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Sermon: The Incarnation in Six

December 31, 2018 Cove Presbyterian Church Isaiah 61:10-62:3 John 1:1-18 The Incarnation in Six On this, the last day of 2017, it is impossible not to look back on what has been an, um, interesting year. Interesting is not the adjective I am looking for but a few that come to mind aren’t really church appropriate. And besides, for 2017, I think I need more than one descriptor. I need more than one word to sum up the past 365 days. Maybe six will do it. Have you heard about “Six-Word Memoirs”? It is a project started in 2006 by Larry Smith of Smith Magazine. Inspired, by none other than Ernest Hemmingway, who apparently was challenged to write a story in six words. He answered the challenge w

Sermon: Everyday Angels

Everyday Angels Text: Luke 2:8-20 (Gary W. Charles at Cove Presbyterian Church, Covesville, VA, 12-24-2017) I love Christmas stories. I never tire of hearing about a converted Grinch, a jubilant Scrooge, a miracle on 34th Street. Two of my favorite Christmas stories are told by William Muehl, the late professor of preaching at Yale Divinity School and by Anna Quindlen, in her final column for the New York Times. If you have ever attended, starred in, or helped produce a Christmas Pageant, or even if you have not, enjoy this Christmas story by William Muehl: “Many years ago, when my wife and I had a son in nursery school, we received at his hands one day a message that chilled the blood. It

Sermon: Theotokos

Theotokos Text: Luke 1:26-38 Gary W. Charles, Cove Presbyterian Church, Covesville, VA, 12-24-2017 Early on in The Sound of Music, a group of perplexed nuns sing: “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” It is a question also asked by any who read Luke’s text today. What sense are we to make of Mary when she is visited by the angel Gabriel? Travel to the National Gallery of Art or the British Museum or the Louvre and you will see Mary portrayed as everything from angelic to naïve, from a mature woman to an innocent child agonizing over Gabriel’s news. “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” If you are a Protestant, basically you ignore her. If you grew up Catholic, you scratch your head at

Sermon: Designated Dreamers

Designated Dreamers Text: Psalm 126 (Gary W. Charles, Cove Presbyterian Church, Covesville, VA, 12-17-2017) “I don’t dream. Other people talk about their dreams, but I don’t dream. I don’t do it when I’m asleep and I don’t do it when I’m awake.” It is amazing the things that stick in your memory years later. A middle-aged, tired, no-time-for-games migrant worker on the Eastern Shore of Virginia spoke those words to me in the summer of 1978. I was working for the Virginia Council of Churches and my job was to plan fun and games for exhausted laborers when they returned from a dawn to dusk day of harvesting cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, and green beans. One night during my second week there,

Sermon: The First Christmas Story

The First Christmas Story Isaiah 40:1-9; Mark 1:1-8 (Gary W. Charles at Cove Presbyterian Church on 12-10-2017) ‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse, the apocalyptic expectations were hung by the chimney with care, with hope that o` ivscuro,tero,j soon would be there. It just doesn’t work, does it? None of the familiar words and charming Christmas stories works with Mark as our seasonal guide. With Mark in charge there would never be another Christmas Pageant. No makeshift manger. No young girls dressed as Mary holding a doll disguised as baby Jesus. No reluctant lads standing in as Joseph. No shepherds with crooks twice th

Sermon: Gregoreite !

Gregoreite! Text: March 13:32-37 (Gary W. Charles, Cove Presbyterian Church, Covesville, VA, 12-3-2017) Ready or not, he is back! He has been gone for a while, but now he is back. Mark is back and so is Advent. Not to worry, though, because society simply bowls over Advent in its rush to Christmas. Most Christians skip Advent as well. Yes, many churches light candles each Sunday in Advent, but they are swimming upstream. By December 1, people want to sing Christmas carols, not the haunting tunes of Advent. People want to hear about a decree that went out from Caesar Augustus; they do not want to hear about the sky falling. So, like our society, many Christians skip Advent and gladly board th

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