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Showing posts from July, 2016

Sermon for Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, "Are You There God? It's Me, Beth," Luke 11:1-13 (Proper 12C, Ordinary 17C)

Sermon 7/24/16 Luke 11:1-13
Are You There God? It’s Me, Beth*

            In my years of pastoring, I have witnessed people put to use so many different gifts that God has given them. I’ve seen people develop and implement Sunday School programs, lead people on mission trips near and far, preach sermons, conduct or sing in or play in great works of worshipful music. I’ve seen dinners coordinated that feed hundreds of people. I’ve seen capital campaigns undertaken that have raised thousands of dollars for church projects. I’ve been blessed by seeing parishioners in my congregations step forward to do some truly amazing things with God’s help. But there’s one area in our spiritual life together where I’ve sometimes experienced deafening silence. And that’s when I say, “Would anyone like to close us in prayer?” Not everyone, of course, is hesitant to offer prayer. But I would say that of all the things that make people react with that kind of look students get when they don’t know the answe…

Sermon for Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, "The Better Part," Luke 10:38-42, (Proper 11C, Ordinary 16C)

Sermon 7/17/16 Luke 10:38-42
The Better Part
Sometimes I get frustrated that we have such little snippets of the life and teachings of Jesus. Jesus walked on earth for more than thirty years. Even if we look just at his recorded ministry, he was busy teaching and preaching for three years. And out of that time, we get a scene here and a scene there – maybe a month’s worth of stories, if we’re generous in our tally. I want to know what Jesus was doing and saying on all those other days! And then, out of all the things the gospel writers might have shared with us, I’m sometimes confused at their choices. Take today’s text, for example. This is such a short little scene. Just a few verses. A quick vignette of Jesus hanging out at the home of Mary and Martha. Yes, there’s a brief teaching, but mostly it seems like Jesus is settling a mild dispute between sisters. I can’t help but wonder – why, out of all the things the author might have included – why did Luke choose to tell this story?      …

Sermon for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, "Neighbors," Luke 10:25-37 (Proper 10, Ordinary 15)

Sermon 7/10/16 Luke 10:25-37
Neighbors

            I don’t always preach using lectionary texts. Sometimes, especially once I get to know you better, I like preaching sermon series on particular themes we’re thinking about as a congregation or particular issues that are facing our congregation or community, or some other special focus we might want to stay with for a while. But I’m amazed at how often the lectionary texts, the suggested scripture readings for a particular Sunday, speak so well to our current reality. This week, two African-American men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, were shot and killed by white police officers. This week, during a Black Lives Matters protest, a man named Micah Johnson killed 5 police officers. These events have unfolded shortly after the horrific shooting in Orlando killed 49 people. The shooter was a Muslim-American man. The victims were predominately LGBT people and friends. We are in the midst of contentious national, perhaps global concerns a…

Sermon for Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, "First Impressions," Luke 10:1-11 (Proper 9, Ordinary 14)

Sermon 7/3/16 Luke 10:1-11
First Impressions
It so happens that fairly often, when this scripture from lectionary cycle – a three-year schedule of scripture readings for worship – comes up, it falls on the first Sunday in July, which is also typically the day that United Methodist clergy around the connection are beginning their appointment, starting out in new congregations. It seems a kind of comical coincidence that for many pastors in new pulpits, their very first gospel text, as they make their first impressions and take their first impressions of their new congregation is about journeying to a new place to share the good news, and being prepared to either receive a warm welcome, or to shake the dust from their feet as they get out of town fast if things go poorly! Thankfully, I can tell you that even though it is my first Sunday here, I can already tell you that as I bring you greetings of peace, I’ve already found those eager to share in that peace, from former-Pastor-Beth’s warm …