“These Little Ones”

A meditation preached before the congregation at Hamilton Park UCC, Lancaster, PA on September 27, 2015 by Rev. Catherine M. Shiley

“These Little Ones” ~ Mark 9:42-50

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.”  Wow!

These are some of the harshest, most no-nonsense words we hear Jesus speak in the gospel accounts of his ministry.  And they are followed by some even harsher words –

* if your hand causes you to stumble ….. cut it off!

* if your foot causes you to stumble ….. cut it off!

* if your eye causes you to stumble ….. pluck it out!

Again, wow!  Is this what you signed up for when you joined the church?  Because, frankly, I’m having second thoughts! Read the rest of this entry »

“Lives Lost in Service”

A meditation preached before the congregation at Hamilton Park UCC, Lancaster, PA on September 13, 2015 by Rev. Catherine M. Shiley

“Lives Lost in Service” ~ Mark 8:27-38

Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers ……”

Strange words to us, since being a follower is not something we typically encourage in our culture.  I know of no college commencement speaker congratulating the graduates on becoming the “followers of tomorrow.”  Nobody gives awards to recognize the contributions of community followers.  Nobody frames their résumé to highlight where they exercised strong “followership” in their work.  Nobody’s heart swells with pride when a teacher comes up to them and says, “You know, your child is a real follower.”

In fact, when “following” comes up at all, it’s usually negative.  Don’t be a follower, be a leader.  Don’t follow the crowd.  Being a follower is weak and passive.  It’s for people who can’t think or act for themselves.  Being a follower is for losers.  And so it goes.  Read the rest of this entry »

“Stories of Love and Healing”

A sermon preached before the congregation at Hamilton Park UCC, Lancaster, PA on September 6, 2015 by Rev. Catherine M. Shiley

“Stories of Love and Healing” ~ Mark 7:24-37

Please join me in a word of prayer … “Loving God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen.”

Most folks who worship here regularly know that somewhere late in April I had a pretty significant arthritis flare up in my left knee.  For a short time … and it was a very short time … I was able to limp along, pretending everything was just fine.

Sometime in May, however, I realized it would probably be wise to use a cane for support.  By the time I began sabbatical on June 1st, I was in over my head with excruciating pain and actually willing to admit it.

So I did what we all do when we’re in over our heads … saw a doctor, who of course ordered physical therapy.  I spent three mornings a week all summer at the physical therapist’s – first four weeks with the therapist and then – and still – in a program cleverly called the “medically adaptive gym”!

I’m afraid I’m in it for life!  Several years ago, when I had my original bout with arthritis – in my ankle that time – I got to feeling better and simply stopped going to the therapy gym.  That was good for a while but we see what happened, don’t we? Read the rest of this entry »

Meditation August 30, 2015

Roadblocks, Speed Bumps, and Rest Stops:

How God Is Still Speaking In My Life

By Deb Frailey



Medical professionals and counselors have described and advised that the grief process is represented as a wheel or circle.  I can understand the concept but real life grief doesn’t fit into a circle for me.  I can see their reasoning; a circle has no end and grief never completely goes away or ends.  But if a circle has no ending then it has no beginning or starting point either (once it is formed).  So this is where I cannot agree with the whole circle or wheel of grief…My grief had a definite starting point; a life changing moment which initially felt like a near-fatal wound followed by unanswered prayers and hopelessness.  It was like my life as I knew it was struck by a wrecking ball and my grief journey over the last eight years has included learning how to pick up the pieces, the wreckage of my life, and figuring out how they fit back together.  My life that was not ever going to be same.  We lost our 5 year old son to a choking accident…when we hugged and kissed him goodbye on the morning of April 5th, 2007,  as Peter and I left for an overnight fishing trip, it was the last time we would see his big brown eyes open, hear his voice, and see him smile. Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon Preached on August 16, 2015

What do you think of when I say the word time?


Wish I had more, “Time is of the essence”, a watch perhaps, ain’t got nothing but time, there isn’t enough time in a day, there’s always tomorrow. Or Are you thinking about the beautiful grandfather clock you have or a loved one had that takes you to memories of time past as you remember the chimes on the hour? Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon Preached on 08/09/2015

There are references to Moses in our passages about the bread of life and I am  messages from Jesus. Tied together with the manna and bread, bread continues to be a staple product in many homes even today. On our time, we find less home baked bread and more than 60 varieties or brands of bread in our grocery stores. 


Bread as we talked about last week can be used for anything from sandwiches and casseroles to a side dish to many meals. Our scripture today leads us further into the conversation with Jesus as he shares in depth just what it means to believe that he is the bread of life. Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon Preached on 08/02/2015

In the Gospel of John we began last week focusing on what Jesus can do far beyond a human king – like walking on water and leading the disciples to safety for instance,

We are today hearing more of Jesus teachings. For generations ancestors shared the stories of the likes of Moses who led people out of Egypt and called upon God to give them manna and now there is Jesus feeding the multitudes. Read the rest of this entry »

July 26, 2015

Last week our Gospel reading was from the book of Mark focusing on Jesus and the Disciples traveling, Jesus Compassion and his teaching. We focused on the kind of leader Jesus is. In today’s Gospel of John we see an extension of this using less in the form of words and more in the form of actions or situations. Over the next few weeks we will be concentrating on the bread of life provided in detail in the Gospel of John.

 The writer of John provides a little more detail on feeding the five thousand and Jesus walking on water to the disciples in the boat – in the middle of a storm. The feeding of the five thousand is written in all 4 Gospels of the New testament 6 times which makes me think it is a pretty important story. I invite you to check out all six over the coming weeks. Read the rest of this entry »

July 19, 2015 Sermon

A June 2012 article in The New York Times apparently struck a nerve for many people. The article received over 800 comments and was often quoted and retweeted. The following quote captures the essence of the author’s analysis of what he calls “the busy trap.”


If you live in America in the 21st century, you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That’s a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite.” Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon July 12, 2015

 Hamilton Park United Church of Christ


Melissa Burkhart, Sabbatical Interim

Where do we fit in? I mean how are we inspired, or bothered, nudged by the world? 

Life seems a constant faith and faithful living struggle.

 Power is the status quo whether by position or perception, unless holding the power gets us in trouble with those greater than us, or the divine. Take Adam and Eve for instance, Adam pointed the finger at Eve.

 Herod couldn’t disappoint his daughter. He must stand by his word even if he doesn’t believe it. Pilot succumbs to the crowds when Jesus is sentenced to death. Rulers/kings in the ancient world were always surmising the rising stars wondering – who was going to take their places. Sometimes even letting others know the place of power they had. Read the rest of this entry »