“A View from the Donkey’s Back”
The triumphal entry of our Lord into Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday was the most famous parade in history. It was strictly a pick-up procession, starting from the suburbs of Bethany, up the hill from the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem, and was about two miles distance from the city gate known as The Beautiful Gate. That gate has long since been sealed over, but the arches still show in the wall.
The population of Jerusalem was about 120,000 in Jesus’ time, and the city was jammed with thousands more visitors for the Passover celebration. It was a perfect time for the Messiah to come into the city. It was likely a straggly procession, with Jesus on the donkey, and the donkey’s colt plodding alongside of them; then, the cluster of disciples, and close followers either running ahead to spread palm branches or trailing along behind. Continue reading Pastor’s Sermon April 5, 2020 Palm Sunday
John 11:1-6, 11-15, 20-27, 32-45
On the property of the Parkville Presbyterian Camp, north of Kansas City, Missouri, is an old, decrepit cemetery. Imagine, if you will, the telling of the following story in hushed tones in this cemetery, very late on a moonlit night, in the midst of twenty-five or thirty spellbound junior high young people. 😉 In the center of this ancient burial ground is the sunken grave of a twelve-year-old girl, whose tragic death occurred on the very night of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. The little girl, Molly Wade, was a good, if precocious, lass, who loved to play with her mother’s beads. Jewelry fascinated the girl, and she especially enjoyed taking apart and hiding the beads of her mother’s many necklaces. Continue reading Pastor’s Sermon March 29, 2020
I Samuel 16:1-13
“Believing Is Seeing”
There are many barren little towns in South Dakota, as you might well imagine. In one of these towns, named Wessington, there is a small Presbyterian church that did not start out as a church at all. It was the central South Dakota headquarters for…the Ku Klux Klan. In the early days of the 20th century, there were few African Americans within a hundred miles of Wessington, South Dakota, but it was the philosophy the Klan espoused that made a chapter viable there. Their sick beliefs applied, of course, to Native Americans, Jews, and to the Chinese people who were out there working on the railroads, as well as to the African Americans. Bigotry, it seems, can find a target anywhere. This is as true today as ever, although the language of bigotry, especially among politicians, is more creatively disguised and is expressed in what we now call dog whistles.
From Pastor David Poland
Dear OLPC Members and Friends,
I don’t know about you, but to me it feels like it’s already been a year since we last saw each other! And for those of us who are “born-again huggers,” even two weeks is too long…. This “social distancing” is a real pain, even if we do know that it’s necessary and absolutely the right thing to do. While I am still loath to put my trust in an administration that has not yet earned that trust, I am willing to heed the directives of our esteemed doctors and their informed opinions. That is why, although it is so counter-intuitive, the best thing we can do for one another is to keep our distance – physically, anyway – in the name of love.
Last night I received a phone call from a high school classmate who now lives inn Janesville, Wisconsin. He told me about a former neighbor of his – a pastor – whose entire congregation (about the same size as ours!) is now quarantined because they continued to gather for worship, and one turned out to prove positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). No one knew, including the individual infected, and that is precisely the point of NOT gathering again until this pandemic has run its course, however long that may take. Meanwhile, if you would like at any time to speak with me, please feel free to call my cell (610-888-5091), preferably between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., but anytime in the case of an urgency or an emergency. I continue to pray for our congregants daily.
You are aware by now that your Session members have been in frequent and diligent communication with one another concerning our church’s response to this pandemic, and that all worship services, meetings, and other activities that would normally be held in our buildings, have been cancelled until the Philadelphia City ban on such has been lifted. You will be notified as soon as that happens and we are able to gather once again! Until then, I plan to send an email each Saturday, to everyone in the church family for whom I have an email address, attaching a copy of the next day’s sermon, pastoral prayer, and bulletin. If you do not receive yours, or cannot open these attachments, let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will make another effort. Copies are also being mailed or otherwise distributed to all non-emailers who desire them.
Finally, for there to be a church complex for us to return to one day, our offerings are still needed. Bills will continue to arrive and necessary payments made accordingly. I was taught from the time I was a child that, “We don’t pay for ‘the show’ (worship) only when we attend; rather, we honor the Lord regularly with our tithes and offerings.” I mailed my (monthly) pledge check to the church office on Monday, and I hope and trust that you will be faithful in doing the same.
Yours in His Service,
Pastor Dave Poland
PS – Please remember to keep in your prayers:
* Healthcare workers
* Older adults
* Persons who are physically fragile and vulnerable
* Those who are in financial distress
*Government officials and scientists, for wisdom and courage
* Comfort for those who mourn
* Peace for those who are quarantine
A woman of Samaria came to draw water from a well, and Jesus said to her, basically, “May I have a drink, please?”
The most direct route north to Galilee was through the region of Samaria, yet the typical good Jew of Jesus’ day would often take the long way around just to avoid this area. The problem with Samaria was the people who lived there. They were not “good Jews.” They were not pure Jews by heredity; they were Jews who had been ethnically mixed over generations of inter-marriages with people of the Arab race. Folks in Samaria were not even faithfully practicing the Hebrew religion but were combining Judaism with vestiges of their earlier roots in pagan religions. Such religious practices made them ritually impure in the eyes of the “good” Jews of Jesus’ day, so when it came to religious matters it was best for a practicing Jew to just avoid them.
Send the light of truth into all the earth.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground. -Psalm 104:30
Take us, Good Shepherd, into your care, and call us to follow in your way.