January 19, 2020
This Sunday is Rev. Joel's last Sunday with us before we send him to his next calling at the Presbyterian Church of Chestertown. www.presbyterianchestertown.org This week, Rev. Joel shared some of his own call story, and how this scripture passage from Matthew 4 has been a part of Joel's call into ministry, Joel's call to Oconee Pres 8 years ago, and now Joel's call to Chestertown. But he reminds us, the call of God is for us all. We are ALL called into God's grace, and into service of God's kingdom. Every call is as unique as the individual being called. And sometimes, the call of God comes as silence, meaning no matter what we choose, God is with us.
Rev. Joel L. Tolbert, preaching Matthew 4
January 12, 2020
From being a toddler on the run in Matthew 2 to the preacher of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, how did Jesus get ready? In Matthew 3, he went to his mentor John. (That was last week) This week, he faces the tests and temptations of staying true to his identity and purpose. There is a difference between a test and a temptation. How can we face the tests with courage, but turn our back on the temptations?
Rev. Joel L. Tolbert preaching Matthew 4
December 29, 2019
Herod is hunting for Jesus, wanting to kill him. Joseph and Mary run across the border to Egypt to protect the child from Herod's destruction. Herod is so angry, he kills every little boy he can find that is about Jesus' age. The people weep. Jesus' arrival as perfect love unleashes a heap load of hate and fear. Those in charge get even crazier and more dangerous. How can we stand with Christ and Christ's kingdom against a leader with a fragile ego and a lot of power?
Guest Rev. Mark Harper preaching Mattew 2
December 24, 2019
Strangers came to welcome and worship God in the flesh. They brought their gifts. They saw the signs. They were excited. The people and the leaders had not noticed the star. They were not excited but disturbed. They did not go visit the child or bring him gifts. Why? Why were strangers, outsiders more aware and willing to welcome God and God's kingdom, while leaders and insiders were less aware or willing to go to Him and bring Him gifts? Who are we today, insiders unaware and unwilling and disturbed by God's arrival in our world, or strangers and outsiders who are excited to welcome God and God's kingdom into our world?
Rev. Joel L. Tolbert preaching Matthew 2
December 22, 2019
When Joseph discovered Mary was pregnant, what did his religion tell him to do? What did the culture tell him to do? What did scripture tell him to do? What did his own fears, disappointment, anger, sadness tell him to do? All of those voices, opinions, and assumptions were whispering their wisdoms to Joseph. Thankfully, he found a quiet place, and listened deeper, for something more true, and more loving. May we also listen deeper, below the shallow wisdoms around us or in us for the deeper truer forgiving love and loving forgiveness of God.
Rev. Joel L. Tolbert preaching Matthew 1
December 15, 2019
Parish Associate Rev. Decatur "De" Rodgers preaches this week about the odd, surprising family tree behind Jesus. Despite all those surprises, God brought into the world God's own self in Jesus through those broken people, and that broken family. Surely, that gives us a chuckle as we imagine what God might be doing even now through our broken families, and our broken selves.
Rev. Decatur Rodgers preaching Matthew 1
December 8, 2019
Isaiah twas foretold it... but what? He imagined a time and place where enemies would be friends, and those once dangerous to one another would be family, and a little child as the leader of that community. He begged God's people to look among the stumps for the little shoot of new, healthy growth. Can we see it? Can we believe it? Will we wait and work for it together? That's the call of the prophet then and now.
Rev. Joel L. Tolbert preaching Isaiah 10 and 11
First video shown - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NPOD92a78I&t=
Second video shown - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aNeVuGOTFk
December 1, 2019
On this first Sunday of Advent, HOPE Sunday, we hear how a prophet and poet wrote words of hope. He or she imagined entering a new Jerusalem and all the tribes were reunited. They were one community... with justice, prosperity, security, and peace for all God's people, not just for some but for all. Isn't that still our hope? Its hard to see it, or believe it. But let's hear the poet's disbelief, grief and confusion at the brokeness, and embrace the power of hope.
Rev. Joel L. Tolbert preaching Psalm 122
November 24, 2019
What is the "Good News"? On this Christ the King/Regin of Christ Sunday, we remember the key message of Christ... that God's Kingdom is here, and is coming. That was the core of Jesus' message. His preaching it challenged the authorities and powers so much, they crucified him for it. But it is still here, is still coming, and is still good. Do we believe it?
Rev. Joel L. Tolbert preaching Luke 23