Sermons

"Add a quote you would like to feature. Maybe it's a message from the founder or something that reflects your brand's character. Click to edit and add your own."

gene_edited.jpg

July 31, 2022: Poor, Poor Cynical Me

I do not think that being impenetrable to hurt is worth the cost of cynicism. For by being impervious to hurt we also become impervious to creativity, joy, love, and wonder. These are the emotions and gifts that we are made for. If life is just a grumpy, hollow, trudge toward death there is no good in it. We are good for little in this world if we cannot see the spark and feel it in ourselves. 

   Download full sermon   

July 24, 2022: Kill 'Em with Kindness

Desert Hospitality was a bit like Southern Hospitality. We saw a prime example in last Sunday’s reading from Genesis. Abraham did not just welcome the three travelers, he ran to greet them and draw them into his encampment. He invited them to come into his camp and brought them some water to drink and with which to wash their feet. By the time they got seated he has already ordered special food to prepared. Instead of just giving them a short break on their desert journey he is providing a feast for them.

   Download full sermon   

July 17, 2022: Love Makes Us Welcome

I believe we are surrounded by angels. They may be in the pew sitting next to you. They may be a helpful stranger on the street. They may be someone we fear, the way the Israelites feared the Samaritans, yet in Jesus’ parable it was the Samaritan who is the righteous one. We have to train our eyes to see and our hearts to know when an angel approaches. We have to push aside fears, prejudices, and notions of what an angel might look like. 

   Download full sermon   

July 10, 2022: The Word Is Very Near

The word of God is very near to us. We are invited to take hold of it, chew on it in pondering like a cow chews her cud. We are to, as Archbishop Thomas Cranmer wrote in the 15th century, to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the Word of God. We are to become so filled with the scriptures that we find them on the tips of our tongues and at our fingertips. 

   Download full sermon   

July 3, 2022: Decluttering for Love

Twenty-first century people find the concept of self-denial preposterous. We ignore it in favor of fulfilling our wants at every turn. Our consumer society is the antithesis of St. Francis and Jesus. If it were not then we would not need Weight Watchers, diet books, Marie Kondo and other decluttering gurus, slogans like “live simply so others can simply live,” closet organizers, life coaches, Real Simple magazine, and the list goes on and on. 

   Download full sermon   

June 26, 2022: Just Say No to Cheap Grace

When Jesus calls another man to follow him the man asks first to go bury his father. Jesus does not deny the commandment to honor father and mother, but rather he is telling the man that family too may have to be released in order to follow the way of Jesus. Remember Jesus’ family thought he was out of his mind and wanted to take him away. Jesus said in that instance that his family was made of those who followed him.

   Download full sermon   

June 19, 2022: Cast Away Your Bonds

Jesus’ curing of the demoniac also upsets what is normal. The people of the town have gotten used to dealing with the man. His insanity was the status quo. Now that he is in his right mind they are not sure how to deal with him. Humans are adaptable, but we also like things to be regular and average. Large changes upset our equilibrium. Moreover, the townspeople are worried about what other sorts of “cures” Jesus will bring to them. Rather than waiting to find out they ask Jesus to leave. Like Chuck and Kelly in the movie who cannot stay together because it upsets her new equilibrium. 

   Download full sermon   

June 12, 2022: Salome: Abused by Her Parents and Abused by Time

We in the church have many centuries of wrongs to right especially in regard to women. Biblical women such as Salome, Mary Magdalene, Bathsheba, and Tamar are a few of those women. There are many more nameless women whose reputations have been sullied by mostly, but not entirely, masculine interpretations. Let us go forth reading scripture with clear eyes that look at each person portrayed in their context and see how their actions may have more to do with the situation than is first apparent.

   Download full sermon   

June 5, 2022: Comfort My People

I am sure that some of you remember a hit song from the 60s that has become a pop music classic— “What the World Needs Now is Love.” There is no doubt that love is what there just is too little of. But in the midst of war; massacres in grocery stores, schools, hospitals, cemeteries and churches; the ongoing COVID pandemic; threats to our democracy; and so much more I think we also need some comforting.

   Download full sermon   

May 29, 2022: Come

The world may be calling out in desperation for Jesus to come to us, to save us from the plagues of war, violence, pestilence, plague, famine, and the downright evil of some of our fellow humans. At this time many of us feel like we are living in a novel, the ones that they told us about in English class where the theme is man’s inhumanity to man. Despite our calls Jesus does not come. 

   Download full sermon   

May 22, 2022: Beautiful City of God

God no longer needs a private residence to which only a few have access. God now presides in the open among all people. God is truly with us. What is even more remarkable is that all people will be able to see the face of God. In the Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament, it was considered a sentence of death to see the face of God. Even Moses was not allowed to see God’s face. But now all will be able to gaze upon the creator of all things in wonder, love and praise.

   Download full sermon   

May 15, 2022: Lovers in Dangerous Times

The passage from Revelation does point to a new future but it is not otherworldly. When I read this passage with an open heart I do not focus on the future, but on the present. I feel as Cockburn wrote, “Spirits open to thrust of grace, / Never a breath you can afford to waste.” Revelation tells us that we are being given God’s grace in the here and now, because “the home of God is among mortals”. God is not far away, we are not alone, God is here with us. It is just as our forebears said when they named this church Emmanuel—God with us.

   Download full sermon   

May 8, 2022: Speak Plainly

When we listen, really listen for the sound of Jesus’ voice and not the sound of our ego, our wants, our inner lusts and desires, we know who is talking and what we should do. But it is not just because it is something we “should” or “ought” to do, it is because we have a symbiotic relationship with the shepherd.

   Download full sermon   

May 1, 2022: Follow Me

The poignancy of Jesus’ care for Peter and the gentleness with which he gives Peter the opportunity to atone breaks my heart each time I read it. Jesus gives us that opportunity to repent as well. He also sets the example for how we are to forgive. We do not need to rub the nose of our violator in the stench of their hurt in order to gain true repentance. We just need to ask, even in an oblique way for them to offer their apology.

   Download full sermon   

April 24, 2022: Faithful Doubts

The Gospel does not tell us what happens during the following week. Instead it is like a movie that fades to black and on the screen we see the words “A week later.” Over the coming week the experience of seeing Jesus alive that Easter Day would certainly have come up in discussion. The group would have continued to try to convince Thomas of what happened. But there were also other things to take care of.

   Download full sermon   

April 17, 2022: Left Behind

This Easter Day we thank God for the gift of eternal life found in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. But Jesus’ resurrection is incomplete if we do not take the opportunity to leave behind those things that separate us from him and God. 

   Download full sermon   

April 10, 2022: Save Us, We Pray

We humans are a fickle race. We want our needs met ASAP. They had been under the thumb of Rome for nearly one hundred years and their patience was short. Jesus parades into Jerusalem and all he does is teach and preach. There are no miracles, no uprisings, and no call to arms. What good is he if he cannot get the Romans off of our backs?

   Download full sermon   

March 27, 2022: A Man Had Two Sons

When we hear about two sons we know a few things. First of all, the older son is supposed to be favored. Second, we know that in those three stories it was the second born son who turns out to be the one whom God favors. This proves that human rules are not God’s rules. As God says to Samuel “the Lord does not see as mortals see.” Thus we are set up for this story about a man with two sons.

   Download full sermon   

March 20, 2022: The Whys of Lent

Today we heard Jesus presented with the age-old question of, “Why do bad things happen?” and in particular “Why do bad things happen to good people.” For example, we might think it is ok for a dictator to be the victim of a violent rebellion, after all they have hurt many people in the course of their rule. But when it is a team serving with Doctors Without Borders we wonder what the world is coming to that those doing good are killed in the process of doing good.

   Download full sermon   

March 13, 2022: Trust

In 1974 a quirky book was published that had previously been rejected for publication 121 times. Despite all of this rejection when it was finally published the book initially sold over five million copies. This is one of the few books that I can say changed my life. It actually changed how I live. If it taught me only one thing it was to not allow the enormity of a task stop me dead in my tracks. If I could break down a large task into steps and focus on only completing that step, I had a better chance of completing what at first glance might seem impossible.

   Download full sermon   

March 6, 2022: Word Up

Verna Dozier writes in her little book The Dream of God, 5 that when the Church went from following Jesus to worshiping Jesus it started to lose its way. Jesus did not come into the world to create a new religion, indeed he remained a Jew throughout his life. However, he did come to set for us an example that is “The way, the

   Download full sermon   

March 2, 2022: Draw Closer to God

Instead of beating ourselves up during Lent as the liturgy suggests, the contemporary church sees Lent as an opportunity to sort out our relationship with God. We are called to actively take time to “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” the messages that we encounter in scripture and the writings of the saints of the Church. We are called to step back from the frantic pace of life and focus on God. We are offered the gift of this time to sit, breathe, clear our heads and hearts, and settle into God.

   Download full sermon   

February 27, 2022: Light from Light

I am in a quandary. I have two topics I want to talk about today and one that I do not. The problem, of course, is that the thing I do not want to talk about is what is crying out to be discussed. My three topics are baptism, transfiguration, and you might have guessed that the thing I do not want to talk about is the war in Ukraine. I would rather that this war had not happened. I would rather that we not have to deal with truly evil people like those autocrats and oligarchs that dominate Russian government right now. We must speak about the problem of evil or we are denying the reality of life. Jesus did not deny evil so neither can we.

   Download full sermon   

February 20, 2022: Judgement at Middleburg

It seems to me that judging others is actually something people like to do. Looking at today’s passage from Genesis we hear the end of a story where everyone was judging someone at one point or another and most of their judgements were ill conceived. The back story to this scene is that Joseph is the youngest of the sons of Jacob. He is also Jacob’s favorite which his brothers resent. Additionally, he is annoying. In his dreams his brothers and even his father bow down to him in respect.

   Download full sermon   

February 13, 2022: Take Two

Luke like Matthew reports Jesus preaching a set of blessings to the people. But compared to the Sermon on the Mount, Luke’s Sermon on the Plain can feel stark and more condemning than comforting. In Matthew’s Jesus only offers blessings. We can look at his list and figure out where we might fit into the list of eight blessings. Perhaps we are meek, poor in spirit, a peacemaker and so forth. Whatever we conclude there is a blessing for us. Luke’s list is different.

   Download full sermon   

February 6, 2022: Two of a Kind

The two readings we heard today could not be more different and yet more similar. The differences I think are obvious, but the similarities are not so much so. The Isaiah passage is a vision that he has of God and himself in the Temple in Jerusalem. In contrast the passage from Luke is Jesus and Peter on the shore of a Lake Gennesaret. These are clearly very different scenes. Isaiah is encountering God and Peter is fishing. Isaiah also sees seraphim which are very frightening looking angels with six wings that look like something out of a horror movie. They are not at all like what we see in Renaissance paintings. Peter sees nothing he is unfamiliar with; only boats, fish, water and people.

   Download full sermon   

January 30, 2022: Read On McDuff

There is something in what Jesus says in the next part of the passage that changes the mood of his neighbors in the blink of an eye. Only a modern person who is immersed in the Old Testament can understand this rapid change of mood. Having told the people that he is fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah, he is now telling them that they are not the sole recipients of the prophecy.

   Download full sermon   

January 23, 2022: Lament Heals

Sometimes to get us to calm down our mother would sing something slower. I think that is where I first heard the spiritual “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.” To three young children in the backseat of a car after a long day of driving it could be a lullaby. Looking at the words we realize it is much more than that. The pain in the lyrics is almost palpable.

   Download full sermon   

January 16, 2022: For Zion's Sake I Cannot Keep Silent

Each year we set aside a day to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is to honor the man and the cause of equality for all for which he worked and for which he was killed. As a white man I am among the most privileged people in this world. Some might ask how I can even talk about the struggle for equality that Dr. King waged. I am the ultimate outsider, even if I want to consider myself an ally to the cause. I cannot know what it means to be vilified and suffer prejudice just because of my skin color.

   Download full sermon   

January 9, 2022: Awake, Alive, Alert

Some years ago I read a seminal and for me life changing book. Despite growing up in a rural area I had become blind to the natural world in which I lived. Then I read Annie Dillard’s book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Then, as if scales had fallen from my eyes and ears, I heard geese migrating overhead, and really saw individual trees as they changed color. I experienced the natural world around me even as I was living in a small city. Reading the book was like a series of epiphanies as I became more aware the natural world around me.

   Download full sermon   

December 25, 2021: Upside Down Christmas

One of my favorite Christmas carols is one that I heard for the first time just a few years ago. It is a New Zealand carol called “Carol our Christmas.” It is about having Christmas in the southern hemisphere where this time of year is not winter but summer. The problem with all of the snowy and wintry carols of Europe and North America is that they don’t resonate with a New Zealander. She writes:

“Carol our Christmas, an upside down Christmas;
The snow is not falling and trees are not bare.
Carol the summer, and welcome the Christ Child,
Warm in our sunshine and sweetness of air.”

   Download full sermon   

December 19, 2021: Mary Had a Baby

When this baby hears Mary’s voice he jumps in recognition that the mother of the Son of God is speaking. This baby, by the way, will grow up to be John the Baptist. The baby who has just started to form inside Mary is so special that all Mary has to do is walk into a room and say “hello” and something special happens.

   Download full sermon   

December 12, 2021: Again I Say Rejoice!

In the three readings we heard before the gospel today there was a call to joy, but it is important to realize that these calls to joy came in the midst of suffering, oppression, pain, and imprisonment. Our three writers were not naive pie-in-the-sky dopes. They knew the realities of life, but they also knew that the only way through suffering and injustice, and we must go through because we cannot avoid suffering and injustice, the only way through was to have hearts that are centered on God’s joy.

   Download full sermon   

December 5, 2021: The Power of Love

It was up to this man of frightening visage and angry preaching (in the next verses he calls his listeners a brood of vipers) to share the message of the coming of the Prince of Peace. I can assure you that this is not the way a public relations guru or ad man from Madison Avenue would work. John is as unattractive as a spokesperson can be. But that is the way God seems to always work. God comes from unexpected places and unexpected people.

   Download full sermon   

November 28, 2021: The Lamb Is My Shepherd

Happy New Year! Come on say it back to me... I think it is appropriate that the new year of the Church and the secular world are different. We do not let the celebrations of the secular New Year cloud the importance of the new year in the Church.

   Download full sermon   

 

November 25, 2021: Can It Long Endure

As we look at the current state of the nation it seems to me we should focus on what Mr. Lincoln wrote. Like people of his day we need to pray “with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience... fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation...”

   Download full sermon   

November 21, 2021: King of Hearts

What is it that rules our hearts? Is it fox hunting, cars, art, literature, or hobbies? Is it work, meetings, money, and prestige from our vocation? Perhaps what rules our hearts are vices—that is good things misused? The world provides many distractions most of which are not bad in and of themselves. It is only when they become the ruler of our heart that they become a problem.

   Download full sermon   

 

October 31, 2021: All You Need Is Love

What Jesus and the scribe talk about today is not about a feeling or emotion. It is something even more profound than what we experience when singing that song. When they talk about love it is something almost unemotional... That part of love, like the love that Jesus and the scribe are discussing, is the love that is not about self and how I feel but about the other and what we would do for them and sacrifice for them.

   Download full sermon   

 

October 24, 2021: A Sight to Behold

I think that Mark wants us to see something more than just another miracle story. This is why he focuses on the blind beggar and gives him a name (recipients of miracles are not named in Mark). Naming him is a clue for us to focus on him. While he is just a beggar and no one of importance, he is audacious.

   Download full sermon   

October 17, 2021: The Joy of Becoming Insignificant

In today’s Gospel reading from Mark two of Jesus’ closest companions on the way, James and John, ask a favor of Jesus. They say, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” I suppose they think they are asking to become something like the Vice President, or Secretary of State, or head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Jesus tells them that they do not know what they are asking for.

   Download full sermon   

October 10, 2021: That's Just the Way It Is?

Living in poverty is not a preferential way of being. Indeed, while scriptures tell us that God has a preference for the poor; this preference is most often expressed in the command for those of us who are financially secure to help out those who are in dire straits. The command is not usually to become poor, but to share with the poor. The reading from Amos is a castigation of the wealthy who are taking advantage of the poor. Amos does not say go and be poor. He says stop using your power to hurt those who are poor.

   Download full sermon   

October 3, 2021: God's Dream

As we have discussed in recent weeks, Jesus often speaks in hyperbole, because it gets our attention. In this case he pushes back on the Pharisees’ literal reading of scripture with one that is more human and humane.

   Download full sermon   

September 26, 2021: Ooo Gross!

Does anyone think that Jesus really wanted us to hurt ourselves? I don’t. I think Jesus is using exaggeration in order to help us understand how serious he is. Jesus wants us to know that he cares about each of us. He knows we are going to make mistakes that will hurt other people and will hurt ourselves. So he tells us that if something causes us to make mistakes over and over and over again we should get rid of it.

   Download full sermon   

September 19, 2021: Love Makes Us Jesus People

Does anyone think that Jesus really wanted us to hurt ourselves? I don’t. I think Jesus is using exaggeration in order to help us understand how serious he is. Jesus wants us to know that he cares about each of us. He knows we are going to make mistakes that will hurt other people and will hurt ourselves. So he tells us that if something causes us to make mistakes over and over and over again we should get rid of it.

   Download full sermon   

September 12, 2021: Who Is He? Who Am I?

Today’s Gospel asks two questions that resonate across the centuries. The first is the question Jesus asks of the disciples “Who do you say that I am?” The other question is, “Given my answer to the first question, who am I?”

   Download full sermon   

September 5, 2021: Border Folly

The gospel reading this week is deceptively simple. We have two stories about Jesus healing people—a daughter with a demon and a man with a speech impediment. Yet, despite the simplicity of the narrative, with a little close reading we can see that these stories are anything but simple.

 Download full sermon   

August 29, 2021: More than Lip Service

God always calls us to care for the poor, widowed and orphaned. The prophets reprimand us time and again for not following that commandment. Jesus affirms the necessity to live into God’s word, not just have it flow over us like some sort of justifying waterfall that requires nothing of us.

 Download full sermon   

August 22, 2021: Good Food

God always calls us to care for the poor, widowed and orphaned. The prophets reprimand us time and again for not following that commandment. Jesus affirms the necessity to live into God’s word, not just have it flow over us like some sort of justifying waterfall that requires nothing of us.

 Download full sermon   

August 15, 2021: Come to Wisdom's Feast

We have been talking about bread and other baked items for several weeks now. While Jesus being the bread of life is a powerful and indeed central tenant of our faith, I thought today might be a good time to talk about another life-giving concept, wisdom.

   Download full sermon   

August 8, 2021: Taste and See

Without this bread life is a pale imitation of life. It is a life of grasping hoping for something real, fulfilling, and healing. But that life always comes up short because possessions, money, power or anything else the secular world offers is hollow. It may sparkle for a moment but soon it loses its luster. Then our eyes start searching for something new with more sparkle which is also destined to fade.

   Download full sermon   

August 1, 2021: Eat and be Filled

No one can blame the people in the Temple or the woman at the well for hoping that their need for the essentials of life could be solved by something Jesus promised. But Jesus was not some internet huckster trying to sell them a “miracle” cure for poverty and hard work. Jesus, via metaphor, was trying to show them that God offers more than the basics of life.

   Download full sermon   

July 25, 2021: Make Me A Good Animal Today

So what does it mean to be human? I believe it means we are part of this world. I agree, as well, with scholars who say, God, having given us more, also expects a greater duty of care. We are responsible to serve as good stewards over God’s creations. To look after all other living things. To be good animals. Because

   Download full sermon   

July 11, 2021: Let Justice Roll

Those words ring out across more than two and three-quarters millennia. Anyone who says that the Bible is no longer relevant is not paying attention. Those words of God through Amos are as potent today as they were in 750 BC or 1963 AD. When a society chooses the rich over the poor, the powerful over the powerless, and greed over righteousness it is corrupt. It can no longer claim to follow the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

   Download full sermon   

July 4, 2021: Familiarity Breeds Community

In our case, familiarity does not breed contempt, but rather community. This is a community of love and care. It is a community that challenges itself and others to love and be loved. Time and again I hear from visitors how welcomed and respected they feel here. This is a house of Christian love. When someone like that guest shakes the dust of this place off of his sandals, he is dismissing the love of Christ for the judgments and partisanship of the world.

   Download full sermon   

June 27, 2021: Healing Words, Healing Touch

The world is full of need. It is often not as obvious as that, but the need still exists. I expect there is someone amongst us this morning or with whom you work or regularly meet who is in a need as desperate as the hemorrhaging woman or the little girl. They may feel that no one cares, or they may not have an advocate as strong and well-placed as Jairus. How do we let them know that they matter?

   Download full sermon   

June 13, 2021: Wonder of Wonder

Free floating wonder allows the questions to abound. It also allows that awe does not have to have an answer. Wonder is enough. We live into the questions and that is enough...

   Download full sermon   

June 6, 2021: We Are Family

There are numerous compelling questions in the Bible. Questions such as “Am I my brother’s keeper?” “Who is my neighbor?” and today’s question, “Who are my mother and my brothers.” These questions are gripping because they hit so close to home. These are not questions about “Life, The Universe and Everything.” They are questions about how we live faithfully and genuinely as human beings. They come up in a religious context, but ultimately they go beyond the religious.

   Download full sermon   

May 30, 2021: A Trinity of Love

The Trinity like so much about Christianity is a mystery. This is not the Agatha Christie kind of mystery where the purpose is to figure out whodunit. Not having an answer may make us uncomfortable, but the mystery can be the answer in itself. The mystery may be a call into engagement.

   Download full sermon   

May 23, 2021: Good Trouble in the Water

This Day of Pentecost we are reminded that where we find wholeness is in God’s love. It is also where we find our commission to do God’s work in the world. Wade in the water because God is going to trouble it and heal you and strengthen you. When we step out of those troubled waters we will not be able to stop sharing the message. But first we have to step in.

   Download full sermon   

May 16, 2021: Help My Unbelief

I wonder why we ignore this feast day unlike others in calendar. It could be that to the modern mind, the Ascension seems like something out of a fantasy movie. Somebody getting lifted up in the air and floating or zipping away to heaven seems silly. The world does not function in that way. We are left thinking that this is another one of those weird things that only happens in the Bible like seas parting, donkeys talking, flying chariots and people who live for nine hundred years. But there is so much more to the Ascension than the whisking off of Jesus into heaven.

   Download full sermon   

May 9, 2021: For Lovin' Me

Love is like a holy infection: the more we love God the more loving we become towards others. Our hearts are filled with love, pushing out fear and anxiety. As those negative emotions find less space within us, we are less able to feel them. God’s love wins.​

   Download full sermon   

May 2, 2021: Better Together

We are to abide in Jesus just as he abides in us. That is, we are to stay within him as he is within us. I think that is why he chose this metaphor of a vine. The level of connection with Jesus is cellular. We don’t just abide as we abide in our home or in Middleburg. We are so connected with Jesus that we cannot go anywhere without him and he cannot go anywhere without us.

   Download full sermon   

 

April 25, 2021: Sheepish

As it says in Psalm 95, “For he is our God and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. / Oh, that today you would harken to his voice.” This is a relationship of truth and trust. We are God’s flock not because we are stupid like sheep, but because we are smart like sheep. Like sheep we follow the shepherd, we are not prodded along like cattle which must be driven from behind. We know the voice of the one who leads us. We can discern that voice from the many others that cry out for our attention.

   Download full sermon   

April 18, 2021: Knowing Beyond Knowing

When I hear these post-resurrection stories I often respond skeptically. While I listen attentively, my brain is talking back to the Gospel saying something like, “Yea, sure, he just popped into a room with closed doors and windows.” Or “Yep, he broke the bread with the disciples at Emmaus and then he disappeared.” It is as if Jesus flipped open his transponder and said, “Beam me up Scottie” so that he could flit around ancient Palestine. But to a brain educated in post-Enlightenment, post-scientific revolution thought this just doesn’t make sense. This is the stuff of fantasy, sci-fi, or ghost stories.

   Download full sermon   

April 11, 2021: Forgiven and Forgiving

There we have it. Jesus’ final instruction to his disciples turned apostles is not to tell the world what is right and wrong. Their job is not to tell nice tidy moral stories like Aesop’s Fables. That sentence makes it clear that besides sharing the Good News of Jesus they have the very important duty to forgive. Their job and ours is the work of forgiveness.

   Download full sermon   

April 4, 2021: Rise up in Love (Easter)

We are in the midst of so much uncertainty and upheaval. There is the Covid pandemic that has changed the way we live, and left so many dead in the US and around the world. There is the American epidemic of gun violence that continues to take tens of thousands of lives every year. There is the epidemic of racial injustice that has plagued the US for over 400 years. Just as we think we have made significant steps forward it rears its ugly head again as black, brown and Asian persons are targeted. Then there is the epidemic of conspiracy which is another cancerous ill fed by the dark web and other malevolent serpents.

   Download full sermon   

April 2, 2021: You Think This Happened Only Once and Long Ago? (Good Friday)

Christ is crucified every time someone utters a racial slur, or when a child is terrorized by schoolmates for the color of his skin. We do not seem to learn. The Crucifixion should have happened only once and long ago. Even if no one else learned the lesson of summary judgment and the brutality of capital punishment we who call ourselves Christians should have. We who know that our Lord and Savior was murdered by the religious and political powers of his day should know better, but we don’t. We just keep on keepin’ on with the same blind and brutal ways of our ancestors.

   Download full sermon   

April 1, 2021: Humility, Love, and a Towel (Maundy Thursday)

Suppose for a moment that by the time the disciples get to this fateful night they finally accept what Jesus has been telling them all along about his impending death. They may not understand the resurrection part, but having seen what has been going on in Jerusalem in the past week they realize that things are not going to end well. What’s more it has become clear that his death is imminent, that he will probably be put to death the next day. What do you think they would have wanted to happen during what we call the Last Supper?

   Download full sermon   

March 28, 2021: Let Us Not Pass Over the Passion

As we all know, when passions run high there is often a price to pay. Either those passions lead to some confrontation between the passionate and their opponents, or the passion turns on itself. In this case we see that the passionate crowd that welcomes Jesus into Jerusalem becomes the crowd passionate for his death.

   Download full sermon   

March 21, 2021: Close to You

Jesus wants us to have our best lives too, but he challenges us way beyond any motivational speaker. He challenges us to see the world through the eyes of God. He challenges us to see the world and all of its people as beloved of God. We in the church feel all snuggly with Jesus, like he belongs to us; we often act as if he shares our opinions and biases. We forget that he angered the religious establishment of his time, and that we are part of the religious establishment of our time. I do not believe he would be any easier on us just because we believe in him. I expect his first question of me would be why I do not live the Good News more fully. I expect he would want to know why we are so unforgiving of others.

   Download full sermon   

 

March 14, 2021: Light of the World, Shine on Me

Nicodemus, concerned that his fellow elders will look unfavorably on his meeting Jesus, seeks an audience with him at night. Darkness is also a great foil for the darkness that surrounds humanity; a darkness that Jesus says “people loved” more than the light.

   Download full sermon   

 

March 7, 2021: Takin' Care of Business

This is not the Jesus of the movies who is slender with flowing hair like a peacenik from the 60s with a sophisticated English accent. It is not the soft focus Jesus of greeting cards. This is not the Jesus of Sunday School stories who calls children to his side. Nor is this the Jesus of miraculous healings, compelling parables, and captivating sermons. This Jesus is tough and angry.

   Download full sermon   

 

February 28, 2021: What's My Line?

“Who do people say that I am?” It is a cleverly posed question, because the disciples could disguise their own response as if it were the words of someone else. Despite the cover they are given and the many hints through Jesus’ preaching, teaching, and miracles they respond that people say he is John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets. It is only when Jesus asks “Who do you say that I am?” that Peter blurts out, “You are the Messiah.”

   Download full sermon   

 

February 21, 2021: Post it on Your Heart

Mark specializes in economy of words. While the other two give us more detail of Jesus’ experience, Mark’s description can serve another purpose. Mark’s few verses offer a believer the straightforward route to living the gospel. I think of these few verses as the refrigerator door or mirror reminder of living in Christ. It is like when we start a new exercise routine or diet. We create a list of what it is we need to do in the simplest terms. We take that list and tape it to the fridge or bathroom mirror.

   Download full sermon   

 

February 14, 2021: A Doorway to Heaven

Liminal. L-I-M-I-N-A-L. Liminal is not a word that I expect most of us use in daily conversation, but it is common in spiritual and religious circles. The word “liminal” comes from the Latin root, limen, which means “threshold.” It is often seen in the phrase “liminal space” which is a place of transition. It is a place where one “crosses over” having left something behind, but not yet having fully moved in something else.

   Download full sermon   

February 7, 2021: Transcendent and Immanent, High and Low, Near and Far

 

When I was a young man I became disillusioned with the church of my upbringing. That disillusionment did not lead to atheism or agnosticism. Rather I embraced the favored religious notion of many Enlightenment era intellectuals; men such as Thomas Jefferson and John Locke–Deism. For me it helped to explain creation outside of a scientific theory, but it also helped explain the evil, injustice, and randomness of life.

 

>>> Download full sermon

January 31, 2021: Maybe I'm Amazed

 

I have a question that I wish I could ask of you and get responses from lots of you. The question is what do you expect to experience or hope to experience when you come to church? I imagine you might say quiet, peace, comfort, good music, friends, communion, community, a sermon, or a lesson to help me in my life to name a few. Looking back at the Gospel reading I think a synagogue goer in Jesus’ time might have had similar expectations. Yet the adjectives used in Mark’s Gospel to describe their experience are anything but what we have named.

 

>>> Download full sermon

January 24, 2021: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

 

Time is very important to our lives. We want to save time. Indeed, one of the aspects of the modern era was the invention and manufacture of time-saving devices such as kitchen and laundry appliances. These were intended to free up time for leisure activities. The typewriter, then word processor and then computer made the writing and editing of documents, articles, books, speeches, and sermons more efficient. Search engines put information, whether a recipe for tonight’s supper or a citation for a scholarly article, at our fingertips.

 

>>> Download full sermon

January 17, 2021: Seeing Rightly

 

Mirrors are common accoutrement of our bathrooms and closets. We use them to adjust a tie, make sure the makeup is flattering, or that the various parts of our outfit are complementary. Yet, how many times do we really look at our self? Not in a cursory way, but a studied way. Likewise, we see others on the street, in church at work. How often do we really see them for the child of God that they are?

 

>>> Download full sermon

January 10, 2021: Only God Saves Me

 

When I was a kid, about 5th or 6th grade, I took several road trips with my dad. In many ways they are the highlights of my youth. I had my dad to myself for a week at a time. He was nearly deaf at that point so we did not talk much as we drove, but just being invited to be with him was great.

 

>>> Download full sermon