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Showing posts from November, 2017

Sermon for the First Sunday in Advent, "Hope: A Thrill of Hope," Mark 1:1-8

Sermon 11/26/17 Mark 1:1-8
Hope: A Thrill of Hope

            Are you a pessimist or an optimist? Is the glass of life half empty, or half full? My mom and I have gone back and forth about this a bit over the years. She’s wildly optimistic about most things, and sometimes I would say her optimism, her hopefulness borders on the irrational. If the weather forecast says there’s a 70% chance of a snowstorm coming, my mom will focus very seriously on that 30% chance that it is going to be a nice day after all. I, meanwhile, will begin adjusting my travel plans and making a backup plan for the day. My mom says I’m a pessimist, but I would argue that I’m simply a realist, trying to prepare for the thing that is most likely to happen, whether I like that thing or not. My mom, however, says she doesn’t want to be disappointed twice, both by thinking something bad is going to happen, and then by having the bad thing actually happen. She’d rather be hopeful, and enjoy her state of hopefulness, eve…

Sermon, "Theology at the Theatre: The Sound of Music," Philippians 4:4-13

Sermon 11/19/17 Philippians 4:4-13
Theology at the Theatre: The Sound of Music

I’ve talked to you before about the first sermon I ever preached, back when I was a college student, and I preached at my childhood church on the parable of the rich fool, the parable where the wealthy man decides to build bigger barns to keep all of his stuff, where Jesus warns us against believing our lives are all about our stuff. But although that was the first sermon I ever preached, it wasn’t the first sermon I ever wrote. I had a written a sermon a few years earlier, while I was in high school. That same pastor who nurtured my call to ministry and let me preach while I was in college had also allowed me to plan an entire worship service a few years before for the youth of the church to lead. I organized everything, and assigned all the parts, and I wrote the sermon – I just assigned the sermon to someone else to preach. I was far too nervous to do the preaching myself. So I wrote the sermon for my frien…

Sermon, "Theology at the Theatre: Fiddler on the Roof," Mark 7:1-15

Sermon 11/12/17 Mark 7:1-15
Theology at the Theatre: Fiddler on the Roof

            What are some of your family’s traditions? With Thanksgiving approaching and Advent and Christmas fast on its heels, we’re entering a season that is often steeped in traditions – cultural traditions, religious traditions, and family traditions. Have you had to create or recreate or bend or break traditions in your family? This year in particular, I’ve been thinking about how our Christmas Eve patterns have changed through the years. When I was little, we’d eat dinner at my grandparents, and then attend worship together. And then, we’d go back to my grandparents’ house to open presents. Eventually, the tradition changed because my family started going to church in Rome, and they had two Christmas Eve services, and it was too hard to go to service, drive to Westernville for worship, and drive back to Rome for the last service, and we were all involved in the choir and bell choir and reading and it was just…

Sermon for All Saints Sunday, "Theology at the Theatre: Wicked," Matthew 5:1-12

Sermon 11/5/17 Matthew 5:1-12
Theology at the Theatre: Wicked

How many of you are familiar with the musical Wicked? It’s the newest one on our list, and the one that was the least familiar to me personally, although some of the music from the show has become so popular that you may know a few of the songs from the musical, like the one the choir sang, without even realizing where they were from. Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz is a musical that first opened in 2003. Written and Composed by Winnie Holzman and Stephen Schwartz, and based on the 1995 book by Gregory Maguire. Of course, Maguire’s work is an alternative telling of the classic The Wizard of Oz. Wicked opens with the people of Oz celebrating the death of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. Someone in the crowds asks Glinda, the Good Witch, if it’s true that Glinda and Elphaba were once friends, and the question prompts Glinda to share the story. We flash back in time to when Elphaba and Glinda – then Galinda – …