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Cypress Hall at The Cypress                                                                                                       
20 Lady Slipper Lane
Hilton Head Plantation
Hilton Head Island, SC 29926

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843-290-0500 (cell)

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Sunday Services at 9:30 AM
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Sermon Archives
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Philemon III - Unforseen Solutions

It takes a lot of chutzpah to try to draw three sermons out of a New Testament letter that almost no one has ever heard of and over whose title there is no unanimity of pronunciation and that also has only twenty-five verses. Furthermore, if a preacher were going to try to pull this off, why would he wait fifty-two years before attempting it?

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Philemon II – Social Conundrums

This is the second of a series of three sermons based on Paul’s letter to Philemon. Philemon was a leader of the church in Colossae in what now is Asian Turkey. He owned a slave named Onesimus. Onesimus ran away from his master, fleeing to Rome, where Onesimus located Paul, who was under house arrest. (There is more to this story than just that, but that’s all the time I have to repeat the background for those who were not here last Sunday to hear the first sermon.)

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Philemon I – Dicey Situations

Paul’s letter to Philemon is the third-shortest book in the New Testament. It isn’t a book, really; it’s a letter, an epistle, a mere email, if you will, two thousand years before there were emails. Philemon is so short that there are no chapters. There are only verses, twenty-five of them, to be exact. When I announced that I would be reading “Philemon 1-10,” your heart may have skipped a beat, or three, imagining that you would be subjected to listening to ten full chapters of holy writ. Holy cow! But since there are no chapters, only verses, you just heard 40% of an entire New Testament “book.” And you survived it, no less.

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Is Religion in Retreat?

Toward the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century, it is an open question as to whether religion is losing or gaining influence in America. One fact is undeniable: Most mainline Protestant denominations have been slowly but steadily losing members for the past half century. For the past several years, even the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination, has been slightly shrinking each year. Though the nation’s population has doubled since 1950, there are fewer people on the membership rolls of many denominations now than there were back then.

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Hell??? Heavens No!!!

Whatever else the notion of hell may be, it is ultimately based on the concept of everlasting punishment. It is that fatally flawed idea which cannot truly be affirmed by anyone seeking a reasonable and reasoned belief-system. There are no sins or crimes that could possibly justify hellfire forever. Juries convict people of terrible crimes, and judges consign those convicted criminals to judicial sentences of varying lengths, including life in prison without the opportunity of parole. But surely no fair-minded judge, if they had it within their power, would ever consign anyone to everlasting torture in everlasting flames, no matter how terrible the crime may have been. Such a punishment does not fit any crime.

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