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Sermon for the Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, "From the Housetops," Matthew 10:24-39

Sermon 6/21/20Matthew 10:24-39
From the Housetops
I’ve been thinking a lot lately, and unsurprisingly, about ministry and preaching and about my years as a pastor and preacher. And I’ve been thinking about “good news” - what it is when we’re talking about life with Jesus, and how and why we share good news. Way back when I did my Women in the Bible sermon series a couple of summers ago, you might remember that we talked about Deborah and Jael from the book of Judges. Their story is a really compelling one, and worth our learning about, but it’s also vivid, we’ll say, when the story describes Jael killing Sisera, bringing victory to the Israelites. I told you then that I had been having trouble figuring out how to preach on the text, even if I wanted you to know about the events Judges described. I was sharing about my struggle with a group of clergywomen on facebook, and one of them asked me, “What’s the good news in the text?” Her simple question really helped me refocus, and remember:…
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Sermon, "One of the Crowd," John 10:1-18

Sermon 6/14/20John 10:1-18
One of the Crowd

We spent a few weeks after Easter talking about planting seeds, and during that series we explored several of Jesus’ parables. Last week, too, we heard another of Jesus’ parables. And we talked about how the parables of Jesus help us learn something about the kingdom of God, about God’s reign and how we can live in God’s reign in the now. We learned, too, that parables aren’t always allegories where this equals that, but stories that are meant engage our imagination, and unfold more and more as we look at them from different angles, see ourselves in different parts of the stories. They can be challenging, but for many, Jesus’ parables are favorites among his teaching. You might have noticed, though, that while we heard parables from the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we never read a parable from the gospel of John. In fact, the word parable doesn’t appear anywhere in John’s gospel. Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the synoptic gospels, w…

Sermon, "Consistency," Luke 12:13-21

Sermon 6/7/20Luke 12:13-21

As I wrestled with this week’s gospel text, I had a few things on my mind. First, and always lately: packing. I’m in the process of packing, preparing for my move in a few weeks. In the fall, I’ll be hopefully living on campus at Drew University, where I’m headed to work on my PhD. In the summer, I’ll need to do something I never thought I would: rent a storage unit. I’ve always found storage units kind of distasteful, I’ll admit. I know there are lots of good reasons folks rent storage units. A Syracuse theatre company I’m fond of keeps all their set pieces, including those for my beloved Jesus Christ Superstar, in a storage unit since they don’t actually have a building of their own. That’s certainly more cost effective than trying to maintain a building that needed extensive repairs ever was. But in some situations, a storage unit has always just been a signal to me, a sign that we have too much stuff, if we have to find a place to keep what we …

Sermon for Pentecost Sunday, Acts 2:1-24, 37-42

Sermon 5/31/20Acts 2:1-24, 37-42
Today, we celebrate Pentecost, a day when we remember the gift of the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus to the disciple, sent by God after Jesus’ ascension as comforter, advocate, empowering agent that enables the disciples to stop hiding and start doing the work of Jesus in the world. The word for Spirit in both Hebrew and Greek also means both Wind and Breath - Spirit, Wind, and Breath, all the same word. And so Pentecost is a day when we think of those images and more: the violent rushing wind that produces tongues of fire; God’s breath filling the disciples, giving Peter a voice to preach; the Spirit being poured out on all who gather. And we wonder: What is this Holy Spirit thing, exactly? What does it mean for us, what does the Spirit do for us? Sure, God is always larger than our understanding, but I think we can relate to God as creator and parent and ruler, and we can relate to Jesus walking by our side, teaching and healing. But even if …

Sermon for Ascension Sunday, Acts 1:1-11

Sermon 5/24/20Acts 1:1-11

I don’t know about you, but I find it hard not to read every scripture text these days in light of our current global pandemic. It’s similar to that reaction we now seem to have when we see images, often taken before this pandemic unfolded, of large crowds gathered together. “Crowds? We can’t be in crowds!” It’s hard not to process the world through our pandemic-lenses. And I think that’s true of the scripture too. Our current life experience has so changed our world that it is almost impossible to read the Bible without viewing it anew because of what we’re going through. I think that’s a good thing. Not the pandemic, of course, but that we find that we can’t help but bring our now-everyday reality of global crisis with us when we read the text. I think we’ll find that the scripture is more than up to the challenge of feeding our souls when we come to it with a new perspective.Today is Ascension Sunday. It’s the day that we remember Jesus’ return to …