Covenant Presbyterian Church – Athens, GA


One More Year: A Sermon Based on Luke 13:1-9

One More Year: A Sermon Based on Luke 13:1-9                                                                                                                             Peached by Mark Harper at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Athens, Georgia                                                                  March 24, 2019 – The Third Sunday in Lent

Nothing gets us talking like tragedy. At the same time, the talking we do in the wake of tragedy is often tragic itself; it can be misguided and is seldom  thoughtful or helpful. Sometimes what we say or think serves only to compound the pain triggered by the awful thing that happened. Read more

Look Up to the Sky!” (Gen.15:1-6 and Ps.27 and Phil.2:13-16a)

Once again, we have a story of faith & trust, a welcome message for the journey of Lent.  Seems the authors of the Bible must have known how much we need to hear such stories, again & again & again.  For it’s hard to hold on to hope, when life just doesn’t look like it’s going the way God promised.  So often we’re called to believe something very different, than what we’re experiencing right now, in the moment.  Take Abraham, for example. Read more

Oh, The Places You Will Go

Oh, the Places You Will Go: A Sermon Based on Luke 4:1-13                                                              Preached by Mark Harper at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Athens, Ga                                     March 10, 2019 – The First Sunday in Lent

You’ve heard this advice before, but today’s scripture from Luke reminds us why we should take it seriously: Be careful what you pray for. Especially when what you pray for is the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

And that seems odd, right? In the church we pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to fill us and guide us all the time. “Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us.” Which is all well and good – except that those words make the Spirit sound like nothing more than a gentle spring shower to cool us down after weeding in the garden all morning. And sometimes that is what the Spirit does, and exactly what we need. We need to be led beside still waters, guided into the green grass, where our souls will be restored. I once heard someone say they were certain that it was the Holy Spirit that had led them to take a Caribbean cruise. Read more

“Stay Close” (Ps.1, Lk.6:17-19, and Jer.17:4-8, 13)

“Stay Close”         (Ps.1, Lk.6:17-19, and Jer.17:4-8, 13)                     February 17, 2019

I guess it might be one of my very first memories as a toddler, for my family visited Ruby Falls when I was just shy of 4 years old, and I have one picture in my mind’s eye that must have been from that trip.  I know my family told me stories about it through these past 60 years, but there’s a special feeling tied to this picture in my mind, so I think it must really be a memory all my own.  It’s not of the beautiful waterfall, or all the colored lights in the cave.  Instead, it was what was most important to me that one moment – when I saw a huge canyon to my left along the path and to my right was my father’s pantsleg and big warm hand holding mine tightly.  Read more

Today: A Sermon Based on Luke 4:14-30

Today: A Sermon Based on Luke 4:14-30                                                                                                Preached by Mark Harper at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Athens, Ga                                     February 3, 2019 – The Fourth Sunday After Epiphany

“Today.” That’s the first word of the first sermon that Jesus ever preached. According to Luke, it occurred in the synagogue in Nazareth, a community gathering place that he no doubt knew very well from attending sabbath day services with his parents while growing up. And now as an adult who had left home for a while and gained a following as an itinerate rabbi with a reputation for powerful teaching, he was coming back. That was the word on the street. The hometown boy made good was coming home. A local hero. His presence would make this particular sabbath day special; the air was electric with anticipation. Read more

Ready or Not! (Jn.2:1-11 & 1 Cor.12:4-7 & Ps.36:5-9) January 20, 2019

This first recorded miracle of Jesus is such a delight.  It’s probably a family reunion, supporting a bride & groom at their wedding, and in such a small town as Cana near Nazareth.  Everyone was invited – all the friends of friends of friends, even those disciples who had ganged up with Jesus just 2 days earlier.  It was Nathanael’s hometown, after all.  You know – the disciple who, when he first heard about Jesus, said – Can anything good ever come from Nazareth?  Little did he realize.  And as with all weddings, but especially a Jewish one, there was lots of music & dancing and eating & drinking going on – with no end in sight – until IT happened.  Mary, the quiet & pondering one who saw all and knew all – Mary noticed first – the worst thing possible in small-town society.  The family would never live it down = they ran out of wine at the biggest party of the season. Read more

We Are Being Re-Routed: A Sermon Based on Matthew 2:1-12

Preached by Mark Harper at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Athens, Georgia                           January 6, 2019 – Epiphany of the Lord

Since we don’t know precisely what happened when the wise men first laid eyes on the baby Jesus, here’s my version. At least here’s what I hope happened. I hope at least one of them wasn’t as reverent as we usually picture them being, with slow bows and formal hand gestures and all. I would love it if at least one of the group, and there might have been ten  — or twenty — since Matthew doesn’t actually say three, slapped the others on the back and clapped his hands and let out a giggle and practically fell into the crib with delight and said, “I remember when you were just a twinkle in my eye!” And then broke into a little extemporaneous lullaby: Twinkle, twinkle little star, captured my heart and brought me this far …. Read more