Sermon for December 22, 2019

Advent, Pastor, Sermons
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25 I’m not sure if you noticed, but that was Matthew’s version of the Christmas story. You might want to double check the bulletin - there were no shepherds, no manger, no animals, and no Bethlehem. There was an angel, but the fact that Jesus was born is almost a side note. Matthew says, “Joseph took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.” In Matthew’s Gospel we don’t find the Christmas story we are used to hearing. We do get the narrative about the magi from Matthew, though - that doesn’t show up in any of the other gospels. We’ll hear that in two weeks, on the 12th Day of Christmas when we will also celebrate the Epiphany. Luke is the Gospel that has the Christmas story we will hear on Christmas…
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Sermon for December 8, 2019

Advent, Discipleship, Faith, Hope, Pastor, Sermons
Second Sunday of Advent Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12; First Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10; Second Reading: Romans 15:4-13 John the Baptist would have been the worst caroler. “We wish you a merry Christmas!” “You brood of vipers!” John the Baptist is no sweet-sounding nativity character. He doesn’t even show up in the lineup in pictures or on your tables back home. Though it could be interesting to turn one of the shepherds into a John the Baptist-type. His language of preparation certainly fits in here - into this season of Advent where we wait and prepare for Christ to come. But his tone and his context do not. He wasn’t out preparing the way of the Lord until his adult years, long after Jesus’ birth (did you remember that they are only 6 months apart? and cousins at that). Though in paintings of him, especially from the Renaissance period, he is…
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Sermon for December 1, 2019

Advent, Discipleship, Faith, Pastor, Sermons
First Sunday of Advent, Thanksgiving weekend Gospel: Matthew 24:36-44; First Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5; Second Reading: Romans 13:11-14 The lectionary seems to have bad timing. We’ve just had what might be the most universal celebration of a holiday in our country. Many of us have stuffed ourselves, had some time off for relaxing, did some shopping, we’re starting to get geared up for Christmas. And you come to church over Thanksgiving weekend, and you get to hear this gospel reading from Matthew that neither sounds hopeful nor is what we wanted or were expecting to hear. It’s bad timing. Though we might say that any time these apocalyptic texts come up. We just had another one, out of Luke’s Gospel, two weeks ago. There is a temptation today to jump right to Isaiah where there is hope and peace. We’ll be making that jump, but let’s sit…
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Sermon for November 24, 2019

Faith, Grace, Pastor, Sermons
Christ the King Sunday Gospel: Luke 23:33-43; First Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6 This seems like an odd gospel for today. We’re almost gearing up for Christmas, the birth of Christ, and today we hear the story of his crucifixion. It feels like odd timing. But maybe it’s the perfect gospel for today.  “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah, the son of God!” “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!” “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us! These three statements hearken back to the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (Luke 4) where the devil tempted Jesus with three questions, the last of which was to throw himself off the top of the temple and save himself. And then, in that story, since Jesus doesn’t give…
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Sermon for September 15, 2019

Creation, Discipleship, Pastor, Sermons, Worship
Season of Creation 1 - OCEAN Gospel: Luke 5:1-11 Other Readings: Job 38:1-18; Ps 104:1-9, 24-26; Eph 1:3-10 It is a little strange to be doing this Season of Creation. I am usually so tied to the lectionary, which is where we usually get our readings from. I like staying tied to it because I think there is a gift in exploring so many different texts in a 3-year cycle. And having texts assigned means we’re sometimes doing texts that I wouldn’t have chosen myself, and that’s a good thing. I heard a colleague once describe the lectionary not as a circle that we repeat over and over again, but as a spiral, where each subsequent cycle draws us deeper and deeper in faith. I have found that to be true for myself. Doing this Season of Creation will take us a bit…
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Sermon for September 1, 2019

Communion, Faith, Grace, Pastor, Sermons
Gospel: Luke 14:1, 7-14; First Reading: Jeremiah 2:4-13 A couple of years ago, there was an article that came out on the Kitchn, a website full of recipes and articles to inspire every aspect of home cooking. The title of this article is “5 Rules for Hosting a Crappy Dinner Party (And Seeing Your Friends More Often).” In it, the author talks about her stress toward inviting friends over for dinner in the midst of her life with three kids. She would stress over cleaning, including snapping at her kids to do their share, and the added time for shopping and preparing a special meal.  A friend of hers moved back from a small community where she said the people would just show up at each other’s houses, unannounced, and feed each other whatever happened to be in the fridge. Inspired by this, they decided to…
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Sermon for August 25, 2019

Baptism, Pastor, Sermons
Gospel: Luke 13:10-17 Our gospel this morning has me thinking about rules. In this text we have another example of Jesus pushing boundaries and breaking the rules of his day. I’m thinking especially of a certain 5-year-old in my house who is starting to push boundaries, and of kids going back to school, maybe relearning the rules, or at least learning what rules will apply to their new classrooms.  Rules are important. We all know that. They are put in place to keep us safe, or to keep others safe. Living by them will often help our lives be more fulfilling and enjoyable, and they typically help the life of the community - of all of us living together - to thrive instead of just survive.  Now I imagine there are some of you who are saying to yourself - yeah, but rules were meant…
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Sermon from June 30, 2019

Discipleship, Pastor, Sermons
Gospel: Luke 9:51-62; Epistle Reading: Galatians 5:1, 13-25 The Gospel today is a bit over the top. I told a couple people this week that we get mean Jesus today, not the loving, compassionate Jesus that we like. Maybe Jesus was just having a bad day. Whatever it is, since it’s written in the Gospel, we’re left to wrestle with it. That’s a good thing for us to do - wrestle with scripture, especially scripture we don’t like. It would be naive for us to only read and look at passages we were comfortable with, and doing that would kinda go against everything Jesus was about. Jesus certainly wasn’t about making sure people were comfortable. In fact, he made a lot of people quite uncomfortable, and still does today, even almost 2000 years after his death.  “Let the dead bury their own dead.” “No one who…
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Sermon for June 23, 2019

Discipleship, Faith, Pastor, Sermons
Gospel: Luke 8:26-39; Epistle Reading: Galatians 3:23-29 This text has me thinking about the labels we put on other people. Often we create labels for the purpose of distancing ourselves from others. Possessed was the label endured by the man in today’s gospel. We use many others: Homeless, addict, crazy, mentally ill, uneducated, educated, poor, rich, gay, immigrant, woman, man, young, old, conservative, liberal. Some of those labels might be true, but sometimes they are used to create distance. They are used to remove the sense of being just another human being so that we can ignore, discount, look the other way, and disengage. Each of us uses different labels for this purpose.  This past week I was in Spokane with the Mission Possible group, our annual mission opportunity at Lord of Life. The day I was there, some of us got to interact with Kathy, Devin, and Alicia…
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Sermon for June 16, 2019

Faith, Pastor, Sermons, Spirit
Gospel: John 16:12-15;First Reading: Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31;Second Reading: Romans 5:1-5 The Holy Trinity. If there was ever a church day where everyone scheduled nap time during the sermon, this might be it. Who wants me to lecture about the Trinity for a while up here? No amount of explaining and analogies will all of a sudden make this all clear. But there are some important things to know and learn, so I want to raise a couple of important points to help you engage with the mystery that is the Trinity. The Trinity is how we’ve come to understand or talk about God as three persons revealed in scripture - God the Creator, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are all their own thing, but they are…
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