Sermon Cast – Hide and Seek (Easter 2014)

Title: Hide and Seek
Preacher: Pastor Ryan Krauss

Scripture: Colossians 3:1-4, Matthew 28:1-10
Description: Paul makes the very curious statement in Colossians 3:3 – “Your lives are hidden with Christ in God.” For Paul, the comment seems to follow after his discourse against false teachers and false gospels in chapter 2. But as we celebrate Easter as a community of faith, what does it mean for our lives to be hidden in Christ? This points to the great truth of the Gospel, to which the resurrection story points. Wherever you feel you are headed in life, take heart; you can become a Child of God!

Duccio (1308-1311)



Tenebrae at Watsontown UMC

A Service of Darkness

New to Watsontown UMC’s repertoire of Holy Week experiences is a Good Friday Tenebrae service; this will occur at WUMC at 7:00 PM on Friday April 18, 2014. The Tenebrae is a very powerful and moving service that recalls Jesus’ betrayal, trial, suffering, and crucifixion. Below is a brief written by Carl Crawford on the significance of the service:

The service of Tenebrae, or ‘shadows,’ grew out of combination Night Prayer and early Morning Prayer with an additional focus on the commemoration of Jesus trial and death (the passion story). The latter usually was read by several deacons. The most significant feature of the service is the gradual extinguishing of the lights and candles in the room and on the altar. The bare table and unvested furnishings emphasize the starkness of the events. The candles represent the followers of Jesus, and the white candle represents Christ. The Passion narrative is read, the candles extinguished to Lenten hymns and poetry. An atmosphere of quiet and sober reflection should permeate the readings and prayers. The theme of darkness and light is one of the richest biblical symbols, and a symbol with which young and old alike can easily identify.

For a worship experience with quite a different flavor than the exuberance of Easter Morning, consider seeking a Tenebrae or Good Friday service.

~ Pastor Ryan


Sermon Cast – Unbound (Palm Sunday)

Message Title: Unbound
Preacher: Pastor Ryan Krauss

Raising of Lazarus
2005 (c) Davezelenka

Scripture: John 11:17-44
Description: As Christians around the world celebrate Palm Sunday–the commemoration of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey to the shouts of ‘Hosanna’ and the laying of palm branches (cf. John 12:12-15, Matthew 21:4-9)–at Watsontown UMC

we are going to look at a ‘different’ text. That text is the miracle of raising Lazarus found in the scripture passage above. The raising of Lazarus is itself a prefigure of Christ’s own death in resurrection, put in the context the future resurrection of believers. If the miracle of Easter is the empty tomb (John 20:2), then the hope of Easter is the power of Christ working in us and through us in the exact same way (1 Corinthians 15:12-15). More than that, it is Jesus’ very goal in defeating death on the cross that we ourselves should become “unbound,” released from the death clothes that surround us, and walk out in new life.


WUMC Holy Week Services

It’s Holy Week!

“Holy Week” is sacred space on the church’s calendar. If Lent–the 40 days prior to Easter–constitutes personal reflection over our sins and need for God, in Holy Week the church relives Jesus’ own period of celebration, conflict, service, suffering, death, and resurrection while in Jerusalem 2000 years ago.

At Watsontown United Methodist Church, we are offering MANY worship experiences and faith-building opportunities this week. Here is a brief description of the many services, their days, their times, and some points of content.

Holy Thursday

Worship on Holy Thursday commemorates the supper that Jesus shared with his disciples before his crucifixion. On this night, Jesus washed the disciples’  feet (see John 13:1-17) and enjoined them to regularly celebrate what has become the Lord’s Supper (see Mark 14:22-25). Watsontown UMC will hold a service for Holy Thursday on April 15, 2014 at 7:00PM in the church’s multipurpose room. This experience will be quite out of the ordinary. The room will be arranged with 4 separate prayer stations through which participants will rotate throughout the service. There will be plenty of standing, moving about, and interacting, though chairs will be available for those who need. For an intimate, artistic, out-of-the-box connection with God, come to WUMC on Thursday night.

Good Friday

2006 (c) Sashamd Picture links to license

Worship on ‘Good Friday’ is moving, powerful, and solemn. Good Friday recounts the particulars of Jesus’ trial, passion (‘passion’ is another word for suffering), and death. For Good Friday services, sanctuaries are often stripped bare; talk of the resurrection is often excluded as the church waits for Easter to come. Watsontown UMC will hold a Tenebrae (Latin for ‘Darkness’) Service on Friday April 18 at 7:00PM in the church’s multipurpose room. The central feature of Tenebrae services is a gradual extinguishing of seven or fourteen candles and the Christ candle, images of the betrayal by the disciples and of Christ’s death on the cross. With the extinguishing of the lights, the room itself also becomes progressively darker. For a powerful with God through the pervasive symbols of darkness and light, come to the WUMC Tenebrae service.

Saturday Vigil

A long tradition in the early church was to hold a prayer and worship vigil from Saturday night into Sunday morning. This was called the Great Paschal (Easter) Vigil, and on it were commemorated all of the events that are now separately observed on different days in Holy Week. Traditionally pre-dawn, Watsontown UMC will host a casual time of prayer and reflection on Saturday April 19 at 7:00PM. This ‘vigil’ will include small processions of light, prayer, brief readings, and opportunity for personal reflection before Easter Day. The experience itself will be little more than 30 minutes.

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday is the celebration of Christ’s conquest over death through the glorious resurrection. At WUMC, services are held at 8:00AM and 10:30AM as normal. In addition, an Easter Brunch will occur in the multipurpose room at 9:00AM. This brunch is Pot-Luck; please bring a dish to share with everyone. But, even if you do not have a dish, we invite you to stay, eat, and get to know some people anyway. In addition, there will be an egg hunt for the children in our Sunday School wing!


Sermon Cast – Cold Enough For You?

2008 (c) Arun Joseph
Portrait links to Distribution License

Title: Cold Enough For You?

Preacher: David Gehrum

Scripture: Proverbs 3:1-8
Description: For weeks we have discussed the reality of surrendering ourselves to God as “slaves to righteousness” (Romans 6). God also calls us to surrender our burdens and our cares to the Divine Wisdom, to free ourselves from worry and life situations that are beyond our control. Dave Gehrum lay preaches a message about ‘letting go,’ surrendering some of the negative things we hold onto into God’s purposes.


Ballroom Dancing @ Watsontown UMC!

Photo (c) Andrew West
Used through Creative Commons

Have you ever wanted to learn how to dance? Now you have your chance at Watsontown United Methodist Church! Instructor Tony Thomke is now offering Beginner Ballroom Dancing lessons in the multipurpose room of the church on Friday evenings from 7:00pm to 8:30pm. Couples and singles are welcome, though students must be 16 years of age or older to take the class. The classes (and the fun!) begins on Friday April 4th and will continue through July 25th, covering such dances as Foxtrot, Swing, and the Waltz.

Ballroom dancing is a great way to get daily exercise, improve balance, coordination, confidence, and social skills. The cost per session is $18 per couple, $10 for singles, and $8 for school students. Classes and cost also benefit the church’s community outreach programs. So come on out to 1319 8th Street Drive in Watsontown and learn how to get your feet going!

WHEN: Friday Evenings starting April 4th
WHERE: Watsontown UMC (1319 8th Street Drive)
TIME: 7:30 – 8:00 PM



Sermon Cast – iSurrender: A Pain in the Knees

Title: iSurrender: A Pain in the Knees
Preacher: Pastor Ryan Krauss

Scripture: Exodus 17:1-7
Description: In my experience as a pastor, one of the most critical question-and-answer dilemmas to a person’s faith journey is summarized in Exodus 17:7, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” This question is implicit to many theodicies (i.e. discussions about why God allows bad things to happen). Those who can answer ‘yes’ are perhaps fortunate enough to be surrounded by a supportive community of faith or possess a certain clarity of insight to know that God is One who provides. Those who find themselves answering ‘no’ may be going through experiences similar to the Israelites in the above passage. Hot, tired, thirsty, expecting the God who just rescued them out of Egypt to also provide for hunger and thirst. So when no water can be found, who wouldn’t complain?

Surrender is not about getting the easy life. God’s MO is not to instantly solve every one of our problems. In their journey through the wilderness, the Israelites are learning that God is one who provides. And even if our voices are raised in complaint from time to time, we also need to remember: if we surrender, God will provide.



Sermon Cast – iSurrender: Do Something With That White Flag

Title: iSurrender: Do Something With That White Flag
Preacher: Pastor Ryan Krauss

Scripture: Romans 6:15-23
Description: Surrender can be a sketchy word. From a cultural standpoint, surrender is a curse compared to our premium on individual freedom or the sports mantras that we teach to our children: “Never give up; never surrender.” The word brings connotations of weakness, lying own in the face of opposition or competition. Surrender is the penultimate “giving everything up.”

According to Paul in Romans 6, God asks for our surrender once we have been justified by grace and forgiven of our sins. But what is the quality of this surrender? Do we just become another “conquest” of God’s? Do we relinquish all rights and responsibilities? As Jesus says in the gospels, is the denial of ourselves so total that we no longer matter (cf. Matthew 16:24)?

I like to think of biblical surrender through the eyes of the film Men in Black. Surrender means “giving up” being an agent of sin and self-absorption while also taking on the new responsibility of being an “agent” of God’s righteous work in the world. We surrender one thing (ungodliness) in favor of gaining another (holiness).

iSurrender 3

P.S. Here are links to the two Men in Black video clips referred to in the sermon.

James being given the choice to join MiB.
James receiving “the last suit” he’ll ever wear.


Sermon Cast – iSurrender: How Original Is It?

Sermon Title – iSurrender: How Original Is It?
Preacher: Pastor Ryan T. Krauss

Scripture: Genesis 3:1-7
Description: Lent, working up toward Easter, is an excellent opportunity to revisit fundamental aspects, fundamental beliefs, of the Christian faith. Sin, though never really a pleasant topic, is an essential component of God’s drama of salvation. Sin and brokenness are the state in which we find the world, sin is the sickness that hinders all of our relationships with God, and Sin is ultimately one of the powers that Jesus Christ utterly defeats by death on the cross.

For this message, we open the book of Genesis and read of humankind’s first great disobedience toward God: eating the fruit of the tree (of the knowledge of good and evil). Though the words “Sin” or “Fall” are nowhere attributed to this text, narrative speaks of obedience and disobedience, action and cosmic consequence. At the heart of this “original sin” is an inborn, human, broken desire to usurp God’s rights and responsibilities as our own. That is, Adam and Eve’s big mistake (for the text does indeed remind us that BOTH man and woman were present and accounted for during the serpent’s tricky speech) is presuming to take on themselves the right to determine what is good and what is evil. Rather than trust God as the source and dispenser of of their moral makeup, Adam and Eve decide they are better suited to choose what is right and wrong. The consequence of which is ignoring the only stipulation they had ever received from God.

As we consider what it means for us to surrender our hearts to Jesus Christ, we must also come to terms with those areas of our lives for which we still want to be in charge and in control. Surrender is returning that ultimate control to the One who has made and plans to remake “all things good.”

iSurrender 2


Sermon Cast – iSurrender: Someone’s Gotta Be In Charge

Sermon Title – iSurrender: Someone’s Gotta Be In Charge
Preacher: Pastor Ryan Krauss

Scripture: Matthew 6:19-24
Description: Lent is a season in the Christian community that is all about preparation. Easter is coming; Easter is when we celebrate Jesus Christ’s victory over the power of Sin and Death by his resurrection from the dead. Lent, the 40 days (excluding Sundays) leading up to Easter is an opportunity to reflect and evaluate our own relationships with God, consider what sins separating us from Grace, and to return to God’s love in repentance and surrender.

All this Lent we will be talking about surrender, about handing the keys back over to God. Whether we like to admit it or not, the idea of being 100% in control of our own lives is a myth. Someone or something tends to be in charge. The question we face is not whether something ‘calls the shots,’ but who will we allow to steer our spiritual and moral compasses? If someone has to be in charge, perhaps it is prime time to surrender again to the Master who loved us so much to die for our sake, giving us new life.