Peace on Earth

Luke 2:8-15
December 10, 2023


“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

from Luke 2:14


Where can we find peace in a world filled not only with wars, pandemics, division, and injustice, but also with great difficulties in our personal daily lives?

As children, we sometimes threw what we thought were well-deserved tantrums when we didn't get our way. We were sometimes very afraid of imagined problems, like monsters hiding in the closet. As we grew older we began to discover that we could live without that toy we wanted and that there were no monsters in the closet. Instead, we face health issues, relationship problems, loss of loved ones, financial struggles, people let us down, and many more problems.

Some of the storms in our lives are all in our imagination, some are very real, and some we make worse ourselves. Just this week, I found a storm raging inside me as I dealt with two different customer service issues for the church. My frustration grew as customer service people agreed with what needed to be done but were unable to do it or were obviously not reading the problem ticket I filed. By the time I gave up on these two issues Friday evening, I was exhausted.

Hope in Hard Times

Colossians 1:24-29
December 3, 2023


God chose to make known the riches
of the glory of this mystery,
which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

from Colossians 1:27


Life can be hard. Pain, loss, need, sickness, and death are real. We have relational and spiritual needs. There are wars and rumors of wars.

The Apostle Paul knew suffering. He left everything behind to follow Jesus. Because he served Jesus, he was frequently imprisoned and often beaten near to death. Five times he received forty lashes minus one. Three times he was beaten with rods. He received a stoning but survived. Three times he was shipwrecked and adrift at sea. He faced dangers traveling and often went without food and water.

Despite all he faced, the Apostle Paul dared to write, "I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake." He had discovered a great hope that cast a whole new light on his life and purpose. He proclaimed something people had not seen, Christ in us! A great hope of glory. Because of this great hope, Paul lived with the energy that this hope powerfully inspired in him, so that we too might experience this same hope and share it with others.

The Lens of Thanksgiving

Psalm 100
Philippians 4:4-7
November 19, 2023


Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him; bless his name.

from Psalm 100


Unfortunately, our streaming software malfunctioned today. We especially regret that we are unable to share an amazing testimony by Peg. Below is a written version of the sermon.

Please note that I preach from an outline as a starting point but do not stick with it. Today's sermon included some wonderful interactions and responses from the congregation that are not reflected in the written text.

If you wish a pdf of this sermon, please reply either on this post or by messaging and we will send you a link.

The Lens of Thankfulness
Psalm 100, Philippians 4:4-7
Preached by Paul Ogne on November 19, 2023
Oviedo Presbyterian Church

I am convinced that one of the things on God’s wish list for us is, 'Be thankful.' To be grateful and to live our lives out of that reality.

To be thankful is appreciating the water that half-fills a glass, as well as the air we breathe. To be thankful is a lens, in some cases a corrective lens, for viewing the world and ourselves. It acknowledges pain, loss, need, and difficulty, but also sees what is possible and good. Thankfulness brings a spark of light to dark times and places, revealing opportunities that might otherwise be lost in the shadows.

The Joy of the Lord

Luke 15:1-10
November 12, 2023


‘There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.'

from Luke 15:7


It is tempting to think that Jesus would hang out at our nice churches and with nice people, but are we ready for a Jesus who welcomes and hangs out with drunks, addicts, prostitutes, and felons?

The Pharisees were agast that Jesus would hang out with sinners.

Are we ready to welcome those kinds of people? Do we know or hang out with any of them ourselves? Can we even conceive of it?

God invites us to rejoice with him when the lost is found and even one sinner repents.

This is an amazing truth and great news. God’s great passion is to save the lost and we are invited to be part of his plan and his party, because we too once were lost, and the best we can say ourselves is, “now we are found.”

Fan of Follower?

Luke 14:25-35
November 5, 2023


‘Whoever does not carry the cross
and follow me cannot be my disciple.’

from Luke 14:26


Unfortunately, being a “fan” of Jesus is often confused with being a “follower” of Jesus.

Fans show up at gatherings where they are entertained. They spend a lot of time with other fans. Their conversations and thoughts often revolve around the people they admire. They even recruit additional fans.

The problem is that Jesus calls for disciples - followers, not fans. People who join him, not just watch. People who follow his commands, share the good news in both word and deed, and share his love.

This is a 100% commitment. We must leave some things behind to go where Jesus leads. It is life and relationships, not rituals or legalism.

This is a huge step. In fact, we can't do it on our own. It is only when we reach the end of what we can do that we realize what only God can do.

God's Guest List

Luke 14:12-24
October 29, 2023


‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town
and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’

from Luke 14:21


It is sad to say that those of us who fill churches on Sunday mornings may be among those who take God's grace for granted.

Jesus tells a parable about someone who throws a great banquet, inviting many. He sends out word to those he invited that the dinner is ready, and to come. Those who were invited make excuses about other things going on in their lives that keep them from coming. After being turned down by those he invited, he sends his servant out to bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame, instead of those for whom he originally prepared the banquet. When there is still room after they arrive, the servant is sent again to "Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled."

God longs for his grace and love to be known and experienced, so much so that when those who know him get so caught up in daily life that they lose track of this, he invites those who are cast aside and can do nothing for him, to come to his great feast.

Quitting the Quid Pro Quo -

Luke 14:7-14
October 22, 2023


When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled,
the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed because
they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid
at the resurrection of the righteous.

from Luke 14:13-14


You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours is part of normal human expectations. In fact, we can become highly sensitive to people not doing something for us after we have done something for them. It is only fair we say.

Jesus, however, leads us in a very different direction. Rather than doing something for someone else, like inviting them to a nice dinner, expecting them to do something similar in return for us, Jesus calls for us to do things for people who could never return the favor - to bless others who have no means to bless us.

We might say, "That's not fair!" It isn't fair, but that is the point of God's amazing grace. He saves wretches like us who can never return the favor or repay the debt.

The example of Jesus' life, as well as his teaching, calls for us to live lives of extravagant and costly generosity. Giving to others as Jesus gave himself for us.

Unity in Christ - World Communion Sunday

Colossians 1:9-14
October 1, 2023


There is no longer Jew or Greek;
there is no longer slave or free;
there is no longer male and female,
for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

from Galatians 3:28


Humans have a long tradition of subdividing and classifying each other. The letter to the Galatians was written to early Christians in what we now think of as Turkey. It was a crossroads not only of the Roman Empire, but also of Africa, Asia, and Europe. With so many different cultures, mannerisms, languages, and appearances, they wrestled with questions about what was essential to being a Christian.

Early Christians wrestled with what it meant for a non-Jewish person to become a Christian. Should they be circumcised or not? Should non-Jewish Christians adhere to Jewish religious law? How does a wide variety of very different people become part of the family of God?

Jesus radically breaks down human divisions and categories, not only bringing people to himself but also to each other. We become not only one with Christ but also with each other.

Growing in Faith

Colossians 1:9-14
September 24, 2023


We have not ceased praying for you and asking
that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will
in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

from Colossians 1:9


There are times in life when our experience of God's presence in our lives, and our seeking God's will are particularly important. College is one of them. Theta Alpha is the only Christian women's sorority on the campus of the University of Central Florida. For many many years our facilities have been part of the lives and faith of many young Christian women. Many have told me that the faith of their college years has been inseparable from Theta Alpha and the generosity of our sharing space with them.

This Sunday they will give to us as they lead us in songs of worship, share with us about the ministry of Theta Alpha, and share scripture that God has used in their lives and faith.

Table Manners

Luke 14:7-14
September 17, 2023


All who exalt themselves will be humbled,
and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

from Luke 14:11


Noticing that guests at dinner were choosing places of honor to sit, Jesus told a parable about seating at an important banquet. Rather than picking an honored place for yourself to sit, Jesus recommended sitting at a humble seat. It would be much better to be moved to a more important position than to be moved to the lowest position once someone more important shows up.

He teaches us to live humbly, and rather than doing nice things for people who might repay us, we are to be generous with people who can never repay us. Instead, our reward will be at the resurrection of the righteous.