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Unforgettable Sermon in Unforgettable Times

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Back in the 1990’s, I started a tradition of preaching a sermon the Sunday after Easter that I would simply call the “Unforgettable Message.” This may not necessarily be the best message you have ever heard but rather a presentation of an element that is memorable. I usually vary my preaching style a bit and, in some years, get totally “out of the box.”

The context of this year’s sermon is unforgettable times. We are living in days that are monumentally historical. This era of social distancing and quarantine-like lock downs will be long remembered. How can we connect better right now? This will be one of my hopes for the sermon on Sunday. What is the sermon about? You will have to tune in on livestream this week to find out.

If you are curious, here are some clues.

  • It will not involve memorization like the Sermon on the Mount or the Gospel of Mark.
  • One segment will be called “Stump the Preacher” where you name an animal, vegetable, or mineral that cannot be used in a sermon.
  • It will not be a monologue.
  • The sermon will be interactive. You will have a chance to participate if you would like.
  • It will not involve a costume.
  • It will engage people within the current COVID-19 context.
  • It will reveal what stand-up comics do that pastors seldom do.
  • There will be teachings from the Bible in the message.

One of the reasons I started preaching an annual unforgettable sermon was to continue to proclaim the Easter message “He is risen” yet again the Sunday after Easter. Resurrection is a year-round theme and not confined to one day. Hopefully, the unforgettable message has contributed to expanding and changing our thinking about the Sunday after Easter.

This Sunday, April 19, I will be presenting “An Unforgettable Message.” I hope you will tune into Livestream at 8, 9:30, 11, or 11:07am. The overall content will be kept quiet in order to have an element of surprise. In preparation, I would simply ask for your prayers and plans to engage when asked.

Shalom,
Philip

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Easter in Not Canceled!!!

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Baffled, blindsided, upside down world…are these not the most bizarre times we can ever remember? Can any of you even recall a time so strange? Just think about how our world has changed in just the last month. The unthinkable and unfathomable have both happened! We have been ordered to stay in our homes by the Governor unless it is absolutely necessary. Schools and universities are now prevented from assembly and can only meet online. There is so much that has been cancelled.

Both the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments have been cancelled. MLB and college baseball have been cancelled and events postponed. Restaurants have closed except for takeout orders. Gas is at a decade low, yet no one can travel. Who could have guessed at any of this just a month ago?

But the coronavirus has caused something far worse than the extra precautions, staying at home, and cancellations. We are all grieving the staggering loss of life. The number of deaths per day is beyond what we can grasp. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones and to those who fear losing loved ones. Let us pray our world, nation, and community sees an end to this pandemic. There has been no time such as this in our lifetimes.

We have had cancellation after cancellation, but one thing has not been cancelled…EASTER! We will not gather for worship this weekend in person but make no mistake about it…EASTER IS NOT CANCELLED! The good news of the message of the risen Lord will never be cancelled. And we will have Easter! We will proclaim again the resurrection of our Lord! We need this message of hope more than ever! Not only will we have this Easter celebration, it will be a most unforgettable one!

I hope you are able to tune into our Easter Livestream at 8:00, 9:30, 11:00, or 11:07am. You will be hearing the good news that the coronavirus will never cancel Easter! Even in these strange times we can say HAPPY EASTER! HE IS RISEN!

Shalom, 
Philip

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Governor Orders Florida to Stay Home

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis just put out the order for Florida residents to stay at home unless they are pursuing essential activities. President Donald Trump has also asked for continued social distancing and similar precautions through the month of April. Bishop David Graves had previously asked the churches of Alabama-West Florida to not hold in-person worship for the entire month of April. Let us be in prayer for our world, nation, state and local community during this extended time of staying home and heeding the caution to end the spread of this deadly Coronavirus.

We will continue to offer Livestream worship each Sunday at 8:00, 9:30, 11:00, and 11:07. Holy Week will offer additional Livestream services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday at 7pm each evening. Given our unique circumstances and people’s greater need to worship now, I anticipate that those two services will set records for weekday Livestream services.

Our Easter services will be available by Livestream at 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 and 11:07. As previously noted, we will claim another date when we are able to worship together again and have an “EASTER CELEBRATION.” This means we will claim the promise of the early church that every Sunday is a “little Easter” and will have several this year! The Lord knows we can all use the resurrection of Jesus with all we are going through now!

Again, I would like to thank our worship arts, essential musicians, and technical people for making Livestream possible right now. We appreciate your service to us during this unprecedented time! The photos below are of each crew from last Sunday.

  



On a lighter note, even the ducks know something is up in this bizarre time and are practicing social distancing. I have two new friends and named them Shirley and Curly. My favorite leisurely activity is to turn on the TV after a long day and find a rebroadcast of a sports game in which I do not know who’s won. It’s not the same, but it helps. I hope you are also finding ways to find some rest at home.



I miss seeing you guys in the flock! I miss shaking hands and giving out hugs at the door. The sights, sounds, and laughter of Shalimar United Methodist cannot be replicated on Livestream and they are all greatly missed. I am truly hoping this Coronavirus will end soon!

Miss you and love you!
Shalom, 
Philip

 

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