Never Alone: Sermon Audio

We are called to be “Christ-like,” but that often seems an impossible ideal. How can we, who are shaped by so many things in our lives, be transformed into the image of God?

Sermon Title: Never Alone
Preacher: Allen McGraw
Date: 5/5/13
Time: Morning Worship Service
Location: First United Methodist Church of Water Valley
Scripture Reference: John 14:23-29

Love That Lasts: Sermon Audio

How will the world know that we are disciples of Jesus? The simple answer, according to Jesus is to love each other. However, he adds that we are to love each other the way he has loved us. That takes it to a whole other level. What would that look like for you to love the way Jesus loves?

Sermon Title: Love That Lasts
Preacher: Allen McGraw
Date: 4/28/13
Time: Morning Worship Service
Location: First United Methodist Church of Water Valley
Scripture Reference: John 13:31-35

Sheep Need A Shepherd: Sermon Audio

Psalm 23 may contain one of the most recognized lines in all of scripture: “Yea tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…” However, when compared to the life of an average church-goer, this Psalm that describes an idyllic scene of surpassing peace seems to present an unattainable dream. What can we do to make “green pastures” and “still waters” a reality in our lives?

Sermon Title: Sheep Need A Shepherd
Preacher: Allen McGraw
Date: 4/21/13
Time: Morning Worship Service
Location: First United Methodist Church of Water Valley
Scripture Reference: Psalm 23 (John 10:22-30)

When Yes Means Maybe: Sermon Audio

Jesus is alive and the disciples have seen him. Yet, even after seeing the nail scared hands and feet, can the disciples really be sure that Jesus lives? And if he is alive, what now? Peter’s answer – “Let’s go fishing.” Maybe Jesus has something else in mind, even for the one who denied him.

Sermon Title: When Yes Means Maybe
Preacher: Allen McGraw
Date: 4/14/13
Time: Morning Worship Service
Location: First United Methodist Church of Water Valley
Scripture Reference: John 21:1-19

Now That’s Good News: Sermon Audio

He is risen! He is risen indeed! The resurrection of Jesus is the pivotal event of the Christian faith. Without it, we have no future hope and no present assurance. The followers of Jesus had lost all hope and all assurance. However, when Mary Magdalene visits the tomb on Easter morning, her life is forever changed with just one word. Do you know what it is?

Sermon Title: Now That’s Good News?
Preacher: Allen McGraw
Date: 3/31/13
Time: Morning Worship Service
Location: First United Methodist Church of Water Valley
Scripture Reference: John 20:1-18

What Does It Mean To Be Easter People

Empty TombOver the last several weeks, we have journeyed through Lent and Holy Week. Now on this side of the resurrection, we can faithfully proclaim, “We are an Easter people.” So now what? Is it business as usual or does being an Easter people mean something?

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” is a prayer that has been central to the Christian faith from its inception. But what is it that we envision God’s kingdom to be? It is easy for us to superimpose upon our image of the Kingdom ideas that come from our understanding of earthly kingdoms. The quest for kingdom (little k) in our world has always come with violence; physical, social, economic, etc. In our quest for kingdom, peace has been fleeting at best and at worst merely an illusion. The violence done on the part of one person or group of people in an effort to establish their own vision of kingdom leaves behind nothing but brokenness, even when the intentions are good.

The “Good News” is that we have a promise from God that “a new heaven and a new earth” will replace all of our insufficient attempts at kingdom building. Where we will dwell eternally with God and God “will wipe every tear from [our] eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more.” (Rev 21:4) When we pray, “thy kingdom come,” that is what we pray for. However, we must never forget that Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom of God has drawn near. That means that we can experience the coming Kingdom of God as a reality now. It is more than just a future hope, but also a present reality. Jesus not only proclaimed the Kingdom had come, but then he showed us what it looked like to live into that reality. As he went about dismantling the power structures that had arisen out of our broken attempts at kingdom, he showed us what it meant to live the Kingdom of God. No longer was “power over” an acceptable way of being in relationship with others. It was no longer acceptable to seek positions of power or privilege, but servant-hood was the basic component in the new order.

The resurrection verifies for us the veracity of Christ’s claims. Nothing else proves so clearly that God’s Kingdom is our present reality like the resurrection of Christ. The enemy of humanity, death, has been defeated and Christ calls us to live a resurrected life. It is the resurrected life of Christ, in which we participate, that is the assurance of our present and future hope. Paul says, “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life” (Rom 5:10).

The Joke’s On Who: Sermon Audio

It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like that day, as Jesus rode, on a donkey, into Jerusalem. His messianic proclamation is unmistakable. However, his will not be a revolution like anyone expects. He faces off with the religious and political establishments of his day, not carrying a sword, but bearing a cross. What does it mean for us as Christians today to follow a crucified messiah?

Sermon Title: The Joke’s On Who?
Preacher: Allen McGraw
Date: 3/24/13
Time: Morning Worship Service
Location: First United Methodist Church of Water Valley
Scripture Reference: Luke 19:28-40

What Was She Thinking: Sermon Audio

In a display of unmatched love and devotion, Mary of Bethany, anoints Jesus’ feet with costly perfume and wipes his feet with her hair. It is a scene that overwhelms us with its lavish depiction of adoration for Jesus by one of his closest friends. However, this display would have seemed bizarre to those present at the time. Mary’s action is prophetic and can speak to us, especially now, as the Cross of Calvary looms large on our horizon.

Sermon Title: What Was She Thinking
Preacher: Allen McGraw
Date: 3/17/13
Time: Morning Worship Service
Location: First United Methodist Church of Water Valley
Scripture Reference: John 12:1-8

Welcome to Filling Up and Pouring Out

Dear Friends,

Filling Up Pouring Out“Filling Up and Pouring Out” is a phrase that captures the heart of who we, as children of God, should long to be. In Romans 5:5 Paul says that, “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Our lives are filled continually with God’s love and we are called to share that love with others.

We are travelers together on this journey of faith, supporting each other along the way. My  hope and fervent prayer is that you will experience God’s overwhelming love in ways that transform your life and the lives of those around you.

Blessings on you and yours,
Allen

A Tale of TWO Brothers: Sermon Audio

In the parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus seems to focus his attention on the son who brought shame on his father’s household and wasted all the he was given. However, a closer examination of the parable reveals much more about the attitude of the religious establishment than we might like to hear. Where do you fit, in this parable about TWO lost brothers?

Sermon Title: A Tale of TWO Brothers
Date: 3/10/13
Time: Morning Worship Service
Location: First United Methodist Church of Water Valley
Scripture Reference: Luke 15:11-32