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Showing posts from December, 2017

Sermon for New Year's Eve, "The Beginning and The End," Revelation 21:1-6a

Sermon 12/31/17 Revelation 21:1-6a
The Beginning and The End

            I had a hard time with my sermon this week. We’ve heard two scripture texts this morning – a reading from Matthew’s gospel, the parable of the sheep and the goats, and a text from the book of Revelation, near the conclusion of the work, where we read that Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, that God has made a home among us. Both of these texts are from the lectionary, the schedule of scripture readings, texts intended for New Year’s Eve or Day specifically. And I’ve wanted to use both of them. Only, I had sort of two separate sermons, one for each, running through my head this week. I wanted one sermon that could draw on both texts. But instead, I had two good sermons – just two separate sermons, and I’ve struggled to decide on which direction to go. See, the parable of the sheep and the goats offered a nice way to follow up from my Christmas Eve sermon, and most of the week, that’s the way I meant to go in worship. But …

Sermon for Christmas Eve, "Come and Behold Him," Luke 2:1-20

Sermon 12/24/17 Luke 2:1-20
Come and Behold Him

            Sometime last fall, I told you about a news article from the New York Times that was circulating quite a bit, showing results from a scientific study suggesting that two strangers could fall in love with each other by following a certain set of instructions: the pair answers 36 questions in a conversation with each other. The questions are increasingly more personal, beginning with easy things and moving on to deeper, revealing questions. And then, after that, you and your conversation partner are supposed to stare into each other’s eyes – sustained eye-contact, no talking, for four minutes. The author of the article actually fell in love with the person with whom she tried this exercise.             I was thinking about this study this week as I was thinking about how significant making eye contact can be in our lives. There are many cultural expectations around eye contact. In some cultures, men and women are discouraged from p…

Sermon for Fourth Sunday in Advent, "Joy: Joyful All Ye Nations Rise," Luke 1:39-55

Sermon 12/17/17 Luke 1:39-55
Joy: Joyful All Ye Nations Rise
            Our theme today on this fourth Sunday of Advent is joy, and our hymn snippet, “Joyful All Ye Nations Rise” comes from the carol, “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” Charles Wesley, brother of John, founder of the Methodist movement, was a prolific hymnist – you can see how many hymns of his are still in our hymnals today if you look at the index on page 922 in your red hymnal. He wrote “Hark how all the Welkin Rings” in 1739. “Welkin” means something like “the heavens.” His colleague in ministry, George Whitefield, made some adaptations to the text, giving us the more familiar title we know today. Wesley imagined that his hymn text would be matched to the same tune as “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” – after all – both the resurrection of Jesus and his incarnation, his coming into the world, are key pillars of our faith story – but eventually the pairing with the tune by Felix Mendelssohn that we know and sing today be…

Sermon for Third Sunday of Advent, "Love: Every Heart Prepare Him Room," Luke 1;26-38

Sermon 12/10/17 Luke 1:26-38
Love: Every Heart Prepare Him Room

            I think I’ve told some of you that my Greek professor in college had a stamper that he’d use when marking our papers. The stamper said “Be Specific!” in big, red letters. It was his huge pet peeve when students would write papers and not give clear examples to support the claims they were making. I’m afraid I saw that stamper on my papers more than once. Be specific, be specific, be specific! I hope I learned my lesson. Dr. Lateiner wanted to see supporting evidence for our claims in our work. You couldn’t just make a claim in a research paper unless you could show that you had good reason for your position. You needed to demonstrate that your claims could be supported. Be specific!               I was thinking about Dr. Lateiner this week when I posted some questions to ponder on facebook. For the past few weeks, I’ve been asking questions online about our weekly Advent theme. Last week, I got to share with you a…

Sermon for Second Sunday in Advent, "Peace: All Is Calm, All Is Bright," Isaiah 11:1-10, Mark 13:24-37

Sermon 12/3/17 Mark 13:24-37, Isaiah 11:1-10

Peace: All Is Calm, All Is Bright

            “Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright. Round yon’ virgin mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peace.”             This week, I read news stories about North Korea testing a missile that perhaps could reach across the whole of the United States.             This week, I spoke with a colleague in ministry who had, like all churches in our conference, received from our church insurance company information about how to respond in an active shooter situation. She was trying to figure out how to respond to anxious parishioners and yet not get caught up in spending all of their ministry time on creating safety plans.             This week, we’ve continued to hear stories from people who have experienced sexual assault and harassment, as the actions, sometimes over decades, of men in positions of power have been uncovered.            …