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Sermons by Rev. Joan Pell (Page 16)



Smells trigger memories and pull at our heartstrings. Perhaps you can remember the smell of cookies in your grandmother’s house? Or the laundry powder your mom used to wash your clothes? They say some people can smell a good story a mile off. Our story today has a smell! It comes not long after the smell of a rotting corpse with Lazarus having been laid in a tomb for 4 days before Jesus brought him back to life. (John 12:1-8)



The normal action of a shamed parent was to disown the son. In our parable, the father does not shun his son. The father’s forgiveness has no strings attached; it is free of conditions. This is scandalous grace. (Luke 15:11-32)



I’m sure many of you have heard of this prayer: Lord, give me patience and I want it now! Anyone ever prayed that? How patient are you? How do you feel driving to Grass Valley on Highway 49 stuck behind a slow driver and a line of traffic? What does patience look like when the result may be a long time coming? (Luke 13:1-9)



Jesus is faced with a choice. How should he respond to what the Pharisees have just told him? We face decisions each day of our lives. Some of the situations we find ourselves in are harder to deal with than others. Every time we interact with others through both the big and the small issues, we have a choice as to how we respond. And Jesus does not criticize the Pharisees who have come to him. Instead he talks about the compassion and the empathy and the longing that he has for the people of Jerusalem. (Luke 13:31-35)



The original practice of fasting means to give up food, as in whole meals. Fasting has long roots in many Christian traditions, including Methodism. To fast from food reminds us of our dependence on God. The hunger pains we experience remind us to pray, as and the extra time we gain from not cooking and eating can be spent in prayer. The money saved is then given away. So we fast from food to feast on prayer and giving. What else might we fast and feast on this Lent? (Luke 4:1-13)

great expectations

Great Expectations

People want to hear good news that is comforting. Yet when we take the scripture seriously, and preach the real good news, it ticks people off. People are challenged to think and act differently. And folk’s great expectations go unfulfilled. If I do not upset you sometimes, then I am not doing my job. We, all of us, should be getting into trouble with our faith, and have people mad at us sometimes, as we meddle with the status quo. (Luke 4:14-30)

why gods love prevails

Why God’s love prevails

Ultimately hardship and suffering will not have the final word. African American Spirituals written during the time of slavery illustrate the way God’s love prevails. The songs gave the slaves hope and the courage to continue, for some to endure, and for others to disobey and to escape and to fight for justice. Sadly in two weeks’ time, in San Francisco, along with excited fans, will be some who have not come freely. They come as victims of human trafficking, the modern day version of slavery. (Romans 8: 28, 35, 37-39)

sent - jesus changes everything

Jesus Changes Everything

The impact of Jesus’ influence on our world cannot be measured. Jesus’ birth changed the whole world. So many things in our own lives happen because of an action that preceded them, and without that action, the future would have been different. My life has also changed by being a follower a Jesus. There are so many experiences that I would not have had if I was not a Christian. (John 1:1-14, Galatians 4:4)

jesus hope of the world

Jesus, Hope of the World

To have hope is to feel that what is wanted can be had. It is to believe in a better future. The opposite then, to not have hope, is to feel that what is wanted cannot be had, that the future is bleak. To feel hopeless is to be without options. It is a dark place to be. (Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-20)