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Showing posts from February, 2020

Sermon for Ash Wednesday, "Liminal Lent: Jesus," Matthew 4:1-11

Sermon 2/26/2020 Matthew 4:1-11
Liminal Lent: Jesus
Our worship theme this year is Liminal Lent. I’m guessing liminal isn’t a word you use very often. I don’t either. But as some of you know, I’m part of our District Leadership Team, a group that works with our District Superintendent Mike Weeden to help resource local congregations to live out their mission in their communities. Mike regularly has us reading books together, part of our learning process so that we in turn can be better teachers and leaders. And the next book we’re discussing together is How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going by Susan Beaumont. Great title, isn’t it? I feel like a lot of ministry is leading when we don’t know where we’re going! The subtitle of the book is: Leading in a Liminal Season.  Liminal means “threshold.” Think about the doorway into a room. As you step over the threshold, you are in an in-between space, not fully in the room you’re leaving, and not fully in the room you are entering. Yo…

Lent: Not Buying It

Several years ago I read Not Buying It by Judith Levine. I’d heard about the book in something else I was reading, although now I’ve forgotten what. Levine spent a year well, not buying things. I also don’t remember now the parameters of her experiment, but I know that the gist of the book stuck with me. I remember thinking: “I could never do that.” But eventually, after reading the blog (now defunct) of a woman who fasted from buying for the month of January every year, I decided I would try the experiment for Lent. I was serving a larger church at the time, and had by far the largest salary I’d ever had, and I was alarmed at how easily I spent, spent, spent. So I decided that I would abstain from spending during Lent other than paying my bills, of course, and “gas, gifts, and groceries.” I’d still by food at the store - but no “fast food.” I’d need gas to get places. And if your birthday or party happened to fall during Lent, I could still buy you a present. 
It was an eye-opening ex…

Sermon, "Everyday Jesus Spirituality: The Discipline of Starting Over," Psalm 51:1-17

Sermon 2/23/2020 Psalm 51:1-17

Everyday Jesus Spirituality: The Discipline of Starting Over
       “Create in me a clean heart of God, and renew a right spirit within me. Create in me a clean heart of God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, O Lord. Take not your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and renew a right spirit within me.”  I’m pretty sure that I’ve had you sing that song with me before, because it is really hard - maybe impossible - for me to read Psalm 51 without thinking of this song. I learned it as a camp song, which we sang frequently at Camp Aldersgate, particularly in my junior high years. It really spoke to me then. Those junior high years can be pretty emotionally fraught. Everything is heightened, as young teens deal with newly intense emotions and feelings that are hard to process. And one of the feelings I was often processing was guilt. I was trying hard to be a good follower of Jesus, but I felt like…

Sermon, "Everyday Jesus Spirituality: The Discipline of Waking Up to God," Genesis 28:10-17

Sermon 2/9/2020 Genesis 28:10-17
Everyday Jesus Spirituality: The Discipline of Waking Up to God
I don’t know about you, but I grew up singing We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder in Sunday School. I’m pretty sure we occasionally incorporated motions, imitating climbing a ladder to heaven. I knew my Bible stories pretty well when I was little, but still I don’t think I really think I knew why we were singing about Jacob’s ladder exactly, or soldiers of the cross, or exactly what would happen if we ever got to the top of the ladder. Jacob’sLadder is actually an African-American spiritual, first composed and sung by slaves in the fields in the US - and so we don’t know its exact origins. But we know it was sung call-and-response style, and that the imagery suggested that those who persevered in faith would eventually be able to rise up out of slavery - whether in this life or in life eternal. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_Are_Climbing_Jacob%27s_Ladder)   The scriptural foundation for the hymn…