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Sharing our Faith: Who are the people in your neighborhood?

Who are the people in your neighborhood? Bob (from Sesame Street) As much as we all love kids, they can easily be invisible. Invisible to lawmakers, civil rights advocates, and even sometimes to their neighbors. How can this be…we all love kids, and each of us would testify that we are invested in kids, if for no other reason than they represent our future. Children and adolescents can be hard to understand; they are different, by definition, and breaking the “code” to a child’s communication is truly a challenge for even the most dedicated and committed observer. Given this challenge, we sometimes just look past them and sum up our observations in simple, adult terms that most likely simpl

Sharing our Faith: Who is Our Neighbor?

Who is Our Neighbor? I have always found the question, “Who is my neighbor?”, to be a haunting one. And, the second great commandment, that Jesus seemed to be particularly fond of, “Love your Neighbor as Yourself,” pretty challenging. Can you really love your neighbor as much as you love yourself? What if there are competing needs, as there frequently are? Different values or priorities? And, what if you don’t like yourself very much sometimes? How do you love others when you are often more aware of your shortcomings than your strengths? These are questions that have shaped my life. I decided that perhaps becoming a “World Pilgrim” might help find some answers to these questions. So,

Sharing our Faith: Our neighbor, the Earth.

Our Neighbor – the Earth As I prepare to say a few words, I ask each of you to close your eyes and inhale deeply Consider the ground you walked across as you entered this place Consider the song of the bird….the show of the flower…the movement of air across you face as you go about your business Consider the nourishment you take in Consider the sea, the river, the rain, the refreshing water you drink Consider the teeny tiny details of moss, and insects, and icicles Consider the hurricane, the sand storm, the drought Consider the grand, “bigger that you” views across valleys, over treetops, up cliffs, into the depths of the earth Consider the glimpses up into the expanse of the universe. Than

Sharing our Faith: Our migrant Neighbors

Our migrant neighbors come in all shapes and sizes and colors. They are naturalized citizens, permanent legal residents, they are Dreamers, they are here on short term work visas, or they are undocumented. I think the most important thing to know about our migrant neighbors is that, just by looking at them, you cannot tell into which category they fall. You cannot judge a book by its cover. 42 years ago my father-in-law, an orchardist who ran Highland Orchards here in Covesville, told me there were some migrant workers at the neighboring migrant camp on Boaz Road. They had arrived earlier than expected in the harvest season and were asking for something, but nobody knew what. He asked if

Sermon: The Unlikely Choice

The Unlikely Choice Text: Gen. 37:1-4, 12-28 (Gary W. Charles, Cove Presbyterian Church, Covesville, VA, 8-20-2017) Cain and Abel took center stage last Sunday. Jacob and Esau were on stage the week before. Today, the spotlight is on Joseph with his coat of many colors. If the stories of Cain and Abel, and Esau and Jacob, left you scratching your head, then put on a hard hat this morning. For if God could put a protective mark on the sniveling murderer, Cain, and could build the future of the people of God on the back of the deceiving, scoundrel Jacob, it is even harder to grasp what God does with the obnoxious, repulsive, braggart Joseph. In Andrew Lloyd Weber’s marvelous interpretation of

Sharing our Faith: Confession about our neighbors

I confess, before God and all God’s people, that my life and the life of the world are broken by my sin. When Gary first asked me to share about “neighbors,” he asked me to talk about our sick and dying neighbors – those to whom I minster at VCU. But in the wake of all that’s happened over the past week, I feel like God is asking me to talk about my non-white neighbors. And to talk about that, I have to use the language of confession. Three years ago, when I attended the Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly in Detroit as an observer, I remember one morning’s worship service, in which they invited us to turn to our neighbor and discuss a question together. I was sitting next to a black woma

Sermon: Marked

Marked Genesis 4:1-15 (Gary W. Charles, Cove Presbyterian Church, Covesville, VA, 8-13-2017 Evil happens. It is never as far away as we deceive ourselves into thinking. Luke makes this point when at the end of the temptations of Jesus, Satan exits stage right, with the tag line, “Until the opportune time.” We do not need to wait for Jesus before evil takes the stage in Scripture. Evil happens in the primeval garden called Eden and no sooner do the first humans get expelled from Paradise than the first murder happens. We know next to nothing about Cain and Abel, but we know everything we need to know. Cain was the eldest brother, a farmer by trade, and his younger brother Abel was a shepherd.

Sermon: Esau's Gift

Esau’s Gift Genesis 32:4-22; 33:1-9 (Gary W. Charles, Cove Presbyterian Church, Covesville, VA, 8-6-2017) Esau was the first-born child, a son of privilege, but privilege he would never enjoy. For beginning in the birth canal, younger brother Jacob would twist and grab and steal every last ounce of Esau’s privilege, robbing him of everything from Esau’s firstborn birthright to Father Issac’s family blessing. To younger twin, Jacob, Esau was one big, hairy step to climb over on his way to get whatever he wanted. Young Jacob laughed his way to Uncle Laban’s house, leaving his fleeced brother behind. Many years would pass and finally the reunion Jacob had always dreaded would arrive. That is w

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