Tuesday, May 5, 2020

May 10, 2020

Worship at Home

First Presbyterian Churches of
Paris and Deport, Texas

May 10, 2020
Mothers Day

Greetings in the name of Christ!  We are trying a new thing today!  We're taking social media to a whole new level we are using this new blog to combine a few youtube videos with the written word to hopefully bring you closer to a worship experience you are used to.

Armel Crocker and Jane Els gathered in the pecan grove behind Armel's house to introduce this blog.  Jane suggested this place as a good place to inaugurate our online "presence" because this spot is one of the most spiritual places you can imagine.  Put yourself in our place for a while as you read our words and listen to our voices.  We will gather together surrounded by God's natural beauty in a peaceful setting.


Acts 7:55-60

But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look," he said, "I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he died.

This is the word of the Lord.        Thanks be to God.

1 Peter 2:2-10

Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation-if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God's sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: "See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame." To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner," and "A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

The word of the Lord.          Thanks be to God.

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus according to John (14:1-14)

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

The Gospel of the Lord.      Praise to you, O Christ.

Only One Way             Armel Crocker CP

The problems of today and the future are almost overwhelming. Some of those in a position to know the facts are privately saying that things are not nearly as bad as they seem—they are worse. Public officials seem to have taken the same approach to our national problems as many doctors do with a terminally ill patient—keep the unpleasant truth from them as long as possible.

The situation was this:  The disciples were gathered together with Jesus on the last Thursday night of his life in the Upper Room, and he was talking to them about the inevitability of his death (and theirs).  And he said to them.  “Trust God.  Trust in me. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 

That verse could well be called a Manual for Stress Management, a remedy for anxious and troubled hearts. 

In my Father’s house are many dwelling places, are many living places, and I am going to prepare a living space for you.  If this were not so, I would not have told you.  And when the time is right, I will come again and take you to myself.”  And Thomas said, “Jesus, we don’t know where you are going and we don’t know the way.  How would we know the way to my Father’s house?”  And Jesus said:  “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.  I am the way to my Father’s house; the way to my Father’s living spaces; the way to Eternal life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

And in this passage we clearly hear two wonderful promises of Jesus. And the promises of Jesus are the promises of God, and the promises of God are the promises of Jesus, for Jesus and God are one and the same.  And Jesus makes two wonderful promises:  “I am going to prepare a living space for you, a place for you for all eternity.  Trust God.  Trust me.  That is what I am going to do for you.  And secondly, when the time is right, I will come again and take you to that place.”  And Thomas questions:  “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, and how would we get there?  Is heaven beyond the Stars?  Or in some other galaxy?  Lord, we have no idea of where heaven is and we don’t know how to get there.”  And Jesus said, “Thomas, trust me.  I am going to prepare a place for you and when the time is right, I will come and get you and take you to this place.”  

Two wonderful promises of God.

And Jesus says to you this day:  “Trust God.  Trust me.  I have gone to prepare a place for you.  In my father’s house are many dwelling place.  If this were not so, I would not have told you.  I am preparing a place for you.  And when the time is right, I will come again and take you to myself and take you to this place.”  God wants you and me to trust, to trust his promises.

So we hear the two wonderful promises of Jesus:  I go to prepare a living space, for you, and I will come again to take you to myself and to that place. Jesus continues,
 “I am the way, the truth and the life.  I am the way to the father’s house, to the father’s dwelling places, to life eternal. 
No one comes to the Father except by me.”

Let’s focus on that sentence and phrase, “except by me.” 

Upon Baptism we each individually entered into a covenant with Jesus and corporately as a church to follow Jesus teachings and do the works that he did. When we believe in Jesus we are capable of doing even greater works.
Respecting and loving our worldly neighbors, taking care of the disenfranchised and poor. We must continue the work of love, compassion, and service to mankind that Jesus embodied throughout his earthly life. We must live out the gospel message in all areas of our life “so that the Father may be glorified” (v13)

Christ is the only Way and Christ is the Way.

And a message from Jane Els: (using selections from Psalm 31, and reading from The Message version)

Psalm 31

 I run to you, God; I run for dear life.
    Don’t let me down!
    Take me seriously this time!
Get down on my level and listen,
    and please—no procrastination!
Your granite cave a hiding place,
    your high cliff a place of safety.
 You’re my cave to hide in,
    my cliff to climb.
Be my safe leader,
    be my true mountain guide.
Free me from hidden traps;
    I want to hide in you.
I’ve put my life in your hands.
    You won’t drop me,
    you’ll never let me down.

Hour by hour I place my days in your hand,
    safe from the hands out to get me.
Warm me, your servant, with a smile;
    save me because you love me.

Now we will close with listening to this old favorite hymn:

This video was taken by Jane a couple of years ago in Oklahoma at a friend's house while on a weekend retreat with a bunch of friends who all (except Jane) are musical.  There is a button on the bottom right corner to enlarge the picture.  You can turn the volume up if you need to.  And once the video is over it might go on to other youtube videos of all sorts I can't control like bread making or other such. You can just stop the video whenever you want.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Introducing this Blog

Introducing our blog:
 Jane Els and Armel Crocker were commissioned as pastors through  Grace Presbytery on October 3, 2021 at First Presbyterian Church in Paris, Texas.  

We went through Austin Seminary together earning Certificates of Ministry.  Jane is a ruling elder and member of First Presbyterian in Winnsboro and Armel is at First Presbyterian in Dallas.  We have alternate preaching here and there in Grace Presbytery, mostly at churches in Paris, Deport, Winnsboro and Whitewright.  

When the Covid-19 virus hit and shut down in-person worship we decided to start this blog so we could provide a way to have worship available electronically but also in a way that combined it in written form but also in a video format where we could offer sermons and the occasional music tidbit that might add to your understanding of the message. 

We are learning as we go.  We ask for your patience as we try to speed around the learning curve without crashing into anything.

A few notes:  When you come to a video you should be able to just click on the arrow to start the video.  Once the video starts you could enlarge the picture by hitting the [] brackets at the bottom right hand of the screen if you want.  

Since we're using Youtube you might see content we didn't post after our video has ended.  We don't control what that video is.  It might be a cooking show that Jane has recently looked at on youtube or it might not.  We're not really sure how this works. 

For those who have seen us preach at your church individually but never together we wanted to show you a photo of the two of us together in one place at one time:

You can send us feedback at our email address:

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