Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: hope (page 1 of 3)

Sermon: Wrestling with God

This is a sermon I preached on Sunday, August 6, 2017 at Ebenezer United Methodist in Suffolk, Virginia. The text I preached on was Genesis 32:22-31, Jacob wrestling with God (or was it) through the night.

 

Sermon: One Smooth Stone

I preached at New Creation United Methodist for their 11am worship service this past weekend. The scriptures were 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 and 1 Samuel 17:32-49. I read the 1 Samuel account of David defeating Goliath from The Message just before the sermon.

Sermon: Catch on Fire

This weekend I preached at Broad Street United Methodist Church in Portsmouth, Virginia. Originally I had titled the sermon “Hope Building,” but once I started writing this 1st Sunday after Pentecost sermon, it changed to “Catch on Fire.” My texts were Matthew 28:16-20 and Acts 2:14-21, 42-47.

“Believe” and the Meaning of Christmas

believe_keyart_49bEmmy-nominated director Billy Dickson has written an endless number of family-based, faith-based scripts. Most them, however, have only collected dust.  Dickson told Jacob Sahms for ChristianCinema.com, “I had been writing family-based, faith-based scripts but they were collecting dust because people wouldn’t take a look at them. They were too soft; there weren’t enough gun fights.” His new project, Believe, seeks to be the faith-based film that crosses barriers. It has a little bit of everything. And promises to be a new Christmas classic.

The small town of Grundy, Virginia looks forward to one thing every year – the annual Christian pageant provided by the Peyton family. Matthew Peyton (Ryan O’Quinn) has inherited his family’s business, and the responsibility for the Christmas pageant. The family business, however, has fallen on financial hardship, with implications of the same happening to the whole town.

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Pete’s Dragon and the Magic of Believing

The little boy wanders through the forest, alone and scared. Unsure what to do or where to go, he clings to a book about Elliot the dog. It is the only source of comfort he has. There is a wide range of dangers lurking in the darkness. Among them  lurks a little magic.

This is how Disney’s new Pete’s Dragon begins. It is gripping, demanding the audience to settle in to their seats and throw a few more pieces of popcorn in their mouths. Before the title appears on the screen, we have been introduced to the main character, a little boy named Pete, and met the mysterious creature in the woods. This magical creature shines compassion, erasing any fears we may have.

Pete_Elliot

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Yellow Butterflies

“Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” -Nathaniel Hawthrone

Yellow ButterfliesAs I was preparing worship and a sermon for what would be my last Sunday at Peakland United Methodist as their Associate Minister, the communications coordinator, Kim, shared with me the bulletin cover she designed. It had a key verse from one of the scriptures I was using and a picture of a butterfly. It was perfect on all sorts of levels.

I hesitated to ask her to change anything. Finally, I asked if it would be possible to make the orange butterfly a yellow butterfly.  She gave me one of those, “that’s an odd request” look, and then said, “Sure.”

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Watching Squirrels

Our favorite spot in the new house is quickly becoming the sunroom. This enclosed porch with sliding doors all around, gives us a postcard perfect glimpse of our backyard. It is more perfect when birds, squirrels, rabbits, and other friendly critters occupy the space.

It is a peace-filled space.

squirrel_8152cnThe other day while eating lunch on the sunroom, Toddler J and I watched as a squirrel hopped through the yard. As the squirrel started climbing the tree, Toddler J’s eyes lit up and a broad smile spread across her little face. She pointed up as the squirrel climbed the tree. When the squirrel was long out of sight, she was still pointing with excitement and mumbling what I believe was her attempt at saying,”squirrel.”

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Sermon: Dangerous Hope

This is the sermon I preached at Peakland United Methodist on the first Sunday of Advent. The text was Luke 21:25-28. You can listen on the Podcast app by subscribing here.

Where Hope Grows (2015)

I wrote the following review of the film “Where Hope Goes” for ScreenFish.net.

Where Hope GrowsCalvin Campbell (Kristoffer Polaha) is a former baseball player who is searching for a new purpose in life. After his formative career ended, a drinking problem began. This added to his struggles as a single father to his teenage daughter, Katie (McKaley Miller). Katie is dating a boy that Calvin knows is no good, but the more Calvin tries to steer Katie in a different direction, the wider the gap between the two becomes. While the character of Calvin is a bit of a cliche, he provides the foundation for what will be a warming tale of hope.

Everything begins to change for Calvin when he meets a young man whom everyone calls Produce.

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Michael W. Smith’s “Sky Spills Over”

Music videos have become powerful storytelling tools. The new video of Michael W. Smith’s “Sky Spills Over” single is no exception. I’ve been listening to Michael W. Smith since my own youth group days (remember “Friends” – the song that was used for every senior goodbye?).

The music video has a Lord of the Flies feel to it. Smith stumbles upon a camp of children who seem to be oppressed by a wild beast. Smith, in a Sword in the Stone kind of way, is able to use the sword lodged in a tree to kill the beast and the children rejoice!

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