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Sermon for Easter Sunday, Year A, "Dos and Don'ts," John 20:1-18, Matthew 28:1-10

  Sermon 4/9/23 John 20:1-18, Matthew 28:1-10 Dos and Don’ts I’ve been telling you, on Palm Sunday, and again on Maundy Thursday, that our best strategy for being disciples is to stay close to Jesus. “Stay with me,” Jesus was asking us. But today, this Easter morning, Jesus’s message is strikingly different: “Don’t hold on to me.” - “Go!” How do we get from one to the other? Why does Jesus tell Mary not to hold on to him, to stay with him? And what do his words mean for our discipleship?  Today we’ve heard the Easter stories from two gospels - John’s gospel - the most well known version - and Matthew’s account. This phrase - “don’t hold on to me” - occurs only in John’s version, although I think the meaning of the phrase is in Matthew’s account too. At first brush, Jesus’s words sound kind of dismissive to me, as if Mary is somehow being too clingy. And I don’t know about you, but if I thought that my dearest loved one, my teacher , who I’d devoted my life to, had died , been put to d
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Sermon for Maundy Thursday, Year A, "Staying or Leaving," Matthew 26:20-29, 36-46

  Sermon 4/6/23 Matthew 26:20-29, Matthew 26:36-46 Staying or Leaving You’ve probably heard that when animals feel like they are on high alert, under stress, or under attack, they have a “fight or flight” response. Some animals, when in danger, will do everything they can to get away as fast as possible. Some, when cornered, will lash out, ready to fight, ready to harm in order to get free. There’s actually another option - “freeze” - some animals freeze, like the proverbial deer caught in the glare of headlights, immobilized with fear. Of course, we are animals too, we humans, and we sometimes find ourselves deeply driven by fight, flight, and freeze responses too.  Sometimes we are in genuine danger - and we must figure out if we need to flee or fight or freeze in response to a threat, to abuse, to something or someone that can do harm to us.  But sometimes, we react like we’re responding to a threat, to danger, but our minds are confusing danger and discomfort. Here’s what I m

Sermon for Palm/Passion Sunday, Year A, "Verse Twelve," Matthew 21:1-11

Sermon 4/2/23 Matthew 21:1-11 Verse Twelve I don’t usually give a message on Palm/Passion Sunday. My preaching professor in seminary, the late Dr. Charles Rice, always said that the combined events of celebrating the Triumphant Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem with palms and Hosannas and of remembering the Passion of Jesus Christ by concluding with the telling of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion was enough. The text preaches itself, he said. We don’t need to add more words. Over the years, I’ve found his words to ring true, and because of the vividness of the readings, and the juxtaposition of the crowds yelling, “Hosanna, God save us!” at the start of the worship service and then yelling, “Crucify, Crucify him!” by the end, I’ve found Palm/Passion Sunday to be one of the most meaningful worship services of the year. And so I’m not really giving a lengthy sermon today either, I promise! Just a little contextualizing, I think. The events of Palm Sunday and of the Passion of Jesus are

Sermon for the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A, "I Belong to Laurel Kearns," 1 Corinthians 3:1-9

Sermon 2/7/23 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 I Belong to Laurel Kearns I belong to Laurel Kearns! I know probably a third of you are here just to figure out what I mean by that. So, aside from teaching you about my true gift - how to write a catchy sermon title - let me explain.  A few weeks ago when we had our chapel service during Spring orientation, I asked our new students - and all our worship attendees - to think about the people who had brought them to Drew. Who are the friends and family members, the mentors and guides who helped you discern a call, make a decision, who encouraged you in the midst of doubts, challenged you to move out of your comfort zone, who helped you see gifts that could be developed in seminary, who supported you with time, with words, with money, with love? I invited us to name those people. Even now, you might be naming those people in your head - the people who have shaped and supported us.  I’ve been thinking, too, about the ways we are shaped in academia, an

Sermon for Baptism of the Lord Sunday, Year A, "Here Is My Servant," Isaiah 42:1-9, Matthew 3:13-17

  Sermon 1/8/23 Isaiah 42:1-9, Matthew 3:13-17 Here Is My Servant I’ve been thinking a lot about our Christian concept of call in the last couple of years. One of the most important things my mom taught me about faith was that God calls all of us . Being called by God isn’t something that’s just for pastors, for preachers. No, she reminded me often that everybody is called - it’s just a matter of figuring out what it is that you’re called to do. So, I was always on the lookout for my call from God. Mom never told us being called by God would look like any one thing, and indeed, my siblings and I took very different paths. But, as seems to be somewhat of the family way, I slowly realized I was called to pastoral ministry. And I went to seminary, and I pastored churches for 17 years. And during my years of pastoring, I’ve loved talking to other people about listening for and finding and answering their call from God. I love helping people discern what God is up to in their lives.