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Showing posts from August, 2016

Sermon for Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, "Seating Arrangements," Luke 14:1, 7-14 (Proper 17C, Ordinary 22C)

Sermon 8/28/16 Luke 14:1, 7-14
Seating Arrangements

I’m a big fan of Jane Austen novels. I have a small collection of favorite books that I tend to read and reread, and Austen’s novels are among them. As a woman of the twenty-first century, I certainly find it difficult to imagine how I could ever live under all the constraints and rules, particularly those placed upon the proper behavior of women. But society and behavior were highly structured in the Regency era, and most areas of life functioned according to very particular rules, especially for upper class men and women. And so, the drama can be heightened in many scenes of Austen’s work because of something as simple as this: who got to escort who to the dinner table – because people could only walk into dinner in a certain order, according to social rank, age, and marital status – and who ended up sitting next to who at the dinner table – because it wouldn’t have been appropriate to try to speak to people who weren’t sitting near y…

Sermon for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, "Long Enough," Luke 13:10-17 (Proper 16, Ordinary 21)

Sermon 8/21/16 Luke 13:10-17
Long Enough
            Sometimes, we create really complicated systems that are meant to help us do something good, but the very system meant to help ends up making things harder, not easier. My older brother Jim works for the ARC as a manager in vocational services, helping people with special needs find and maintain employment. He told me, once, about all the rules in place that had to be worked around for a particular young man to stay working, which was the goal. This young man couldn’t work too many hours, or he wouldn’t qualify for certain programs that were really helping him thrive. He couldn’t work too few hours, or he wouldn’t make enough money to survive. He couldn’t make more than a certain amount per hour, or again, he wouldn’t be eligible for benefits. While at work, he wasn’t allowed to complete his work too quickly, because he was required to be in a supervised setting for a certain number of hours a day, and if he worked too quickly, even if…

Sermon for Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, "Prince of Peace?" Luke 12: 49-56 (Proper 15C, Ordinary 20C)

Sermon 8/14/16 Luke 12:49-56
Prince of Peace?

            Some of you may have seen on facebook a funny meme I posted. It was a picture of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s classic work, The Cost of Discipleship, which as the title suggests, takes a hard look at what it means when we commit to truly following in the footsteps of Christ. Only this particular picture of the book was a copy of The Cost of Discipleship was at a bookstore – right next to a price tag that said $16. The Cost of Discipleship? Well, pretty cheap at Barnes & Noble!             What do you think, though? What is the cost of following Jesus? Is there a cost to being a Jesus follower? Shortly after my facebook post, I came across some powerful words from Bonehoeffer. He wrote, “If we water down the gospel into emotional uplift which makes no costly demands, then the cross is an ordinary calamity.” For Bonhoeffer, writing and preaching and teaching at the height of Nazi power in Germany, the gospel made very costly demands. H…

Sermon for Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C, "Treasured," Luke 12:32-40 (Proper 14C, Ordinary 19C)

Sermon 8/7/16 Luke 12:32-40
Treasured

            Last week many of you had the pleasure of hearing someone’s first sermon, as Amber shared with you in leading worship. It’s a special experience, the first sermon. Last week also happened to be the 18th anniversary of the first time I ever preached, a sermon I gave at my home church in Rome, NY. I had used the lectionary text from the gospel for the week, and because it was my first sermon, that scripture passage has been forever burned on my mind, and I find myself thinking of it often. It happened to be the same lectionary year as we are in right now, and so the text I preached on came just before the one we just heard this morning from the gospel of Luke, chapter 12. In the text, a man who is part of a gathered crowd asks Jesus to make his brother divide the family inheritance with him. Jesus sensibly wonders why on earth this man would think it Jesus’ job to arbitrate this kind of dispute. Still though, the man with the request probab…