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Sermon for the Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, "Laughing at God," Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7 (Proper 6, Ordinary 11)

  Sermon 6/18/23 Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7 Laughing at God I had the opportunity to see again recently a production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth , one of my favorites of his works. Some of you might remember that my brother Todd specializes in classical acting (although he now is a professor of acting and teaches and directs more than he acts) - his focus and love is the work of Shakespeare, and so I’ve seen him in a number of productions over the years, including more than one production of Macbeth. I’ve always loved it. I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with the plot, but the gist is this (and sorry for the spoiler alert if you haven’t seen or read it yet, but it’s been out for a while now!): Macbeth is a leader who is given more power and authority by his king. His wife, creatively named Lady Macbeth, is eager for him to get even more power and position. Macbeth happens upon some witches who give him a prophecy that Macbeth will in fact become king, though his friend Banquo will
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Sermon for the Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, "Mercy and Sacrifice," Psalm 50:7-15, Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26 (Proper 5/Ordinary 10)

Sermon 6/11/23 Psalm 50:7-15, Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26 Mercy and Sacrifice A few weeks ago, just before I came to Central New York for the summer, I packed up my apartment in New Jersey and moved from one town to another. Not a huge move - just about 15 minutes away. And not a huge amount of things - I moved in with other PhD students, so other than my bedroom furniture, I didn’t have much I needed to bring. As far as moves go, since I have moved so many times as an itinerant pastor and often moved from one five bedroom parsonage to another, this one was pretty simple. Except… as a PhD student, I have to move “student-style,” finding a truck and getting some friends who are willing to help for the reward of my thanks and some pizza for lunch. And, except - I was moving from a second floor apartment, requiring a lot of up and down stairs. And, except this: both of my knees need replacing. They’ve been deteriorating for years, and now they’re down to bone on bone, and walking is painful e

Sermon for Trinity Sunday, Year A, "God in Community, Holy in One," 2 Corinthians 13:1-13, Matthew 28:16-20

  Sermon 6/4/23 2 Corinthians 13:1-3, Matthew 28:16-20 God in Community, Holy in One I was torn between directions for my sermon when I picked our hymns for today. They mostly focus on our text from Matthew and the Great Commission and what it means, but I’ll have to save those thoughts for another sermon, because I just couldn’t stop thinking about the Trinity on this Trinity Sunday, and what I might say about this most unique aspect of Christianity. Our scripture texts are chosen in the lectionary because they both use a Trinitarian formula - “Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” naming the three persons of the Trinity. Last week, as we celebrated Pentecost Sunday, I mentioned that I find the Holy Spirit to be a little weird . Well: the Trinity? Definitely also weird. And it’s not just me who thinks so. Our conception of God as a Trinity - Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, Parent/Child/Spirit, however we phrase it, our Christian understanding of God as Three Persons/

Sermon for Easter Sunday, Year A, "Dos and Don'ts," John 20:1-18, Matthew 28:1-10

  Sermon 4/9/23 John 20:1-18, Matthew 28:1-10 Dos and Don’ts I’ve been telling you, on Palm Sunday, and again on Maundy Thursday, that our best strategy for being disciples is to stay close to Jesus. “Stay with me,” Jesus was asking us. But today, this Easter morning, Jesus’s message is strikingly different: “Don’t hold on to me.” - “Go!” How do we get from one to the other? Why does Jesus tell Mary not to hold on to him, to stay with him? And what do his words mean for our discipleship?  Today we’ve heard the Easter stories from two gospels - John’s gospel - the most well known version - and Matthew’s account. This phrase - “don’t hold on to me” - occurs only in John’s version, although I think the meaning of the phrase is in Matthew’s account too. At first brush, Jesus’s words sound kind of dismissive to me, as if Mary is somehow being too clingy. And I don’t know about you, but if I thought that my dearest loved one, my teacher , who I’d devoted my life to, had died , been put to d

Sermon for Maundy Thursday, Year A, "Staying or Leaving," Matthew 26:20-29, 36-46

  Sermon 4/6/23 Matthew 26:20-29, Matthew 26:36-46 Staying or Leaving You’ve probably heard that when animals feel like they are on high alert, under stress, or under attack, they have a “fight or flight” response. Some animals, when in danger, will do everything they can to get away as fast as possible. Some, when cornered, will lash out, ready to fight, ready to harm in order to get free. There’s actually another option - “freeze” - some animals freeze, like the proverbial deer caught in the glare of headlights, immobilized with fear. Of course, we are animals too, we humans, and we sometimes find ourselves deeply driven by fight, flight, and freeze responses too.  Sometimes we are in genuine danger - and we must figure out if we need to flee or fight or freeze in response to a threat, to abuse, to something or someone that can do harm to us.  But sometimes, we react like we’re responding to a threat, to danger, but our minds are confusing danger and discomfort. Here’s what I m