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Showing posts from August, 2009

Sermon for Twelfth Sunday after Epiphany

Sermon 8/23/09, Ephesians 6:10-20 Dressed for Success I have to admit to you that when I first read our passage from Ephesians, when I first skim this text again after not having considered it for some time, my first response is always a bit of a cringe of dislike. This is the closing passage of Paul’s letter to the community of Ephesus , the last chuck of major teaching for this new community of faith before he signs off with some personal words and a benediction. And here we find a sort-of “dress code” for the Christian believer. The imagery is vivid, certainly, painting bold pictures as we hear and read about putting on the whole armor of God. We read, “Put on the whole armor of God . . . our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rules, against the authorities, against the cosmic power of the present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Paul then continues by describing six pieces of this armor of God:

In honor of Exploration 2009: My Call to Ministry

Today many UM Young Clergy are writing about their call as part of an encouragement for young people who are attending (or still thinking about attending) Exploration in November, which is a discernment event for 17-24 year olds thinking about ordained ministry in the UMC. I think sharing my own call story can be both frustrating and encouraging for others considering a call to ministry. Frustrating and encouraging, because for me, everything about hearing, responding, and following through with my call to ministry went well. I have very little in the way of discouraging horror stories about people trying to prevent me from seeking to become a pastor. I have a story about what happens when everything goes like it is supposed to. As a small child, I attended Westernville United Methodist Church , in a little, two-road town. Somewhere at about age 5, I thought I wanted to be a pastor, and started collecting the bulletins after worship each Sunday. I kept them in a pile on my corner s

Sermon for Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, "Wise Up"

Sermon 8/16/09, Ephesians 5:15-20 Wise Up Some of you may know that one of my responsibilities for the extended-church – the church-beyond-the-local-church, is my role as Conference Youth Coordinator for the youth in the North Central New York Conference of the United Methodist Church . I oversee the youth programming for 7 th -12 th graders on the conference level. This past week, I spent some time planning for one of our upcoming events: A small group of young clergy will be leading interested youth and young adults to an event in Texas in November called Exploration. Exploration is an event for young United Methodists who are considering whether or not they are being called into ordained ministry. It’s an event to help them figure out, or at least dig deeper into the question of how God is calling them. It’s an event I went to twice myself – when I was in high-school, and then college – and it was so exciting for me to see hundreds of other young people thinking about becom

Sermon for Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, "Building Up"

Sermon 8/9/09 John 6:35, 41-51, Ephesians 4:25-5:2 Building Up Some of you may know that as a part of my ministry here with you, the Transition Team and I have been working on a covenant – a commitment on my part and your part to talk about our goals, our hope and dreams for this congregation, and to outline, in some broad strokes, what we’ll need to do together to live into God’s plans for us. Together, we’ve identified a few areas of focus – for example stewardship, and working with young people, especially at the start of our new endeavor with our new Children and Youth Ministries Coordinator. But today I want to focus on my goals over the next several months at least: Building relationships and Connecting with the Community. These might seem like pretty generic ministry goals. Of course I need to get to know you and the community in which we do ministry, right? But as “general” as these goals may be, they are also essential – not just for me, but for all of y

Sermon for Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, "Changing Directions"

Sermon 8/2/09, 2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a Changing Directions During undergrad, students were required to take two semesters of a language as part of our core requirements, and since I already knew I was going to go to seminary, I decided to study Ancient Greek, the language of the written New Testament of the Bible. Unfortunately, Ancient Greek bears little resemblance to Modern Greek, so after several semesters of study, I still can’t actually use my language skills to speak to another living person. But I absolutely loved learning Greek, because reading the New Testament in the Greek truly deepened my experience of reading the scriptures. Take the word repentance. We’re probably all familiar with the word – in the Bible, in the New Testament in particular, we’re called to repent. It’s what both John the Baptist and Jesus himself say they’re all about when they begin preaching. Jesus says, “repent and believe the good news.” When you hear the word “repent,”