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Sermon for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B, "Come and See," John 1:43-51

  Sermon 1/17/21 John 1:43-51 Anything Good? Come and See As I’ve been home on break this winter, my Mom and I have been watching the sitcom How I Met Your Mother . We’ve seen it before, but it is just something light and relaxing and kind of mindless we can watch together. There’s an episode where one of the characters, Marshall, is worried that his job as a lawyer for a large bank is at risk. His friend and co-worker Barney tells him that he has to find something that no one else does that he can offer that will make him indispensable at work. It doesn’t seem like bad advice, does it? Make yourself necessary, irreplaceable. Have a skill no one else has. Of course, since it is a sitcom, Barney means that Marshall should come up with some “extra” talent like being the guy at the office who runs the fantasy football league. But the gist of the advice is: make sure there’s something that you can do that no one else can do, and then you have security in your position. Have you heard ad
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Sermon for Baptism of the Lord Sunday, "Citizens of God's World," Mark 1:1-11

Sermon 1/10/21 Mark 1:1-11 Citizens of God’s World I, like many of you, I suspect, have been at a loss when trying to process the events at the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, when a mass of people broke into the building to interrupt the certification by Congress of the Electoral College, which made official President-Elect Joe Biden’s election. Typically, after national world events like that - the kind that really shake us, I try to post something on facebook, some reflection, some words - maybe not of wisdom , but of encouragement, of hope, of helping people to process what’s happened. But I’ve been coming up empty. I’m not sure what to think, or what to do.  It’s not that what happened at the Capitol was so shocking. After all, the escalating language since the election and well before has suggested that the way our US American culture has been functioning is unsustainable. But I’ve felt as if this past week has been a taking of all the brokenness we’ve been accumulating a

Sermon for Epiphany Sunday, "Star of Wonder, Star of Light," Matthew 2:1-12

Sermon 1/3/21 Matthew 2:1-12 Epiphany: Star of Wonder, Star of Light Many of you probably noticed the news stories about the “Great Conjunction” that happened just before Christmas - the planets Jupiter and Saturn appeared closer together in our night sky than they have in hundreds of years. Many speculate that this periodic close conjunction of planets in the night sky is what was understood to be the Star of Bethlehem - the star that the Magi, the visitors to the Christ-child we also know as Kings or Wise Men - the star they used to learn of Jesus’ birth and to guide them to find the child after they traveled from distant lands in the East.  Of course, since it is 2020, this era of “Fake News” that we’re in, the internet was immediately inundated with photoshopped images claiming to be images of the Great Conjunction, images that looked remarkably like the Star of Bethlehem in artwork of the Nativity of Jesus. The real thing didn’t look quite like that, and of course we in Centra

Sermon for the First Sunday after Christmas Day, Year B, "After Christmas Morning," Luke 2:22-40

  Sermon 12/27/20 Luke 2:22-40 After Christmas Morning Here’s a confession for you: As far as I can tell, I actually haven’t preached on this text, this story of Simeon and Anna meeting the baby Jesus, a text that appears in the lectionary once every three years, since before I was a pastor. I preached on it last in 2002, when I was a guest preacher at my childhood church, filling in for the pastor on the Sunday after Christmas. It’s not that I don’t like this passage of scripture. It’s just that it always appears on the first Sunday after Christmas day, and even though I might be in worship on the Sunday after Christmas with my congregation, I hardly ever preach. Instead, I usually do hymn stories about Christmas carols, or read several Christmas poems, or something else that requires a little less preparation on my part, a little gift to myself after making it through however many Christmas Eve services I’ve had during the week. Honestly, I also kind of consider it a gift to my con

Sermon for Christmas Eve, "We Know by Heart," Luke 2:1-20

  Sermon 12/24/20 Luke 2:1-20 We Know by Heart I didn’t decorate much for the Christmas season at my apartment in New Jersey. Of course, I knew I would spend the last part of Advent and all of Christmas in Syracuse with my family, so decorating a place I wouldn’t be in seemed a bit silly. But also, most of my Christmas decorations are in a storage unit here in East Syracuse, and my apartment in New Jersey is tiny, and I couldn’t give up valuable space in my apartment to decorations that would come out only for a few weeks a year. I do miss, though, my collection of nativities. I have several beautiful nativity sets that have been purchased by me or gifted to me over the years, and I love seeing all the different ways different artists and different cultures have envisioned the scene of Jesus’ birth, beautiful, creative, and moving. The sets are all different - some include 2 or 3 wisemen, or none at all. Each has a different variety and number of animals thought to be witnesses of Jesu