Audio Sermons 2015-2016

May 15, Born Again / Pentecost Sunday

Acts 2:1-4, 14-21 

WELCOME TO PENTECOST! Today is the birthday of the Christian Church and the day we mark the coming of the Holy Spirit. We celebrate with baptism, confirmation, and the commitment of church membership, beautiful music, Holy Communion, a potluck lunch, and most of all: gratitude to God, joy for his many blessings, and hope for new life in Jesus.

Stand Alone Sunday: The UMC

May 8, Why I Am a United Methodist


Ephesians 1:11-23

In light of our UM General Conference, May 10-20, where our church will face divisive issues like homosexuality, it is a good time to reexamine our commitment to Christ and to our church.  After all, God is still committed to us.  In spite of all of our shortcomings, God continues to bless and use the United Methodist Church to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

How to Die Well: Finding Hope in Resurrection

May 1, Dying Well Begins with Living Well

John 21:7-17 

Knowing that we are going to die, how shall we live?  In his book, The Road to Character, David Brooks outlines the difference between resume virtues and eulogy virtues.  How might we live differently if our concern was more about leaving a legacy of faith and less about impressing those around us?



Apr 17, The Dying Role

John 14:1-4; 16:20-22

Some of us receive the ‘gift’ of a dying season in our lives.  We may not think of it as a gift, but those who know in advance they are dying have an opportunity to practice forgiveness and reconciliation with God and others.  Until we ceded all responsibility to doctors for our care, Christians used to emphasize the role of the dying person, in faith and in relationships.  We will look to recover these critical, beautiful practices.


Apr 10, The Value of Human Life

 John 1:1-14  

Contrary to popular opinion, our lives are good not due to some inherent sacredness of human life, but because we were created by God.  And we were created body and soul together; trying to separate the two is problematic.  This means life is God’s domain, not ours.  The implications of right theology of life and death are many – this will affect how we think about abortion, war, and euthanasia, to name a few.


Apr 3, Introduction to Dying

John 20:24-31

Our hope is not in avoidance of death, or immortality of the soul, but in resurrection from the dead, both Jesus’ and ours. It’s been said that Christianity is extended training in dying well. After all, Jesus invites us to die to ourselves and come and follow him. What would happen if we could get honest about death? We can claim the hope that God wants to give us!


Mar 27, The Power of Christ

Revelation 1:17-18


Lord, Teach Us to Pray

PALM SUNDAY – Mar 20, Not My Will But Yours

Luke 22:42

For Palm Sunday we will examine Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which culminates in the garden. Though he begins the week surrounded by cheering crowds, by Thursday night he is all but alone as he prays to his Heavenly Father. Jesus’ prayer ought to be our own, “Not my will, but yours, Father.”

Mar 13, What About Unanswered Prayers?

Matt 7:7-11

This question comes up for us again and again. We pray for a child to be changed, but change is slow to come. We ask for healing for a parent, but he or she still dies. What then? How can we make sense of the answers we get from God?

Mar 6, More Than Meets the Eye

John 8:32

Like the Transformers, there is more than meets the eye to our lives with God. Therefore we need to examine our consciences. Our founder John Wesley used to practice daily self-examination as a habit of prayer, to see whether his life is in line with God’s will or not. We will attempt to do the same.

Feb 28, Hal would Be Thy Name

Luke 11:1-4, Matthew 6:9-13

Jesus has given us the Lord’s Prayer as a model for prayer. In its simplicity there is a deep and profound way of encountering the living God. We will unpack the Lord’s Prayer phrase by phrase and find new meaning in a familiar prayer.

Feb 21, Take It Easy

Mark 1:35, Matthew 14:23, Luke 6:12

In the midst of our busy lives, we need to slow down to pray. We are human beings and not human doings for a reason. God created us with a rhythm of work and rest. While ‘on the go’ prayer is good, it is no substitute for daily quiet time with God.

Feb 14, Throwing Mountains

John 11:39-45, Matthew 21:21-22

Prayer is incredibly powerful. So much so that Jesus tells us we can throw a mountain into the sea. Of course, the power of prayer comes not from us, but from God, which is where all prayer begins and ends – with the power and love of God for us, his creation.

Stand Alone Sunday: God’s Call

Feb 7, Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Acts 13:2

A community of intimacy can go one of two ways: insular, comfortable, and protected, OR encouraging, challenging… a launch pad to send people out into ministry. Which one will we be? We are all called to ministry by our baptism, and a few are to be set apart by the Holy Spirit’s call to lead the church in ministry. Our job is to notice, name, and nurture the call, for the good of the church and for God’s kingdom. Who at Bethany is called to ordained ministry?


Sermon Series: ROOTED: Being Christians in a World of Religious Diversity

Jan 31, Following Jesus, Loving Others

John 3:16, John 15:4,5

The more we learn about people of other faiths, the better we can share our own.  Our goal is to be Christ for the other.  John 1 says that Jesus came full of grace and truth.  Some Christians seem to emphasize one over the other (so little truth that it’s not clear what we believe, or so little grace that no one wants to be around us).  Imagine if we, like Jesus, were full of both.  The salvation of the world is at stake.


Jan 24, Rooted in Christian Faith
John 3:16, 17

This sermon will help us clarify what we believe as Christians, and why it is important.  We will look briefly at how other religions view our own.  Finally we will invite all to believe in Jesus Christ and enter into a relationship with God through him.


Jan 17, Talking About Judaism
Genesis 12:1-3, 15:5-6

We share a common heritage in our ancestor Abraham with our Jewish brothers and sisters.  We share the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), and a common faith in God.  But what else can we know about Judaism?  How can knowing more about this faith inform our own faith in Jesus Christ?  After all, Jesus was a Jew, born into a Jewish family, who came to save Jews.



Jan 10, Talking About Islam
Genesis 21:9-20

This sermon will introduce us to the religion of Islam, name some of the commonalities we share with Muslims, and disscuss the important differences between Islam and Christianity.  We will end with a challenge and invitation.  In the words of Paul (II Cor 5:20), “We are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us.”  What kind of ambassadors will we be?


Jan 3, Faith in a Pluralistic World
Jeremiah 17:7-8   

We’ve all heard about the Augusta County School assignment in which students were to write the shahada, the Islamic statement of faith.  The controvery that followed is an example of the religious strife we see in our world today.  How shall we as Christians respond?


Sermon Series: It’s All About the Children…a Child – Dec. 20- Nov. 29, 2015

Dec 20, For to Us a Child is Born
Isaiah 9:2-7
The prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “For to us a child is born.”  He predicted that the Savior would come as a little boy, and that he would be Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God.  How are we receiving the Christ child in our lives and in our hearts?  After all, Christmas really is about Jesus.  Let’s celebrate the coming of our Savior.


Dec 13, Teach Your Children Well
Deuteronomy 11:18-21
We believe that Christmas is about Jesus, but do our actions betray us?  With our approach to gift-giving have we inadvertently taught our kids that Christmas is somehow about them?  How can we teach our children, and the children of this church, that Jesus is the reason for the season?


Dec 6, One Child at a Time
Mark 9:33-37
In our ministry in Honduras we are changing the world, one child at a time.  How might the way we welcome and love the children of Honduras help us to welcome and love the Christ child?


Nov 29, Through the Eyes of a Child
Luke 18:15-17
Jesus encouraged his followers to have a child-like faith.  What would it mean to experience God as a child?  Can we recover a sense of awe and wonder?  How can we cultivate trust in God the way children trust the adults in their lives?

AWESOME: Restoring the Wonder of Worship – Nov. 1-22, 2015

Nov 22, Intimacy with God
Psalm 139: 1-14 (NIV), James 4:8a
It’s not enough to know about God, we need to know God. It’s not enough to respect God, we are invited to be in love with God. Strangely enough, this God who is big enough to create us is also loving enough to desire intimacy with us. The paradox and mystery of our relationship with God is that the Almighty wants us to experience him intimately. Cultivating this intimacy requires our time, our vulnerability, and our submission.



Nov 15, Everything with Breath
Psalm 150
Why do we do the things we do in worship? What is the function of the altar? Why do we pass the peace and sing and light candles and why are there two candles on the table? Everything we do in worship has meaning.



Nov 8, Come Let Us Bow Down
Psalm 100, Psalm 95:6-7
Worship literally means to ascribe worth, to bow down. In some cultures, especially Asian ones, people bow down to one another. The depth of the bow depends on the prestige of the person one is encountering. If we bow slightly to a human, how much should we bow to Almighty God? We will look at our worship of God who is our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.



All Saints Day, Nov 1, How Great is Our God
Psalm 8, Psalm 33
Today is All Saints Sunday.  One of the gifts from the saints to us is to continually point us to our Great God.  And we need reminding!  God is so huge, we ought to stand in awe of how big God is and how small we are by comparison.  God is the one who made the universe, who breathed stars out of his mouth.  This God is surely worthy of our worship.


Discovering Financial Peace – Oct. 4-25, 2015

Oct 25, The Power of Generosity
II Corinthians 9:6-15
When we are stingy, we get stingy results.  But when we are generous, we get generous results.  The high call of Christ is to generosity, because that’s what God is life.  God is generous with us, not merely for our own pleasure, but also so that we can be generous with others.  Few things are more attractive, and more contagious than a generous person.  Imagine the kind of impact we can have on our community when others see the people of God as compassionate, loving, and generous.



Oct 18, The Number One Myth about Money
Psalm 24:1
Our most fundamental misunderstanding about our life and our possessions is that they belong to us. Truly, everything belongs to God, even our homes, children, and money. The root of the idea of stewardship is that we are caretakers, stewards for what is God’s. Therefore we are responsible to God for what we do with it. Once we get this right, giving becomes easier and more joyous.



Oct 11, Breaking the Bondage of Debt
Proverbs 22:7, Galatians 5:1
The Bible talks about debt in stark terms. Our sin causes us to be in deep debt. Borrowers are slaves to their lenders. Wow! Those of us who’ve been in debt can appreciate the burden we feel. We will talk about the problem of debt and strategies to get out from under it. Imagine the kind of giving we could do if we weren’t saddled with debt.



Oct 4, The Basics of Biblical Finance
Hebrews 12:11, Deuteronomy 15:10-11
Most of us have struggled with money at one time or another. Bad decisions and bad luck conspire to keep us in a difficult financial situation. The good news is there’s hope! The gift of God is not just salvation for our soul, but also real peace in this life, to know that we are God’s beloved children. In this introductory sermon, we will unpack some basics of God’s way of handling money on our way to finding peace.


Dare to Dream: Discovering a God-Sized Mission for Your Life August/September, 2015

Sept 27, Don’t Ever Give Up
Matthew 6:22-24, Deuteronomy 34:1-9
At some point each of us has to make a decision: is the word quit in our vocabulary or not?  Just as God sustained Moses, God will sustain us in our pursuit of this vision.  Occasionally we need to go to the mountaintop to meet God, but also to remember that God is with us in the valleys of setbacks and frustrations.


Sept 20, Release It to Increase It
Fulfilling this dream will only happen if we can begin to see the world, and ourselves, through God’s eyes. While we were busy making excuses, God was busy equipping us for the work ahead. What Moses saw as an ordinary staff, God used a sign of God’s power. The most effective disciples make use of head, hands and heart to do God’s will.


Sept 13, Lose Your Big But
Exodus 3:9-12
We all have excuses that keep us from pursuing that big dream. But no dream worth pursuing will come easily. Moses had some big buts: he thought he was unqualified and unbelievable. He was right! But when we draw on God’s strength, when we refuse to listen to the naysayers (including ourselves!), we discover God’s promises are true.


Sept 6, Your Burning Bush
Exodus 3:1-6
Eventually our worldly pursuits, fueled by appetite, approval and ambition, will result in disillusionment. Are we ready to let God’s fire fuel us instead? Each of us can have a burning bush moment, just like Moses. And it’s in these experiences that God speaks to us; are we fully present to God in that moment? When we are we can discover God’s dream for our lives.


Aug 30, Discover Your Birthright
Ephesians 4:11-13
Every believer is given spiritual gifts, to be used for God’s glory and for building God’s kingdom. God has created each of us for a purpose, and given us a unique identity. What is our Bethany brand? What is my personal brand? What is the dream God has put in my heart? We will explore the notion that the Holy Spirit is leading us to follow Christ into the world.


Aug 23, Dreaming the Dream
Genesis 28:10-13
At the beginning of every school year or calendar year, we make resolutions: to study harder, to lose weight, to be a better friend. These are good ideas, but they’re so small! We need a bigger dream for God! God revealed a dream to Jacob of a ladder, a staircase that connected earth to heaven. Can we move from a self-selected dream to a God-directed dream? What would it take to receive a vision from God? It’s time to go bigger!


Youth Mission Sunday – Aug 16, 2015



Come to the Table – July/August, 2015

Aug 9, Come and Get It!
John 6:32-35
When the farmer’s wife rings the bell, the farmhands come running. Why? Because the noontime meal sustains them for the important work they have to do. Food provides energy! For us, faith is a way of life and Communion is bread for the journey. It fills us up so that we can be poured out again. And when we are properly fed, we can be effective at feeding others.


Aug 2, Heavenly Hors d’Oeuvres
Matthew 26:26-29, Matthew 22:1-10
Jesus compared heaven to a banquet, a feast. And for us Holy Communion is an appetizer. As we say, it is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. In fact, on the night before he was crucified, even as he prepared with his disciples for his own death, Jesus is anticipating the inbreaking kingdom of God. He told them he would not drink the wine again until he drank it in that new day in the coming Kingdom. In what way do we prepare ourselves for heaven by sharing in Holy Communion?


July 26, Who’s Coming to Dinner?
Luke 24:30-35, John 6:50
What if someone told us that there is a foolproof way to experience the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives, and every time we do this thing we get filled up with God’s grace, and on top of that Jesus told us we should do it… What would we say? “Ok, but only once a month?” C’mon! It’s better than that! Historically the Methodist Church used to celebrate Communion just quarterly because that’s as often as the circuit-riding clergy made it around on horseback to visit. But what if Holy Communion occupied a more central place in our lives, as it did for the earliest Christians? Very similar to the family dinner, when we eat together, good things happen.