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…
Read More

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…
Read More

Sermon for October 6, 2019

Creation, Deacon, Discipleship, Sermons
Many scholars consider the first 2 chapters of Genesis as two separate creation stories because they have such different styles, structure, and emphasis. Genesis chapter 1 follows an obvious pattern throughout its 7 days: God Speaks, It is so, God saw it was good, There is evening and morning. Genesis chapter 2 lacks that structure and seems to be “another look at creation” (from the New Interpreters Bible). It seems intended to describe in detail several parts of chapter 1, particularly the day we are focused on today – Day 6, the creation of the land creatures. These two stories are different, yet in both God is the sole creator of a good and purposeful world, with humankind in a key role. These two stories stand together as a coherent…
Read More

Graciousness in our Language

Deacon, Discipleship, Faith, Grace, Newsletter, Welcoming
Part of my morning routine is to read a daily devotion from Father Richard Rohr.  One devotion in particular, featuring excepts from Howard Thurman, has stuck with me.  Thurman was an African-American author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader. As a prominent religious figure, he played a leading role in many social justice movements and organizations of the twentieth century. What I found most enlightening amid the very thought provoking writing, was a footnote.  It read: A note on language from Thurman’s editors: “We realize that inclusive language is noticeably absent in Howard Thurman’s writings. As gifted and prophetic as he was, Thurman was also a product of his times, and inclusive language was not a part of the social consciousness. Regardless of language, the substance of Thurman’s work…
Read More

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…
Read More

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…
Read More

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…
Read More

Sermon for March 17, 2019

Discipleship, Lent, Pastor, Sermons
Gospel: Luke 13:31-35;First Reading: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 Today’s Gospel reading seems a bit obscure, and yet it is packed full of images and foreshadowing. The main image of the fox and hen is powerful. It’s almost like Jesus compares he and Herod - Herod is the fox, only focused on the here and now, and only on gaining more power, which means eliminating other competition. And Jesus is the mother hen protecting her chicks. Foxes are feisty, but so are mother hens, especially if you threaten the babies. If Jesus or God is the mother hen, and we are her chicks, we need not fear. I am grateful for this feminine image for God today. Those main images are flanked by foreshadowing. There are references all over that help orient…
Read More

Sermon for February 10, 2019

Deacon, Discipleship, Sermons
First Reading: Isaiah 6:1-8 Gospel Reading: Luke 5:1-11 Prayer for the Day: Gracious God, just as when Jesus stepped into Simon Peter's boat, you come into our lives and we can never be the same. Subside our fears, give us ears to hear your call to discipleship, and the ability to step out of our comfort zones and follow you. Amen Possible hymns: Amazing Grace; Here I Am, Lord This is the 5th Sunday of Epiphany.  Epiphany is the church season when we start to discover who Jesus is - beyond the baby we celebrate at Christmas.  Jesus is Emmanuel, the one who integrates divinity and humanity.  He comes into the world to reveal God and to show us God’s kingdom.  Today in our lessons, we see another manifestation of who…
Read More

Sermon from May 20, 2018

Discipleship, Pastor, Sermons, Spirit
First Reading: Acts 2:1-21; Gospel: John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15 During the Children’s Sermon we made a rainstorm together to show that we can only do so much on our own. We can do more together, our sound is amplified, we are moved by the work of the Spirit in different ways. What does it look like when the Spirit shows up? Would you be able to name those times when the Spirit has shown up in your life? How does the Spirit show up? In the Acts reading this morning, we get to hear the first known encounter with the Spirit. I say “first-known” because, as a member of the Trinity, the Spirit has been there since the beginning with God the creator and God the Savior. This is not the first time the Spirit has intervened. But this is first…
Read More