A Note from Dad

Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

June 18, 2017 (Father’s Day)

Text: Ephesians 5:1,        Old Testament:  Psalm 145,        New Testament:  Ephesians 6:1-4

 

            Today we honor our fathers.  Many of us will give gifts or share a family meal remembering what your Dad is for you.  Have you ever received a thank you from your father on this day?  What if you did?  It might sound like this:

 

Dear Children,

            Thank you for remembering Father’s Day.  I appreciate your thoughtfulness very much.  You can be sure that I will always remember your gratitude.

            I know this note might come as a shock to you.  I’ve not been one to express my feelings.  Neither am I one for writing notes – as you know.

            In fact, as I think about it, I can only remember writing something to you on one occasion.  I’m sorry I haven’t written more.  But, perhaps this note will explain my affection for you. [Read more...]

Hearing His Call

Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

June 11, 2017

Bellevue’s Sesquicentennial Day

Text:  Joel 1:14     Old Testament:  Leviticus 25:10-12, 18-25       New Testament:  Hebrews 10: 19-25

 

            On June 8, 1867, 33 property owners from Ross Township approached the Allegheny County Court of Quarter Sessions with a petition to incorporate as a borough.  It was a moment of community agreement on God’s call. 

James J. East led the petitioners.  He was from the Methodist Protestant Church.  His ancestors were French Huguenots.  He was born in England and had studied Latin at the King Edward VI Collegiate Institution.  He had left Allegheny City with his wife Annie for Ross Township’s cleaner air and was a church trustee who wrote against slavery and the influence of the saloon.[1] 

Hugh Forrester was a renowned Pittsburg contractor who hailed from Scotland.  Hugh’s 20 acres lay along Beaver Road -  the current Lincoln Avenue.[2]  Five years later he was a trustee of the United Presbyterian Church in Bellevue.[3] [Read more...]

One Against the World

 Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

June 4, 2017

 Text: John 17:11,       O.T.:  Psalm 68:1-10,           N.T.: John 17:1-11

  

                Memorial Day is about Christians making choices.  How we use our time.  Where we chose to go.  What we chose to do.  Who we are to meet.

                These choices are about ethics and values.  How we respond to different situations we face.  Whether we choose to return evil for evil, or do we choose to return good for evil.  We base our responses on values that are deeply embedded in our lives.  They come from our relationship with Jesus Christ, and the remembrance we have of others’ relationship with Christ.

                Today we remember the choices that were made in the intersection of the world with our lives and the lives of those we love.

                What drove those choices?  What principles lie behind those choices?

                Years ago a social psychologist conducted a study on the campus of Princeton Seminary.  A student was randomly chosen to lie on the sidewalk outside the Seminary’s chapel in the middle of morning classes. [Read more...]

One Against the World

Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

 May 28th, 2017

 Text: John 17:11        O.T.:  Psalm 68:1-10    N.T.: John 17:1-11 

 

                Memorial Day is about Christians making choices.  How we use our time.  Where we chose to go.  What we chose to do.  Who we are to meet.

                These choices are about ethics and values.  How we respond to different situations we face.  Whether we choose to return evil for evil, or do we choose to return good for evil.  We base our responses on values that are deeply embedded in our lives.  They come from our relationship with Jesus Christ, and the remembrance we have of others’ relationship with Christ.

                Today we remember the choices that were made in the intersection of the world with our lives and the lives of those we love.

                What drove those choices?  What principles lie behind those choices?

                Years ago a social psychologist conducted a study on the campus of Princeton Seminary.  A student was randomly chosen to lie on the sidewalk outside the Seminary’s chapel in the middle of morning classes. [Read more...]

Keeping the Promise

Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

May 21, 2017 

Text: John 14:15

O.T.: Psalm 66:8-20

N.T.: John 14:8-21

 

                This is Ascension Sunday, when we remember Jesus’ ascension into the Kingdom of Heaven.  His ascension occurred 40 days after the resurrection day – which would have been Thursday. It marks the close of the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection.  It begins the exaltation of Christ to the heavenly life about which He had spoken to the Apostles.

                In a practical sense, the ascension meant Christ’s humanity was no longer visible.  Ascension Day marked the end of being able to see Jesus as we see each other – fully human, accessible to each other by sight, sound, touch, hearing, taste, or smell.   He was lifted into Heaven where He now exercises power over Heaven and earth.  [Read more...]

Considering a Mother’s Heart

Rev. Dr. John Lolla, Jr. 

May 14, 2017

Text: Luke 2:19      Old Testament: Isa. 7:13-15    New Testament: Luke 1:8-38

                 Preaching is almost exclusively devoted to exploring the heart of our heavenly Father.  It can be hard to find His heart.  He’s distant from us, yet omnipresent.  We seek Him.  But He’s mysterious.  He promises to be watchful and protect us.  Yet, it’s on His terms – from a distance.

Finding our heavenly Father’s heart is the challenge earthly mothers face.  Each day they’re confronted with the elusiveness of our heavenly Father.  Daily a mother’s heart struggles with the challenge of knowing our heavenly Father is with her.  That challenge comes in the form of the children under her care.

Children . . . they’re gifts from God!  They’re the signs of God’s loving heart.  But they’re also tests from God.  Each day children pose a test of faith for a loving and devoted mother.   From the moment of a child’s conception, until the day our heavenly Father calls His children home, mothers’ hearts are challenged by the trials children pose to their faith, their hope, and their love. [Read more...]

Testing the Spirits

Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

May 7, 2017

Text:  I John 4:1

Old Testament: I Samuel 13:22-29

Psalm 22

New Testament:  I John 4:1-22

 

                Now is the time of the Scottish Reformation.  On May 2, 1559, John Knox returned to Scotland from exile in France.  He landed at Leith and spent this day in Edinburgh.  He proceeded north to Dundee, where Paul Methven’s preaching had reformed the city.  From Dundee, Knox followed the River Tay west to Perthshire.

                Perthshire was the heart of Scotland from the Picts until the Reformation.  Here the great Scottish kings were coronated on the Stone of Destiny at Scone.   On this great hill Scottish royalty was crowned since Kenneth MacAlpin in the ninth century.  From Macbeth, to Robert the Bruce’s coronation in 1306, to Charles II, 38 Scottish kings mounted the royal throne at Scone Abbey.  Scone stands above the River Tay, just a little over two miles north of Perth. 

When Knox entered Perth, Scone Abbey had stood for 400 years.  Scone had been the site of several monasteries until Alexander I built the abbey during the Crusades.  In Scone Abbey, Scotland’s Parliament had met.  Despite its ancient significance, the Abbey symbolized the corruption to pure Christian faith sought by the Reformers.  It was known as the “Palace of the Abbots.”

Around Perth, the scent of Church bishops mingled with the odor of royal rerogative in the fragrance of absolute rule.  Religious dissent had no place for the Church and Crown in Scotland. [Read more...]

Peace by Piece

Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

April 23, 2017

Text: John 20:19   Psalm 16    John 20:1-18

 

                “Shalom Alekem!”

                These are the first two words Jesus spoke to his disciples in the Upper Room after His crucifixion.  “Shalom alekem!”  “Peace be unto you!”

                People of the Middle East use this greeting when they meet.  No other greeting could have more profound implications, especially in the Middle East where peace is hard to find.

                “Peace be unto you!” summarizes Easter’s purpose.  The Heavenly Father raised Jesus to grant peace to His Son’s disciples.  Realizing the promise of peace is the entire point of Easter.

                Christ comes through His resurrection to give us peace.  He fulfills what He earlier promised to His disciples on the night He was betrayed.  “Peace I leave you.  My peace I give unto you.  Not as the world gives do I give it unto you.

                “In my Father’s house there are many rooms.  I go to prepare a place for you.  If I go to prepare a place for you, I will bring you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also.  Let not your hearts be troubled. Neither let them be afraid.”

                Jesus’ return in the Upper Room on Easter evening fulfilled His earlier promise.  We’re gathered this second Sunday of Easter to celebrate the receipt of that promise.

                But what does it mean?

                What is meant by Christ’s peace? [Read more...]

Lift High the Cross!

Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

 April 16, 2017 Easter Sunday

 Text: John 20:17  Isaiah 25:6-9  John 20:1-18

 

                Remember the Time Magazine cover story of Good Friday in 1966?  It was controversial and set the tone for the Baby Boomer rejection of the Church.  In an era of social movements, Christianity’s rejection was the most under-reported, and under-appreciated – except for this article. 

The cover story was “Where is God?” It could just as easily have been Jesus’ followers question when they visited Jesus’ tomb in Joseph of Arimathea’s garden that first Day of the Lord.

                Where is God in the face of the brutal injustice that crucified Jesus?  Where is God when the great teacher from whom we learned about God’s love was hung on a cross to die?

                The 1966 Time Magazine cover story in Holy Week was a sequel to an October 22, 1965 story it earlier published.  That earlier story described a radical theology that was emerging across America.  The 1965 radical movement was the “God is Dead,” movement.  This movement didn’t begin with Baby Boomers.  It influenced Baby Boomers. [Read more...]

The Cross of Obedience

Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.

April 14, 2017

Good Friday / Tenebrae Service

Text: Hebrews 5:8   Seven Last Words of Christ

 

                What exactly is love?

                Love has many meanings.  There’s brotherly or sisterly love that comes from the Greek word – philos.  This love is a caring concern for others – a friendship.  We know this love from our sister city – Philadelphia – also known as the City of Brotherly Love.  It’s a relationship that’s social, casual, but meaningful for us.

                Then, there’s the Greek word eros – from which the word erotic is derived.  This form of love is found in the emotional response to beauty that is often described as lust.  The Apostle Paul describes this form of love as the passions of the flesh.

                Romantic love can be described as partially philos and partially eros.  Romantic love intermingles friendship with passion – at times obsessive in its domination of the emotions, and in its need to possess what’s beautiful.

                Most love that’s depicted by the entertainment industry is the romantic type of love.  In fact, romance dominates our cultural understanding of love.  Marriages are held to this standard by wives and husbands as a benchmark for measuring the success of their relationship.  When romance slips away, couples come to pastors seeking pastoral support saying, “They’ve fallen out of love.” [Read more...]