2, 2021 – “A Time for Pruning” – John 15:1-8 — Jesus tells us the he is the true vine and we are the branches, apart from him, we can do nothing. We know that for plants to grow and be healthy, it is important to prune them from time to time, taking away what is unnecessary in order to focus on those things that give growth and life. We in our own lives need to periodically examine ourselves and prune away whatever is holding us back. For a link to the worship service, click here. For a link to the written sermon, click here.
April 25, 2021 – “One Flock, One Shepherd” – John 10:11-18 — When Jesus tells us he is the Good Shepherd, he is telling us he is the Good Shepherd of all of us. Jesus refuses to see the differences among us that most think are so important — distinctions that we should celebrate instead of fear. As events have shown us once again the sinful idea of White Supremacy has only generated hatred, violence, and even death. For a link to the worship service, click here. For a link to the written sermon, click here.
April 18, 2021 – “You Are Witnesses” – Luke 24:36b-48 – The Risen Christ appeared to his disciples and they greeted him with a strange mix of joy, but also fear. They had no idea how to handle his return to life because it meant that New Life for all is possible, forgiveness is real, and God’s love truly changes everything. They were the first witnesses, but we are also witnesses. What will we do to share the good news of Jesus? For a link to the worship service, click here. For a link to the written sermon, click here.
April 11, 2021 – “Healing Wounds” – John 20:19-31 — A fact of life is that when we are hurt, we remember. The physical, mental, and spiritual scars just don’t vanish. One of the fascinating things about our resurrected Lord Jesus is that he continues to carry with him the wounds inflicted on him as he suffered. That means he knows our pain and continues to suffer with us. For a link to the written sermon, click here.
April 4, 2021 – Easter Sunday – John 20:1-18 – “Hunting Easter Eggs” – The paradox of Easter is that we celebrate nothing! Nothing in that we celebrate an empty tomb with nothing inside. Jesus Christ has left the grave and his absence from the tomb signals new life and new beginnings in all the empty places in our lives. For a link to the online service, click here. For a link to the written sermon, click here.
March 28, 2020 – Palm/Passion Sunday – Mark 14:1-15:47 — Today we read from Mark’s gospel about the world-changing events of Holy Week. How — in the course of just 5 days, Jesus went from overwhelming popularity, to overwhelming rejection by even his disciples, to trial, to crucifixion, to suffering and to death. Click here for a link to a recording of the service.
March 21, 2020 – Dying Seeds -John 12:20-33 — As Jesus prepares for his final confrontation with the Temple Authorities which will result in his death, he reminds us about the nature of seeds. Unless seeds die, they cannot produce and generate new grows. As Spring has begun, dying seeds are an appropriate metaphor for how we can transform the death and despair in our own lives into new growth and renewal! Click here for a link to a recording of the service. Click here for a link to the written sermon.
March 14, 2020 – Does God Love the World?– John 3:14-21 — The most visible verse in scripture is probably John 3:16: For God so loved the world… But for people who have doubts about God or whose faith has been challenged, the verse can sound like a threat. Love God or else! Is that how God’s love works? Or is there another way of understanding John 3:16? Click here for a link to a recording of the service. Click here for a link to the written sermon.
March 7, 2020 – Turning Our Tables – John 2:13-22 — When we hear about Jesus cleansing the Temple of moneychangers and sellers of sacrificial animals, we may say, “You go, man!” But what if he looks inside the temples of our bodies? Does Jesus need to cleanse us as well? Click here for a link to a recording of the service. Click here for a link to the written sermon.
February 28, 2020 – Bearing our Crosses? – Mark 8:31-38 — What does it mean when Jesus calls us to bear our cross like he did? Does that mean we suffer in silence, or is it something else? Click here for a link to a recording of the service. Click here for a link to the written sermon.
February 21, 2020 – Forgiveness Revisited – Genesis 9:8-17 — After the flood, God promised never to destroy humanity again. Instead, God chooses to pursue the more difficult, yet ultimately more successful, path of radical forgiveness. Click here for a link to a recording of the service. Click here for a link to the written sermon.
February 14, 2021 – Full Participation – Mark 1:40-45 — Early in his ministry, Jesus proved that he came to radically change the way we related to God and each other. By healing a leper, he actually violated the customs of his day. As his followers, we also are challenged to reexamine how our society is doing things. Click here for a link to a recording of the service. Click here for a link to the written sermon.
February 7, 2020 – On Eagles Wings – Isaiah 40:21-31 — At a time when the children of Israel were fearful their future and surrounded by many strange gods and ideologies — much like today — the prophet Isaiah reminds us that there is one and only one God who raises us up on Eagles wings when we choose to follow. Click here for a link to a recording of the service. Click here for a link to the written sermon.
January 31, 2021 – Exposing the Big Lie – Mark 1:21-28 — Jesus begins his ministry demonstrating God’s power in both his words and actions. By changing one man’s life, he changed all our lives by proving he has come to drive out evil. Click here for a link to a recording of the service. Click here for a link to the written sermon.
January 24, 2021 – Crazy Love – Jonah 3:1-5, 10 – We’re going to meet an angry prophet. He was angry not because the people wouldn’t listen to him, but because they did! Click here for a link to a recording of the service. Click here for a link to the written sermon.
January 17, 2021 – Called and Found – This week we are lifting so many challenges to God facing our nation and our world. We do well to remember in the midst of all these crises we have been found by Jesus Christ and when we choose to follow him, everything falls into place. Click here for a link to a recording of the service. Click here for a link to the sermon.
January 10, 2021 – The World Shattered – The events of this week may have caused some to realize how fragile our human institutions are and how what happened might have been much worse. Yet the cataclysm we endured this week is surely overshadowed by the most cataclysmic event in human history: The Baptism of Jesus. Click here for a link to a recording of the service. Click here for a link to the sermon.
January 3, 2021 – Spiritual Imagination – We celebrate Epiphany, the visit of the Wise Men to the toddler Jesus. They followed a star, not knowing what to expect and happily adapted themselves to gifting a baby living in poverty. The new year will be a blessing to us the when use our Spiritual Imaginations to see God in all that is happening around us. Click here for a link to a recording of the service. Click here for a link to the sermon.
December 27, 2020 – Service of Nine Lessons and Carols – We remember the way scriptures from the Old and New Testaments point their way to the coming of Jesus Our Savior as we sing some of our favorite Christmas Carols. Click here for a link to a recording of the service.
December 20, 2020 – The ABC’s of Christmas – Join us as we explore with the children the “ABCs of Christmas” – telling the story of the birth of Jesus. All Shepherds, Angels, and Wise Ones are invited! Click here for a link to a recording of the service.
December 13, 2020 – A Question of Authority – John 6-8, 19-28 – When John the Baptizer call the people to repent and prepare for the Messiah, he was questioned by the authorities about what he was doing and saying. During this Advent season, we are called to decide whether Jesus will be the authority in our lives. Click here for a recording of the service.
December 6, 2020 – Out of Our Wilderness – Isaiah 40:1-11 – The prophet Isaiah tells us that the Messiah comes out of the wilderness to meet us where we are. But many of us dwell in our own personal wilderness and the good news is that Jesus meets us there so we can revive ourselves during this Advent season. Click here for a recording of the service.
November 29, 2020 – God’s Clay – Isaiah 64:1-9 – As we begin the season of Advent, it is good to reflect on why we need a Savior in the first place. Christmas is not just for fun, presents, and parties (small ones this year). Christmas is about reestablishing our relationship with the God who made us and loves us and simply asks that we love each other in return. Click here for a recording of the service.
November 22, 2020 – The Upside Down Kingdom – Today we conclude the Christian Year by celebrating the Reign of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Let us remember that the “Kingdom” Jesus rules over is almost completely opposite most of us live and think. Jesus gives only love — not power, not money, not status. Something to consider in the very upside down world we’re living in. Click here for a recording of the service.
November 15, 2020 – Holy Teamwork – God created us not to be alone but to act together to fulfill God’s purpose for the world. Today we meet three people who which God’s help, saved the people of Israel from a terrible situation. God can use us today to change the world, but only if we do it together! Click Here for a recording of the service.
November 8, 2020 – Choosing the Lord – We have just concluded a contentious time of choosing our leaders in the US. We still aren’t sure of all the results. However, our choices for them pale in comparison to the choice Israel made 3500 years ago: whether to choose to follow the Lord. Click Here for a recording of the service.
November 1, 2020 -Good Trouble – The “Beatitudes” or blessings Jesus offers us in Matthew’s gospel portray an “upside down” way of looking at the world. He blesses the so-called “losers” of this world and especially encourages those who get into trouble for his sake. A different way, indeed! Click Here for a recording of the service.
October 25, 2020 – Giving our Very Selves – As the church was getting started 2000 years ago, the most famous evangelist was a man named Paul. Paul travelled extensively around the Middle East, staying in various towns for months at a time. He succeeded not only by telling about Jesus but also building close friendships with the people he met — a lesson still valuable today! Click Here for a recording of the service.
October 18, 2020 – Giving to the Emperor – How do we look at the world? Is there a “religious” side and a “secular” side? If so, how that that influence our thoughts, words, and choices? More importantly, does Jesus see the world that way? Click Here for a recording of the service.
October 11, 2020 – I Shall Not Want – The 23rd Psalm is one of the most well know poem in the world. It speaks of a total trust in God as being the shepherd who can care for us in all our needs. But first, we have to admit that we are indeed sheep. Click Here for a recording of the service.
October 4, 2020 – Truth to Power – Once again we find Jesus teaching when various religious leaders of the Jewish community were present. At the core of Jesus’ debate with these leaders was how we human beings are to understand God’s Law and how it should apply to us. Click Here for a recording of the service.
September 27, 2020 – Actions, Not Words – Matthew 21:23-32 – Hypocrisy is nothing new. Jesus spent much his ministry exposing leaders who were hypocrites about following God’s Law. However, when we say that we follow Jesus, we too must be equally willing to speak out against the hypocrisy of our day, regardless of the cost. Click Here for a recording of the service.
September 20, 2020 – Upside Down Justice Matthew 20:1-16 – Jesus tells a parable which makes clear that God’s notion of justice is not the same as most human notions of justice. The topic of justice is especially poignant as we remember the life and legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Click here for a recording of the service.
September 13, 2020 – How Often is Enough? – Matthew 18:21-35 – Forgiveness can often be the hardest thing for any human being to do. The hurts and pains of the past never quite go away. Yet Jesus urges us to forgive, not once, or seven times, but uncountable times. Only then will we be truly free. Click here for the recorded service.
September 6, 2020 – God’s Truth in a Time of Chaos – Exodus 3:1-15 In a time where everyone is proclaiming truth, but none of it is ringing true, we Christians have the real truth: Jesus Christ. Christ’s life, teaching, and examples are the only standard we need to separate God’s Truth from Human Lies. Click here for the recorded service.
8-30-20 “I AM Who I AM” – Exodus 3:1-15
Moses was called out his peaceful life to return to the chaos of Egypt to undertake the impossible task of freeing the slaves. He, of course, could not do it alone. But through faith in God, the great I AM, Moses succeeded. We are no different from Moses because God has a call for each of us, too. Click for a video of the service.
8-23-20 “Grateful!” – Psalm 138 – Tara Klemash shares her faith journey with us, strengthened by her faith, the love of her wife Amanda, and the support of her Collingswood family. Click for a video of the service.
8-16-20 “Acts of Faith in Times of Trouble” – Matthew 15:21-28 Faith means the willingness to accept God’s plan for our lives, even when we don’t always understand it. Trust sees us through. Click for the video
8-9-20 “Hymn Sing” – Various Scriptures This week, we feature a hymn sing mixing scripture with familiar songs from a variety of sources. Please forgive a few technical issues during the first part of the service. Click for the video,
8-2-20 Be Scared and Do it Anyway – Matthew 14:13-21 When Jesus performed one of his most famous miracles, feeding over 5000 people, few knew that he had just learned that his cousin, friend, and mentor, had just been killed for speaking against the king. Jesus wanted to have some time by himself to pray about this tragic event which undoubtedly shook him. Nevertheless, he overcame his fear because of his endless compassion for people. Click for the video sermon.
7-26-20 Wise Leadership – This week we discuss the story of King Solomon asking God for wisdom to rule his people of Israel. It is an example anyone in a position of leadership should follow. However Solomon, like so many of us, started with good intentions but ended up going from wisdom to foolishness.
7-19-20 Wheat and Weeds – One of the things nearly all of us have in comment, regardless of beliefs, physical appearance, or status in society, is our tendency to want to judge each other. Jesus reminds us that because there is much more to us than means the eye, only God is in the position to decide who and what is wheat and who and what is weeds. Click for abbreviated service.
7-12-20 Falling into Place – Human beings are much, much more than our physical bodies. We are creatures not only of flesh, but of God’s spirit. Life often finds us in conflict between the two. Click for abbreviated service.
7-5-20 Rest for the Weary – In this complicated time, more than a few of us are beyond tired, beyond exhausted. We are weary. The good news of our faith is that Jesus knows this and offers us the opportunity to cast our burdens on him. Why don’t take him up on his offer? Click for abbreviated service.
6-28-20 The Joy of Welcoming – Truth tellers of every era have been attacked, fired, and even killed because they said what needed to be said. That is as true today as it was in the time of the prophet Jeremiah, whose unenviable task it was to warn Israel of its coming destruction unless they returned to God. A message for today. Click for abbreviated service.
6-21-20 The Pain of the Truth – Truth tellers of every era have been attacked, fired, and even killed because they said what needed to be said. That is as true today as it was in the time of the prophet Jeremiah, whose unenviable task it was to warn Israel of its coming destruction unless they returned to God. A message for today. Click for abbreviated service.
6-14-20 Hope Rising – One thing visionary leaders have in abundance is hope. But hope, according to Paul, can only endure when it has been built on a foundation of Suffering, Endurance, and Character rooted, of course, in God. Without the example of Jesus, it is rather hard to sustain hope especially in these troubled times. Click for abbreviated service.
6-7-20 The Trinity in Times of Trouble – The Holy Trinity represents God’s ultimate intention for creation: perfect community working in perfect harmony. It is a timely reminder for what we should be striving for in these troubled times. Click for abbreviated service.
5-31-20 And we’re off! – Pentecost is the “birthday of the church.” However, unlike typical birthdays when we receive gifts, the church’s birthday is all about reminding us to give the world the greatest gift, the good news of the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ Click for abbreviated service.
5-24-20 Start Your Engines – This day is Ascension Day, when Jesus concluded his physical time on earth. It was a time of challenge for his disciples who were now in charge of spreading the good news all over the world — just as we are today! Click for abbreviated service.
5-17-20 The Advantages of Knowing God – The beauty of Spring often leads us to contemplate the wonder and mystery of God. However, it is one thing to acknowledge God, it is quite another to know who God is and what God wants for us. Click for abbreviated service.
5-10-20 Taste and See – Following Jesus and how his emphasis on human dignity and love was and remains very different from the accepted wisdom that life is all about money and power. Quite appropriate as we honor the women in our lives who originally taught us what human dignity and love are about! Click for abbreviated service.
4-26-20 The Unknown Christ – Just when you think you are most alone, the risen Christ is with us. Look at one of the earliest examples, Jesus’ followers on the road to Emmaus Click for abbreviated service.
4-19-20 In Praise of Doubt – It may seem surprising, but even some of Jesus’ disciples, specifically a man named Thomas, did not at first believe the resurrection was for real. That’s very OK! Click for abbreviated service.
4-12-20 Hope Rising – This is the day of resurrection and for Christians, resurrection means hope! Jesus’ disciples had no hope after he died, sometimes may feel the same way. But the Good News is the Christ is Alive! Click for abbreviated service.
4-5-20 What a Difference a Week Makes – As we begin Holy Week, we are reminded how quickly things changed for Jesus. Loved by the crowds on Palm Sunday. Dead on Good Friday. Click for abbreviated service.
3-29-20 A Season of Dryness – The national pandemic has exposed not only fears for the health of loved ones and ourselves, but a certain dryness in our own lives as we reflect on what is going on. Click for video sermon.
3-22-20 Children of Light – In these challenging days, it is easy to do what is easy, avoiding anything that threatens us. Jesus calls us to be Children of Light, living in honesty, striving for justice, and seeking goodness in our lives.
3-15-20 With Us or Not? – The Israelites after their escape from Egypt constantly challenged and tested God through their leader Moses. They were always wondering if God was with them in their struggle to stay alive. We think the same way. However, are we asking the right question?
3-8-20 Again and Again – A uniquely Christian concept is that of being “born again.” However, there is little agreement to exactly what that means. A better translation of the original New Testament words “born again,” which were written in the Greek language, are “born from above,” a very different way of looking at things.
3-1-20 Temptations – Before Jesus set forth on his mission of bringing the Good News to the world, he put himself through a time of testing and temptation to prove to himself that he was worthy of the challenge. We face the same temptations today and we can only resist them by rooting ourselves in Jesus’ message of love and servanthood.
2-26-20 From Ashes to Resurrection– We mark the beginning of the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday. Receiving the imposition of Ashes reminds us that God formed our bodies from dust and our bodies shall indeed return to dust. However, instead of bemoaning that fact, let us celebrate the goodness of our God, whose love for us extends beyond this life for all eternity.
2-23-20 Fearless – When Peter, John, and James ascended the mountain and watched the Transfiguration of Jesus, the naturally reacted with fear and confusion. But Jesus recognized their fears, just as He recognized our fears, and enouraged them to walk back into life equipped with the knowledge of his presence.
2-16-20 Choosing Life – Are you alive, or are you just another Zombie wandering around? As the children of Israel were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses urges them to “Choose Life” by following God’s way.
2-9-20 Action – What we call “Spirituality” and what we call “Religion” are simply two sides of the same coin. Our spiritual relationship with God, should translate in to positive action on earth guided by the knowledge of God informed by our religion.
2-2-20 Blessings – God’s blessings do not always come in the form we expect. Jesus teaches that we are blessed by God not in times of prosperity, but in times of adversity because that is when we draw spiritually close to the Lord.
1-26-20 Beginnings – Jesus begins His earthly ministry by calling four men to be His first disciples. He did not call them to “do” anything. Rather He called them, as He calls us, into an individualized, special relationship. Whatever we do afterwards springs from that.
1-19-20 Chosen – What does it mean to be chosen by God? When Israel was at their very lowest, the prophet Isaiah told them that they were and remained chosen by God to be the light to the world. Sometimes, we may feel that we are at our lowest. Do not fear, God still loves us and God still chooses us.
1-12-20 God with Us – Jesus was baptized. So what? We explore the meaning of the sacrament of baptism in our own lives and the significance of Jesus getting baptized just like us. Emmanuel! God with Us.
1-5-20 The Power of Visions – Throughout the Bible, women and men of courage have heard the voice God in many forms and have taken world changing action. God is still speaking to us today and with faith, we can hear God, obey God, and thereby change the world!
12-24-19 What Child is This? – Who is Jesus Christ? Why could a baby born to poor parents in an obscure village still influence the world today? How? by turning the way we think about the world upside down.
12-15-19 Are You the One?– We find John the Baptizer in prison, questioning whether he wasted his life proclaiming the wrong Messiah. So he asks Jesus if he is the one. The answer is surprising.
12-8-19 Glimpses of the Future– John the Baptizer begins his ministry announcing the arrival of Jesus. He calls all of us sinners who need to repent and accept God’s forgiveness — then put it into action.
12-1-19 Wake Up! – The arrival of Jesus was totally unexpected. Yet Jesus continues to come to us, often at the times when He is totally unexpected yet most needed.
11-24-19 In Paradise – The Christian Year concludes with Jesus dying on a cross, a loser by the world’s standards. Yet even in death, Jesus forgives the people who put him there. Is that what losers do, or winners?
11-17-19 By Your Endurance – Our worlds may shatter at any time, not just once, but many times in our lives. The suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus gives us the faith to endure even the worst.
10-27-19 The Blessed Life – What does it mean to live a truly blessed life. Hint: it’s not what you think.
10-20-19 Justice Rising – Jesus discusses what He means by praying constantly.
10-13-19 Exceeding Expectations – Jesus answers the main question about faith: quantity or quality
10-6-19 The Victory of the Last – Contrary to the ways of this world, Jesus Christ rewards the true heroes of the world, not the wealthy, powerful, or strong
9-29-19 The Audacity of Hope – Having hope is absurd, yet throughout the Bible, God is always inspiring people to do ridiculous things in the hope for a better future
9-15-19 Welcome Back – No matter what we have done in life, God is more than willing to drop everything to welcome us home
9-8-19 The Harbor – The Church is like a harbor, receiving people, restoring them, and sending them back out into the world
8-25-19 Three Strikes and You’re In – The first person to whom Jesus revealed he was the Messiah was a foreign woman with a questionable past
8-18-19 The Ungrateful Invalid – God expects us to use our abilities, whatever they may be, not ignore them or deny them
8-11-19 Karen’s Dilemma – Having a knowledge of the love of God makes it easier to deal with the unexpected issues of life