Looking for a Loophole
19th Sunday after Pentecost
October 7, 2012
W.C. Fields was a popular comedian of the 1930s and ’40s who had a reputation for hating children, loving booze, and being pretty cynical about life in general. He also didn’t have much use for religion. One day, as W.C. Fields lay dying in a hospital bed, a visitor actually caught him reading the Bible. When the friend asked him what he was doing, the dying comedian replied, “looking for a loophole.” [READ MORE]
Taking Jesus to School
15th Sunday after Pentecost
September 9, 2012
No matter how many times I read the story of Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman, I can’t help but think that Jesus wasn’t being very Christ-like when he compared the Syrophoenician woman to a dog. But before she was able to get his blessing, she had to take Jesus to school. [READ MORE]
Songs of the Spirit
12th Sunday after Pentecost
August 19, 2012
Food and song bring people together. For Jesus, food was an extremely important part of ministry. And the early church sang when it gathered. That’s why music is such an important part of worship; it brings the congregation together. It doesn’t matter if you are an opera singer, or if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket. What matters is that we are joined together in the Spirit, preparing to worship. And it is through our worship that we join as one body – one Spirit in Christ – to make our sacrifice to God. [READ MORE]
Bread as a Sign
9th Sunday after Pentecost
July 29, 2012
There is a story about Second World War that tells of the children who were orphaned. It seems that as the war was coming to a close, the Allied troops gathered as many of the children who had lost their families as they could find, and took them to camps where they could be cared for. The camps provided everything they needed: food, shelter, safety, medicine. But in spite of the excellent care they received, many of the children were so traumatized that they simply could not sleep at night. Then someone came up with the idea to give each child a loaf of bread, not to eat, but to sleep with. Holding their bread, the children were finally able to sleep. It seems that the bread was a sign to those children – a sign that said, "I have eaten today, and will be able to eat again tomorrow."
In today's Gospel, Jesus gives the people a sign. [READ MORE]
8th Sunday after Pentecost
July 22, 2012
The idea of taking time off goes all the way back to creation – sabbath rest was the last thing God created. Or think back to the Ten Commandments: Remember the sabbath and keep it holy. Sabbath time is not just "church time." It was intended to be a full day each week that God gave strictly for rest. Imagine what that must have sounded like to the former slaves of Egypt – one whole day out of every seven set aside for doing absolutely nothing.
God's Deluge of Blessings
7th Sunday after Pentecost
July 14, 2012
When you hear the word, "lavish," what do you think of? Marketing people use that word a lot to imply abundance and luxury. We hear of lavish spending or lavish parties. It's a word that comes to us from the French language, lavasse, which means a torrent of rain or a deluge. When someone is giving us lavish praise, it's more than just a sprinkle, it's a deluge of praise. And so, when we hear it in the letter to the Ephesians, we know that God isn't just giving us a little bit of love. It's a deluge of love, a flood of blessing. In fact, it reminds us that God is determined bless humanity. [READ MORE]
Freedom from Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt
5th Sunday after Pentecost
July 1, 2012
When a woman who has been sick for twelve years hears that Jesus is coming into town, she knows that he is her last hope for healing. But first she must overcome her fear, uncertainty and doubt. [READ MORE]
An Invitation to the Dance
June 3, 2012
Today is the one day of the year that the Church dedicates to a theological concept which, quite frankly, no one understands – the doctrine of the Trinity. All over the world, priests and pastors are standing up in front of their congregations, trying to explain something that is completely inexplicable – how God can be one God and three persons at the same time. Some of my congregation really didn’t think that I needed to spend too much time explaining some ancient church dogma. Instead, they suggested I should just read a children’s story….
(Note: This sermon is based on one by the Rev. Dr. Thomas Long, on Day1.org. You can find his (much better) sermon here.) [READ MORE]
6th Sunday of Easter
May 13, 2012
Mother's Day has always been a bit tricky for preachers... [READ MORE]
Laying Down Our Lives...for Love
4th Sunday of Easter
April 29, 2012
In 1993, a young man was murdered in Minneapolis.* His killer was a 16 year old gang member named Oshea Israel. A few years ago, he was released and now lives in the same neighborhood he grew up in, right next door to Mary Johnson, the mother of the man he killed.
How a convicted murderer ended up living right next door to his victim’s mother is what today’s Epistle reading from the 1st Letter of John is all about:
* Note: The idea for this sermon illustration came from the Rev. Shari Rates on Day1.org. You can read her sermon here. The CBS News reported the story of Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel on June 7, 2011. You can read that news article here. [READ MORE]
Thomas the Believer
2nd Sunday of Easter
April 15, 2012
Today's sermon is by Bob Chestnut, a candidate for ordination to the diaconate.
All of us have some of Thomas within us. Each is a bit of a skeptic and broken or has just been healed by our Lord and Savior. Today as we sit in church there are sisters and brothers among us who are hurting – do we help? - We are the body, when one hurts we all hurt.
Where were you when you touched Jesus – Where were you when you thrust your hand into His side? [READ MORE]
Three Disciples Walk Into A Tomb...
April 10, 2012
Today’s Gospel reading is from St. John, who tells a version of the resurrection story filled with sibling rivalry and mistaken identity. But it is what happens when the disciples come out of the tomb that makes the difference. [READ MORE]
Shock And Awe In Jerusalem
April 8, 2012
Very early one Sunday morning, three Jewish women woke up in their homes and got out of bed. They probably did the normal things we all do when we wake up – they washed their faces, they put on their clothes, maybe they had a little breakfast. Then the three of them met and began walking out of town. The women had one more job to do for their friend – one more task of faithful service for their teacher and master. Women have always had to do the hardest labor. “A man's work is sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done.” That's just the way life is. That's the way it's always been. That's just the way of the world. [READ MORE]
The Promise Written On Our Hearts
(5th Sunday in Lent)
March 25, 2012
A preacher always carries three sermons: the one he was going to give, the one he gave, and the one he should have given. To read the sermon I was going to give, see below. But that was not the sermon I gave. To it, click on the “listen” link below. [READ MORE]
The Myth of the Self-Made Individual
(4th Sunday in Lent)
March 18, 2012
We live in a society where it is very easy for us believe in the myth of the self-made individual, to get a backwards view of things. Indeed it is tempting to look at our lives, our gifts, our possessions and think that it all is a result of our own efforts, to think that we are “self-made”.
But today’s scriptures tell a different story. [READ MORE]
Spritual Spring Cleaning
(3rd Sunday in Lent)
March 11, 2012
Jesus cleaned the temple in order to make more room for God. Lent is the time we are also called to do a little spring cleaning of a spiritual sort.
(Note: for reasons explained in the audio, there is no manuscript for today’s sermon.) [READ MORE]
Getting Behind Jesus
(2nd Sunday in Lent)
March 4, 2012
After Peter’s brilliant witness, he thought he knew who Jesus was. But when Jesus begins to tell his disciples what it really means to be the Messiah, that he would suffer, be rejected, die and rise again, Peter can’t believe his ears. He pulls Jesus aside, and begins pleading with him. “SHHHH! Are you crazy? That’s not how this story is supposed to end.” [READ MORE]
Welcome to the Baptized Life! Now What?
(1st Sunday in Lent)
February 26, 2012
Sometimes, when we hear the same thing over and over, we tend to tune out what the speaker is saying. This happens a lot with television commercials. But sometimes, we can hear the exact same words and come away with a completely different understanding than we had before. Actors often have to practice saying their lines over and over in order to get just the right emphasis to the words so that the audience hears the story in a new way.
Today's Gospel reading is like that. [READ MORE]
(Last Sunday after the Epiphany)
February 19, 2012
I have to admit, I didn't know who Minerva McGonalgall was until yesterday. She is a character in the Harry Potter books. She has been the headmistress at the Hogwarts School from time to time, and the head of Gryffindor. But what the most interesting thing I learned about her is what she teaches at Hogwarts. She teaches transfiguration. [READ MORE]
If You Choose, You Can Heal Me
(6th Sunday after the Epiphany)
February 12, 2012
Have you ever been so angry, you could just spit? In today's Gospel reading, Jesus was. In fact, the bible says that he snorted like a horse.
Of course, the translation we have in front of us doesn't put it quite that way. It says that after he healed the man of leprosy he sternly warned him and sent him on his way. "Sternly warned" – that is an understatement. The original greek word we find in that verse comes from the snorting sound horses make. Jesus was angry, and he wasn't afraid to show it.
But who was he angry with? [READ MORE]
Healed So That We Might Serve
(5th Sunday after the Epiphany)
February 5, 2012
When Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law, she begins to serve him dinner.
Is that so bad? [READ MORE]
One With Authority
(4th Sunday after the Epiphany)
January 29, 2012
The Bible has lots of amazing and miraculous stories in it. Sometimes we hear about strange and wondrous natural phenomena, like the parting of the Red Sea, or walking on water. Sometimes we hear about miraculous healing, like when that woman was healed simply by touching Jesus' robe. Sometimes we hear about amazing feats of faith, like the feeding of the 5000 from a few fish and a couple of loaves of bread. And most of the time, we can get our mind around how those stories relate to us here in the 21st century. But demons are another matter. [READ MORE]
Called to Discipleship
(3rd Sunday after the Epiphany)
January 22, 2012
What would it take to get you to drop everything – leave your job or your friends, leave your family, leave your home – and begin a new life, changing the world in the process? [READ MORE]
Walking Soaking Wet
(1st Sunday after the Epiphany)
January 8, 2012
Before the Beginning
Christmas Day, 2011
December 25, 2011
Even before God created us, God loved us. [READ MORE]
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