Psalm 27
ACTS 2: 1-4 & 12

St. Patrick’s Day 2019

Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” ROBERT FROST …

Did I offer peace today?  Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?  Did I say words of healing?  Did I let go go of my anger and resentment?  Did I forgive? Did I love?  These are real questions.” HENRI NOUWEN

Christ beside me, Christ before me.  Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.” ST PATRICK …

Happy St. Patrick’s Day again my friends!

Have you ever traveled on the road experiencing bumps and turns and sights that were unexpected?  As you take the ROAD TRIP of your life and you honestly declare on this St. Patrick’s Day 2019 that if asked about your life’s journey you would firmly state CHRIST BESIDE ME … CHRIST BEFORE ME … CHRIST BEHIND ME … CHRIST WITHIN ME … CHRIST BENEATH ME … CHRIST ABOVE ME. 

Who is in your personal driver’s seat taking you down life’s challenging streets, roads, and expressways? … Have you made room for Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and IS the Holy Spirit, God’s gift to believers, your personal route planner?

Friends, we are not about to change the world … we are not about to challenge the world with the love of God … the teachings of Jesus … unless and until people who state that they believe; people of faith; people in our churches truly consider and allow Jesus Christ to be our focal point, our GPS and the primary element of who we are each day.  Our journey is too precious … our journey a gift from God … as I have again discovered this week as I learned of one friend dying and another about to … this life; this journey; this daily experience can end without any notices of warning and long before we are ready to say but wait; wait I am not ready I need to do something for my faith … I didn’t do anything for Jesus .. I didn’t do anything for God … I didn’t bring the faith to my family … I was just too busy and didn’t have the time.

As we move towards Easter … as we journey in life’s every day interactions that again wake us up to terrorists killing people who are worshiping … as we hear words of taunting and hating in our media … as we have choices to make … I am here to suggest that on our personal ROAD TRIP of Life we need to pause and refuel … we need to pause and get our windshields cleaned … we need to pause and get ourselves right with God because if we don’t pause … if we are too busy … if we don’t care … we are going to break down and when we end this life on earth we will never be able to honestly declare that CHRIST was BESIDE US … when facing God after our earthly breaths have stopped we will not be able to confess CHRIST was BEFORE US, BEHIND US, WITHIN US, or BENEATH US if the world mattered more… and as we bow down in those moments will we be able to declare as we look up at Him for the first time that during our waking hours of life CHRIST WAS ABOVE US?

That’s why this ROAD TRIP of LIFE; this ROAD TRIP of FAITH is so important … that’s why during this season of LENT I want you to bring your BIBLES to church whether you come here alone, whether you come here with your family, or whether you have invited friends knowing that this church is a place that has room for 130 or more every single Sunday and that the pews need to be filled so that we can take on the challenges of faith … bring Hope to All .. showcase God’s love for ALL … and again hear God’s call to MAKE DISCIPLES of the WORLD even here in West Deptford … down the road in Swedesboro … in Camden and Westville .. in National Park and Paulsboro … in Woodbury and Deptford … yes, even in Philadelphia.

Have you heard the Psalmist declare .. “God is our refuge and strength; an even present help in trouble.  Therefore WE WILL NOT FEAR!  God teaches us; the LORD ALMIGHTY DECLARES “BE still children … be still … quiet down … pause … BE STILL and KNOW THAT I AM GOD.”

If you look here … here in your Bibles … actually our Bibles are God’s Bibles no matter what translation you choose … this is where the discovery begins; this is where the connection is reenergized … do you have 5 minutes to pull into God’s service station … BE STILL FRIENDS it’s worth it today; during Lent; during July; and yes even on Christmas morning when presents from the jolly elf are being opened or on Easter when the plastic eggs and fake grass strewn baskets delivered by a large member of the animal family Leporidae are being enjoyed … on any day; every day … if we want the world to change … if we want our lives to change … if we want to be able to declare to God when the next part of our life begins that JESUS CHRIST was BESIDE ME … JESUS CHRIST was BEFORE ME … CHRIST BEHIND ME … CHRIST WITHIN ME … CHRIST BENEATH ME … CHRIST ABOVE ME.  WE need to pause EACH day not just in the occasional moment to make sure that JESUS CHRIST is our reality now and then again tomorrow and then again next week.  It’s not a Season of Lent sacrifice to get closer to God … it’s not a lifestyles of the Rich and Famous only thing … it’s God’s call to all … God’s love for all shown to us through Jesus Christ.

Last Saturday, our family accidentally came upon the aftermath of Atlantic City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.  We were out for a walk on the boardwalk along the ocean to breath in the sea air … to contemplate the vastness of Creation and actually to try to casually burn some calories.

Everywhere we looked there were men, women and children wearing the green.  Huge top hats, silly beanies, and t-shirts with all kinds of St. Patrick’s Day wishes on them.  Smiles were shining and some were still handing out beads in the colors of my ancestors’ homeland.

Sitting on a boardwalk bench across from the Hard Rock Casino was a homeless man … his colors were dingy poverty brown and gray.  His weather beaten face indicated that he had spent more days in the sun not of choice but of life reality … poverty blended with mental health challenges are difficult elements to hide from the public.  He was mumbling and shouting but he called us over to him not to ask for a handout … not to beg for pity but he had a question to ask us.  HOW COME … he asked glancing at Donna, Megan, June and myself … HOW COME everyone says they’re Irish today?   COME ON what’s their surnames … WHAT ARE YOUR NAMES?  Are you really Irish or just saying it?

As a good Irishman I chuckled and said that on St. Patty’s Day and whenever there is a St. Patty’s Day parade anywhere on the planet that everyone’s Irish but I said we indeed have those roots … we are Irish … we belong to the Delaney Clan that originated along the rivers of County Laois and County Mao … if I had had the time I could have shown him the family crest with its three fishes set down the middle bordered in red.

Church … Sunday’s still are days when many people head into our churches … Easter will be one of two calendar days in our cyclical 365 day journey when places called CHURCH fill up … those going in and out of the buildings are saying we are Christians but do they belong to the clan? Do you belong?   Do you have the Lord’s Shield of Faith and are you ready to give it to a friend or neighbor?  Do you stand with the belt of truth around your waist?  Is justice your breastplate? Did you put your shoes on your feet every morning knowing that they will help you spread the Good News of peace?  The Good News for all you meet and say that yes even on this St. Patrick’s Day the words of the Saint ring true … CHRIST BESIDE YOU … CHRIST BEFORE YOU … CHRIST BEHIND YOU … CHRIST WITHIN YOU … CHRIST BENEATH YOU … CHRIST ABOVE YOU?

Will you embrace the Gogolin/Loveland family today as we celebrate Lillie’s baptism and follow up when they aren’t in church showing God’s love and fulfilling your promise as God’s church in the same way you have cared for all the other family’s you have made that promise to as a church?

Friends … on this St. Patrick’s Day … on this second Sunday of Lent … have you paused and found your still moments so that you like the members of the church of Jerusalem on that Day of Pentecost can be filled with God’s Holy Spirit?  It takes a pause … it takes an investment in our overwhelmingly busy schedule to realize, experience and celebrate God and then to put Jesus first and that’s what we are called to do … that’s what this world needs … Jesus taught … LOVE GOD … LOVE ALL of our NEIGHBORS … GO INTO THE WORLD and MAKE DISCIPLES of ALL PEOPLE for the TRANSFORMATION of the WORLD.

Church do you believe?  Do you hear the Word of God?  Do you hold God’s Word above your social media?  Above your binge worthy television shows and movies?  Above the Phillies with Bryce Harper?   When your friends … your neighbors … your co-workers .. your family see you walking in your faith journey do they declare as the witnesses in Jerusalem did “What does this mean?” And, do you tell them …

If you aren’t there yet … find pause … find quiet … for God; frankly for you and your life here and later and then cause them to be “surprised” by how the Spirit of God works in you.

The good news … unlike my friend Jeff who died on Tuesday and unlike my life long friend Mary Sue  whose need for life support has shut down her ability to communicate … you and I still can choose The Lord as our light … The Lord Jesus Christ as our Salvation … we have no one to fear because friends … I hope you truly believe and can declare that the LORD is your fortress protecting your life …. Find your place to be with God … slow down enough to allow God to hide you in a secret place in God’s own tent … safe … where you can talk, discover, and worship God.  Take on the Holy Spirit!

I cannot do it for you … God’s love is for ALL … Jesus came to teach ALL … LOVE ALL … die for ALL for the forgiveness of ALL sins and then to rise from that tomb verifying the eternal life we ALL have available … The LORD’s House … the THE LORD’s beauty for all the days of our eternal lives …experiencing the Lord’s goodness in the land of the Living!

BE STILL IT IS WORTH IT …. Find Hope in the Lord and be strong!  Let your heart take courage!

Irish singer Mary Black’s song No Frontiers include these words … “And heaven has its way when all will harmonize and know it’s in our hearts.” 

The world needs all of us truly living and believing in our hearts CHRIST BESIDE US … CHRIST BEFORE US … CHRIST BEHIND US … CHRIST WITHIN US … CHRIST BENEATH US … CHRIST ABOVE US.


Watch a video of today’s worship service:

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